We Asked 23 People How Long They'd Wait If A First Date Is Running Late

by Natalia Lusinski
Hannah Burton/Bustle

Dating can be anxiety-inducing: what to wear, where to go, will the Bumble date look like their picture, and so on. But what about when a date is late? Should you wait? And how long? When do you bail? After all, sometimes things come up that you can’t control. I used to live in L.A., and it can easily take an hour driving from Hollywood to Venice Beach, and at any time of day — there will be unexpected road construction or street closures or traffic due to a local concert…

“For a first date, if someone does not call or text by the 15-minute mark — and they should let you know prior — I wouldn’t continue to wait,” Stef Safran, matchmaking and dating expert, tells Bustle.

Bonnie Winston, celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert, advises to give them a bit more time. “You should always respect the person you get involved with, and vice-versa,” she tells Bustle. “One clue that the person won’t give you respect is by not valuing your time and showing up late.” She says she tells her clients to remember the line from the book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower: “We accept the love we deserve.” “I advise them to give it one hour with an apology text or phone call and 30 minutes without one,” Winston says. However, some experts think it depends on other factors, too.

Susan McCord, a dating/relationship coach, advice columnist, and talk show host who runs, thinks that it also depends on whether the person who is late has contacted you or not. “With all the ghosting going on with dating today, [people] aren’t sure what the proper etiquette is anymore,” she tells Bustle. “If your date has called or texted, profusely apologizing that they will be a few minutes late, that is acceptable. If they do not contact you and it has been over 20 minutes, I would suggest that you leave — your time is important, but they don’t seem to respect that.”

She adds that paying attention to these types of early red flags is very important. “The more bad behavior you allow from people in your life, the more you will keep attracting these types towards you,” McCord says. “When you respect yourself, you value yourself and won’t waste time with the wrong people. When someone is really interested, they can’t wait to see you and will NOT leave you hanging on a date.”

Of course, how long to wait for a late date varies from person-to-person and may involve several factors. Below, 23 daters share how long they’ll stick around.


Rebeca, 37

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I’d wait 20 minutes IF there was a message saying my date’s late.”


Kayla, 25

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“Personally, I think if someone’s late, they’re not worth the wait. I’m OK with waiting like five minutes, but anything over that becomes excessive. If they were thoroughly interested and committed to the date, they’d be early and on time. I think it’s rude to be ‘fashionably’ late, especially on first impression.”


Jonathan, 41

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I’ll wait up to 20 minutes. After that, I’ll call and leave one message, then call again in another 20 minutes, then give up.”


Martina, 23

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“For a first date from a dating app, I would wait 15 minutes. If it’s a first date, but we met in real life or had a mutual friend, I would wait closer to 20 minutes.”


Asael, 25


“Having lived in a digital age filled with social media, it’s no surprise that we’ve become very impatient people with a hatred for patience! As a gay man, online dating apps (which I think are super #GayCulture) can really affect a plethora of things. With hundreds of potential dates at the tip of your fingers, many individuals have grown a zero tolerance for dates being late.

Although I do see that zero tolerance point of view, I would take a few things into consideration: looks (the more attractive the date, the more you are willing to wait for them), date qualities (did they say they normally run late?), how long we’ve been chatting (an hour or a couple weeks?), and location (is the game on at the bar?). But I would say, if I really was trying to see the potential, I would give it a good 30 minutes (depending on the above) — people run late, accidents happen, things come up. Waiting 30 minutes isn’t going to ruin your life, and you never know — maybe it’ll be worthwhile.”


Mark, Mid-40s

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

For a first date, it depends where I am waiting: If I’m in a locale where I can entertain myself or spend time doing something, then I might wait an hour and see what their excuse is.”


KM, 25

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“I’d wait 22 minutes — the ideal time is 20, so the extra two minutes is like a grace period.”


Anne, 58

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I’m a dating pro, and I hate to wait for a late date. For the first date, I would wait 30 minutes — I figure there are good excuses. Every single second increases date anxiety exponentially. If it’s early in the dating relationship, I always meet somewhere that I will enjoy solo — a restaurant or bar that is not intimidating for a single woman. That way, a late-arriving date isn’t a crisis, and I don’t have to worry about when to cut off the waiting, and a no-show isn’t the worst thing — I just enjoy myself! You never know who you will meet, too.”


Jessica, 32

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I’ve never had a date (first date or any date) be more than five minutes late. I guess I would wait 30 minutes, or else ask to reschedule.”


Belinda, 40

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“For a first date, I’d wait 15 minutes with no phone call or text and 30 minutes with one. Otherwise, reschedule. My time is valuable. But, if I didn’t have anything else going on and it’s a nice day, I might grab a cup of coffee and read for an hour, just passing the time leisurely like I would have even if I wasn’t waiting for someone. A lot depends on the person who’s delayed. If they had an unexpected emergency or stuck in traffic (big-city problems), I wouldn’t be annoyed. But if they had something else (non-work) come up, I would likely just reschedule. My patience is correlated with my level of annoyance.”


