As deplorable as this behavior is, you’d probably be surprised by how frequently this type of rudeness occurs on dinner dates. Think for a moment about exes from your past. Specifically, ask yourself whether anyone who was ever rude to waiters turned out later to be one of the kindest and most compassionate people you know. I knew that exercise wouldn’t take too much of your time because you instantly know the truth: People who are rude to waiters have a mean streak. The sad fact is that some of us have to go through the experience of dating a jerk to learn this lesson. First, lets cover examples so that you can picture this behavior in 3D.
Two types of rude behavior
There are two different ways a person can be rude to waiters, including behaviors and verbal remarks. Behaviors include eye rolling; making eye contact with your date as if to say, “Can you believe this loser?;” interrupting the waiter; sending and resending food back to the kitchen; making silly, tiny demands that border on sadism in an effort to upset and annoy the waiter; frustrated sighing; and making under-the-breath comments. Verbal remarks include outright attacks about how the waiter doesn’t know how to “be a waiter;” commenting on the waiter’s incompetence or stupidity; and mocking the waiter’s pronunciation of menu items.
What it means if your date is rude to waiters
There are two kinds of people who crave power: those who already have a lot of power and want more of it, and those who don’t have any real power in their lives but desperately wish they had it over others. The vast majority of men and women who are rude to waiters fall into the second category: they aren’t CEOs or presidents; they aren’t leaders or managers. The majority of folks who are rude to waiters crave power but are usually stuck having to listen to others tell them what to do. Men and women who are rude to waiters would love nothing more than to tell the world what to do, and they love having an audience which makes them feel strong and important. These individuals are inevitably sad men and women, and nothing will ever be ‘enough’ for them. They live their lives in a semi-bad mood, telling themselves that the world is full of idiots and that no one sees just how gifted they really are.
Psychologically, what do you call these people?
Clinically, these individuals often have features of a personality disorder and fall along one of the following personality disordered spectra: narcissistic (huge ego, control freak, never shows vulnerability), borderline (extreme emotions, sometimes self-destructive), or sociopathic (shifting moral compass, disturbing lack of empathy).
If you come across a date who is rude to waiters, it’s important to understand that this behavior indicates a widespread problem. In other words, waiters are not the only target of their anger and power issues. I promise you that a man who is rude and demeaning to waiters is also demeaning to others who may include their mother or father, siblings, coworkers, support staff at work, strangers, or even homeless people (hard to imagine, I know).
What to do the next time your date is rude to a waiter…
I love the old adage, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” If your date is rude to a waiter, the most humane and responsible thing you could do is to take a stand and apologize to the waiter for your date. Say, “I’m sorry if you felt that was rude, but I’ll make an effort to make up for that!” The real point, however, is that your date – and relationship – should be over as soon as you’ve seen this behavior more than once in the same person. Think about it: Do you want to be with someone who preys on people in a position of less power? Come on, what kind of person targets a person serving food for a living? It is crucial that you understand that a man or woman who treats a waiter as inferior will soon start treating you that way, too.
So, what motivates a person to be rude to a waiter in front of you on a date? Your date has two goals: they want you to see him or her as entitled, special, and demanding; and your date is also testing you to see what you’ll put up with. The next time you see this bottom-feeder trait in your date, I hope you do the right thing and put a stop to it immediately.
Have you encountered this on a date? How did you handle it?
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.