Dr. Phil to Drew Barrymore: chronically late people think the world revolves around them

Dr. Phil has a new show he’s promoting that highlights animal rescue operations around Austin, TX. It’s produced by Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Before Sunrise) and Dr. Phil explained on Drew Barrymore’s show that they match neglected animals with disabilities with kids who have similar disabilities. It’s on CBS and is called That Animal Rescue Show. I wanted to talk about the part where Drew asked him for some advice about being chronically late. Dr. Phil was super blunt in explaining that being late all the time is obnoxious and selfish (my words). It was amusing because Drew made it clear she’s rarely on time to things. She took the criticism like a champ though I have to say. Dr. Phil talked about growing up poor and how he used sports to escape that. Then Drew asked him if he had tips for being on time since that’s always been an issue for her:

Drew: Do you have any tips for being five minutes early or dead on time because I’m still trying to master it. What is the key to being on time?

Phil: There’s a lot of research about people that are chronically late. People that are chronically late are chronically late because they think they’re so important they can’t leave where they are because the world will fall off its axis if they do. They think that time will suspend for them because they really think the world revolves around them. They don’t stop and empathetically think what does this mean for everybody else?

Drew: I feel like I’m at fault of all of it. I’m trying to do too many things I have too many things on my plate. I’ve got my head in the clouds I’ve got 80 things going on and 80

Phil: Think how nice it would be to show up early and get to just kind of… Put your feet up for a minute

Drew: That is what… my therapist [says], ‘you have to get there five minutes early don’t be afraid of wasting time, luxuriate.’ I’m getting better at being on time I have not achieved the five minutes earlier. I will fix it. It might take like 40 years but I will fix it.

[From The Drew Barrymore show via Jezebel]

I’m usually right on time, but I can veer up to five minutes late because I try to cram too much into the day. Honestly I get a rush out of being exactly on time to things. This annoys my son, who likes to be early, so we’re trying to compromise on this. People who are always late by ten minutes or more are super annoying to me. That’s one of the first qualities you look for in a friend or partner, that they’re reliable and show up to things when they’re supposed to. If people routinely cancel things at the last minute that’s even worse though I guess. I always found Drew Barrymore annoying and now I have more reasons for that. I like how Dr. Phil was so blunt about everything.

There’s another section of the interview where Phil tells a woman who skypes in how to avoid dating a narcissist. His advice is so homey, but true. He says “Keep your standards high. You don’t want to chase the wrong one because the right one won’t run.” He also said to pay attention to the red flags, basically. “They will show you early on who they are. Don’t ignore that. When they show you that they’re narcissistic, self absorbed, it’s all about them… cut bait. The only thing worse than being in a bad relationship for a month, is being in a bad relationship for one month and one day.” Dr. Phil bugs in many ways but I appreciate the way he phrases advice.

Here’s that part of the interview. The talk about being late starts at 5:15.

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102 Responses to “Dr. Phil to Drew Barrymore: chronically late people think the world revolves around them”

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  1. Case says:

    Yeah I agree. I definitely veer into the “5 minutes late” category a lot, but I’ve known people who are regularly 20+ minutes late to dinners, movie dates, shopping trips, etc. If we’re just hanging out at home I’m not so concerned, but don’t have me just standing awkwardly somewhere waiting for you. THAT is obnoxious.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      Yeah I had a former friend who was regularly upto an hour late even though she knew I hated it when she was late – one of them any reasons we are no longer friends.

    • Elizabeth Phillips says:

      I’m frequently late in the morning because I have trouble waking up. Other than that, I’m on time about 99% of the time. One of my friends is late about 99% of the time. Drives me crazy, especially for movies. She likes to walk in at the end of previews, sit down, and start watching the movie. I have a tiny bladder, so I like to go in, get my popcorn and soda, find my seat, eat some popcorn and drink some soda, go to the ladies room, come back while the lights are still on, sit back down, then watch the previews, and the movie.

  2. DS9 says:

    ADHD and some of the other neurodiverse people in the world have some words to say on this topic…

    There are too many conditions for which time blindness and executive dysfunction are symptoms for anytime to say that late people are just self involved pricks…

    I mean yes, some are and some ND folks are self involved prices. But mental health can and often does contribute to lateness.

    • Cava24 says:

      That’s true and those are separate cases but I feel like a lot of people I know who are chronically late manage to be on time for other things, other people etc and are always asking me to tolerate their flake factor while showing up on time for others. For some people being late is truly something that is challenging for them, for others it is a power trip and a way to remind other people that they aren’t as important.

      • DS9 says:

        Yes, I believe I said some people are asses.

        But showing up on time for some things and not for others doesn’t necessarily mean an ND issue isn’t at play.

        It’s a common misperception that one can’t be struggling with ADHD symptoms of those systems don’t seem consistently applied. (Johnny must not have ADHD because he can focus just fine when he likes a task or I punish him, is just one of the more common examples.)

        Also, ADHD is terribly underdiagnosed in adult women and the inability to properly prioritize a task or manage the steps involved in a task is a hallmark of ADHD and can play into lateness.

        But it’s incredibly rude, regardless of the reason why, not to let people know you are running late.

      • Julie says:

        ADHD is a disorder of self regulation. Which basically means consistently inconsistent. ALL ADHDers will have some circumstances in which their symptoms completely vanish. Their problem is that they can’t control when that will happen.

        It’s a little disturbing that people don’t know this about such a commonly discussed disorder. Are guys really going around thinking that ADHDers are on a power trip because they sometimes keep time and sometimes don’t?

    • Vizia says:

      Absolutely. And there appears to be some genetic predisposition in a few cases. And more than being self-absorbed, I see (as a therapist, I mean) it being caused frequently by over-commitment, which has a bunch of underlying factors of it’s own. It’s not that one-dimensional. It’s interesting that he talks about the research but only reports one aspect of it. But, TV, whatever.

    • Julie says:

      DS9s comment captures why we need to get this man out of mental health discussions. What kind of doctor doesn’t bother to discuss the various neuro-developmental conditions that might be at play?

