Too much PDA is an obvious sign of a lack of intimacy
Hooking up at the bar in no way signifies affection. The fact of the matter is that I have seen MANY one-night stands begin with a make-out session at the bar. Watching two people who just met start kissing, I'm always in awe of alcohol's uncanny way to manufacture intimacy.
Then there are the couples who just met and pretend to know each other's name, or where the other one lives, dropping the collective "we" like it's their own name... or using each other's credit cards like they're married.
Sorry, that's simply not how emotional intimacy works.
Cheaters and players can't hide from a bartender
Cheaters make bartenders the most uncomfortable. When a regular customer comes in with his or her side piece -- or worse, their main -- we hate having to play dumb while the regular sits there with an imploring look. My worst experience was with a side chick, who had no idea the man she was out with was already in another relationship. She asked me to make sure her guy wasn't messing around. I felt awful for her. There's no worse feeling than covering for someone who lies -- or having to be the one to cop to someone else's bad behavior. Bartenders often just pretend to not know anything -- it's the path of least resistance and keeps us out of other people's drama.
Players are just as easy to spot: they'll bring their one-night stands in for "one last drink," or are always showing up with a rotating cast of new girlfriends or boyfriends. The interesting part about these people is that they want to act as though they are the bartender's best friend. Just because you come in all the time with a different date to show off, doesn't mean you have an "in" with the bartender. It just means that you have a regular place to take dates in which you feel comfortable.
Tinder dates are ridiculously easy to spot
Ah, Tinder dates. These are fun. The uncomfortable walk-in, the weight shift while looking around for the person who looks vaguely like a tiny profile picture. Then, the inevitable glance to the phone to see if the person has texted to signify they are at the bar already. And finally, the hesitant approach and introduction to the person who is hopefully the date. Watching those stilted first couple of moments is glorious for bartenders. Then we get to see if it works out or not: something we can usually guess with 99% accuracy.
It's simple to stack bar-dating odds
It's easy to nail your first date, keep the bartender happy, and look good while you're out. Be nice and fun. Don't get jealous! Trust me, bartenders ARE NOT EVER hitting on the person you are with. Don't grope each other.
These rules really aren't complicated.
And lastly, use us! We never mind being brought into a conversation. If it's an awkward first date, don't be afraid to admit it. We've all been there! It will make your own night go smoother (and make the conversation more fun) if you get bartenders talking about terrible dates they've witnessed or the ridiculous serial daters who come in with five different people throughout a single night. Believe me -- there are TONS of these stories.
There is a downside to being a bartender who analyzes and judges relationships. I've become one of the tougher girls to date: I already know all the lines.
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Jennifer Hope Miller is a freelance writer, part-time bartender, and full-time analyzer of interpersonal relationships. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter: @awkwardsoles.