When your mate does nice things for you, do you feel (and show) appreciation? Or do you simply expect a romantic partner to do those things? If so, consider this: No one has to do anything for you, and expecting your mate to do things he/she hasn’t bargained for can leave you both frustrated.
I am a giving person, but being expected to give makes me feel much less charitable. For example, I have issues with tipping. Admittedly, when I dine at a restaurant, I expect to tip my server … and do so happily. Having food served by a polite and courteous professional, whom I know is making less than minimum wage as a base salary, while I relax for an hour is a treat and a service. This is an understood and accepted part of the contract we make when we eat out, and so the service has to be terrible before I’ll walk out without leaving the customary 15 to 20 percent. But as tip jars keep popping up in a variety of different quick-serve businesses, and “service charges” are showing up on more and more invoices, it seems as though tipping has well reached its tipping point.
I spoke to a caterer a few days ago who explained that he adds a 15-percent service fee for all jobs and that this is an industry standard. I asked, “What if a patron picks up the food and does not ask for servers to be provided?” The charge, he said, still applied. So, I explained to him my thoughts on the matter: When I am negotiating a fee/price, I wish to do so based on the cost of the commodity/service. I don’t appreciate being expected or forced to tip.
I further noted that if I patronized a particular carry-out restaurant near his establishment, I would not tip the gentleman at the window for handing me my food. He said, “That place has a tip jar,” and asked, “You would not tip even if the food and the service were good?” Probably not. I would not expect poor food or service from any establishment, because providing both is how a company keeps customers coming back and stays in business.
So, the caterer tried another approach, pointing out that people sometimes tip their mail carriers or give their bankers a bottle of wine at Christmas. And I can certainly think of situations in which I might choose to bestow gifts on a service professional other than a waitress. But choose is the key word. Perhaps my banker called me when someone tried to cash a check I’d written several months earlier (just to make sure there was nothing funny going on). And maybe my mailman personally ensured my mail was held while I was out of town. In either case, I might purchase a thank-you gift, but it would not be a tip.
Tips and displays of kindness are not the same thing. The former is given to fulfill an expectation, while the latter is a show of appreciation. This distinction is important in romantic partnerships. Most of us like to do nice things for the ones we love, but when our acts of kindness become expected (and often no longer appreciated), it’s not as much fun anymore. For example, let’s say that you do most of the cooking in your household. Perhaps you work from home or get off earlier than your mate, or maybe you just love cooking and getting that smile of appreciation from your partner when you serve it up. But if, over time, your mate begins to think of your effort as something you are “supposed” to do, you might feel less inclined to do it.
Even worse is when we expect our partners to do things they never agreed to in the first place – either because of societal norms, or things past partners have done for us, or what our mothers did for our fathers. Your mate is not your mother, your ex-boyfriend or the leading man in a romantic comedy. He/she may or may not care to fulfill the expectations you bring into the relationship, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful relationship. If you let those things go for the sake of what you do get out of the partnership with this person, perhaps you can negotiate a fair “exchange” with your mate for providing some of the “services” you’d like. Just be sure to sure to communicate about it up front, rather than expecting a “tip.” Doing so will make you a more Powerful Person in a Partnership.
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