      It’s like when he invites people suffering with delusions to tell them that what they’re saying is outlandish while entertaining his ignorant audience. I shudder to think what his audience does with bipolar or schizophrenic family members.

      • DS9 says:

        @Julie, exactly because what Drew said about feeling overwhelmed, taking on too much is another hallmark of ADHD, especially in women who learn very early to mask.

        Now that’s not to say Barrymore has ADHD. She speaks about a therapist so likely she’d be diagnosed if she did.

        But a responsible doctor would have addressed time blindness, executive dysfunction, ADHD, and/or anxiety in a responsible way while also leaving room for the plain careless.

    • ElleV says:

      DS9 – YESSS!!!! Dr. Phil is NOT a real doctor and as someone with ADHD I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to work extremely hard around the limitations of my brain and STILL fail often and have people dismiss me as a jerk (or assume because I’m sometimes late and sometimes on time that my difficulties aren’t legit). I don’t think it’s possible for people to understand what it’s like to live with executive function problems and time blindness any more than I can imagine what it would be like to be blind and deaf from birth – our interior experiences of the world and the challenges we’ll face in navigating it is just totally different.

    • osito says:

      Thank you for saying this. I don’t feel like the world revolves around me, and actually feel so many negative emotions (shame/inadequacy) and physical symptoms of stress about my chronic lateness, which is related to executive dysfunction, that I try to a) give realistic feedback about my ability straight up and b) just bow out of things I don’t think I can do. It can feel really limiting over something stupid (my inability to plan properly). I actually care about how my friends and colleagues are feeling/performing, and try to do whatever I can to mitigate my funky perception of time. So I’m sure for some people, lateness is a power flex, but for me and lots of people like me, it’s something we really struggle to correct and control.

      • waitwhat says:

        Osito, as the mother of a kid with absolutely zero executive function, I feel for you. Deeply. It’s heartbreaking to see him struggle with fallout from his challenges here.

      • ElleV says:

        I feel this, osito! It’s not our fault the world was built by and for neurotypical folks. I spend a big chunk of my time, money and effort on counselling, medication, coaching and setting up systems and fail-safes to show up for the neurotypical people in my life – can you imagine if they did the same to accommodate us? Remind me again who thinks the world revolves around them?

      • ravynrobyn says:

        @ Osito-thank you for writing about (my) challenges so clearly & compassionately 💕💕

    • HeyJude says:

      I was just about to say, I’m always late no matter how early I start because I have trouble tracking time neurologically and get overwhelmed by sensory overload of the rushing of preparing to go out. Because my brain is neuro-fricking-divergent. I feel great guilt and anxiety when this happens and I know I’ll be late.

      Phil can be a real twit sometimes.

      • DS9 says:

        And then there’s the times when you really did plan everything out, you’ve been watching the clock and marking time and then you fundamentally cannot make your ass move. Or you lose time on a task you didn’t account for.

      • Kate says:

        Completely relate, my son has sensory processing disorder and adhd. I have adhd (amongst other things) and sometimes wonder If I am sensory too

    • Jill says:

      Hello, YES. Dr Phil, may I introduce you to the concept of TIME BLINDNESS. Signed every guilty ADHDer who is really trying hard, but hasn’t unlocked that level yet.

    • Yup, Me says:

      This is such a good point. I have several loved ones on this category and they really have an impaired ability to track time, gauge how much time has passed with any degree of accuracy or to estimate how much time it takes to accomplish something. It can be very frustrating and simultaneously very funny.

      There have also been some really interesting conversations around the fact that survivors of sexual abuse and trauma are also oftentimes people who struggle with timeliness.

    • Cheryl says:


      THIS!!! 100% 👏

    • Kate says:

      Raising my hand as someone with ADHD, OCD, Ulcerative Colitis, and crippling CPTSD. Before I was on disability, at one point I was late to work basically every single day for a year. Sometimes by more than a half hour. I suffer from such rigid and inescapable perfectionism and shame from the trauma of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse for 18+ years from both my parents that I would have crippling panic attacks that would make me sick chewing myself apart with hateful body dysmorphia no matter how pretty I was or thin I was. Sometimes I would just curl up and cry from the panic and self hatred, but usually I would just get sick..and continue to be in the bathroom after I got to work. Nobody really knew just how bad I was suffering. Time truly felt lost in the mess of my head. I put on a face and was one of the top sales people, and the highest rated in customer service because of my rigid perfectionism. That’s my 2 cents about being chronically late and mental health.

      • ElleV says:

        That sounds truly nightmarish Kate, I’m so sorry.

      • Kate says:

        ElleV thank you, I’m in therapy and they changed my medication so this is not my current emotional state/mental health.. but yes, it was absolutely terrible living like that as long as I did. I was constantly told how my lateness was seen as disrespect and a bad example to other sales people, and I understood that but it was nothing compared to the power my trauma had over me. Even getting up 3 hrs before work had no effect.. it was like I was programmed to fear and panic the very act of getting ready because I knew all I would do is chew myself apart the whole time. My cardiologist and dysautomia EDS specialist tested my nervous system and I was so hypervigilant he said it was like adrenaline toxicity from how bad my ptsd is.

        Also, Dr. Phil isn’t even a dr so he can fk right off. I adore Drew Barrymore and have loved her since her character in Boys on the Side

    • Lucky says:

      As an adult with ADHD and mental illness I can say that for a long time I was really hard on myself about always being late. I hav two aim for an hour early to maybe be on time. It wasn’t until I got a new therapist that explained that two of the conditions I have been diagnosed with could cause “time blindness” as it was referred to above.
      I still try really hard, but I am a little more gentle with myself when I mess up. Also, I try to keep things loose with my schedule to make up for my time issues. 😔

      • maybe katie says:

        Just throwing my hat in on the time blindness and executive disfunction issues of neurodivergent folks, especially ADHD. This is 100% me! More and more research is coming out about how different ND manifests in adult women and girls compared to males, but still a long way to go.

