Dear Em & Lo, Did I Put Out Prematurely?

photo by Frank H

Dear Em and Lo,

OK, here’s a complicated question, but I’m not fond of roadside psychics, so you guys are my best bet. I’ve been carrying on a flirtation with a local bartender for about a month now. The other night, the flirtation led to drinks at a neighboring bar, and lots of insightful discussion. He’s a very cool dude. This then led to lots of making out, and spending the night at his place. I have a horrible history with guys. Loads of one nighters that never end up going anywhere. How do I keep from screwing this one up, or have I already done that?

— Seriously Misguided

Dear S.M.,

There are two issues at stake here: one, he’s a bartender. And two, you went home with him on your first semi-date. We’re no roadside psychics, but we’d guess that the former way outranks the latter in terms of predicting the future of this relationship. All bartenders — even the warty, gnome-like ones — benefit from what we like to call “bartender boost”: the illusion that someone is taller, smarter, hotter, and funnier (basically, a much cooler dude) than they would be if they were taking your order at the drive-thru or checking out your books at the library. Which means that your very-cool-dude bartender gets hit on constantly. And chances are, at the end of every shift, there’s a googly-eyed patron just like you hanging around hoping for a bit of “insightful discussion” with him.

We’re not saying that bartenders are chronically incapable of holding down a full-time relationship. Okay, we are saying that bartenders are chronically incapable of holding down a full-time relationship. Just think of his hours, for one: not exactly conducive to dinner-and-a-movie dates. Have you considered taking him on as a booty call instead? The hours are perfect for this type of arrangement: He gets off just when you’re ready to, well, get off. And unlike everyone else at closing time, he’ll actually be sober enough to get it up! (Assuming he’s at least marginally professional in his work.) And think of the fringe benefits: free drinks, flirtation on tap, free drinks…

But if you insist on throwing caution — not to mention our wise words — to the wind and still want to pursue a relationship with him…well, we don’t think you’ve necessarily screwed things up. We know plenty of happily married couples who met at a bar, got drunk, and went home together for some hot monkey lovin’ without even finding out each other’s last names first. Unfortunately, we also know plenty of double-standard dudes who assume that someone isn’t “girlfriend material” if she “puts out” before so much as a dinner date. If your bartender is one of those dudes, then you’ve already “screwed things up” so you may as well start moving on now. Thanks for playing!

But hey, maybe he’s not. And maybe he’s just bartending to pay his way through med school and usually goes straight home immediately after every shift to pore over his anatomy textbook…until he met you! And maybe what he really wants is to find someone to be the Diane to his Sam. There’s gotta be one bartender like that out there somewhere, right? Maybe? Hey, try finding a roadside psychic who’d give you a sunnier “maybe” than that!

For future reference, we know this much is true: if a guy is just not that into a serious relationship with you, if he’s only in it for the booty, then you could hold out until the season finale of Lost starts to make sense and he’s still going to dump you the moment he gets into your pants. At least with your plan, you weed out the dead-enders early on.

Happy booty-calling!

— Em & Lo


  1. Saying that all bartenders can’t hold down a relationship is ridiculous. Both my mother and stepfather are bartenders at the bar that my step-grandmother owns. My mom wasn’t working there yet when they met and started dating, which just goes to show that they *can* do relationships. It requires additional work because of things like the strange hours, but generalizing them and saying they can’t do it is exactly the same as what you pointed out when you said everyone thinks of bartenders as cooler than they are.

  2. I agree with Vanilla…I have been in a committed relationship with a bartender for over a year now…we live together and he comes home to my bed every night. Sure, it can be a hard adjustment…especially if you work a 9-5 and he works 4pm – 4am and sleeps til 2pm everyday but we make it work. Since he works longer shifts, he has 3 days off a week and we make time for each other and it’s nice because he has dinner waiting for me when I get home from work on his days off.

    I really think it depends on the guy…….not his career choice. I DID meet him at the bar as a customer and flirted with him on occasion …went home with him one night and within a week we were dating. He’s a great guy from a solid background…his parents are still married and they are very close knit…his mother is a strong woman and she and his father taught him how to treat/respect a women…..he can handle ME as a strong, VERY outgoing woman without seeing it as a threat to his manhood. To me, he’s the PERFECT guy…soo yea, don’t agree with you saying that ” bartenders are chronically incapable of holding down a full-time relationship”.

    Have I seen the stereotypical “player bartender” saga go on at his bar? Sure. One of his coworkers leaves with a different girl each night….and usually has a handful to chose from…each not knowing about the others…although, some do and it doesn’t seem to phase them. But…another coworker of his has been married for 10 years and has 3 children and the other guy has been in a LTR for over 2 years. So 3 out of the 4 bartenders are in long term relationships…and not assholes.

  3. Talk about a generalization:

    ” Okay, we are saying that bartenders are chronically incapable of holding down a full-time relationship.”

    Um WOW!

    I know bartenders that are in happy and health relationships, and some met their current loves while serving drinks.

    I think the more important question is how is he treating you after the fact? Is he standoffish? Is he calling? Does he behave like someone who wants a relationship with you?

    Look at the situation you’re in objectively. If you’re questioning this too much, you probably already know the answer.

    As for Em & Lo, I think you guys typically give great advice, but this was just disappointing.

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