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I really would like to pay, but I don't want it to seem gender-based. And I don't want to say that.
February 25, 2010 10:30 AM   Subscribe

On early dates, should I pay because I'm more able to afford it (which I usually will be), or should we split it to be equal?

For some quick background, I'm newly single and dating again. I generally use dating sites, which I'm very happy with since they've served me pretty well. (Understatement.)

I know there have been past AskMe questions about who should pick up the check. (1, 2, 3, 4.) Those are interesting but not directly responsive to my question.

Here's the deal. For most of my past relationships, we would split the bill. This was when we were both students and/or struggling to get by financially, so it wouldn't have made much sense for one person to do all the paying.

In the past couple years, as I've switched from being a student to being a professional, my income has gone way up, and I make more than most people. Not quite six figures, but close. (This is in the US.)

Based on experience, I rarely end up on a date with someone who makes more money than I do. She is most likely my age or younger, and the odds seem pretty low that she's making a comfortably middle-class salary. (I'm completely open to dating women who are older and/or make as much or more than me, but I'm just generalizing based on experience and for the sake of this question.)

In my last relationship, we went Dutch on the first few dates because I like to establish equality as a basic guiding principle. But after we became official, I always paid unless there was a special occasion like my birthday or something.

Now that I'm back on the market, I'm wondering if I've been using the best strategy or if there's a better way to handle this awkward issue -- particularly on early (first, second, third...) dates.

My thinking is that I should pay when it makes more financial sense from a gender-neutral point of view, which will usually be the case. The upsides of this are pretty obvious: direct financial upside for her; I don't much care about the financial cost for me; and she might be pleased.

But there's a downside to this, which is that she could interpret it as traditional gender stereotyping: "I'm the man so I pay for you." I don't want to present myself that way. Frankly, it makes me cringe. I also don't like the idea of setting a precedent (in the event things do develop into a real relationship) that our interactions are going to be unequal just because I'm the man and she's the woman.

I've never been convinced that I should pay in order to succeed with more women, because here's the thing: even if 90% of women want the man to pay, and 10% prefer things to be equal, then I'm probably most interested in those latter 10% because they share my values.

I know someone is going to say: "The rule is that whoever asks the other person out should pay," but I don't find this to be much guidance. It's often pretty ambiguous who "asked" who. The "let's get together" issue just naturally comes up when you're using dating sites. I also don't like making a big deal about how I asked you out and therefore I'm calling the shots and paying for everything. And realistically, I'd feel foolish letting her to pay for both of us anytime she happened to suggest the date.

If/when a real relationship develops, I'm quite comfortable openly talking about the fact that it makes more sense for me to pay for most stuff as this actually levels the playing field. But I'd rather not bring this up explicitly on early dates. I don't want to be all, "Well, since I make a lot more money than you..." And I also don't want to launch into an extemporaneous treatise on gender relations in the middle of a date. (I actually did discuss this on a recent first date and it actually went over well, but I'd also worry that some women could find this offensive.)

Thoughts?

(Since I know that people sometimes research an asker's posting history, I should mention that I'm using a sockpuppet because I'd rather not attach my name to something talking about my salary and dating practices.)
posted by jejune to Human Relations (55 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Usually I have found that the guy pays on the first date or two . Then if you go out more and start to know each other then pay together. Its more of an impress the woman type thing.
posted by majortom1981 at 10:36 AM on February 25, 2010


Don't go anywhere too expensive on the first date. Split the bill. Proceed from there.
posted by cincinnatus c at 10:37 AM on February 25, 2010


I'm a girl, and I'm usually the poorer one in these situations. On initial dates, I usually try not to go to very expensive places so that we can go Dutch. After we've been dating for a while, if my partner wants to eat at more expensive places, I'll let him pay. I don't really feel bad about this. I don't feel like it's gender stereotyping. The fact of the matter is, I can't afford to eat at such places, and if we were to always go Dutch, then he would be eating there alone. I figure he knows my income situation and is asking me to such a fancy restaurant specifically because he wants to eat at that place with me. I usually reciprocate in the form of fancy home-cooked meals.
posted by bluefly at 10:39 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've only done the internet-dating thing once, but what do you think the reaction would be if you reached for the check and asked "can I pick this up or would you like to go dutch?" Seems like that's what your question is, and that your date could answer it better than us. If your date has a strongly negative reaction to you asking a fairly basic question in an open fashion, it probably wasn't meant to be.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:45 AM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


To me, this is an area where you err on the side of caution. Follow the societal convention and pay for at least the first 3-4 dates, unless she makes a very hard and definite statement that she prefers to split/pay. Yes, it's archaic and un-egalitarian, but it's the norm - and why try to battle that convention on the first date before you know whether she falls into the 10% bracket you mention. First dates are awkward enough - let convention pave the way until you know each other well enough.