        I try my best but I’m just going to be late to anything that doesn’t have major negative consequences. Client meetings, medical scans, losing a restaurant reservation, flights are these kinds of things. I have missed a number of flights so I normally fly Southwest. My friends know and are understanding of my lateness – they often tell me “Katie Time” so I’m on time. I have made major progress to be within 15 mins. I don’t think the world revolves around me, and I have major guilt over being late but I’m trying to be better just like most other ND folks.

        Thanks for those who show kindness and understanding for us ND peeps, bc we very much appreciate it!

  3. Rae says:

    “ Keep your standards high. You don’t want to chase the wrong one because the right one won’t run.”

    I’m going to get this tattooed on my body.

    • souperkay says:

      Although dr phil is problematic, this is such good advice and something I needed to hear so badly today.

    • Kate says:

      Although I take issue with using that specific advice to avoid dating a narcissist. A narcissist will chase you at first and love bomb you and make you think you are a perfect love match to hook you emotionally before flipping the switch. That’s why people fall for it. And when you try to leave, they will do it again. So it’s overly simplistic to advise someone not to chase the wrong one and that the right one won’t run – because a lot of times the wrong one won’t run either (at least not obviously).

  4. Sa says:

    I’ve basically always liked Drew Barrymore, but I can’t stand people who are always late. It’s such a blunt way to tell other people that you don’t respect them or their time.

    • Lady D says:

      I feel the same way. I had a friend who was deliberately late to everything. She said she enjoyed being the center of attention when she finally arrived. We weren’t friends long.

  5. Seraphina says:

    I’m always early and have started being less early because of the time wasted waisted waiting on others. We are raising our kids to be on time and early because it shows you are considerate of others and their time. But we have family who are always late, we’ve decided to start festivities on time and if they miss out, it’s their issue. It’s actually kinda working to get them there LESS late.

    • Yup, Me says:

      We started our wedding with a short cocktail “hour” because I knew that trying to have chronically late people suddenly arrive on time was an unreasonable expectation but I also wasn’t willing to have someone come skittering down the aisle after me. We didn’t tell them that was what we were doing, though, so they thought they were trying to arrive for the start of the ceremony.

      It worked out really well and everyone was relaxed and happy as we got started.

  6. Noodle says:

    I am chronically early. If I have a Drs appt in a new place, I will leave my house comically early to make sure I get there on time. Then I sit in my car for 30 minutes because I’m so early. I am high strung and the thought of being late creates a lot of anxiety and worry in me. My best friend? Chronically late. By a lot. It’s not that she doesn’t leave on time; she’s overly optimistic about traffic and how long it will take her to get somewhere. I live in Huntington Beach and she lives in Riverside, like 45-50 miles away. Her drive involves the 91fwy, which, if you know the 91, you know how it is. She will leave her house at 4pm, stating it will take just 30 minutes to get to my house. And I laugh. Two hours later she’s finally there, and we have missed the movie/play/whatever we were going to do. I’ve started telling her things start an hour earlier so she’ll leave at an earlier time, and that has worked for us. And she’s not even mad that I’ve fooled her; she’s happy to make it on time. She really doesn’t WANT to be late; she just doesn’t want to manage her time.

    • Charlie says:

      Hey Noodle! OC Brat here. I can relate – tales of the 91 and 55. I am steadfast about being on time because my mom was late for everything! She was something! And I think that she was insecure even as everyone else thought she was all that – she put a lot of expectations on herself and then stressed about pulling it off (which she did, even while being late).

      • Noodle says:

        Hi Charlie! I’m at the point that any time freeways are involved, specially the 405 or 91, I allow an extra hour to get somewhere. I’d rather hang out at Starbucks for 45 minutes than have the anxiety of being late, but I know I’m rare that way! Where in OC are you?

      • Charlie says:

        Noodle. A long way from home. I lived in Europe for a couple of years which did a number on my driving compulsion – when I came back to the States I landed in Chicago – fell for the architecture and the public transportation. Last year I bought a Sears Catalog house in a country village knowing I could walk to a commuter train and be in ‘the big city’ in an hour and a half with a good book – and then covid, so I’m back to driving, but mostly staying out of bigger cities… Ah well, keeps me from running late 😉

    • Charfromdarock says:

      Both my BFF and brother are the same.

      I do the same. I agree to a time much earlier time knowing they will always be late. That way I can adjust my on time time to meet their late time if that makes sense.

  7. Jennifer says:

    It gives me anxiety to be late to anything. I always leave enough buffer time just in case something happens. If someone is late I chalk it up to crap happens, but if it becomes a pattern and it impacts me personally I’ll say something and bring it to their attention. I think some people are somewhat oblivious and others really do think the world revolves around them.

    I appreciate the fact that “Dr” Phil is doing a show about rescuing animals and I do think he has some genuine pearls of wisdom but I will forever side eye him and think he is a lowlife for exploiting some of his guests for entertainment purposes.

  8. STRIPE says:

    Chronic lateness to me is a huge sign of disrespect because what you are saying, whether you mean to or not, is “my time is more valuable than yours.”

    It’s compounded when you don’t give people a heads up. I’m fine if you’re late, people are late sometimes! Just let me know so I can spend my time effectively too. To me nothing is worse than sitting at a bar or whatever alone waiting on someone who didn’t say anything and just rolls in 20 mins late.

  9. KBeth says:

    I can not stand Dr Phil but I agree. It’s rude, we all have things to do, my time is just as important as yours.
    Why do people think making someone wait for them is okay?
    To be clear I mean those who are chronically late.

  10. Faithmobile says:

    I used to be late all the time. Then I heard it was because I was putting to much faith in time, believing 5 minutes was really 10. I started to look at time differently and being ok with sitting in my car when i’m 5-15 min early. If google maps says it will take 30 min. give yourself 40-45 min. Padding time is a gift to your future self.

