When my partner- Expat Polar and I first started dating, I had all these conditions and regulations that I needed him to accept about me. While he smiled and accepted them, little did I know how my life, my knowledge base and my expectations were going to shift as a result of dating him! Dating someone who works in hospitality is almost like dating someone who is from a different planet, so different are their personalities, experiences & perspectives. It’s been a few years since we’ve been together and that’s why I feel like I can confidently compose a guide to dating someone who works in hospitality.
Definition: a person working in hospitality can refer to any job in a variety of venues (or sectors) in the hospitality industry, including restaurants and cafes, pubs and taverns, hotels, resorts, other accommodation options and catering in an assortment of diverse positions. From housekeeping to chefs to concierges to lifeguards, It can also include leisure & entertainment, catering management to business development and marketing relating to tourism. You’d be surprised at how many interesting jobs falls under the hospitality division. According to the 2019 Trends & Statistics survey by the British Hospitality Association (BHA), around 1.9 million people now work in the industry.
Note: This guide can also be applied to tolerating family members who work in hospitality. With my sister and my partner both working in hospitality, their personality traits are 2 peas in a pod.
Dating someone in this crazy industry will require you to be prepared, be flexible and be open minded towards their lifestyle. Hence why I have complied this guide to dating someone who works in hospitality. Here we go…
‘set working hours’ do not exist
If they say they’re working on Monday from 5am to 5pm, please don’ expect them home at 5:15pm. In fact I wouldn’t have any expectation for when they will return at all. With last minute guest requests, kitchen emergencies, late meetings and spontaneous events, there’s a multitude of reasons why your significant other will be home when they get home. I’m sorry if that’s a harsh truth but I have seen many relationships fail because of this simple fact. Its something you have to accept or work around. If they say they’re working on Monday, it means their entire Monday is gone. Because even if they get home on time, they’re usually exhausted and can’t hold a conversation never mind go out to dinner.
Please say goodbye to the idea of weekends
With weekends being the busiest time for the hospitality industry, the chances of your significant other being able to spend time with you during those days are slim to none. It can be difficult if you work a regular job that gives you weekends off and sometimes you’ll go for weeks without spending quality time together, simply passing as ships in the night. On the plus side, when you do spend quality time together, its meaningful. I can tell you now that if ANYONE from the hospitality industry decides to hang out with you, remember that they have chosen this over the very appealing idea of sleeping in (as in sleeping in after being on their feet for the last 12 hours).
They have excessive amounts of charm and aim to please
Depending on where your partner works, in hospitality you generally have be very charming, polite and always helpful to guests & suppliers. It’s no wonder that people fall head over heels for people working in hospitality as their levels of charm are through the roof. And if you ask for something- no matter what it may be- they will try their best to help you attain it. Many hospitality workers are trained that “you can never say no to a guest” and sometimes that spills into the relationship as well. If I ask for something I know that Polar will try his absolute best to make any wish come true in the quickest time but with the utmost care. Dating someone who works in hospitality also means you have have a person to salvage situations before they turn into a disaster (like that one time I tried to fry chicken and I started a fire). It often leaves me in wonder.
Their work stories are legitimately interesting
If it wasn’t for non-disclosure agreements and confidentiality clauses, I think hospitality workers could write screenplays based on their work lives. They’ve seen it all from influencers falling into swimming pools to celebrities throwing up in pot plants to a colleague whose sliced his finger off and needs to have it sewn back. This also works in your favour because they’re generally not squeamish and they can see you at your worst & weirdest without being disgusted.
They also have lots of behind the scenes information about how events, restaurants and hotels are run and the amount of hacks you learn from this is insane. Ever wondered how many times that dessert has been repurposed for the buffet? They know. How to fulfil that crazy request for concert tickets at the last minute? They can make it happen!
They have an appreciation for quality
One of my nicknames for Polar is “Bougie Bear”. He understands and has an awareness about the finer things in life- from luxury bed sheets, to single origin chocolates and the best cuts of meat– all because of his close proximity to these things at work. Naturally, they would like to share their preferences with you too. For me this was such a welcome break from partners who were always sharing their enthusiasm about sports and cars. Bring on the La Madeline Truffe (A Chocolate Truffle by Fritz Knipschildt which retails for $250)! Not that we are spending money on such items. But Polar would definitely rather save up for a while to buy something of good quality than just something cheap from the grocery store (classic me).
But they enjoy the simple things too
Ask any chef and they will tell you that the best meal is the one they don’t have to cook. And the days when your significant other can just laze around and have you take care of them are very much appreciated as they are constantly taking care of people in their jobs. Polar will be extremely picky about his burger patty if he goes out to eat but will happily eat a haphazardly cut toasted cheese sandwich which I put in front of him at home. A day of vegetating in front of the TV is a day they welcome because they need to unwind from the pressures of their career. If you are dating someone who works in hospitality, you have to be cognizant of that as the other half in the relationship and can’t expect your partner to be ready to hit the club anytime they have a day off.
You get treated as royalty when you visit them at work
On any occasion when I went to visit my partner at his place of work, I always treated as a VIP guest, introduced to all his colleagues and basically given anything I asked for. Which was only ever just water (despite encouragement to order something else). The same for the two occasions I went to visit my sister at her work. The first time my parents were with us and every person- from the doorman to the valet to the chefs- came up to introduce themselves and ensure that we had a pleasant time. The other time I went with the intention of eating and paying for my meal but instead, ended up indulging in a high tea for free when her colleagues learnt who we were. Hospitality workers work hard and enjoy when their guests reap the rewards of their career. They’re also very close to their colleagues (spending most hours of the day with them) so when family visits, everyone wants to ensure that they have the best time. If they work in a country away from their immediate family, the closeness to their colleagues is amplified!
They speak a different language and sometimes forget that you don’t speak it too
From back-of-house to plates on the pass to amenities to rack rates to pax, when I hear Polar talking with his friends, I have no idea what they’re on about. Sometimes when he is passionately explaining about his day to me, he throws out acronyms that not only do I have no idea what they stand for, even if I did, I would have no idea what they actually mean. You’d think that after a few years I would have all of this insider knowledge but I honestly can’t keep up. What does benchmarking mean again?
Any experience that you both have as guests is always an interesting one. When we visit hotels, Polar compares brand standards with other hotels. When we eat at restaurants, he takes note of the servers moods (guess who has been working a double shift today?!) and always tips generously. When we travel and I try to bargain for tours & goods, he never lets me go too far as he has an awareness of how it’s important to support local industries. There’s an empathy behind every experience which is definitely not something I have ever spared a thought to before.
Overall, in my experience, people who work in hospitality are privy to a lot of money, liquor, guest information and long hours. They’re generally hard working and honest which works in your favour too. Over time you will also learn their little quirks (like always having sharp knives which is apparently the most important thing in a kitchen) and learn to appreciate them. There is a certain degree of patience required to deal with these passionate and sometimes unreliable people which takes time to master. From what I have seen, people within this industry usually only date within the industry. Why? Because they don’t have time to go anywhere to meet anyone new and because industry outsiders do not understand the pressure and demands of such a career. Up to this day, people are always shocked when they hear that I am a teacher and do not work in the same sector as Polar. But as I have outlined, dating someone who works in hospitality, requires great understanding to reap great rewards and I would not trade my significant other’s career for the world!
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