Should You Sit Next to Your Date at a Restaurant, or Across From Them?

Is sitting side-by-side in a restaurant booth adorable or odd?

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Couple sits on same side of table at restaurant
Photo: bokan (Shutterstock)

When you’re heading out on a hot date, you’re looking to share some close time with someone you care about. You’ll be sharing some conversation over drinks and food, and since you’re not going out with just any old pal, you might want to sidle up to your companion. If you’re in a booth or an otherwise intimate space at a restaurant, do you eat on the same side of the table as your date?

This is subject of some debate. Let’s argue about it.


Sitting on the same side of the table is fine... usually

Sometimes when my fiancée and I go out to eat, we do, in fact, sit on the same side of the table. I don’t know why this weirds some people out so much. A good deal of the time it’s because the table or booth we’re at is huge, and we don’t feel like shouting at each other over loud background noise. But we also understand that this isn’t appropriate in all settings. If we’re at a really fancy place where we can actually hear each other, or we’re sitting at a small two-top, then no, we’re not sitting on the same side. That feels weird.

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It’s not like we’re getting handsy with each other, or intimately whispering in each other’s ears or something. We really just like being near each other. It’s always been that way. (Although to be 100% fair, from my time working in a restaurant, I have seen people get really touchy with each other when sitting on the same side and that makes staff and fellow diners uncomfortable.)

Another reason to sit side-by-side is that we almost always share food. We’re way less likely to drop shit on the table, or on ourselves, when we can just push our plates together to dole stuff out. It can be a little bit awkward when we’re both talking to our server while perched on the same side of the table, but overall, I think it’s kind of nice. —Dennis Lee

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Dining face-to-face is more romantic than side-by-side

The guilt I feel taking the “con” stance here is immense. I know that sitting side-by-side in a restaurant booth is a picture-perfect display of affection for your significant other, and I’m always flattered by the suggestion... right up until the food comes. Almost immediately after the plates hit the table, it becomes an untenable configuration.

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This is a “me” problem, but I have a bad habit (possibly my worst habit?) of looking down at my plate when I eat, rather than looking up at the person across from me. When I am sitting side-by-side with that person, and their face is not immediately visible across from my nacho platter to prompt me, I have an even harder time remembering to look up and turn my head 90 degrees to look them in the eye between bites.

Also, the elbows. If you’re slicing anything on your plate with a knife and fork, your elbows will need some room to maneuver, and they just might catch your date in the ribs along the way. Cue a chorus of “whoops, sorry”s rather than the loving chatter that such a seating configuration is supposed to invite.

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No, I prefer the side-by-side seating when we’re at home on the couch watching a movie. At restaurants, I’d rather not spend date night worrying about whether I just crunched a tortilla chip too loudly right beside my date’s eardrum. —Marnie Shure