  11. kimberlu says:

    I disagree, growing up my mom was late to everything. She absolutely didn’t think the world revolved around her. She was extremely humble, she had horrible sense of time and mismanaged it. When late she was embarrassed…Dr Phil really needs to go back to school. He also needs to realize what he is kinda outdated and needs to upgrade to 2020….it isn’t 1996 anymore…..

  12. Anna says:

    I have (had?) a friend who I loved dearly who would regularly be 2-3 hours late for our meet-ups if they were at my home and anywhere from 30 minutes-1 hour late for events. She is one of the most supportive people, traveling to support others’ events, so I put up with it for years because I loved her so much and we had such a great time together. But I finally just couldn’t deal with it anymore. After waiting for 2, 3, once even 4 hours past the time she said she would arrive, I was sour and not excited to meet anymore. I just felt so disrespected. I guess she assumed (every damn time?) that since I was at home, my time was just free and open, kind of like she could drop in whenever she finally decided to make it over. This was one of the most painful things, and while we’re still friends in name and I still think she’s an incredible person, I grieve for the end of how our friendship used to be and don’t engage with her anymore except the occasional social media share because of the lateness and some other matters in how she was treating me (but wouldn’t own up to) that made it clear she does not respect me, regardless of whether she *thinks* she does. At some point, you have to stand up for yourself. If someone makes you feel badly (and feel badly about yourself), you have to be strong to cut the cord.

    • Katie says:

      jesus christ. the very fact that she’s only 30 min to an hour late to events shows that she’s disrespectful of your time, not incapable of making the time. I’m sure she’s on time for exams or trains or planes, etc. I hate people like this. the most I can take is a person being late around 10 minutes max. after 15 minutes it’s over. everybody in my social circle lets me know if they are late or can’t make it. not a single late person. why? because they don’t exist, chronically late person is not a medical condition, they know what they are doing and if they are motivated, they either make the time or don’t schedule a meetup or at least let you know. when someone is late and lets me know a couple of times, they never do it again either because they’ve firmly accepted they can’t do that to me or because I just don’t meet with them anymore.

      • ElleV says:

        Chronic lateness related to executive function problems and time blindness actually is a key symptom of very real medical conditions. Not everyone has the time/energy/compassion to befriend neurodivergent people and that’s ok, but it’s not ok to pretend we don’t exist when a quick google could confirm otherwise.

      • Katie says:

        @ElleV hm that’s interesting. didn’t know about this, google says it’s mostly in adhd people, and very prevalent. I guess it’s true for a chunk of population this is not an issue they can easily regulate. from my quick search looks like about 2 to 5% can have this. so my argument was obviously too black and white, there’s a small group to whom my words would not apply. I stand corrected, thank you for educating me.

      • Ashley says:

        Well, ElleV, there are also people who aren’t affected by executive function problems etc., and are still chronically late. My sister, for example, shows up to work early every day, but 15-30 mins late for social coffees, and 1-2 hours late to social occasions where there’s some kind of point she wants to make. And she’s just sitting at home beforehand, not rushing around. She is passive-aggressive about time. She is not neurodivergent in any way, and in fact her job involves managing large scale stage productions where she has to have precise short and long term time management skills, as well as above average executive function.

        People can be affected by disorders, yes, but they can also be unknowingly manipulative, or overtly so. There are a range of reasons, causes, and outcomes. We all get that neurodivergent folks exist, but it’s not always about that.

      • ElleV says:

        Katie – you’re a gem! Thank you for listening and looking into it further – not everyone does that and it means a lot to me. Re: you question below about how things work when people like me are left to our own devices – it depends and I’m sure there’s a spectrum of experiences! I have a lot of coping mechanisms, and I work really, really hard to avoid getting into scrapes, but I’ve certainly missed important trains and flights over the years. Thankfully, ADHD brains can be great at creative problem-solving in a crisis! Sometimes tho, you just muddle through as best you can and you pay for it dearly.

        Ashley – absolutely, many people who are chronically late (even those with disabilities) may be jerks. But not everyone knows chronic lateness could be linked to legit disability. Sounded to me like Katie didn’t, which is why I responded to her post. Re: your sister – I’ll trust she is as manipulative, passive-aggressive and totally neurotypical as you say. Tho on paper, I look pretty neurotypical myself, and invisible disabilities tend to be just that, so I try to assume people have more going on than I can possibly know.

      • Anna says:

        @ElleV I have the utmost respect and understanding for those who are neurodivergent or otherwise have biological conditions that affect these kinds of things. My friend is not neurodivergent nor does she suffer from time blindness. I accepted her behavior for years so I was patient and accepting and tried to rationalize it because I love her. She was one of my best friends, and I couldn’t imagine her not being in my life. She is on time, even very early, when it’s a matter of business. (I know this because I’ve worked with her on group projects before.) I think it’s best all-around not to assume what people’s individual situations and experiences are or that people are not wanting to befriend people with various medical conditions.

        Additionally, I grew up in a country where being hours (or even days!) late is accepted. It’s the cost of moving around in a difficult country. But I’m not there anymore and I just can’t accept it if it’s not a matter of bad infrastructure and poverty, or a condition but rather a very specific matter that this person simply does not value my time. (And when I did mention it, she started getting later and later, almost as if out of spite.)

  13. Michelle says:

    I have a Spanish friend that is chronically late for everything, like generally an hour late. She has no intention of changing and blames the culture, so we just lie about the start time of things being about 45mins earlier and then she just about makes it ON time. Works for us.

    • Katie says:

      wow what an asshole. I refuse to believe a person who is an hour left ALL THE TIME is not doing that on purpose. what about exams? or trains? when there’s an actual deadline?

      • Cava24 says:

        Yeah, I think the population of people who actually have an issue they can’t overcome is small whereas the population of people who are chronically late is much larger. Oddly I think people were more careful about time before the advent of cell phones- somehow the fact of being able to tell someone you are running late has created a situation where people think it is the same as being on time.

