DEAR KRISTIN: I’m dating a guy I really like a lot, but he’s got an irksome habit. Every time we go out to eat, it always feels like he’s trying to impress me by making too much small talk with the waiters. It’s embarrassing because it makes him look like he’s trying too hard. I just want to go to a restaurant and order dinner without having to endure his song and dance routine with the waiter.
I already know how you’ll probably respond: You’re probably gonna tell me to cut him a break because he’s just trying to be cordial to the staff -- but I want to get ahead of you on that. It’s more than him just wanting to be cordial -- and the reason I know this is because immediately after each little quip or corny statement with the waiter, he’ll sneak a peek at me to see how I’m responding to his witty repartee. Last week it happened and I rolled my eyes and said something like, “I’m sure the waiter’s very busy tonight. Can we just order without taking up more of his time?” The circus act is becoming, well, a circus act. Help! -- JUST WANT TO EAT
DEAR WANT TO EAT: Pat yourself on the back for addressing the issue directly. You were right to use your words and express your frustration, instead of letting your resentments simmer into something larger.
If he continues with the behavior, you should go a step further with a more pointed question like, “Why do you feel the need to always engage the waiter with more talk than is necessary? Why can’t you just let him do his job?”
If the behavior continues after this, either tell him it’s no longer acceptable or stop going out to eat with him. You can’t control other people’s behavior.
But you can certainly control yours.