Party of one at a table for two
August 18th, 2011
10:00 AM ET
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It's bad enough to be all dressed up with nowhere to go, let alone be all dressed up for a date who’s a no-show.

It's a dating downer that has most likely happened to you or someone you know. One party decides just not to show up - more commonly referred to as being "stood up."

It could be the woman in the corner booth whose Lemon Drop tastes more bitter with every glance at her watch. Or perhaps it's the man at the bar who loosens his tie with every check of his iPhone. Either way, not only is this a sticky situation for the person on the receiving end, it’s a potentially stickier situation for the restaurant staff witnessing it firsthand.

And aside from the occasional sitcom situation where waiters take bets as to how long the present party will wait, most restaurant workers want to make the uncomfortable situation as comfortable as it can be. They have either been in those shoes or know they never want to be.

"It’s definitely a potentially awkward moment for the guest when they realize that their date is not coming, either while waiting at the table or at the bar,” says Sam Lipp, General Manager of New York's Union Square Café.

"It can seem like an obligatory order to get a drink while waiting for a date to arrive, and we know it might not be wanted once the diner realizes their companion is not coming. Through reading body language, we are usually able to figure this out and will tell the guest it’s on us."

In fact, most front-of-house employees we spoke to, including maître d’ Allen Stafford of Elsewhere Restaurant in New York City, agreed a bit of liquid courage can help heal a bruised ego.

“I generally encourage them to order something to drink. As their companion becomes later, I encourage them to have a bite if they'd like to stay. Surely their companion will understand, given how long they've waited." says Stafford.

"I keep the check printed for a quick exit, and I generally buy them a glass of wine if they have had one."

Along with the good spirits, others say you just have to make the best of a bad situation.

“Face it, people do what they want to do, and if he knew that he had a date with $1 million cash that Friday night, there’s not a chance in hell he’d leave it sitting along at a restaurant drinking a glass of Merlot,” Sucks and the City blogger Joanne Kimes writes in her book Dating Sucks: What to Do When Your Love Life Makes You Miserable.

“But the most important lesson learned is that, even if you are stood up, you can still enjoy the pleasure of your own company. Movies are still entertaining, food still tastes delicious and wine is just as soothing.”

When a recent date decided not to show up, Matt Kirouac of Chicago embraced that point of view and didn't turn his evening into a pity party. He stayed and ate, referring to the braised pork with vanilla mashed sweet potatoes as his "substitute friend for the evening."

"The last thing I want is to seem to pity them. I try to make dinner for one a lovely adventure. I try to make sure to engage them in conversation, as a bartender would, so they don't feel alone," agrees Stafford.

"And if the companion really does arrive after they have gone, I say, 'Oh, that person was here, but left. With someone much better looking than you.' Okay, not really - but once I offered to say so."

And just because you were stood up doesn't mean you should stand down from the prospect of romance, as Gina Pogol of Reno, Nevada, learned.

Pogol had the misfortune of being stood up on New Year's at a local Mexican restaurant in nearby Incline Village, Nevada. When she informed her waitress what had happened, the waitress invited Gina to join her and some friends at a party after their shift.

Gina obliged, and met her current husband there - they've been together 15 years.

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Filed under: Bite • Culture • Dating • Etiquette

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Noxious Sunshine

    I tried online dating a couple of times.. Never got stood up, but I stopped after this guy I met showed ul to my home (after a few dates of course & he seemed,normal enough & the chemistry was good) in his boxers, bathrobe, & houseshoes w a gallon jug of White Zinfandel....

    I think love is best found when you're not actually looing for it. I met my current guy @ the restaurant we both worked at. We started off as friends – neither of us rly wanting a relationship... We've been together 3 yrs & are engaged now.

    August 19, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • Jerv

      Was that the dudes idea of a romantic evening??

      August 19, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Thia

      Ok, I was thinking of singing up for an account on Match, but after this post – nope! I think you scared me! :)

      August 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  2. Josh

    I would always pick the lady up for a date. That way they have to drop out before the date if they're not interested and if they're too timid to be picked up then I probably wouldn't like them anyway.

    August 19, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • AleeD from Home Sweet Home@Josh

      A real lady would accept no less. Good for you!

      August 19, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • IHEG

      Too timid to have you pick them at their home, so you would automatically dismiss them? Ok, psycho stalker control freak much? Until I get to know you, I wouldnt want you to know exactly where I live, thats common sense in this day and age. That does not make someone timid, that makes them street smart.

      August 19, 2011 at 10:23 am |
      • Truth@IHEG

        I could not agree with you more...A good friend of mine got raped by someone picking her up at her home on a first date.

        A gentleman will respect a lady's wishes and accomodate them.

        August 19, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Deena

      I'm a blast in a glass and even I know not to have random people picking me up at my house before I know them, but once we meet at the club and dance and Jersey Turnpike, then its totally fine to bring you home!