Sam, 37


“Back home in Toronto, I would have said I’d wait for a first date for 20 minutes, unless they messaged and explained. But in Colombia, 30 minutes late is normal. So it depends where I am and also how into the woman I am (how attractive she is, if we have a connection, etc.).”


Stacy, 26

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“If I have never met the person, I will wait 20 minutes, and if I don’t hear anything from them, I move on.”


Juan, 38


“I’d wait 30-60 minutes, depending. In South America, people often run late, so an hour would be reasonable. But, all that said, if there’s a game on at the bar, she can be two hours late, though I’ll probably have made friends with other people by the time she arrives and may not really treat it as a date anymore (haha): ‘Oh, hey, what a coincidence, you like football, too? You missed the first goal, but you’re just in time for the second half. Meet my friends…’”


Kasia, 36

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“I’d wait 15 minutes, then leave and text the date that I left. I’m punctual and always arrive to the date 10-15 minutes early, so I can’t afford to wait another 15 minutes. I would not wait longer, no matter how hot he is — it’s just disrespectful. Maybe I’d wait around the corner to see him (lol), but I would not show myself.”


Brett, 39

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“For a first or second date, I’d probably wait 20 minutes if there’s no text. We all have phones, so it would be pretty rude if the date didn’t communicate the lateness. But I also know things happen, so 20 minutes is a fair buffer for me.”


Ale, 28

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“I’d wait 10-15 minutes for a first date.”


Keith, 50


"I will typically wait 15 minutes and let them know of this rule in advance.”


Denyse, 53

Hannah Burton/Bustle

“If there was a customary courtesy text telling me why he’s late, I’d wait 20 minutes.”


Diego, 35

Syda Productions/Fotolia

“It might be cultural (I’m from Spain), but I’d wait an hour!”


Lori, 39

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“I’ve been in the online dating world for seven years and here’s how I handle a late first date. After five minutes, I’ll double check to see if I have the location right. (I once showed up at the right coffee shop on the wrong side of town, so it was my bad that there was a mixed connection and we fixed it quickly). After 20 minutes, I’ll send a text to see if they’re running behind. After 30 minutes, if there’s no word, I’ll create a new game plan: If it’s a great venue, I can stick around and make friends; if not, bonus night with my gal pals. In the event that my date is running late and in communication about their situation, I’ll wait as long as it takes. I’m very selective, and I only make plans with quality people who are worthy of understanding and flexibility.”


Dan, Mid-30s


“I have had a couple of dates be egregiously late; I found a wonderful solution. I simply hit on a few women until I find one who wants to talk to me. I make sure to get her contact information early in the conversation. Then, when the late date shows up, she sees me talking to another girl and subconsciously realizes it wasn’t a good idea to be late. In one case, I wasn’t interested in the girl I was scheduled to meet, and I ended up dating one of the other girls that I’d met while waiting for her.”


Brian, 29

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“Depends how hot she is (sorry). But I may wait longer for one girl than another.”


Nancy, 60s

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“While my experience goes back in time, it is still very applicable and a valuable lesson. As a popular teenager in high school, I had many dates most Friday and Saturday nights. One Friday in particular was with a guy I liked a lot — I got a new outfit, took the time to get my hair perfect, etc. My folks always wanted to meet a first-time date, so they would wait with me for the guy. I was ready by 7:30 p.m., the appointed pick-up time; 7:30 came and went, and so did 8, 8:15, and 8:30. At 8:45, my dad casually asked me, ‘You sure you have the right night, Nancy?’ ‘Of course I am,’ I said. Then, 9 p.m. passed, and now I was getting a bit nervous, thinking maybe I did get stood-up; he was one of the most popular guys in school. At 9:15, my phone rang. It was my date, and his first words were, ‘Hi, Nancy. I’m excited to take you out tomorrow night. Is 7:30 still good for you?’ I had had the wrong night after all!

There was no texting then, and few folks used calendars; somehow, we all kept everything straight in our heads. Since that experience, I learned a big lesson: Always double-check dates and times, and write them down. While it was the longest time I ever waited for a date to arrive, it also taught me a great lesson. These days if a date were late, it would depend on whether I was waiting at home, in a restaurant, or some other place (I’d wait longest if I were home). I’d give 30-45 minutes before I called to see if he was OK, since stuff happens.”

As you can see, the results are varied when it comes to how long someone would wait around if their first date is running late. Beatty Cohan, a nationally recognized psychotherapist and sex therapist, and author of For Better, for Worse, Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love, believes that you should not wait longer than 10 minutes. “Your date can easily apologize with a text, email, or phone call,” she tells Bustle. “With today’s technology that we all carry around with us, there is no good reason for ‘lateness’ — rudeness and disrespect. Wait 10 minutes — respect only takes a few seconds.”

Of course, yes, certain variables can come into play regarding why your date is late, and only you can decide what you will tolerate — or not.