‘He is financially secure and owns two houses’: I finally met the man of my dreams, but he treated our waitress like dirt and tipped her 10%. Am I overreacting?

By Quentin Fottrell

“He treated her worse than they treat their servants on Downton Abbey”

Dear Quentin,

I’ll keep it short, because I don’t take pleasure in reliving it. I corresponded with a man for two months on a dating site that will remain nameless (except to say it starts with a T and ends with an R). He had a very strong and determined 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 houses and is divorced with an adult child. I am also divorced, without children. We are both in our late fifties. He was charming with me asking questions and remembering things I told him when we FaceTimed during our early acquaintance. He was the man of my dreams, or so I thought.

Everything was fine on paper, but there were three problems: 1. He treated the waitress like she was nobody. Not once did he look at her, smile, or make eye contact, and he spoke to her the way a character would treat a servant in “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’s been nothing but polite to me, but I couldn’t 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?

Still single

Dear bachelor,

He doesn’t need to impress the waitress. He doesn’t want anything from her, so take it as a revealing insight into his character and his future behavior. If he talks to a waitress like she’s nobody, he’ll treat you the same way over time. If he gets angry and annoyed with her slow service, he’ll act the same way if and when he finds some of your own habits annoying.

He wants something from you. He’s looking for friendship, companionship, romance, and maybe even sex, and he needs you to like him. It’s easy to be a nice guy when you’re FaceTiming (AAPL) or dining and enjoying a glass of wine or two. He has everything to gain from being a gentleman. Maybe he even sees himself as a prince in shining armor. The waitress probably wouldn’t agree with that assessment.

Online dating is transactional. People are swiping right on dating sites based on both socioeconomic factors and physical attractiveness, whether they want to admit it or not. They pay attention to clothes, holidays, living rooms, jobs, education level and, yes, where someone lives. That is why that information is made so readily available. As you say, he was “good on paper”.

Of course people say over and over in studies that they would rather meet someone who is financially stable and not in a lot of debt. It is understandable that 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 hesitant to tip 20% due to inflation, nervousness about a looming recession, and the end of overgiving for service during the pandemic. People also suffer from tipping fatigue and are tired of being found guilty of digital tipping everywhere they go. That said, if he can afford to eat at a fancy restaurant, he can afford to tip a waiter 20%.

Silicon Valley has commercialized our personal lives: we pay for services on sites like Tinder, OKCupid, Bumble, and Match.com (MTCH), and we scroll through people’s profiles as if we were looking for shoes or real estate. The fact that both of you can afford to eat at that restaurant suggests that you are of similar socioeconomic status. But as you discovered, that’s a low bar for compatibility.

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Read also:

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“Am I the greatest fool in the world?” I married my husband after being together for 25 years. Now he wants a divorce. I will be left with nothing. What can I do?

‘I hugged him. All I felt were bones’: my father, 90, and my abusive mother are getting divorced. I’ve already fired four lawyers. How do I find a good lawyer?

—Quentin Fottrell


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

11/19/22 0826ET

Copyright (c) 2022 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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