      • Michelle says:

        Last time we were going on holiday together I forced her to stay at mine the night before and dragged her ass out of bed to make it to the airport on time. I had far too much anxiety about her being late, which she would have been, and we hadn’t yet booked the accommodation in the country we were flying to (at her request, because she said we’d get a better deal once we were there).
        It’s not out of spite, she’s a bit of a dreamer too and easily distracted. It’s just the way she is with everything and I know I’m not going to change it after 10 years so we just all deal with it that way.

      • Katie says:

        @Michelle a lady in the comments above educated me about executive function problems and resulting time blindness, so sounds like your friend might have this (just a hypothesis based of your words about the friend being a dreamer and not doing this out of spite). my experience with people like this hasn’t been very extensive as my type of personality just doesn’t bode with that and I’ve only experienced people who prove to be teachable. and statistically, most are, so one has to check first what the issue is if there’s any and then be understanding (or leave, which I choose to do, I can only be understanding to a point). by the way, I am still curious about people like this – when they are alone, do they really miss their planes? I’m sure some do and your friend sounds like someone who might but most would not, they just rely on the responsible person who’s with them to take care of things and lead the way. once they are on their own, they are forced to do it themselves because there’s no one else to burden. ad I am sure for some people this taking of the initiative and taking care of the schedule and making sure others are on time is not a problem but for me personally it’s difficult and I actually prefer someone taking the lead and reminding me about the schedule to not be late, so it’s very hard for me and I just struggle so much when someone like these perpetually late people leans on me in addition to my own struggles.

    • Lady D says:

      Lying to a friend to get them there on time is treating them like a child. Tell them to grow up and act like an adult.

  14. JanetDR says:

    I am chronically early and feel like I’m late if I am just on time. That’s how my anxiety works. My BBF is chronically late because that’s how her anxiety works. It’s not like she is not trying but she can’t get out of the door.
    It is not great if we are meeting somewhere, but I bring a book.

  15. Katie says:

    I am a complete opposite of that description so I completely understand one has to be that kind of person to be always late. I have anxiety when I’m late, I am painfully aware the world is moving on without me. Now, if I’m so aware of other people and their needs etc, why do I just consider everyone who’s this self-involved to be a complete asshole and am not understanding of their position? After all, I am very understanding when it comes to how valuable their time is?

    • DS9 says:

      I have anxiety when I’m late. I feel worthless and defeated and frustrated as time slips by and I fall further behind, like to the point of tears often. And yet late I am again.

    • Anna says:

      I once dated a guy who was meticulous about being on time. I think he was maybe a minute or two late once in the year we dated. It was so refreshing.

  16. SJD says:

    I’ve been thinking about this in my own world especially since March. Early in my life of Zoom meetings, I would often sign in one or two minutes after the top of the hour, and then I got to thinking: why am I doing this? I still don’t really know, but now I sign in bang on time because everyone on that meeting damn well knows that I’m not doing anything other than watching the clock count down until I need to hit “join” so why was I pretending anything else? It was such a weird thing to realize I was doing and so easy to change. Especially because IRL/times when I’m physically meeting people anywhere, I absolutely detest being late at ALL.

  17. Jess says:

    I’m always early and I absolutely hate it, I feel anxious if I’m not at least 5 minutes early. I have friends who are chronically late and they’ve always been that way, now they have kids and work to blame, but even before those were part of life they were always late, it’s rude either way. A few minutes is one thing, but when people constantly have to wait on you for over an hour or have you cancel at the last minute 9 times out of 10 it’s just fkng selfish.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the narcissist showing red flags. They are very skilled at sucking you in and hiding their true colors for a long time!

  18. ChloeCat says:

    I fall into the chronically early category, my mom raised me to be that way, she told me it was disrespectful to be late & I agree about that. I have a friend who is always late, she blames everything on traffic, whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour. I’ve been at her house watching her trying to get her act together, I’ve never seen anyone dawdle more than she does. I have no idea how she’s been able to hold down the jobs she has with her lateness. I can’t believe I’m actually admitting I’m liking Dr. Phil for calling out people about this.

  19. HK9 says:

    Person who used to be late here. It’s not because we think we’re important, it’s because we try to cram too much into the time we’re given and don’t actually calculate how much time we need, against how much time we actually have. I had to start calculating the time I wanted to arrive, and count backwards to get an accurate time of what time I needed to be walking out the door. I also had to begin to factor in weather & traffic and pivot accordingly (Torontonian here -snow/ice/ the DVP and the 401 can be killers). Once I got into the habit of getting a realistic time frame, I stopped trying to do 4 million things before I left and am on time for 98 percent of my life-I’m still a work in progress.

    • Anners says:

      I feel this so hard. I always tack on an extra 30 minutes (at least) any time I have to go anywhere near the DVP. Or the Gardiner. I do not miss that commute at all!

  20. Other Renee says:

    In nearly ten years of marriage, pretty much the only thing my husband and I argue over is his chronic lateness. It isn’t that he feels that the world revolves around him. The man is a hospice nurse! He’s truly the embodiment of kindness and compassion. I’ve thought about this so often and have concluded that he just lacks the ability to judge how long something will take him to do. For instance, if a drive is normally 30 minutes, he times his arrival at 30 minutes. What he doesn’t factor in is traffic, the amount of time it takes him to pack up his stuff, the walk to his car, the walk from his car to where he’s going, a conversation he may have at any point along the way, etc. His sister told me it’s been a chronic problem since he was a kid. He once missed a flight and nearly missed many others. I arrive at an airport an hour and a half to two hours early. I factor in possible excessive traffic and the wait to get through security. He does not. So, it’s not always as Dr. Phil says. Some people just don’t have a clear concept of how long it takes them to go from point A to point B. It’s sad really.

  21. one of the Marys says:

    a blogger I enjoy is Captain Awkward and she addresses this throughout her columns especially from the point of view of readers who are struggling in relationships with the chronically late. She’s very sympathetic and realistic but pragmatic and gets into the nitty gritty. I find her very insightful and helpful.