      I want your Italian Sausage!

      August 19, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • IHEG@Truth

      I am so sorry to hear about your friend, that is terrible.

      When I was in High School, I was fixed up with a friend of my best friend's brother, he lived a few towns away. He picked me up at my house, the date was ok, I was not interested in seeing him again and when he called the next day, I tried to gently let him know that I would not be interested in a relationship with him- He didnt take it so well and my parents finally had to call the police because he would spend hours sitting in his car across the street and if I left the house or any reason would follow me and wait and then follow me home. Did I mention I went on ONE date....So yeah, maybe I am more cautious than other females, better safe than sorry

      August 19, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • AleeD from Home Sweet Home

      I never dated anyone I wouldn't feel comfortable inviting over to my place to pick me up. If there was ever a question, I would say no to dating them.

      August 19, 2011 at 10:42 am |
      • IHEG@AleeD

        I certainly understand where you are coming from- but not all psychos advertise that they are nut jobs, a lot of them are actually very charming and endearing in the begining- I would be willing to bet Truth's friend that was the case.

        August 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
      • AleeD from Home Sweet Home@IHEG

        I've never been much of a trusting soul, so I tend to run people thru all my filters before I truly let my guard down. I didn't even trust my ex to be rational while I was in the process of leaving him. I made sure I had all precautions in place before dropping the bomb on him.

        August 19, 2011 at 11:23 am |
      • IHEG@AleeD

        And you my dear are one smart cookie, unfortunatly too many of us are not so logical.

        August 19, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Thia

      I actually don't let my dates know where I live for the first few dates. There are way too many nutjobs out there and I'm not eager for my bones to be made into windchimes. Maybe you should pick something else by which to judge your dates. Some women are concerned about their safety.

      August 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  3. Rose

    I am 40, divorced and dating. I got stood up for a lunch date today – we were going to meet in the park and eat our brown bag lunches. The guy set up the date, no show, no phone call, no text. The guy won't be getting a second chance from me, either. I have met enough 'flakes' out in the dating world to make me wonder *why* I even bother..

    August 18, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Matt

      Hang in there Rose. Have a big Mr. Fibble hug.

      August 19, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Thia

      I am the same age and also dating. To be honest, you should be glad he stood you up. He showed who he was and he's not worth your valuable time. Good luck to you, Rose!

      August 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  4. Annia

    I do it ALL THE TIME. Sometimes by choice & sometimes it is not by choice. For example, if I go anywhere with someone, and that person is not hungry, and if I am hungry, I will not be afraid to go eat alone. It was aukward at first, but after a while, I actually enjoy eating alone. The waiters & waitresses just, I think, love me, because I leave BIG TIPS. Usually 25% of the total bill. During the holiday season, I would tip 100%. I don't do it often, so, don't get me wrong. I am not a millionaire. But I was a waitress once, and I know they depending on tips, and generosity is always appreciated.

    August 18, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  5. ShutUpHippie

    Sleep is the enemy of my love life. I, and those I date, seem to have a problem with taking an afternoon nap and sleeping through alarm clocks, cell phones ringing, etc...

    I've always felt much worse for being the one who overslept and stood up the other than the one being stood up. If I'm stood up, I'm annoyed, which is a common occurrence. If I stand up someone, I feel insanely guilty and apologize repeatedly for days.

    What actually seems to annoy me worse is when whoever I'm going out with makes plans with me months in advance, commits to those plans, and then days or even hours before, call and say they've made other plans. Most of my past girlfriends are extremely family-oriented, so the concert I've bought tickets for takes a back seat to her parents going, "We're going to grandma's [who lives two streets over] for dinner."

    August 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  6. gtalum06

    I've never technically been stood up, but I've waited long enough that I might as well have been. I knew the guy was going to be late, but I was already almost at the restaurant by the time I knew this...I had to kill a lot of time, but luckily I had a good book in my car. I think being over an hour late is as bad as standing someone up, despite constant updates of how long it will be.

    August 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  7. Jeepers

    I've never been stood up by a date but once I made plans to meet with a potential babysitter. She returned my phone call after it was over with, but I never gave her another chance. I'm not going to leave my children with that kind of flake.

    August 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  8. None so strange as..

    I've never stood anyone up, and have never been stood up... sounds like an uncomfortably awkward way to start an evening.

    I met my husband in a library, we never really *dated* so much as hung out together doing things we both enjoyed. Maybe that's why we've been married for 14 years – we skipped the superficial banality of dating.

    August 18, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Snookii

      So in other words, your spouse was cheap

      August 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
      • jellybean

        so what you think now, stupid?

        August 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  9. Truth

    In my single days, I always believed that any woman who would stand up a date was not worth it in the long run, since she was likely a severe PITA to have to live with anyway.

    August 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • IHEG@Truth

      I guess I don't understand why people even make the plans in the first place? Yeah a guy might be disappointed if he asks you out and you say no, but thats a hell of a lot better then wasting his time, embarrassing him and then him hating you for life, right?

