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Author Topic: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?  (Read 48603 times)

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Deetee

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #120 on: November 14, 2012, 12:19:27 PM »
I think I have a good example so bear me out as this may take a while. It is a comparison of two dinners with two seperate couples around the same time. It is also a real example so that makes it even better.

Random Background: When I meet someone at work and we get along, there is generally a progression. We chat, we go for coffee, we eat lunch together, we plan to eat a nice lunch together, we go to work related events together. At some point, if I want to "take the friendship to the next level" (out of work and into social) I will invite the person to dinner (or some other event-but for the purposes of this we are going with dinner).

So my husband and I both moved to a new city in US and got jobs. There were two people at work that were invited to dinner around the same time. Both had spouses. Let's call them UK couple (as they were from the UK) and US couple (as they were from the US).

They were invited to dinner at seperate times.

Dinner with the UK couple lasted until late into the evening. At least until midnight. We all had a great time and I felt good that the friendship was off to a good start. I tumbled into bed laughed out, tired and content.

Dinner with the US couple was very nice, but they left about 30 minutes after dinner was over. I didn't think they were rude at all, but my feeling was that my overture of friendship was slightly rejected. It wasn't that we weren't friends, but maybe I should tone it down. I felt that they were accepting the bare minimum of friendship that I would offer so they didn't need to feel beholden. I was not heartbroken, but I took a half step back emotionally and wondered if we were really work friends only.

Now I think this demonstrates how people can react to social norms without realising it.

It is worth mentioning that both these stories have happy endings. Both couples reciprocated and our friendships grew.  We hung out and had a good time. I realised that the US couples closest friends also ended dinner abruptly (to my mind) and it wasn't a reflection of me. It was just how they did dinner.

We all live in three seperate countries, but both couples have visited us and we have visited one couple and I visited one on my own and lived with them for 2 weeks. In other words, we got past the "hiccup" of the  first dinner very easily. But I do remember that small feeling of disappointment as my guests left and I still had the evening before me.

As a final thought, I will say that almost all late evenings have involved guests who drink, so this may also be a drinking culture versus non-drinking attitude.

sparksals

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #121 on: November 14, 2012, 12:34:15 PM »
sparksal, but if I'm there, I'm not going to know that that's the "norm."  Neither would any of my friends or family.  If I were there as a visitor and invited to supper, I wouldn't, necessarily, realize that the "norm" for you is something other than what I know.  So a little understanding and not jumping to the conclusion that I'm rude wouldn't hurt.

My point is that, instead of always seeing others as "rude" (and this applies to situations other than this one), maybe we all need to start allowing for a little more understanding.  Maybe the other person isn't always "rude" but is actually doing what they feel is polite.*
 
 
* This has, increasingly, become a pet peeve of mine here at EHell, to be honest.  There are so many situations that I read about where I think, "that person wasn't rude!  They just did something different than what you do.  That's not rude - it's merely different!"  That is not to say that there aren't rude people out there.  But I hate the fact that "different than the way I do it" is sometimes designated as "rude" right off the bat.

I get what you are saying, Dotty.   The 'understanding' goes both ways.  There have been some posts here that delaying serving dinner in a delayed manner is rude, when it is just *different* for the people who expect it to be a full evening event. 

In the UK case, your way is a huge departure from how it is done there.  So, I can see how people in that country would think leaving so soon after dinner would be rude *for them*.  I would feel the same way if I had a dinner party in Canada.  My circle of friends in the US also stay for the evening and I would think it very strange if they left so soon after dinner.  So much so, they would not be invited back because it would appear to me that they ate and ran after I went to so much effort to make a nice dinner for them.   

When the norm is a certain way in an area, those departing from it should communicate their expectations.  If you ever go to the UK, now you know to let the hostess know you will leave shortly after dinner.  Although, when in their country, you should probably adhere to their cultural norm.  AKA When in Rome thing.   

It can also be a 'know your audience' thing too.  Our friends are late stayers.  We start out with appies, lots of bevvies, long sit down dinner, socializing, more bevvies (usually wine) and on a weekend, it can easily go to 1 or 2 AM.  On a weeknight, it is much earlier because people have to work, but the invitation time is usually earlier too, say 5:30 instead of 6:30 or 7. 

sparksals

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #122 on: November 14, 2012, 12:39:31 PM »
Quote
Dinner with the US couple was very nice, but they left about 30 minutes after dinner was over. I didn't think they were rude at all, but my feeling was that my overture of friendship was slightly rejected. It wasn't that we weren't friends, but maybe I should tone it down. I felt that they were accepting the bare minimum of friendship that I would offer so they didn't need to feel beholden. I was not heartbroken, but I took a half step back emotionally and wondered if we were really work friends only.

Deetee - you nailed it. 

