Morning Quickies: “Should I Friend Request My Bartender?”

From the forums:

I was on a business trip across the country recently. On my first night at the hotel, I decided to check out the hotel bar. It was a quaint place, and it not very busy that night. The bartender was very nice, and she wasn’t afraid to make conversation (but that’s her job, right?). We ended up chit-chatting with each other until she had to close. We exchanged first names, we shook hands, and I returned to my room. Business kept me out most of the next night. But with an hour before closing, I decided to return to the hotel bar, and I discovered she was working again. She greeted me with a smile and a drink (again, that’s her job, right?). The bar was busier that night, but she and I still found time to talk. A couple nights later I returned to the bar, where she was again working. Again, we talked throughout the night. By this point we’d learned a little bit about each other’s past and that we share some common interests. That was my last night in town, and she decided to give me half my drinks for free that night (that’s not her job, right?). At closing time we exchanged pleasantries, shook hands, and went our separate ways.

So now comes my question: Is it okay for me to add her as a friend on FaceBook (she was wearing a name tag with her full name, which is how I know her last name)? I very much enjoyed talking with her, and found her very interesting. However, she was just my bartender, right? In this day and age, it’s hard to tell how people will react to things. We will probably never see each other again, but we could stay in touch over FB. We each have obligations keeping us on our respective sides of the country, and I am in a complicated relationship situation, so anything more than friendship seems implausible. Are a few conversations between a bartender and a patron enough to warrant a friend request, or does that come off as creepy? — Jack N. Coke

It comes off as creepy not because she was a bartender and you were a patron but for a few other reasons: she didn’t give you her last name, you simply saw it on her name tag; you didn’t discuss keeping in touch or connecting over social media; you are in a “complicated relationship situation.” If you weren’t in a complicated situation, the former two points could probably be overlooked, but when you live on opposite sides of the country and have obligations that keep you put, what’s really the point in keeping in touch? When you factor in your complicated situation, then keeping in touch with an intriguing bartender on the other side of the country whom you felt some spark with seems like a way to emotionally cheat or, at the very least, emotionally escape your complicated situation and avoid giving it the full attention it probably needs from you.

No dude who is happy in his relationship pursues some online friendship with a woman he felt a spark with who lives across the country and whom he’s likely never going to see again. Doing so will only make your “complicated situation” more complicated. It won’t make you happy. Uncomplicate your situation in whatever way makes the most sense and THEN go ahead and friend random women on Facebook to your heart’s content. If they aren’t into you, they can always decline your invite.

My ex and I (both women) are currently separated because she came home drunk and wanted to be with me and I wouldn’t listen, so she pulled my hair and gave me scratches. I called my sister for back-up, and when she came to my house, my girlfriend stopped. We wanted her out my house and she wouldn’t leave, so she called the cops herself. She was in jail for three days.

While she was in jail, many people told me she had cheated on me. When she got out of jail, I confronted her and she denied everything. Then she apologized and said she would fight for me and change for me. She has a drinking problem she’s been working on, but she relapses once in a while. She’s the sweetest when she’s sober and treats me with respect and love.

My family hates her and wants me to stay away from her, but she promises she will get help because I’m the love of her life and she will fight for me to forgive her. I want to believe being in jail helped her realize a lot of things she’s at risk of losing. But I don’t know if she’ll go to an AA meeting or if she can get a job and start supporting herself. I’m lost, confused, and depressed now because I want to believe she will change but don’t know if she will. — She’s Sweet When She’s Sober

It takes a lot more than going to jail or going to a single AA meeting for an alcoholic to “change.” Even if your ex really, truly wants to change (and SHE has to want it—-that’s the first step), it will take months and months of dedication and commitment for her to even get to a point where she can potentially juggle the emotional obligations of a relationship with the demands of staying sober. Staying sober will be a full-time job for her, and it’s one, should she decide to take it on, that she is going to need to focus on 100%. She can’t give a relationship — particularly a very rocky one with multiple people who don’t support it — the attention it needs if she is to have any chance at achieving sobriety. She’s going to have to be sober for a whole year before she can even consider starting a relationship with someone, and if she does make it to that point, probably the last person she should be in a relationship with is a person she went to jail for abusing.

I know it’s painful and depressing to end a relationship with someone you love, but you two are not good for each other. You have a history together that likely will lead to move drinking and more abuse. Long-term happiness between you two is not in the cards.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​


  1. The appropriate response, I think, to a bartender that you have talked to for a while and feels some kind of connection to, IF you are available for dating, which you are not, is probably to casually suggest getting together for coffee at some point and not her reaction. Friending someone is much more intimate and could come across as creepy.