  22. fifee says:

    I am always early. I mean there are times when I will have been late due to traffic but I always start to get ready about a half hour before I need to (even when I worked) so that I can sit and take time for myself; I absolutely loathe being rushed. And if I couldnt be arsed sitting about waiting for the right time to leave where ever I was then I would just leave and arrive quite a bit before an agreed meeting time.

    I get that time runs away for other folk and things happen that make them late, but habitually late folk (like one old friend I had, I dont think she was on time in all the years I knew her) really rip my knitting! But I guess I annoy folk by being incredibly early at times.

  23. BnLurkN4eva says:

    I am always early. If something happens outside my control to prevent me being on time I call and apologize profusely and give the person the option to reschedule if that would be more convenient to them. If they say to come on anyway, I feel awful when we finally meet and have difficulties getting into whatever the occasion is about, I guess that’s anxiety.

  24. emmy says:

    When I’m late it’s usually because of public transportation. My BFF is always late, sometimes 10 min but I’ve waited for 45 at times. I love her and we’ve been friends for 25 years but… you know, when I bust my ass at work because we’re meeting up afterwards and then I wait there for 30 minutes… it’s hard to feel gracious about it. She manages her time very poorly but we know each other’s flaws. It is what it is.

  25. Eleonor says:

    I must report myself as a chronically late person.
    In my defense: in my 20’s I was a mess 20 minutes to 45 minutes late.
    I made efforts because I hated when people had to wait and now not only I text saying “I am leaving right now, I am on my way” but IF I am late not more than 10 minutes, and I send a message announcing I am 10 minutes late.
    On the other side, I know how to deal with chronically late persons: I know for example when someone like me tells me 13:00pm, I can show up 20 minutes later, it’s even preferable because they are going to be late. Or when they invite me: I know if I show up later it’s better for them because they are still preparing dinner.
    For me the real struggle is being on time.

  26. Juju says:

    I don’t think that’s accurate. I think it’s just a personality trait. If you’re several hours late, yeah that’s weird but being 15min late all the time is just a quirk.

  27. Marigold says:

    I think Dr. Phil is a hack but it’s nice that he is helping animals. Except it sounds gimmicky.

    I cannot stand being late even a minute but sometimes life happens. I like being 10 minutes early or on the nose. I have ADHD and when I was younger, I was late a lot so growth can happen.

  28. Maxime duCamp says:

    Honestly, I just skimmed this because I was looking for something to distract me from the election. I’m the opposite of @Celebitchy. I like Drew Barrymore, at best she seems sweet and authentic and at worse she’s harmless. “Dr.” Phil (and “Dr.” should be in scare quotes) IMHO is a blowhard at best and a charlatan at worst. I applaud Oprah’s success and think that she means well but man alive she isn’t the best judge of character (see also The Secret and the charlatans that she’s given a platform to on her show including the guy who was responsible for the deaths of 2-3 people in a sweat lodge)

  29. February-Pisces says:

    I have a friend who I’ve known nearly twenty years and she has literally only ever shown up on time twice since I’ve known her. She can not arrive on time no matter what. It does really bother her and she does try, but it’s so f*cking annoying. I hate being late, and if I ever am, it’s usually down to public transport, which is annoying.

  30. ElleV says:

    This comment goes out to the folks who are doing their best to be on time despite challenges others can’t see or understand: I see you. I’m with you and for you. It’s probably really painful and shame-inducing to scroll through this thread and see that so many people have such strong negative assumptions/reactions. That’s their limitation, not yours. There are so, so many other people who will see and value the full picture of what you bring to the table. Hang in there!

    • Belig says:

      Thanks, ElleV. I wish everyone who commented would scroll back up and read the whole subthread under comment #2. I wish the whole world would know about this… Those people can’t imagine the stress, the guilt, the shame, all the missed opportunities, and all the complications that result from time blindness. It’s a NIGHTMARE. And I’m willing to bet that for one person whose lateness is a power-play, there’s 99 neurodivergent folks – diagnosed or undiagnosed – for whom chronic lateness just makes their life hell…

      • ElleV says:

        It’s so wild to me how angry and resentful some of the comments in this thread are – a lot of them about “friends,” too! It’s also wild how many people are insisting that as many as 9 million adults in the US with ADHD are just disrespectful jerks who can’t set a timer?? Yikes.

        It’s one thing to say “Timeliness is important to me and I won’t be friends with someone who is chronically late for reasons I don’t find acceptable.” It’s another thing to say, “ALL people who are chronically late are bad, disrespectful people and executive function problems DON’T EXIST and people in your social circles and workplaces are talking about you behind your back!” Like folks… listen to yourselves.

        An aside, timeliness isn’t even a universal virtue – I loved working and living in Rwanda because it was a rare period in my life when timeliness was not a constant battle and people were more generous about everyone moving at different paces.

        I once read that dyslexia is only a disability in the context of modern literate societies, and I have to wonder if the same is true for some executive function issues – my brain is beautifully designed to respond in crises but not in the modern attention economy (or in a culture so rigidly obsessed with time).

      • Anna says:

        @ElleV I know this is a deeply sensitive topic for you, and I empathize with how difficult it must be to be misunderstood on such a matter. I very much appreciate what you shared about medical conditions that contribute to this, and hope that there will be wider understanding of these. Thank you for what you shared, and I agree that there should be more awareness of the factors that affect people’s ability to be on time.

        But with respect to the comment upthread that I posted about my friend: I have a right to comment about my friend and you just reacted to it as if you knew the situation. I graciously have provided more info specific to my situation to clarify. I was only speaking of one friend and a very particular situation in sharing that comment. I never said I wouldn’t be friends with someone who was chronically late or in any way referenced matters of medical condition or (dis)ability.

        In fact, I have been friends with this person for years, loving her, enjoying her company, and accepting the lateness and in fact not saying anything about it for *years*. I only reached my limit when it was getting into 3-4 hours late for personal meetings–and started arriving later after I finally mentioned my frustration with her lateness–but she was clearly on time and even early when it was business.

