Dear Wayne and Wanda,
I have a stupid problem I need advice with — stupid because it seems like the most trivial thing but after I saw a post about this recently on Facebook, it hit close to home and I realized a lot of people must fight about this with their significant other. So here is the issue.
My girlfriend and I both work full time and neither of us are really into cooking, especially not on weeknights. So many times, it will be around mid-afternoon, and we will text each other about what we should have for dinner. And we almost always then end up fighting about it.
It usually goes like this: one of us asks where we should go to eat, the other says they don't care, the other makes a suggestion, the other shoots it down, and it spirals from there. This sounds dumb, I realize, but it causes so many fights. And usually when she says she doesn't care, she then has a million reasons why she can't go to the places I suggest. Recently she decided to go low-carb so that right there eliminates so many places.
I saw a joke about this on Facebook, as I said, and so many people replied saying they could relate, so we can't be the only idiotic couple that fights almost daily about, of all things, where to get dinner. This really is the one reoccurring fight we have and for that I feel lucky but I'm also sick of it and would love some advice on how to fix this. Thoughts?
Food fight! It's the worst, isn't it? So annoying. And so messy! But look, this "where should we eat tonight" argument is one that just about anyone in a modern-day relationship has endured. The good news, you are not alone. Diet-related bickering is super common, according to Shape Magazine, with duos duking it out over everything from out-of-sync eating schedules to accusations of sabotaging each other's health goals.
Why do couples fight about this? For starters, we're inundated by choices, and thanks to apps like Yelp and Around Me, we're hyper-aware of just how many options abound. It can genuinely make it hard to narrow the scope and agree. There are added complications like meeting each other's dietary needs and respecting health goals or limitations.
For many busy working couples, dinner can be the one meal of the day when both partners are holding still and jointly focused on each other, putting even more pressure on selecting spots that support quality time. So it's natural that we overthink it sometimes.
Trying to make a mutual decision by text mid-day during the work week can be a huge headache, regardless of the topic at hand. You're both likely stressed and distracted. I know at that point in the day, I sometimes wish someone would just figure things out for me and tell me what it is I need to do, rather than request my input.
So my advice: For two weeks, take turns choosing venues. Make a rule — and respect it — that the other partner has to accept the dinner location, no objections, no exceptions.
Since you're on Facebook all the time, you may have seen this term used in a meme or two: Hangry. Hungry + Angry = Hangry. You're so hungry, you're angry. Get it? So brilliant and so relatable to so many, including myself.
I'm a monster when I'm hungry. I'm even worse when I'm hungry and there's no food or plan for food on the horizon. My brain starts shutting down — communication is short and terse, planning suddenly seems impossible, a headache eventually follows. My body starts freaking out–– my tummy starts talking, my hands start shaking. And the hungrier I get, the angrier I get, so, yes, the hangrier I get. Sometimes I freak out; sometimes I shut down. It's ugly. It's uglier when someone else is involved. Even after you decide where to eat, the hangriness overshadows the beginning of the meal, if not completely ruins the whole thing.
For me, this scenario most often plays out late in the workday or after a post-work workout. I know I should have some kind of plan ahead because if I don't, a meltdown is going to occur. You and your girlfriend clearly have a pattern of hangriness, as well. It's time to recognize that and communicate before the hangriness takes over.
Don't wait to start talking about dinner until the afternoon when you're both already semi-hangry and getting hangrier by the minute and the text reply. Make a plan right after lunch, when you're full. Or better yet, make a plan the night before.
I know, we all get super busy and sometimes it's impossible to communicate during the workday. One thing that's saved me in a few hangry fits is the running list of dining options I keep on my phone. It's a handful of personal favorites sorted by food genre and ease/quickness; it even has a few local happy hour schedules. Most of these places are totally obvious, but like I said, when I'm hangry I'm not thinking straight. So this list is a lifesaver. And if you're trying to plan dining with your partner, it can sometimes be a peacekeeper, too.
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