    1. Bartender says:

      As someone who has been bartending for 10 years now, I couldn’t disagree more. Nothing puts me in a more uncomfortable situation than someone asking me out on a date while I’m at work, and then I have to turn them down and keep smiling and serving them after things have gotten weird.

      Many bartenders use social media to connect with their regulars, however. When I used Facebook, I would accept all Friend Requests from customers and encourage people to come visit me on my shifts. It is literally an expected part of the job in this day and age. Employers even ask about your social media following on interviews because they want to know you’ll put in the work to pull in business. Many regulars have become my real life friends. Bartending is a social career for social people.

      1. dinoceros says:

        I don’t know if you’re just responding to the reply about asking a bartender out, or also to the letter, but I assume this guy doesn’t really fit the intention of using your social media for business? He thinks the bartender is into him because she was nice and is not geographically able to become a regular. I’d say he shouldn’t do either thing.

      2. Bartender says:

        Dinoceros, it won’t let me reply to you for some reason so I’m just replying here. I don’t think this guy has to worry about what the bartender will think of his Friend Request; I’m sure she gets them from friendly/flirty customers all the time (especially thanks to her name tag.) She probably won’t give it much thought. She knows he’s sending the request because he likes her, like most customers who send her requests, and she’ll decide whether it’s good business for her to accept or not. I doubt she’ll be fazed.

        The real issue is that his actual relationship is clearly in trouble. He obfuscates that by making this about a chat with a bartender. He may be feeling starved for attention in his relationship, perhaps, and so is holding on to this positive interaction with the bartender. He really needs to sort his own relationship situation out before he starts trying to find attention and connection elsewhere.

      3. Bingo!

    2. Nothing sleazier than a dude who asks out a waitress/bartender while she’s working.
      How would you like it, Moe, if someone with control over your work assignments and compensation asked you out while you were on the clock? Because, due to the mess that is our tipping system, that’s exactly what a customer at a restaurant or bar is: someone who can control how ragged they run the waitstaff and how much money they make for it.

  2. LW1, the answer to your embedded question is yes. Yes its her job to smile at you, to chat with you, to make you feel like you’re making a connection. And as for the freebies… a hotel bar is not the same as a regular bar, because even if you aren’t going to be a regular at that particular bar, if she perceives that this might influence you to be a regular patron of the hotel chain then she might be able to comp you some drinks in order to win that favor.

    Bottom line is that she was a woman at work, whose compensation depends in large part on being friendly and hospitable, especially to men away from home on business. Don’t read into it more than it was.

  3. dinoceros says:

    As I said in the forums, no, you shouldn’t. The only reason you can friend her is she is required to wear a nametag with her first and last name. She didn’t ask to be friends or ask for your number, and is not in a situation where she willingly gives her last name. It’s creepy to friend her because you clearly sat there and memorized her name and then searched her on facebook, versus being invited to connect. Especially when it’s her job to be nice and will presumably get her more tips and business to do so. Discounting drinks IS a business move because it may make someone buy more (and the drunker someone is the more they will continue to buy) or come back or tell others to check out the bar. It’s not like when Target offers you a buy 1 get 1 on ice cream that it’s trying to flirt with you.

    1. dinoceros says:

      LW2: You can’t hinge a relationship on hope that someone will do something they’ve shown no evidence that they can or will do. She’s abusive. Move on. I don’t think this relationship drama is going to help her to get better anyway. And honestly, even if she does, I imagine there’s going to be so many complicated feelings for you both that it’s not going to be possible to sustain her sobriety AND a relationship with someone she abused.

  4. Northern Star says:

    LW 2: So your ex is an abusive drunk with no job and no way to support herself beyond sponging off of you?

    Lose her number and ignore her attempts to win you back.

  5. LW2-It is true what Wendy said. When someone has an addiction they should concentrate on getting well, not a relationship.

    I won’t comment on AA cause I am not a fan.
    There are other alternatives like Smart Recovery etc… (they have meetings all over and online meetings)
    I know from too much experience that having a loved one who has a drinking problem is a nightmare that never ends. The most painful thing I have ever experienced personally. Only they can decide to make a change and words mean nothing. Also, it is progressive, so any abuse will only get worse. There is also a chance you may see this person die a horrible death if they keep drinking. (Been there more than once)
    I would suggest you run like the wind. And do not contact this person AT ALL.
    They will more than likely try to manipulate you. People with drinking problems need enablers.

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