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Yesterday, a group of families whom I've known for a while along with mine went out for dinner together. The families are united in their common language and culture, and we often go out together. Basically, we all know each other pretty well.

At the table, the teens my age were sitting together. Another person (let's say Alice) and I had ordered the same thing. When the food came, I got it, and Alice didn't. She was under the impression I had taken her food. The waiter told us that he had messed up the order, so I proposed splitting 50:50 between the two of us (we were both extremely hungry, having fasted the whole day) until the other one came which we'd split again (as the waiter said that it would take a lot of time).

Alice, frowned and got up. She wanted the whole thing (as I later found out). She wasn't interested in sharing...

When she later got back to the table, she spoke to me like I'd insulted her. She got her meal after just 5 minutes, but later, she mocked me saying I eat a lot (bhukkad in Hindi) and said that I chew too loud, and I clang my silverware, and many rude things about my eating habits. Her parents were angry at me too :(

How can I avoid this from happening again? (Given that I'm not exactly the perfect eater.)

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    If you are confident that you did nothing intentionally wrong, and she was upset without a just cause... Is there anything that you can add to your question that you are sorry about? – Jesse Mar 3 '18 at 14:26
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    Was it one of those situations when you both ordered x and the waiter arrived with the first plate of x and asked 'who ordered it?' You answered first in the fashion "Me! It's my meal.' or rather the waiter just silently placed the plate before you? – user1617 Mar 6 '18 at 17:40
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    @LTOrtega The latter (i.e. the plate was silently placed before me.) – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay Mar 6 '18 at 23:33
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This reminds me of the mini pie dilemma scene from a movie. I forgot the title.

There are three pies: 1x lemon, and 2x raspberry.

There are three mouths to feed: Ann loves lemon, John loves raspberry, and Steve has diabetes. They don't know each others' tastes.

However, politeness dictates Ann choose first because she's the guest. She wants lemon, but if she picks it, there will only be 2x raspberry left, so the others won't have a choice, and she doesn't know what they like. So in order to be polite and allow the others a choice, she picks raspberry.

One of each type of pie remains. Steve is also a guest, so he chooses next. He picks raspberry because lemon is just too sweet, and he'll only eat 1/4 of the minipie (not eating it would be rude to the one who purchased the minipies, but he has to mind his blood sugar!).

John is left with lemon which he hates. Everyone says the pies are delicious and exchanges polite compliments while staring at the others' plates in envy.

The problem here was they didn't have enough information to reach the best decision, and no-one took the initiative to fix it, resulting in an absurd outcome.

Anyway.

When the food came, I got it, and Alice didn't.

Here (France) the waiter would serve the girl first and you'd be expected to be chivalrous and keep your stomach in check, although that chivalrous tradition is kinda lost now. I wonder if it's the same where you are, or not?

I proposed splitting 50:50 between the two of us (we were both extremely hungry)

You took it upon yourself to solve the problem (good) but when you do that you also accept responsibility if it goes wrong...

Alice, frowned and got up. She wanted the whole thing (as I later found out). She wasn't interested in sharing...

Perhaps the misunderstanding here was that etiquette would dictate Alice gets the plate, and she knew it, and you didn't. In this case your actions could be perceived as rude, although it wasn't intentional. Since this is very culturally dependent, you be the judge.

However, she didn't say that. She could have teased you a little bit, say "come on, ladies first", stuff like that, but she chose to leave the table instead. In this case don't fret it: it's now her problem. You don't have to apologize for someone else's childish behavior. Unless you somehow broke etiquette from your culture, but I can't say.

later, she mocked me saying I eat a lot (bhukkad in Hindi) and said that I chew too loud, and I clang my silverware, and many rude things about my eating habits.

Of course! She was a little bit miffed, so she gave you a good ribbing and teasing in return. Fair enough. Don't take it literally, and especially don't get angry at her, that would be a bad move. The "incident" was pretty much a non-issue, there's no need to escalate. You can (and should) even tease her back a little bit.

Her parents were angry at me too :( How can I avoid this from happening again?

You can ask her parents what you did wrong, and frame it like you're trying to improve your table manners. Perhaps they will give you useful information. If they convince you that you did break etiquette, then you can apologize, but not too profusely. I mean, you didn't run over her hamster with your monster truck or anything, it was mostly a non-event so no need to overdo it.

Also remember the lemon pies, and when you feel an absurd situation brewing, don't be afraid to be the one to open your mouth.

Now, there is an alternate explanation for her behavior: she might be attracted to you.

