When it comes to the question of dining out, know thyself

It’s Easter, so what better time to talk politics and political “intrigue”?

I refer, in this case, to Vice President Mike Pence’s “shocking” revelation (15 years ago) that he chooses not to eat alone with another woman other than his wife, and that he chooses not to attend events where alcohol is served without her either.

In the days since his position was re-publicized, it has been the source of great discussion and, from many venues, scorn.

As a young woman who has worked in various professional environments for the last 15 years, I have enjoyed several lunches one-on-one with both my female colleagues and male colleagues, including male bosses who were married. Could we have discussed business, or the news, or issues in an office setting? Absolutely. But we were hungry. Should my boss have said that he preferred to stay in the office rather than go out to lunch, would I have begrudged that decision? Absolutely not. And I would hope that should I make the same request, it would be just as honored and respected.

It comes down, in essence, to two words: Know thyself. Perhaps journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, a 41-year-old black man who writes for The Atlantic, put it best, albeit colorfully, in a 2012 essay when he wrote: “I’ve been with my spouse for almost 15 years. In those years, I’ve never been with anyone but the mother of my son. But that’s not because I am an especially good and true person. In fact, I am wholly in possession of an unimaginably filthy and mongrel mind. But I am also a dude who believes in guardrails, as a buddy of mine once put it. I don’t believe in getting ‘in the moment’ and then exercising willpower. I believe in avoiding ‘the moment.’ I believe in being absolutely clear with myself about why I am having a second drink, and why I am not; why I am going to a party, and why I am not. I believe that the battle is lost at Happy Hour, not at the hotel. I am not a ‘good man.’ But I am prepared to be an honorable one.”

Like what you’re reading? Subscribe now in print or digital.

Know thyself. Know thy weaknesses. Know where your temptations lie, where your “guardrails” tend to fail. And avoid those situations like the plague. This isn’t to say that this is Pence’s reasoning. Maybe he just prefers the company of his wife and his family. Or maybe he doesn’t like making small talk over spinach and artichoke dip. But he shouldn’t be raked over the coals for what is a personal and perfectly respectable discipline.

The “know thyself” principle applies in all situations — just ask the recovering alcoholic who avoids parties, or the porn addict who has the number of his or her accountability partner taped to the computer.

Is it possible to go to lunch without being tempted into cheating on your spouse? For some people, of course. For others, it’s more of a challenge. Blessedly, we are all unique human beings with our own gifts and struggles. We just have to be attentive to what they are.

feedback@osv.com