      August 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
      • Truth@IHEG

        I think that sometimes, people will make the plans, then scope out the meeting place and bolt if you are not up to their standards. A chronically single friend of ours who is aestetically challenged reports this happening a lot. Superficial and shallow any way you cut it though, imho.

        August 18, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
      • IHEG@Truth

        I agree shallow. I had a friend who when we would go out, if a guy who wasn't up to her standards dared to talk to her, she'd be out right rude and would get made at me for "talking to that loser" she failed to realize, that it pays to be nice to people, just because he isn't my type doesn’t mean his friend/roommate/cousin isn't and if you are rude to him and his friend shows any interest in you, his boy is gonna tell him not to bother cuz ur stuck up....prob why she is still single and lives with 4 cats.

        August 18, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
      • Truth@IHEG

        LOL! I was just going to predict that there will be cats in her future and you beat me to it.
        I have always wondered why average women try to have unrealistic standards. I think it is a form of overcompensation for low self esteem.

        Unrealistic standards: Halle Berry can have them, as can Grace Park, Sela Ward or Jennifer Aniston. Roseanne Barr? Not so much.

        August 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
      • IHEG@Truth


        August 18, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  10. Mike

    I was stood up once by a weather newscaster! This was after he sent me a video of his dick. Thank you black mail.

    August 18, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  11. Captain Slapaho

    I was stood up once, so I started chatting up the server. I got her number as well...

    August 18, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  12. Spurt's biggest fan

    That jellybean is stupid....also, Eddy can't dance!

    August 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Ronco

      And Charlie doesn't surf

      August 18, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
  13. B-More Hon

    I was stood up once, many years ago, and still remember it clearly. After a drink, I ordered a meal (dessert too!)from the friendly but professional waiter. When her realized my date was a no-show, he was more upset about it than I was, and couldn't have been nicer. Much later that evening, my date called with some pitiful excuse, and I had the distinct impression that he'd been at the restaurant the whole time watching my reaction to being stood up from afar; way too creepy for me. That was the end of him, since I never was into games or players.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  14. Ronco@Spurt


    August 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  15. Bobo

    I was stood up once before. I still see the woman around from time to time....her not joining me that night was the BEST thing she ever did for me. Otherwise I might have been the first of her 3 ex husbands and helping support her alimony.

    Selfish then, she's selfish now. But, at that time I was devastated and humiliated when it happened. Turned out she saw the car I drove up in and left because it was more than 5 years old.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Ronco@Bobo

      Well she woulda ran from me, I drive an older (1999)car which means I do not have a car payment which means more money in my pocket to spend on gifts and meals out. Its a expensive car that I have owned since it drove off the show room floor, I take excellent care of it, if its not giving me problems, why the hell would I trade it in for another car payment? No thanks.

      Glad you dodged a bullet on that one.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |
      • Jerv@Ronco

        Amen to that.

        August 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • SingleForEver

      The btch was interested in the car and not you. Glad you dodged the bullet.

      August 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • S1N

      More power to you, man. I know how that is. I make good money, have a great family, and drive an '02 Altima.Can I afford something nicer? Of course. Would buying a more expensive new car to replace one that works fine be a waste of money for the next 2-3 years? Of course.

      August 18, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  16. soylent green

    I've been stood up once and I waited 15 minutes. After that, I ordered, ate, and left. Life's too short to throw pity parties over people you barely know not showing up.

    August 18, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  17. Safetyfirst

    I stood a man up once, but only because I didn't feel safe. I was on vacation in San Francisco and he asked me out while I was walking around. I was flattered initially and agreed to meet him at a restaurant later. I figured that it would be safe if there were others around. I researched the place when I got home though and didn't like the location or neighborhood and thinking back on our conversation made me feel weird so I decided not to go.

    August 18, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Safetyfirst

      By the way, I would have called as a courtesy but we didn't exchange numbers.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:54 am |
      • It was you!

        You heartless Byatch! I waited 3 DAYS for you, I thought you were in a horrible accident, You could have called the restaurant! Karma is a MTHAFKR! remember that when you die alone with your 14 cats!

        August 18, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  18. Brylcreem

    What's up with that dudes hair in the photo?

    August 18, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Adam

      That's why he was stood up, the date stepped in the restaurant, figured out who he was, and said forget that goofball.

      August 18, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • jojo

      the hair is called dead (dread) locks. he is trying to imitiate a cool black dude.

      December 3, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  19. Calif Girl

    I gave up on internet dating sites with the 20th consecutive stand-up. These clearly were not men who were looking for a relationship, just playing the e-version of "how many numbers can you get". I announced my availability in a professional e-group, and embarked on a two-year relationship with a colleague who'd always assumed someone as wonderful as me would be taken.

    August 18, 2011 at 10:01 am |
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