I’ll keep this short, as I don’t take any pleasure in reliving it. I have corresponded with a man for two months on a dating site that shall remain nameless (except to say it starts with T and ends in R). He had a very strong and decisive personality, which I liked, and he was punctual and flew to Austin, Texas, for the weekend to meet me. (He lives in Tucson, Ariz.)
He is financially secure, owns two homes and is divorced with one adult child. I too am divorced, with no children. We’re both in our late 50s. He was charming to me and asked questions and remembered things I had told him when we FaceTimed during our early acquaintanceship. He was the man of my dreams, or so I thought.
“‘Do some people just expect perfect service?’”
Everything was good on paper, but there were three problems: 1. He treated the waitress as if she was a nobody. He never looked at her once, smiled or made eye contact, and he spoke to her like a character would treat a servant on “Downton Abbey.” In fact, he treated her worse than they treat their servants on “Downton Abbey.” 2. We went Dutch. 3. He tipped 10% on our $170 meal.
It left me with a bad taste in my mouth. He has been nothing but polite to me, but I could not help overcompensating by smiling at the waitress and saying thank you every time she refilled our water glasses. Am I overreacting? Do some people just expect perfect service? And do they deserve it in a restaurant that charges that much money for a meal?
He does not have to impress the waitress. He wants nothing from her, so take it as a revealing insight into his character and his future behavior. If he talks to a waitress as if she is a nobody, he will treat you in the same way in time. If he becomes angry and irritable at her slow service, he will behave in a similar manner if and when he finds some of your own habits annoying.
He wants something from you. He is searching for friendship, companionship, romance and perhaps sex, and he needs you to like him. It’s easy to be a nice guy when you’re FaceTiming
or having dinner and enjoying a glass of wine or two. He has everything to gain from being a gentleman. He may even see himself as Prince Charming. The waitress would likely disagree with that assessment.
Online dating is transactional. People swipe right on dating sites based on socioeconomic factors as much as physical attractiveness, whether they like to admit it or not. They take notice of clothing, vacations, living rooms, jobs, educational attainment and, yes, where someone lives. That’s why that information is made so readily available. As you say, he was “good on paper.”
“He wants nothing from the waitress.”
Of course, people say time and again in studies that they would prefer to meet someone who is financially stable and who does not have a lot of debt. Understandably, they want to find a partner who is financially responsible, especially if they have worked hard to build their own finances. He spent money to come see you, you split the bill, and he tipped 10%.
People are more reluctant to tip 20% due to inflation, nervousness about a looming recession and an end to pandemic-era overtipping for service. People also have tipping fatigue, and they are tired of being guilted into digital tipping everywhere they go. That said, if he can afford to eat in a fancy restaurant, he can afford to tip a server 20%.
Silicon Valley has commodified our personal lives: We pay for services on sites like Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble and Match.com
and we scroll through people’s profiles as if we were looking for shoes or real estate. The fact that you could both afford to eat at that restaurant suggests that you have a similar socioeconomic status. But as you discovered, that’s a low bar for compatibility.
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