Is it rude not to eat lunch?

When you invite people to lunch and all they do is drink coffee, is it normal to feel annoyed?
Absolutely, agrees our elder. These people have no manners: Chow down or go home.


Dear EWC

Over the years I keep running into this issue and I am not sure if it is just how things are today or if it has something to do with me.

I will invite someone to meet for lunch, perhaps a friend or a business associate. When we go to lunch they suddenly are not hungry or they ate before they came or they are going out for dinner or whatever so they only have coffee and watch me eat through the lunch. Even if I have stated I will be paying for lunch they drink coffee!! Most recently it was to talk with a manager who I hope to work with in the future at a business I am interested in. He stayed for an hour, talked, and only drank coffee.

When I meet for a lunch I plan to eat because I have planned for it that day. It annoys me no end that they just watch me eat and no amount of coaxing or comments will get the friend or the business associate to order any food. Am I crazy to be annoyed about this?


Maryanne replies

I knew I had to answer your letter the minute I saw it. I completely agree with you. Completely.

I think it is actually rude to accept a lunch invitation and then just order coffee. There have been many, many times when I ate lunch, although I did not want to. Sometimes I am in dieting mode and do not want to eat in the middle of the day. HOWEVER, if I accept a lunch invitation I will order food. Of course. No one wants to be eating while the other person is just watching them. That is quite uncomfortable.

If possible, I will respond to the invitation by saying, “How about just meeting for coffee?” I might also explain that I am dieting or that I will be having a big dinner that night. But, if I say nothing then I WILL eat.

So, what can you do? We cannot control the behavior of others, no matter how rude. One idea—while you are perusing the menu you can ask the other person what looks good to them? At that point if they say they are just having coffee you might do the same. If possible, you can order a meal to go and eat it after you leave the “lunch”. If you are in a time crunch, you might consider having a protein bar in your purse that you can have after the “lunch”. OR you can just order and eat and ignore their rudeness. You should do whatever will make you enjoy the lunch that you went to the trouble to set up.
I do, though, completely agree and understand where you are coming from. I think that your annoyance is very valid. Manners are a lost art. Manners would dictate that one order food when invited to lunch. For heaven’s sake—there are always salads on the menu.

I would suggest before making your next lunch appointment, you think about how you are going to handle it. I do think that even if someone does not eat, they do appreciate the fact that you invited them to lunch.

I hope you find a way to enjoy your next “lunch”.

Best Regards,

Elder Maryanne


Reference 406227


  1. Hi admin, You always provide great information and insights.

  2. Dear admin, Thanks for the well-researched and well-written post!

  3. What if you invite someone to lunch and they take the food home instead of eating much of it?

    Every time! They order a complete meal and then take most of it home.

    1. Administration Reply
      October 12, 2023

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