If you are not going out by yourself, there are two reasons why you out to dinner, a movie, or another event. Obviously one of the reasons is to enjoy the activity. The other is to enjoy the time that you are spend with your spouse, partner, friend, date, or other couple(s).
Too often, however, I have been with people whose evenings were spoiled because an otherwise good meal was preceded by a long wait for a table or for the food to arrive. I’ve seen evenings be spoiled because a movie wasn’t as good as the reviews suggested it would be or because a favorite team had an embarrassing performance.
When I’m with people who become obsessive about their evening’s miserable experience, I try to be alert to reminding them that they are getting upset about the performances of people whom we have little ability to control. We can remind the hostess that we’ve been waiting long beyond our reservation time to get seated and we can remind a waiter that we’ve been waiting a long time for our food.
In general, however, our enjoyment is affected by the activities of chefs, actors, musicians, athletes, and others in whom we place out trust but have little ability to control.
What we do have control over is at least part of the relationship with the other person or persons with whom we have chosen to spend the evening. It is really incumbent upon us to try to enjoy our time together rather than making it an experience in misery that is created by neither of us – but rather by the performance of a third party.
When you are spending such social time with others, don’t forget the other reason that you are out together. Certainly it is better to be out together enjoying a terrific meal served without a long wait or enjoying the victory by your team over an arch-rival or enjoying a terrific movie, play, or concert rather than a forgettable one. But it doesn’t always work out that way.
Bring an alternative strategy to situations that don’t work out exactly as you had hoped. Be the positive force that distracts others from what has gone wrong. Be the positive force that – after a reasonable amount of commiserating – is able to laugh about the situation and then change the topic.
Don’t forget the other reason why you are out together.