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    My culture also has the ladies first tradition, however, a recent change in people's behaviours and beliefs has changed it around. I've often offered ladies the first choice, only to be rebuffed with "That's extremely sexist". I continued to do it until I got tagged as a sexist and anti-feminist. Now, this person expected the same old treatment. What was I supposed to do? – Abhigyan Chattopadhyay Mar 3 '18 at 15:21
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    @LinuxBlanket yes the "wait for everyone to be served" rule also applies here, but when the service is late, it depends on how much you care about eating it while it's hot... – peufeu Mar 3 '18 at 15:58
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    @AbhigyanC it's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" to which the proper answer is to not give a damn and enjoy your dinner. Also, if I read it right, she gave you her undivided attention by teasing and ribbing you during the rest of the meal, correct? – peufeu Mar 3 '18 at 15:58
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    @peufeu absolutely right. Pizza gets cold in an instant, while risotto retains its magmatic heat even under the snow. Things normally are made easier by the other guests telling you not to bother and to eat right away. I'd express my concerns anyway. – LinuxBlanket Mar 3 '18 at 16:13
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    Seriously if i get something and the girl not, and she even hints that she wants it because she is the girl, i wouldnt give it on purpose ._. What about feminism :P She doesnt deserve it more than anyone else – MansNotHot Mar 5 '18 at 15:19
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As a girl from an Indo-German background, I think I know something more about this. I've often been in Alice's position when I lived in India.

My culture also has the ladies first tradition, however, a recent change in people's behaviours and beliefs has changed it around.

You're absolutely right. Sexism and chivalry are getting mixed up, some expect one, others expect the other one. It's hard to know who's who, but you can always discuss, right?

As soon as the food arrived at your place, you could have been like: "I'm not sexist, but I ought to offer you this... It's our culture." That saves you the double-trouble that you could have got into.

Also, many girls just like to tease you into making you feel bad, so that's probably why she said what she did about your table manners and stuff. I do this!!

Don't worry about it, just let her parents know the exact situation, and apologize if you need to (as @peufeu said, not too profusely, that makes you look fake). Family friends don't break up over tiny things like this...

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I don't know much about your local culture or the culture of your friend circle. But some people perceive it as a form of closeness to share food. A closeness she might not wish to portray. She might think you are trying to court her and she might have no interest (romantically) in you (or consider you beneath her, due to different social standing for instance) and thus her reaction would be her way of (perhaps intuitively) communicate that.

In any case, I don't think the being hungry part is the issue, but the sharing a plate part. In the end however, we can only speculate about the reason.

In general, if I don't know someone close enough to know whether the other person is fine with sharing food, I don't suggest it. If the waiter had suggested it you could have gauged her reaction first before agreeing or disagreeing (or just asking her). In any case, before suggesting such a solution publicly, i.e. to the waiter, which implies you speak for the two of you - always first ask the other person. Like (maybe even in a whispered question)

"You can have this round if you want, or should we just share this portion until the next arrives?"

This way you signal that you are open to share, but don't imply speaking for her, the decision isn't made yet.

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How can I avoid this from happening again? (Given that I'm not exactly the perfect eater.)

  1. Work on your table manners. See if you can make some small but significant improvements.

  2. If your parents and your customs allow, have a couple of bites of something before heading to the restaurant. Teenagers fasting all day -- that's a recipe for a blow-up.

  3. Apologize to Alice without defending yourself. You might need to practice first. Just apologize -- nothing more, nothing less. (For reasoning see below*.) Example: phone Alice. "Hi, I'm calling to apologize about the mix-up at the restaurant. I'm really sorry about what happened. I wasn't thinking clearly and I behaved inconsiderately."

  4. Similarly, apologize to her parents. This one can be more abbreviated.

  5. If you ever find yourself in this situation again, as soon as the mix-up is discovered, be the gracious one, and hand the plate over to the Alice. Hopefully Alice will let you have a couple bites of something to tide you over.

*Reasoning: When someone feels that their food has been taken away from them, they can very easily react in a completely irrational way. This can happen to anyone. Someone who has gone too long without eating is particularly vulnerable.

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When the food came, I got it, and Alice didn't. She was under the impression I had taken her food. The waiter told us that he had messed up the order, so I proposed splitting 50:50 between the two of us ...

If the waiter gave you the food and she got nothing she should take it up with the waiter and let you eat. Messing with you while you eat is not what someone should do.

I can't think of anyone who's going to want a picked at meal split in half, twice - are you dating, married; don't share spit don't share food.

If she thinks you've taken something of hers hearing that she can have half of it is ridiculous. Even the waiter has spoke up to say forget it.

Given that I'm not exactly the perfect eater.

It is rude to bring up a different point that's unrelated as a defense for her misunderstanding. She felt wronged by you and let go the floodgates of all your shortcomings, real or made up.

You should explain that she can take it up with the waiter or management and deal with their resolution, alternately she can accept yours.

One another point: If you are going out to eat with others you don't need to be a "perfect eater" (unless you're eating with royalty or at the Captain's table), still you are expected to eat reasonably.

I wouldn't have anything to do with them until they apologized, unless they would prefer to wrestle.

Instead of one person getting a free meal you received free insults. I think you need to ingrain the father that his children are ill mannered food thieves and it's an insult to see them without a prompt apology. Don't let them think you're wrong when you are not.

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Some people may have interesting emotions around food, especially when being exposed to an environment where consumption is viewed as an entitlement rather than a gift and a privilege.

Please, if you can, give your female relative the freedom to express her issues, and just try not to take it personally. She cannot help herself, unfortunately.

I am not saying that you should let her verbally or emotionally abuse you. Just that, if her behavior is difficult for your to be with, then your choices are to forgive her or not be with her.

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