Sharnita

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #123 on: November 14, 2012, 12:41:29 PM »
But then, for me, come to dinner  and dimner party are two different phrases withtwo different meanings.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 12:43:36 PM by Sharnita »

WillyNilly

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #124 on: November 14, 2012, 12:43:22 PM »
I don't understand your reply!

If I get to my friend's house at 6:30, dinner is served at 7:00, we eat for 60 minutes (nibbles, main, dessert) and then I leave 30 minutes after I put my fork down that's 2 hours.  So if you are saying it is rude to leave 30 minutes after dinner you are exactly saying staying for 2 hours is rude.  That's absolutely what you are saying.

And like Rohanna, I don't see that as "eat & run" nor do I think its rude.  It might be different then what you are used to.  It might not be what you thought in your head about the invite when you said "come for dinner", but its not "eating and running" nor is it rude.

We'll have to agree to differ in that case. Leaving that short a time after you've finished eating implies to me - and a lot of others, it would seem - that you only showed up for the food.


I don't see that as any different from going to a cafe or a restaurant (where of course it wouldn't be rude).

And thats fine for you think that.  But why on earth did you say

Quote
I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.

In response to a poster who was defending a 2-3 hour evening? 

If you think 2-3 hours for the whole evening is rude (because a 2 hour evening would almost certainly mean leaving 30 minutes or so after fork was put down), then that's what you think.  I disagree but I believe you are entitled to your differing opinion.  What I don't understand is how you can "oh no, no one is saying A is rude, they are simply saying is actions that equal A are rude."

...Perhaps those who like to eat and leave right after should specify that is how they understand the invitation.   IINM, those from the UK, Australia, Canada and NZ have all posted the same thing:  That a dinner invitation is an invitation to spend the evening wiht the hosts, not just to show up, eat and leave shortly after dinner is finished...

How would that work?  You ask me to dinner and I'm supposed to ask in return "what exactly are you inviting me for?  Is dinner a meal or is dinner code for evening?"  I can't think of anyway to not have that be a bizarre clarification for a guest to make.

Sure if you have people who you are 100% sure know your verbal shorthand, who have demonstrated previously that they too think dinner = evening, go ahead and simply say dinner.  But if you are the one saying dinner and meaning evening, the burden of clarification is on you (all "you"s general).  Its really not weird or awkward to say "hey would you like to come over Tuesday evening?  We can catch up, chat, have dinner, we'll have an evening of it!"  Sure its a few more words then "would like to come dinner Tuesday?" but not really so many more and if you plan to spend hours chatting with them in person on Tuesday surely you are comfortable with 20 seconds of extra verbiage when inviting them.

(Also for the record its not a case of "those who like to eat and leave right after" so much as those of us who think its rude to stay longer.  We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

DottyG

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #125 on: November 14, 2012, 12:43:49 PM »
Sharnita is right.  There are times when I might stay until late hours.  But "come for dinner" implies something different.  It's a terminology thing.

DottyG

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #126 on: November 14, 2012, 12:46:43 PM »
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We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

YES!


Deetee

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #127 on: November 14, 2012, 12:50:01 PM »
Quote
We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

YES!

If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

But I'm even more blunt than that. I am happy to say "It has been great having you here. I'm going to kick you out now and go to bed". I find that when said very cheerfully people leave and seem happy.

DottyG

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #128 on: November 14, 2012, 12:52:29 PM »
Quote
If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

So there IS a game to it. ;)  I don't want to play games when I go to someone's house! :D  ("Ok, she's stopped refilling my water glass.  Yikes!  Time to grab my purse and run!")

All these "rules" are a lot of stress.  I'm glad the people I have supper with just want me to relax and enjoy the time together rather than watch for hidden signals as to when I'm supposed to come and go!  To me, the evenings seem to have a natural "end" to them.  I don't have to watch for whether I'm being offered food and drink.  There's just a natural flow to them.  And that flow isn't always staying X number of hours after I put down my fork.  I think we're getting so caught up in the amount of time after finishing the meal here that we're forgetting the main purpose of the evenings.
 
 
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 12:55:50 PM by DottyG »

WillyNilly

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #129 on: November 14, 2012, 12:54:36 PM »
Quote
We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

YES!

If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

But I'm even more blunt than that. I am happy to say "It has been great having you here. I'm going to kick you out now and go to bed". I find that when said very cheerfully people leave and seem happy.

That might seem clear to you but I don't see how that clear and easy for your guests.  You know whats clear and easy?  Saying out loud "stay for a while" with a smile.  That's super clear and easy to understand.  Deciphering "hmmm I haven't been offered another drink in the last 20 minutes... I guess that means my welcome has expired?" is not clear.

perpetua

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #130 on: November 14, 2012, 12:54:54 PM »

And thats fine for you think that.  But why on earth did you say

Quote
I don't think that's what the 'don't eat and run' crowd are saying, though.

For me, it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal.

If you (not you you, you general) leave 20, 30 minutes after you put your fork down, I can see how that implies 'I've socialised with you for just long enough to eat your food, and now the food is gone I'm leaving' and that to me is what comes over as rude.