(I say this as a Norwegian woman in the US who generally prefers to share the check or pay back w/a homemade dinner or similar.)
posted by widdershins at 10:47 AM on February 25, 2010


For first dates I'd avoid assumptions about who can or should pay more and it's too early for conversations about earning power. If I'm the asker, I'd choose inexpensive venues or activities, be prepared to pay or to readily accept an offer to split (and v/v, if she asked me out, I'd offer to split and be prepared to accept graciously being treated if she were to insist). If there are to be more than a couple more dates, the topic of equality, ability to pay, how to negotiate a split, etc., will come up in it's own time. You'll learn a lot about each other by how and when it comes up, too.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 10:53 AM on February 25, 2010


You pay for the first two or three dates. After that, you're sort of in a relationship, and things can be divided more evenly, or at least, respective to your salaries.

I consider myself pretty liberal, but if a man asked me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:54 AM on February 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


You don't have to think of this in terms of gender at all. You don't have to think of this in terms of custom or convention at all.

It is simply a very nice, generous gesture to offer to treat someone. It's something that's done in many situations to foster goodwill no matter what the genders or incomes are of the people involved. Example: you and a couple new male coworkers go to happy hour and you offer to buy the first round.

So I think you can treat your dates without feeling like you're awkwardly hewing to some sexist old convention.
posted by Ashley801 at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


(I say this as someone who, as broke as I was just out of college, usually dated guys who were even more broke than I was, and was just as often as not the one who offered to pay for the whole thing.)
posted by Ashley801 at 10:59 AM on February 25, 2010


The first date or two, the guy should pick up the check. After that, if you set the precedent of paying all the time, the woman will likely not object, even if she makes a boatload more money than the guy. If generosity if not a shared value, someone will get the short end of the stick - the more generous party will be taken advantage of, and trust me, it's not the place to be. Learn from my mistakes, young Jedi.
posted by dbiedny at 11:01 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding Ashley801.

Taking romance out of the equation, even, I hate splitting checks. It feels so ungracious. I'd much rather take a friend out to lunch, especially because I'm comfortable enough the cost of a meal isn't a big deal for me.
posted by purpleclover at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2010


It is simply a very nice, generous gesture to offer to treat someone...So I think you can treat your dates without feeling like you're awkwardly hewing to some sexist old convention.

Agreed. Don't even bring up splitting a check, I would find that a huge turnoff on a first or second date. If she says something about wanting to pay, tell her she can get the next one, or buy you an ice cream if you'd like to continue the evening.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:02 AM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am a hardcore feminist who prides herself on her financial independence, but on a first date that I didn't initiate, I'm looking for an offer to pay. I won't let the guy pay, of course, I'll say "no no, let's go Dutch" but I think the offer should be there from the person who initiated the going out. When it's not, I'm taking that as "we're just going out as friends. This isn't a date."
posted by olinerd at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you want to pay, offer to pay. If she wants to go dutch, she will offer up her half.
posted by pazazygeek at 11:04 AM on February 25, 2010


I believe in paying my own way, but if I were on an early date and the person suggested we split the bill, I'd think they weren't interested.

Alternating paying for dates is the way to go, I think: it's more equal, and both of you are saying "I would like to treat you to this." It's pretty likely that a woman who's interested in you will offer to treat you by date #3 or so.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:05 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I consider myself pretty liberal, but if a man asked me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.


I find this sort of attitude a good reason to actually think about going dutch on the first date, or at the very least see if the other person at least makes an offer to pick up half of the cheque. Their reaction to you assuming that the cost of a dinner would be split might give you further insight into their character and whether or not you might be compatible with them.

The "going dutch" or "man pays" can often serve as a proxy for a whole system of values.