  31. Misha says:

    Im always somewhere between 10 minutes early and on time. I cant imagine having so little respect for someone elses time that Id make them wait for me on the regular. Issues occur and its totally ok to be late when they do, but I have a couple of friends that are always a minimum of 10-30 minutes late. Not late to work or school though, only to social meetings where they obviously just dont regard the other persons time as important.
    Angers me so much when they finally do show up with a ”Sorry, Im late” because if they were sorry, they wouldnt do this every time.
    Additionally, it’s unfair because in the case of a social meeting, I then feel like Im not allowed to show my annoyance and anger because then *I* would be the one ruining the occasion.
    Be on time folks, its not hard!

  32. Sorella says:

    I do tend to agree with this assessment (Oprah said the same years ago, paraphrasing but it was “what makes you think YOUR time is more important than my time”. I get anxiety if I’m late. Don’t think it’s genetic (but you do follow your parents). My parents were always early or on time, so so I am – but my sister seemed to resent it . Without parents pushing her, she is an adult who ALWAYS late for everything now (as said, she always crams in to much, does not factors other things into it like weather, traffic, ect.). BAD time management for sure when it is constant. It drives me crazy. And her friends – she actually has a couple of friends who don’t make outside-the-house plans with her anymore as they find it irritating. She actually married an always-late guy and as a result now has 4 young adult kids who are bad at managing time and always late (except one kid – who tries to be on time, but gave up the battle as she is the lone wolf in her family).

    And like MANY always-late people, my sister is like “just the way I am, people must accept it” OR “Sorry, I didn’t realize there would be traffic” or like many think it’s a cutesy-quirk when others mention it “Ohh, I know, hahah, I’m always late, what can I do”. It’s not cute and it really does
    impact how others see you – you just don’t know it as they may all talk about it behind your back how selfish you are LOL. I promise you that is happening in all you social circles and work LOL.

  33. Kate says:

    Wow this is an emotionally charged topic! To the people who feel angry and disrespected by people who are chronically late, I understand and I think that’s a perfectly normal feeling. I also wonder though if that kneejerk reaction of feeling disrespected by somone else’s lateness is a bit ego-centered? In the sense that you are taking someone else’s actions as an indication of how they feel about YOU or how they are not considering YOU. When really everything that everyone does has to do with themselves, their perspectives, their fears, their history and conditioning. I am learning that the healthiest thing we can do with all our relationships is to just set boundaries and try to honor them. If there is someone in your life who is chronically late and it upsets you, tell them and set any reasonable boundaries you want that will honor your time.

    • Anna says:

      Agreed! @Kate And for me, that was remaining friends but not doing anymore personal meet-ups. I miss them but problem solved. We see each other in other contexts.

  34. Kim says:

    For people who are always late and claim they really can’t help it…my question always is…would you be late to a dinner with a celebrity and keep them waiting? I’m guessing no. And if so, set a damn timer. It’s respecting other people and their time. We all have reasons we could be late. You’re not special.

    • ElleV says:

      You’re right – someone with a neurodevelopmental disorder or traumatic brain injury that impairs their executive function may be able, with a lot of help and effort, to show up for a one-off special event on time.
      But if you’re meeting with a celebrity every day, multiple times a day, which is really what we’re talking about (a person’s ability in their day-to-day life to show up on time most of the time) it wouldn’t be possible to sustain. Same as a person with a terrible knee injury may be able to run on it in a high-stakes situation with a lot of effort but couldn’t go for a daily jog.

      No one is claiming to be special; we’re claiming to be limited. I’m glad you don’t experience the same limitations and consequences in this area – wouldn’t wish time blindness on anyone – but how is telling people “you’re not special, set a damn timer” any less rude than being late?

    • Belig says:

      I would absolutely make a celebrity wait, unfortunately. I showed up late to pretty much all of my exams in college, had to beg to be allowed in the room several times… And my whole future was on the line there. It wasn’t just meeting some celebrity!

      Timers don’t help. Planning every step, working backwards from a deadline doesn’t help. Adding buffer time everywhere doesn’t help. Or, well… I suspect all of that does help, and if I didn’t have all those coping systems in place, I would be much, much later, and miss many more deadlines. It just is never enough…

      • Anna says:

        Try therapy to figure out why you’re chronically late especially for things that are so important or try hypnosis. The latter has been a life-saver for me (not for lateness but for other things). It’s amazing to arrest negative thinking and habits.

      • Anna says:

        And as others have shared above, you may look into testing for neurodivergency or other conditions that may be causing this. I did not mean to assume with my last response that every case of lateness is due to negative thinking or habit, only to share that hypnosis has been of unbelievable help to me with other matters (psychological) that seemed impossible to surmount so perhaps could help with this? I’m trying to learn as well and appreciate the comments here! 🙂

      • Belig says:

        No worries, Anna. Thanks for your comment, and for keeping an open mind about this. 🙂

  35. DizzyLizzy says:

    LOL. Y’all must have never dealt with a Texas high school football coach. They are famous for saying “if you are on time, you are late. If you are 30 minutes early, you are on time.” And if you don’t want to be running until you throw up and THEN start practice, you best be dressing out ASAP.🏈🏈🏈

  36. LoonaticCap says:

    I.. I feel educated by some of the comments I’ve read. I believe to a group of people this is a real issue.
    I am almost always on time. Or early. If I’m going to be late I let the person know. I value other people’s time and I expect the same.
    I do have friends who used to be terrible with time and I got so mad over the years because I didn’t drive get and depended on them. They’ve gotten better at it, mostly because they know they’ll have to deal with having a bad mood because I absolutely HATE waiting.
    I had a boyfriend that used to say he’s coming at 5 and would show up 3 hours later. After some time he changed behaviors because lateness really pisses me off.
    Like. I literally got a car so I wouldn’t depend on anybody else ever again. I hate waiting and Nowadays I feel like I carry a disclaimer for it lol

  37. Silent Star says:

    Dr. Phil is an idiot and doesn’t know the research very well. He’s also super judgy and condescending.