In response to a poster who was defending a 2-3 hour evening? 

If you think 2-3 hours for the whole evening is rude (because a 2 hour evening would almost certainly mean leaving 30 minutes or so after fork was put down), then that's what you think.  I disagree but I believe you are entitled to your differing opinion.  What I don't understand is how you can "oh no, no one is saying A is rude, they are simply saying is actions that equal A are rude."


I said that it hinges on the amount of time spent after the meal, because... well, it just does for me, and a lot of others. I can't see eating and running - and to me, and a lot of others, leaving so soon after a meal is exactly that - as anything other than rude.

It implies that you're only staying for as long as it takes to get the food down you and then leaving.

Others don't see it like that though, and I understand that.

rashea

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #131 on: November 14, 2012, 01:02:57 PM »
I think for me, if the hostess invites me into the living room (or whatever) I'll assume I should stay a while. If a half an hour later I'm still sitting at the table, I'm going to assume that maybe it's not a late night.

Either way, I tend to leave by 9:30, because I get tired. Close friends, no issue.

Weekday versus weekend changes things too. I assume most people aren't planning a late night on weekdays. A weekend invitation is likely to result in me staying later.
"Manners change, principles don't. It's about treating people with consideration, respect and honesty." Peter Post

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Deetee

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #132 on: November 14, 2012, 01:04:34 PM »
Quote
We might actually like to stay, but if we haven't been clearly invited to do so we don't feel comfortable assuming we are welcome.  Its not a "like" situation so much as a "this is what I was taught is proper and polite" situation.)

YES!

If you are at my house, it's pretty easy. If I am offering you food and/or drink, you are free to stay. If I stop offering you drink, you are more free to go.

But I'm even more blunt than that. I am happy to say "It has been great having you here. I'm going to kick you out now and go to bed". I find that when said very cheerfully people leave and seem happy.

That might seem clear to you but I don't see how that clear and easy for your guests.  You know whats clear and easy?  Saying out loud "stay for a while" with a smile.  That's super clear and easy to understand.  Deciphering "hmmm I haven't been offered another drink in the last 20 minutes... I guess that means my welcome has expired?" is not clear.

Of course not. I almost feel that you are deliberately misunderstanding. A rule of good hosting is that if a guest's glass is empty, I should offer to refill it. That's Hostessing 101.  It doesn't mean I continually offer stuff every half hour and start some ticking time bomb to unwelcomeness. That's just weird and cruel. Please don't think that.

Also, please remember I was a proponent of the long dinner party, so my guests are welcome to stay and shouldn't be looking for any subtle signs that I am kicking them out.

(Though, as I also said, I have kids now and most parties wrap up around 7-8 so kids can get to bed)

Anyhow, I think my example above is the best description that I can give of the difference in culture. I think this should be recognised as a cultural difference and not as some sort of "trick".


sparksals

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #133 on: November 14, 2012, 01:21:34 PM »
But then, for me, come to dinner  and dimner party are two different phrases withtwo different meanings.

To me, dinner party and come to dinner mean the same in terms of spending the evening.  However, the difference for me is the number of invitees.  Dinner party is a group, say 3 couples.  Come to dinner could be one, two or five people.   Dinner party is more formal.

secretrebel

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Re: What does "come over for dinner" mean to you?
« Reply #134 on: November 14, 2012, 01:26:46 PM »
secretrebel, ok.  Then could the compromise be that, should you (generic) find yourself faced with someone who eats and doesn't stay until the time you thought they'd stay to, you might consider that it could be something like what's been described here?  That they're not "treating you like a diner" and that it truly could be that, in their "culture" (whatever "culture" is decided as being - familial, regional, whatever), they are actually being polite to you by leaving rather than staying.

In other words, maybe (now that we all know that there's a difference in understanding), we can all (and that includes both sides) not jump to the conclusion that the other party is being rude, but is actually doing what they feel IS the most polite way of doing it?

That's what I suggested in post 94! And I also said there that I don't think it's fair to describe the dinner=dinner people as rude even though I am a dinner=evening person. It's obviously (to me) a cultural variance.

But I don't think it's fair to expect me to change my own style of speech in my own country among people who understand it well - or to have that characterised as playing games. That's not being sensitive to cultural variance. If you're worried that you might outstay your welcome, please ask. Using your words is always better than assuming. And on my side if I'm visiting another country or region ask how long I should plan to stay.

On the UK/US divide I found Deetee's story fascinating. I genuinely do think the dinner=evening is the norm in the UK although the US seems to be more varied from what's been reported her. I posted a poll on a UK forum about an hour ago and so far 60 people are dinner=evening, 4 are somewhere in the middle and only 1 is dinner=dinner.


OT: Does all this "dinner dinner dinner" make anyone else want to shout "BATMAN!" ?



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