Etiquette is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group”.
Pretty straight forward definition, right?
Well, what happens when someone decides that they will not be abiding by those customary norms, particularly in a public space?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) aileeliz when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for insisting my boyfriend eat respectfully at a nice restaurant?”
OP began with a quick introduction.
“So my boyfriend (20 Male), L, and I (20 Female) have been dating for 7 months.”
“We usually eat take out if we want to get something to eat.”
“However, I recently was promoted so we went to eat at a VERY nice Italian restaurant to celebrate.”
“Like, one with an enforced dress code.”
“My boyfriend is not the nicest of eaters, which can be kind of gross but I deal with it.”
Everything was fine, until…
“However, I didn’t realize he had no table manners.”
“At the restaurant, after we were served our first appetizer, a beautifully plated bruschetta dish, L looked at me and jokingly asked me if I would be upset if he enjoyed his meal the same way he would at home.”
“I told him that we were at a nice restaurant and there were other customers around.”
“He didn’t say anything, but instead started digging into the bruschetta with his hands, ignoring the serving fork, getting sauce all over his fingers.”
“I let this go. However, when the pasta came out, he smirked at me and ate like he hadn’t eaten in a week.”
“He dropped his fork and started picking up pieces of chicken and noodles with his fingers, getting sauce everywhere: the tablecloth, his hands, his clothes and face.”
“He didn’t miss the opportunity to loudly burp after he had finished destroying his side of the table.”
“The table next to us was astonished. My waiter even asked him if he was ok.”
“Other customers were staring. He also put his feet up on the chair next to us, blocking the aisle.”
“I had no idea what to do.”
“I didn’t want to make even more of a scene so I just asked for the check (which I paid) and left really embarrassed.”
“On the way home I told him how embarrassed I was and he just said that it was my fault for not letting him enjoy the meal as he pleased and that since we were paying customers the other guests had no business judging us.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some felt that this was meant was sending OP a message.
“This isn’t like he used the wrong fork.”
“Or made a bit of a mess failing with oysters or lobster.”
“He was intentionally bring disgusting because he wanted to make a statement.”
“‘I’m too cool for a fancy restaurant”‘. ~ Usrname52
“Sounds like he also ate extra grossly to punish her.”
“She had the audacity to ask him to please eat like an adult.”
“This man has “run for the hills” written all over him. What a nasty person.” ~ PoisonTheOgres
Others pointed out how infantile this behavior was.
“Honestly aren’t you tired of dealing with your boyfriend’s behaviour?”
“He’s acting like a kid and you aren’t his mom.”
“Get yourself someone you don’t have to worry about being in public/a restaurant with.”
“It’s just the basics of social politeness and he thinks he’s above it. Do yourself a HUGE favour and dump him!” ~ blueinkblots
“NTA Yep, and I wouldn’t even eat at home with a pig like this.”
“I would get too grossed out to eat.”
“And if she is serious about a career is she going to bring this fool to an event where co-workers or bosses will see him?”
“Dump. That. Pig.” ~ Crazypants1776
“Yep, this guy isn’t Tarzan being brought in from the jungle with no idea how to use a knife and a fork.”
“This is a (presumably) adult 20-year-old man intentionally acting like a jack*ss to embarrass his girlfriend – or doing this as a protest against being ‘forced’ to eat at a fine-dining establishment.”
“Either way, if I were OP I’d be breaking up with him ASAP.” ~ CaptainBignuts
“Yeah, mine just turned two and while they use a fork a spoon they do spill and drop things (mostly soup) and they sometimes use their hands.”
“Sometimes she gets confused if their is sour cream or a white sauce and thinks it’s hair conditioner, too.”
“And occasionally she drops or tosses things, often when she’s not so hungry anymore since she knows she’ll lose it if she does. She’s been known to spread things around.”
“I think a toddler is pretty accurate.”
“Toddlers may know how you are supposed to eat, but they aren’t always very good at it and sometimes they don’t have the impulse control or patience to do it the right way.”
“The point is an older child, like a four-year-old knows better and wouldn’t act this way anymore.”
“My older one was eating politely in restaurants my three, even. Which is the issue. Who wants to date a four-year-old?” ~ TheHatOnTheCat
Many hoped OP would find other people to spend time with.
“This should be the last time you see this AH.”
“The fact that he smirked and asked before doing it tells you everything you need to know.”
“He did it on purpose.”
“He knew exactly what he was doing it’s not that he doesn’t have manners, it’s that he chooses to be a gross AH. He wants to see how much he can get away with.”
“He’s an AH. Cut your losses and move on.” ~ Ok-Mode-2038
“OP wasn’t asking him to change who he was — she tolerates stuff that I personally would not have the stomach for on a regular basis.”
“If he knew he was unwilling / unable to be polite for this one time, just as a favor to OP so that she would enjoy the celebration of her success, he should have told her that so she could go with someone else instead who wouldn’t ruin the experience for her.”
“He enjoyed ruining her experience.”
“More than just not being polite, this guy doesn’t care about her.”
“He doesn’t care about her feelings and doesn’t care about sacrificing something small temporarily to make her happy.”
“That’s the big issue here.”
“Can you imagine having a kid with this dude?”
‘”Honey, I know I don’t ask you to do this at home, but can you put the shitty diapers in the garbage instead on my mom’s kitchen counter?'”
“‘And wrap them up first? It embarases me when you don’t do that.”‘
“NTA.” ~ Kitchissippika
“I’m not the kind of person who jumps right into AITA with ‘dump dump dump him!’ but omg this made me so sad for OP. You can do SO MUCH Better!!!” ~ jennybean42
People pointed out that this wasn’t about the table manners at all.
“‘he smirked at me'”
“He SMIRKED at you.”
“Dude knows exactly what he was doing, and took pleasure in publicly embarassing you.” ~ StAlvis
“It was training.”
“The purpose of these kinds of displays is to change the other person’s behaviour without it being obvious to them that it’s not their own choice.”
“He responds to criticism, correction, or any indication of displeasure at his behaviour (even criticism as ridiculously mild as in the example), by punishing her.”
“He overtly frames it as her fault (i.e. it’s not that he chose to make an ass of himself, he *had* to, because of what she did).”
“Over time, she learns that the way to avoid these events is to never do the thing that he dislikes.”
“Eventually, he gets to do whatever he wants, she’s walking on eggshells all the time, and everything bad that happens is declared her fault.”
“It’s one of the techniques of psychological manipulation that abusers use to maintain control over their victims, at a relatively early stage.” ~ minuteye
“He’s testing to see how she responds so he can push more etc until he breaks her.”
“Though I’m surprised he’s pushing so hard so early in the relationship.” ~ LimitlessMegan
“His behavior is a manipulation tactic and a test.”
“He knows exactly what he is doing, hence the smirk. Public humiliation is is part of a pattern that will lead to further abuse.”
“Take it from those of us who have been there and have the benefit of hindsight. You don’t need to go through this too!”
“🚩🚩🚩🚩🚩” ~ Maximum_Ad_4650
As many of the above comments pointed out, this wasn’t so much about table manners as it was pushing back on someone’s boundaries until that boundary falls.
Be kind where possible, but take no crap.