    There is also research that shows that chronically late people have a hard time judging how long it takes to do “just one more thing” before they leave, or how long it actually takes to get from point A to point B.
    For example, they might be on track to be 10 minutes early, so they think they have time for a quick snack. Then they are still on time but realize they should brush their teeth real quick. By now they’re a couple minutes late, but they forgot it snowed and they still have to sweep the snow off the car, making them several more minutes late now. Then as they are on their way, they realize they forgot to take into account how long it takes to find parking and then walk to the final destination.

    As someone else mentioned upthread, people with ADHD and other neurodiversity can be challenged with this. Also people who are super stressed.

    Dr. Phil’s explanation is insulting.

  38. Andrea says:

    I am chronically late. The time slips away from me a lot. With one of my exes I was an hour late for your date. I was at a friend’s house and they were giving me gifts because it had just been my birthday.

    The funny thing is, my therapist is always 10-15 minutes late for our appointments, even now that they are on the phone. I have basically found a version of myself in therapy form.

  39. Sass says:

    Unless it’s a specifically timed thing, like a wedding or a child’s birthday party, or a lunch etc. – ok, basically if it’s just a party where it begins at 7 but nobody cares if you show up at 9 because it goes until midnight – I intentionally show up 15-30 minutes late. I hate it when I throw a party and people show up five minutes early. EVERY MINUTE OF PREP TIME COUNTS. You show up early, you’re helping me clean 😂

    That said, I do my best to be on time for everything else, because it’s so disrespectful to show up late. I call if I’m running behind. I dislike being late to time sensitive things.

  40. tcbc says:

    It seems to me that if you’re consistently late due to neurodivergence then you should disclose that to the people who you keep waiting. Of course everyone have a right to medical privacy, but you have to weigh that against the widespread view that lateness is huge character flaw. Once people have that information, they can decide if they want to continue your relationship, either by agreeing to wait, or by changing the terms of the meet up (only hanging out in non-time specific circumstances, like a group meetup at a carnival, etc.) Or they can decide not to be friends at all.

    And, you can also decide, based on their reaction, if you want to be friends, too.

    People would be more understanding of this if they knew you had a real issue, and you weren’t just being a jerk.

    • Belig says:

      Or you could just assume that anyone who seems embarrassed and stressed enough about their lateness has those challenges, and leave it at that. Many people have no idea they would qualify for a diagnosis…

    • DS9 says:

      ADHD and other ND conditions that involve time blindness and executive dysfunction are both underdiagnosed and misunderstood.

      Many who struggle with punctuality don’t know why they do and don’t understand why others manage to be on time and they just can’t. It leads to shame and frustration and doesn’t even occur to them it’s the result of a condition.

  41. Onomo says:

    I feel like people ragging about lateness could use some cultural sensitivity as well. Some cultures are monochronic – Germany, Nordic countries, England. Others are polychronic – you are on time for court, doctors appointments, etc but a party or seeing friends well the time isn’t exactly set in stone.

    Example: I went to a Pakistani wedding that the invitation said 7 pm and no one showed until 930 and we ate at 10pm. The Puerto Rican people at my table said no event could be later than my Puerto Rican family! And the Jamaican person said oh have you never met Jamaicans! We all laughed.

    The French people I know came 3.5 hours late to a party once and when asked why they said “well parties simply don’t start that early where we are from. There is no point in showing up that early.” Same thing happened with Spaniards I knew.

    My American friends- the WASPs, the children of immigrants, the first generation immigrants are all different with respect to time and it’s fine? I guess that shows me as not Nordic, English or a WASP though.

    • Cava24 says:

      I think that is apples to oranges though- parties and group events are different than individual people meeting up because presumably there is someone else for the waiting party to keep company with and they have probably cleared their evening for it.

      If the plan for your day is 12pm reservation for lunch with your friend, 2:30pm yoga by your apartment, then go to your parents’ house at 5pm to help make dinner, having your friend show up at 12:45 pm for brunch after the restaurant has given your table away and having to wait another half an hour is an issue. A lot of people also experience anxiety waiting somewhere on their own, just because the have a heightened sense of exposure.

      How would the late person know that the person they are meeting had free time beyond what was originally scheduled?

      And again, when you know someone well and they are on time for most things, they just don’t make the effort for you, there’s a genuine problem there. If someone is genuinely flustered and apologetic of course you wouldn’t feel that bad and you could even bond a little over that but people can be pretty brazen about making other people wait without regard for their time. I feel like people keep denying that’s a thing on this thread or trying to bury it under instances where that’s not the case. All of these things are happening – cultural divergence, neural divergence and shitty friends are three separate things, one does not cancel the other out or make someone else’s experience not valid. Part of knowing your friends is knowing areas where they are inclined to push boundaries to test you and figuring out if you are okay with it or not. Discovering the things that are hurtful to you is important, it may be a totally different set of things that would upset someone else, it doesn’t make them less valid.

      • Onomo says:

        Here is the thing – If I am meeting someone and they are late, if I have something else to go to I might feel annoyed.

        If I had a book or work I wanted to finish, and I can use the 30 minutes I am waiting to do that, then I will feel happy my friend is late.

        You don’t have to feel annoyed at someone being late?

        Brazen implies intent to me? Shameless when they should be ashamed. Well that’s putting your values on other people.

        I just gave you two well known reasons why time isn’t the same to people, per workplace culture trainers and many other people told you about mental illness like depression or ADHD or bipolar and yet you still think you alone know what’s going on in someone’s life to make them late and have no books or allowances for their lateness then that is a cultural difference is all.

      • Cava24 says:

        Nope, I totally acknowledged two well know reasons that people might be be time challenged and a I said that separately, people who don’t have those issues or some other issue just choose to not make an effort. Which is a frequent problem. The people I meet up with are not total strangers, I know their lives and their issues. And the flip side of someone having anxiety and/or depression is that if you are the person who doesn’t have it, you should try to be on time, be more mindful that they are likely to not feel valued and make an extra effort- your modeling assumes one person (the person who is always late) has all the issues and the other person should not be affected by it because being affected by it is a choice. You only have empathy going in one direction.