Salty Waitress is The Takeout’s advice column from a real-life waitress that will teach you how not to behave like a garbage person while dining out—and maybe in real life.
I’ve been dating this nice woman for six months. But things just aren’t working out, and I’m thinking of calling it quits. I don’t, however, want to break up with her with a text or do it over the phone. In my mind, I feel that doing something nice—like gently dropping the bomb after dinner at a nice restaurant—would soften the blow. Is my justification valid, or am I nuts?
It’s Over in Orlando
Dear It’s Over,
Kudos, I guess, for wanting to soften the blow a little bit, but I’m not sure a restaurant breakup—no matter how good the dinner—is the right way to go.
Here’s why: Most of us don’t want to undergo painful emotional moments in public. (Except for reality TV stars, and yes, they are nuts.) Six months isn’t forever, but maybe this gal really likes you, or maybe she doesn’t take rejection well, or maybe you’d be breaking up with her after she had a really shitty day already. In any event, there’s the potential for a lot of emotion, and then, when you’re in public, the self-consciousness over that emotion. If you break up with her in a public place, you’re asking her not to just to handle the blow of the break-up, but to do so without getting upset. I’m not sure that’s fair.
There’s also the fact that you’d have to invite her to dinner and then act normally in the lead-up to the actual dumping. You’d essentially invite her to on a date, which she might get excited about, and then break up with her... when? After appetizers? During the ravioli course? What do you talk about before then? “Let’s split the chocolate cake and also maybe see other people?” It sounds like a mess to me.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t seen arguments and break-ups happen at my tables. (Break-ups are sometimes better than arguments, because usually someone leaves before voices get raised.) Believe me, no matter how good the shrimp scampi is, no one will remember that meal for the actual food. In fact, you might just ruin shrimp scampi for the poor girl, and that is unforgivable.
Instead, why not schedule a takeout or delivery dinner at her place? That puts her on comfortable home turf—no Lyft-ing home from the restaurant in tears—and ensures that she can react to the news however she’d like. It also doesn’t put an arbitrary time frame on the conversation, and there’s no server coming over every 10 minutes to check on “how everything’s going.” She’s comfortable, you can leave whenever, and you’re saving some server from a potentially awkward encounter. Godspeed, man.
Got a question about dining out etiquette? Or are you a server/bartender with a horror story the world needs to hear? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.