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Dinner for Three – An Interactive Conversation for TTN-NY’ers

October 1, 2017

Dinner for Three – An Interactive Conversation for TTN-NY’ers


By Nancy Gold

The impetus for this article started with an anecdote shared at a TTN SIG. Let me share it with you and please send your feedback to the email address at the end of the article.

My friend, Alice, had lost her husband 6 months before. She told how she had returned to her winter home in Florida, a community where she and her husband had lived for over 10 years. Being a widow was hard to bear, but she was managing and looking forward to seeing old friends.

She learned there was a group dinner planned and Alice mentioned it to her friend, the wife of a couple with whom they had socialized. Alice said she’d like to sit at their table. Imagine her dismay when the friend responded that Alice should really sit at the singles table instead.

This story brought tears to her eyes and to mine too. How heartless of the woman. It made me wonder what the motivation was for this comment.  Was it because the woman thought Alice would try to steal her husband? Was it because the woman felt she had to classify people as couples or singles when socializing? Does the world only allow people to function in pairs? If so, do you agree and if you do not agree, what would you do about it? 

I decided to do some research. I knew that just about 50% of the women in TTN –NYC are married or coupled and 50% are single. I asked friends of mine who were widowed and unattached for their take on this situation. Quite a few women, in fact, agreed you are treated differently when you are single.  All of a sudden, you are relegated to a another category. One of the women told me that she felt as if she had died as well. I wondered if the same applies to men. (I did hear of a widower whose friendship of 30 years with another couple was suddenly ended with no explanation. So maybe the knife cuts both ways, but that’s a different article.)

Isolation and loneliness are two incredibly uncomfortable feelings. After your significant other passes away or you are divorced, you can go through a private mourning period (described by Katherine Kubler Ross) but then most people want to socialize again. The question is: what is comfortable for the individual and for the couple when going out to dinner, a familiar social setting?

A woman friend who had been divorced called whenever she was in town and my husband and I would make arrangements to see her for dinner. We always enjoyed the conversation and catching up on our families. Because I was working and she was not, I would pick up the tab. If I go out to lunch with a friend, we always just split the tab.

But dinner with 3 has become a different situation now that both my husband and I are retired. Usually the waiter presents the check to the man at the table. I would rather not have my husband put in the awkward position of asking our friend to split the check. We certainly want to continue the friendship, so how can we avoid socially awkward situations like this?

My suggestion, and I do hope to hear from others, is that when you ask someone out to dinner you can say, "We were thinking of restaurant XYZ. Does that restaurant’s price point work for you?" and add, “since we will be going Dutch.” In that way you get an agreement on the costs of the restaurant and that the tab will be split 2/3 to 1/3. No one gets left out of the decision - no surprises and plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company.

Another solution is that the single woman invite the couple to her house for dinner, suggesting that they bring the customary bottle of wine and/or dessert. 

No matter how the social situation is handled, I sincerely hope that going to dinner is an inclusive situation. No one wants to feel isolated. We just have to come up with ways that make everyone feel comfortable. Both sides should be encouraged to invite the other. Equal responsibility for socializing makes sure that no one feels slighted.

Let’s continue the discussion.

Please weigh in with your suggestions by responding to nycchapter@thetransitionnetwork.org.



Nancy Gold has held senior level positions in marketing and sales. She retired from Univision Television and Univision.com and has extensive experience with large corporations, including CBS TV, and has handled their advertising needs and new business development. Nancy is also a former Caring Collobrative Co-Chair and has been a TTN member for over 4 years.