Advice Columns

Miss Manners: Dinner cancellation doesn’t have to end relationship

Q: I have been dating a woman for about two weeks. We have been together and like each other quite a bit.

We planned a dinner one day in advance for a Tuesday evening. Nice dinner and wine. She sends a text at noon canceling dinner since her friend, who visits from out of town frequently and was already here, decided they needed more time together.

Do I brush it off, reconsider our friendship or move on to better manners? P.S. We’re in our 50s.

A: While kind of you to provide the details of your age, being inconsiderate does not necessarily improve with it.

Miss Manners assumes that you were using it to imply that your friend should have known better. But you could also use your own earned wisdom and patience to give her the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps there was something pressing with her friend.

In any case, it is clearly up to you and the depths of your feelings to see if you want to give it another chance. If you do and she cancels again, you then have unabashed permission to politely move on, with or without an explanation.

Q: Since I was a child, my parents always taught me that tipping well is very important. If you have the money to go to a meal, then you have the money to leave a tip for those serving you.

I have taken this to heart in my adult life but have found that not all of my friends feel the same. While I consider a 20 percent tip to be the norm in the U.S., maybe 18 percent if things weren’t great, I would never dream of doing only 15 percent.

However, I have more than one friend who leaves that amount, leaving me to overcompensate on my own tab so that the waitress/waiter does not get shorted.

I have stopped accepting meal invitations with these friends because it makes me uncomfortable to be associated with them in that way, and it also drives my bill up even more.

Is there a polite way to bring this up with friends? I don’t want to cause unnecessary conflict, but I do want to find a way to say that what they’re doing is not, in my opinion, right.

A: Pick a time far away from the appearance of the check (at the beginning of a meal, for example, or at a social excursion that doesn’t involve a restaurant), to bring up the subject of tipping, doing your best to disguise it as general conversation. This way you can at least figure out which friends believe that the tipping rate should be lower and which are just genuinely unaware.

You may then skillfully impart your own opinion, perhaps with a few examples from yours or another’s service industry experience. Miss Manners is always in favor of assuming the best of those who may be ignorant as to what is expected or haven’t kept up with inflation. Assuming so here may alleviate the problem and potentially save the friendship.

Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.