Is being late for a date the worst thing on earth? Or is it fashionable? If so, how late is just right? Sharon, the stunningly gorgeous half of The Dating Gurus, mentions that it's a huge turnoff for women when guys show up late for a first date. So, let's weigh your three--yes, only three--options: early, on time, or late.
Some dating guides, in their infinite wisdom, tell us that you should not arrive early. Why? you naturally ask. Well, because it supposedly makes you look like an eager beaver. It signals to the other party that you're more into them than they are to you, thus ceding the upper hand to them. Or something like that.
I have no language to describe how wrong-headed this is. Keep in mind that you haven't met yet. There is nothing between you two, so you have nothing to compromise yet.
Short answer: yes, you can arrive early. Don't make a big show of it. Don't tell the other person that you arrived an hour early and have been stroking a picture of them against your face that entire hour. Don't be stalker-y. But arriving up to fifteen minutes early and situating yourself can be a good thing. It gives you a chance to settle in, check your messages, hit the bathroom, order a drink. Early: fine.
Being On Time
What's on time? I don't even know what it is. Does "on time" mean within one minute of the appointed meeting time? Five minutes? Ten?
On time means: being early or late, but not enough that it's noticeable. For the sake of simplicity, let's say that "on time" means five minutes on either side of the appointed time.
Yes, being on time is good. You don't look uncool; you don't look too eager. Be on time. Please.
The truck in front of you accidentally dropped 12,000 pounds of drywall in the roadway. A zipper broke. An ice-storm hit. A tire went flat.
Life happens, right? But how often does the truly unexpected and unavoidable really happen?
By budgeting an extra 15-30 minutes into your trip, you would have: have enough time for police to clear the drywall accident or for you to put on a new pair of pants to replace the ones with the broken zipper.
But because those terrible things do sometimes happen--ice-storms and tire malfunctions--we have to take them into account. All you have to do is text or call your date and let him/her know you are running late.
It gives that person a sense of expectation. It helps to define their waiting-time. Ice-storm? They might want to cancel and reschedule for another time. Or they can go back home for awhile. Tire? Well, it takes about 15 minutes to change a tire. They can remain where they are or maybe go for a short walk.
Beyond those acts of God that prevent you from getting to a date on time, don't do it.