Adventures In Dating

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You know it and we know it: There's no such thing as a perfect relationship. Every couple has a few minor issues they need to work through. In this brand-new column, we talk to a real-life couple (though we've changed their names) about the little things that, well, bug 'em. And we'll offer some advice to help them build a stronger, healthier relationship.

Rob Says: She's Always Late!

I really like Theresa. She's funny and smart and we have a lot of fun together. But there is one thing about her that bugs me. Every time I go to pick her up, she keeps me waiting. And even those times when she appears ready to leave, she's not. She can have her jacket on, her money in her pocket, everything, and still find some way to poke around for another 10 minutes.

If she's supposed to meet me somewhere, I can pretty much count on her being 15 or 20 minutes late. She just doesn't seem to have any sense of time. In the two months we've been dating, I haven't seen the "coming attractions" at the movies or the opening pitch of a baseball game.

Even though Theresa and I aren't a big serious couple, I would like it if we could figure out this time thing. It would make hanging out with her a lot more fun.

Theresa Says: What's the Big Deal?

I know I have a problem being on time. My dad says I get it from my mom. I'm glad Rob realizes I'm not doing it on purpose. I really don't mean to keep people waiting, but for some reason, I'm just always running late.

To be honest, I don't really know what the big deal is. I mean, I can see why it's important to be on time for things like school, and I do manage to get to class on time. But it doesn't seem like a big problem to miss out on a few minutes of previews at the movie, or to meet our friends at a restaurant instead of driving there with them. Sometimes I think Rob makes this whole lateness thing a bigger issue than it needs to be.

I'd like it if Rob could just relax and go with the flow a little bit. If he did, I think he'd realize that being on time for everything is overrated.

Carla's Advice:

Rob and Theresa are just starting to build their relationship, so this is a great time to iron out a minor problem that could turn into a major problem. See, this whole lateness deal bugs Rob, and even though he can handle it right now, eventually he could start to feel like Theresa's lateness shows a lack of respect for his feelings.

And to be honest, it does. Theresa is content to pass off her lateness as something that just "happens." But in reality, she is capable of being on time. She even admits that she can make it to school before the bell rings. So in her mind, there are things that are important enough for her to be on time. She needs to see that her plans with Rob are some of those important things.

But Theresa also has a good point. She and Rob don't have to be on time for everything. Life isn't always about being on a schedule, and there's a lot to be said for "going with the flow" once in awhile.

The key is for Rob and Theresa to communicate and compromise. Each time they make plans, they need to talk about whether or not it's important for them to be on time. If they're going to a concert with his youth group and the church bus leaves at 7, then they need to be there by 7. But if they're just meeting friends for an afternoon in the park, it's probably OK to be a little more casual about the time. Rob needs to accept that there are occasions when it's all right for Theresa to take her time getting out the door, and Theresa needs to agree to be on time for some things, too.

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