My personal preference is "asker (be they male or female) offers to pay whole cheque, askee says 'no let's split it', asker insists, says 'you get it next time'." In one brief interaction you establish a level of equality, generosity, and statement that you enjoyed each other's company and would like to do it again.
posted by modernnomad at 11:06 AM on February 25, 2010 [20 favorites]


i'm always ready to go dutch on the first few dates, and i always ask what my share is when the check comes, but i have to admit disappointment if my date doesn't at least make the offer to pick it up. but then i also feel the same way if he doesn't offer to help me remove my coat or help me put it back on. it's the convention, so if you buck it right away you risk being thought of as a) poor (which will run some girls off, probably the ones you want to run off) b) cheap (different from being poor, but also not attractive) or c) not being a gentleman.

most of the guys i go out with don't make substantially more than me, some make less, so we always go dutch; with the guys that do make more, they insist on paying for meals and events because it just makes more sense, so i pick up smaller tabs when i can—i pay for cabs, buy coffee and dessert some place else, drinks at a bar sometimes.
posted by lia at 11:07 AM on February 25, 2010


I consider myself pretty liberal, but if a man asked me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.

Wow, thank god for being gay so that this bizarre scorpion-dance is totally avoided.

Some men people like to think that by buying dinner they're putting down a deposit on your time/attention/body, which is why some women like to avoid the risk of playing into that by splitting evenly for the initial meetings. Especially in the case of online dating, where you have likely never seen this person before in your life.

If you have the means to pay, feel free to make an incredibly no-big-deal offer at the end of the meal -- and then go with whatever her response dictates. If she dives for her pocketbook or seems at all uncomfortable with accepting your generosity, graciously concede.
posted by hermitosis at 11:10 AM on February 25, 2010 [18 favorites]


I consider myself pretty liberal, but if a man asked me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.

That comment made me say "ick," just to give you an idea of the wide range of women's responses to this dilemma.

When I was dating around, as a general rule, a guy who absolutely insisted he paid was a glaring red flag. A guy who asked me to pay would have been a red flag for completely different reasons. A guy who actually discussed the bill with me when the waitress brought us our check was doing it right. Usually he'd offer, and I'd say, "Here, let me at least get my own drinks," and either he'd let me pay or he'd say something clever and enterprising like, "No, you can get next Friday's drinks."

Then sometimes the rules don't apply: I went on a date once with a man who'd forgotten his wallet. He was supremely embarrassed, apologized about fifty times that I had to pick up the bill, and figured I'd probably never call him again. But because he was totally awesome, I didn't care a wit about the bill. We live together now. So whatever you decide regarding money, just know that most women are far more interested in your personality than how many bills you shell out at the end of the night.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:14 AM on February 25, 2010 [18 favorites]


I make much much more than my partner does and this is an understatement.

He enjoys treating me to dinner about as much as I enjoy treating him to dinner. It's not really a question of expense, or etiquette, or (yuck) "chivalry". If I ask him out to dinner, I pay. If he asks me out to dinner, he pays. If we randomly decide to go have a bite we either split (which tends to be awkward from a cash/card perspective) or we keep an informal tally of who paid last time and go from there.

He paid for the first date, though I suggested we split, but he did so with a smile that conveyed exactly how much this was not about gendered expectations or financial issues.

Be careful not to come of as patronizing, if you do want to pay out of the goodness of your heart and the relative thickness of your wallet. It's not attractive and it can make your date feel rather resentful. I know I'd be.
posted by lydhre at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2010


I consider myself pretty liberal, but if a man asked me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.

Actually this acts as a great filter. Just do whatever feels right in the moment — and if the other person reacts so touchily and negatively that they don't want to date you again, you'll have successfully screened out somebody who's way too hung up and uptight about BS "rules" of dating. You win either way!
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


This is where you have a problem --

according to roomthreeseventeen, "if a man asked [him/her] to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date."

whereas if it were me, if a man DID NOT ask me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.

Gender culture varies greatly across North America -- some women are happy to be treated and want to be if they have been asked out, others (such as myself) would be very uncomfortable to not split the check, especially when just getting to know a man.

My advice would be to go somewhere cheapish/middling -- or let her suggest -- and be prepared to pay, but if she pulls out her wallet (like I would, and room317 would not) then act like you knew you were going to split all along -- and if she wants to, split like friends would where each of you pays specifically for what you ordered, unless you shared a dish. (This saves the salad eater from the steak lover).

