So, of course, my boyfriend moved his chair from across the table next to mine. The server said we couldn’t do this, because, well, we just couldn’t. “But we’re in love,” I said, batting my eyelashes. “We like sitting beside each other.” It didn’t work.
We still ate at the restaurant, but the mood just wasn’t the same, knowing that this restaurant didn’t exactly like “beside eaters”. Personally, I think all restaurants should consider us. We’re not only good for the economy (we usually order a bottle of wine) but we’re spreading the love around. Yes, yes, there are fire regulations and waiters who need to get by. But dinner is not dinner anymore unless I can sit next to my guy and pick off his plate (yes, I do that) or feel his arm is around me, which is kind of hard to do if he’s all the way across the table. I felt like I was yelling at him the entire time.
So, what does one do? I suppose when I make reservations I can call and say, “Do you have beside seating?” and explain that my boyfriend and I only eat at establishments where we’re allowed to sit side by side.
It turns out I’m not the only person out there who loves beside eating. “Sitting next to a boyfriend on a date not only puts me physically closer to him, it allows for meal-time romantic play that being all the way across the table does not afford. I think conversation has a better rhythm when proximity is that much closer,” says Candice Best, of Best PR Boutique. She adds that a bonus is that neither party has to sacrifice the best vantage point. “We’re looking into the scene of the restaurant,” she says. “To boot, if there’s a more comfortable side, like a banquette situation, one doesn’t have to be relegated to the less comfortable chair side.”
Waiters she finds don’t usually seem to mind beside eaters. “It usually just involves moving a plate and some cutlery. It all depends on their mood.”
I also talked to Sandra Milligan, founder and creative director of boxx cosmetics.
Why to eat side by side
Turns out a lot of women prefer sitting beside their partner while eating out. Want to know why?
1. “It’s much more romantic and allows for you to both give gestures of affection that are not always obvious,” Milligan said — like a hand on the leg, or an arm wrapped around you.
2. Most waiters or hosts usually think it’s pretty cute to see a couple who enjoy being together, and nothing says that more than sitting right beside each other. (Happy diners = happy tippers!)
3. Most diners just don’t care how you’re sitting. “I think other diners are fine with it. Unless they are having a fight and they can’t stand the sight of someone else happy in that moment,” Milligan jokes. “Just be PDA appropriate.” You don’t want people yelling, “Take it to a bedroom!”
4. Make sure you share a side with the right person. “I was just on a first date last night,” says Milligan, “and I would not have felt comfortable if he asked me to sit beside him. I think that sitting side by side is an intimate gesture with someone you care about.”
5. You can show off your best assets. “Being in the beauty industry, I clearly know my best side, so I like sitting to the left of my date.”
6. Get your flirt on. Dinner “sans table” is a much more intimate experience, Milligan said. “It’s so much more conducive to a flirty and fun date.”
From now on, I don’t care if it’s the nicest restaurant in town on McDonald’s — I’m a convert beside eater, and they’ll have to make it work. Do you prefer sitting next to your lover/partner/husband/wife, or do you like sitting across? Share!