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I was at Big Bar enjoying a brief burst of springtime weather recently with one of my faves, Big Bar’s manager, Drew Gillum. He introduced me to his bartender, who we will call A, who immediately laid a question on me:
How do I convince my boyfriend that I’m not trying to cheat while I bartend?
A says his boyfriend — who he actually parted ways with — liked to come into the bar and watch him work. If his beau felt like things were venturing past friendly into flirting territory, he’d sidle up to the bar and announce to the offending patron that A is his man. A wasn’t down with his guy aggressively calling dibs like this and messing up his tips while he was on the clock. So, how does A avoid a repeat scenario with future partners?
As someone who’s abided by the rule to never date bartenders (although, I’ve made exceptions for DJs… And dancers… And rappers…), I didn’t feel qualified to answer A’s question — I’m a part of the problem! So, I tagged in everyone’s favorite bartender, Kelsey Westbrook, from the LEO’s own Barkeep Confessions column. Westbrook stands on both sides of the bar on this issue, not only is she a bartender, but her partner is too. She points out, “Aside from any career or job, you have to make sure you’re comfortable and confident in your relationship and your partner. If someone wants to cheat, or a relationship is failing or there’s a lack of trust, then things are going to go downhill no matter if you’re a bartender or a CEO.”
In her own relationship, Westbrook says, “I have to have trust and confidence in my partner above all else. My partner is a bartender and a traveling musician. Do I think people are going to hit on him at the bar? Do I think women are going to throw themselves at him while he’s on tour? Yes and yes. But am I worrying myself sick about it at all times? Absolutely not. Because I know where we stand and how strong our partnership is. We both support and trust each other wholeheartedly.” Westbrook’s best tip is be confident and make your partner feel secure in your relationship, “To be totally honest, if he sees a pair of boobs while he’s on tour or gets a room key slipped to him at the bar, I’m not even sweating over it. I know he won’t take it any further than that, bottom line.”
While she does concede that friendliness, and even flirting, are part of the gig, it’s all about the customer service experience, nothing more, “I’ve never seen someone work a job just to be able to find someone to cheat on their partner with. That seems like a sort of privileged notion.”
As it turns out, Drew Gillum also had some words of advice for his bartender. He’d experienced similar tensions in his relationship when he first got with his fiancé. When it comes to working in the service industry and making your partner feel secure in the relationship, Gillum says, “I don’t think – Well, in my experience – that’s something you teach them or tell them. It’s a trust issue.” And Gillum agrees with Westbrook, that trust can be an issue in any relationship, “You earn trust and then two years down the road you look back at it and you think ‘[being jealous] was silly’ – but some people never make it there.” He does feel like relationships with people in the service industry and between people in the service industry have a “higher hurdle to clear.” Gillum says, “There’s a whole need to please people that is there.” From the outside, that can make the line between and work and play seem blurry, but as long as you and your partner are on the same page, it shouldn’t cause an issue within your relationship.
So, for all you service industry folks out there searching for lasting love, your main dating priority should be landing a partner who trusts you – just like the rest of us. As for me and others, it’s time to put the stereotypes to rest and stop overlooking a possible love interest because they pay their rent with their winning personality. Plus, if you get with A, you can have him make his signature cucumber cocktail for you at the bar and at your home — no tip required.