A recent entry in the “Am I The A–hole” forum on Reddit has people talking about chronically late people, respecting other people’s time, and is even raising some awareness about a lesser-known aspect of ADHD — a very common syndrome affecting over 11 million Americans. The post was written by a man who became fed up with his wife’s tendency to be late for anything and everything, which is difficult for him because he has anxiety around being on time.
Finally, not wanting to be late for yet another movie, he decided one day to head to the screening without her when she wanted to try on clothes rather than be on time.
“Since we started dating, she has always taken her sweet time doing everything,” wrote the OP. “Getting dressed, doing her makeup, eating, whatever it is, she takes forever. I’m generally a patient person, but I get extremely anxious when I’m late for something with a scheduled starting time. Alone, I have never been late for anything. With her in tow, I’m late for everything.”
According to the Reddit user, he has tried urging his wife to get ready for things faster in order to get to events on time, but doing so only makes her defensive. He even said that she lost a friend after they got fed up with her never showing up at the time she’s asked to.
Some people do legitimately have trouble keeping track of time, as is common with those with ADHD. However, in spite of her husband’s attempts to get around this by shopping at the mall before the movie started, this woman was more interesting in trying on clothes than hopping over to the theater when the time came.
“Getting to the mall before the movie started was a battle itself, but miraculously with the prospect of doing some shopping before it, she was able to gather her necessary belongings and get there with time to spare. She started shopping while I more or less followed her, until it was about time to get to the theater. When I told her this, she was talking to a sales clerk about the clothes that she wanted to buy, and she told me to ‘hang on’ for a second.”
As the second turned into minutes and the previews were starting, she went from talking to the clerk to picking out jeans to try on. Her husband interpreted this to mean “I have absolutely no concern about your needs because I’m doing my own thing right now and anything other than what I want to do is out of the question.”
So he left, went to the theater by himself, still missing the first few minutes of the movie but at least going to see most of it. Instead of simply joining him when she was ready, the wife apparently sat on a lobby bench and was “beside herself” because he had “ditched her.”
It’s possible that the wife’s behavior could still be explained by ADHD. Though many assume that the syndrome results in an inability to pay attention, it actually often results in hyperfocus on activities that those who have it enjoy, making it difficult for them to pull away. What we might have here is an issue of a couple having different needs around time and lateness who need to communicate honestly with each other and perhaps consult experts on both lateness anxiety and ADHD.
The discussion in the Reddit comments has reached a level that could be described as “vigorous.” Many people who have ADHD have chimed in to try and explain how it works.