After several dates (which have hopefully gone wonderfully), say that you would specially like to treat her to a dinner somewhere fancy. I would have no problem with someone I was in a relationship with treating me to dinner. In fact, I make my husband buy me things all the time. (I'm too lazy to go to the ATM).
posted by jb at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Honestly, this is one of the reasons I don't do dinner dates early on. I'm more than happy to meet for coffe or a drink and pay for that, but dinner dates can be tricky in these situations (not to mention expensive).

There are a thousand viewpoints as to what is right here. Some girls want to pay, some just want you to offer, some won't go out with you again if you don't pay, and some wil only go out with you to get a free night out. Tons of different opinions.

If I were you and liked to go on dinner dates, I'd probably look at the check when it comes, put it down, and talk about something else. If she offers to split it, accept if you want to. Or choose to pay it yourself. Either way. But I think asking is tacky call.
posted by PFL at 11:18 AM on February 25, 2010


I exaggerated -- of course, I would go out with someone again EVEN if he offered to buy me dinner. But I would hope that the minute I shook my head (as I would) that he would smile and allow me to pay for my own dinner. As hermitosis points out above, there is a certain independence to paying for your own dinner that a lot of people like to maintain until they know the person they are with better.
posted by jb at 11:23 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Unless she brings it up first (grabbing the check, telling you how much you owe), I think the safest thing to do is to offer to pick it up, e.g. put your hand on the bill, give her a charming smile, and say "Can this be my treat?" If she wants to go dutch, she can say so. If she get offended just because you offered, she's really uptight and you probably don't want a 2nd date with her anyway.

In general, I imagine that you would prefer to avoid talking about money for the first few dates. Asking a girl to go dutch or saying that the reason you want to pay is because you know you make a lot more money than her is just going to emphasize an issue that in polite society is not usually broached until you get to know each other a lot better. Offering to treat avoids this.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by tk at 11:30 AM on February 25, 2010


I like to play-fight over the check with whomever I'm dating and ideally I like to pay. That is because I don't like to be indebted to anyone in a romantic context, whether or not they have more money than I do. I expect dates to try to pay sometimes, it makes me happy to know that they want to be generous with me even though I am willing and able to pick up the check.

Spending money--to me--means keeping my autonomy. Spending money--to you--means doing a financial favor. Spending money--to the women you're going to date--means ?

So yes, I would pay. "Hey, is it okay if I get this one?" Thank them for letting me take them out, thank them for the pleasure of their company, act like they are doing you a favor although you're the one paying.

If they want to split, agree, and don't read ANYTHING into it. There are a lot of sexist, date rapey ideals out there that make women reluctant to "owe" a strange man. Respect that choice, be polite, smile. Splitting the check doesn't have to be unpleasant, unless one of you is trying to underpay.

You can also establish that you're paying while you're making the date, in order to avoid that awkward moment. If you want, you can ask them to pay for something much smaller and cheaper at the same time so that it feels a bit more equal.

"Let's go to the movies--is Friday at 7 okay? I'll get the tickets, you get the popcorn. Sound good?" Everyone gets to buy something they can afford, everyone is happy and cared for.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:33 AM on February 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


My advice would be to go somewhere cheapish/middling -- or let her suggest -- and be prepared to pay, but if she pulls out her wallet (like I would, and room317 would not)

Not what I said at all. I'm always the first person to pull out my wallet on a first date (which thankfully, I don't need to do, since I'm permanently attached these days).
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:39 AM on February 25, 2010


Honestly, this is one of the reasons I don't do dinner dates early on

I agree, for online dating. I also do OK salary-wise, but it adds up, it really does. I was always of the "offer to pay, assume she'll want to go dutch" school. I have to admit I was fairly bitter when people with whom I hadn't had a good time, who obviously never wanted to see me again, would let me pay a whole $100 check.

I think I was kind of in the wrong, because you shouldn't offer to do something you don't really want to do. But, I just assumed they would say, "no, let's split it," and I couldn't bring myself to say "so, umm, about your half..."

Coffee or meeting for a drink is the way to go for someone you've never met in real life before.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:41 AM on February 25, 2010


I'm always the first person to pull out my wallet on a first date

...yet if someone suggests going Dutch you wouldn't date them again? This must have led to some weird encounters.

posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:45 AM on February 25, 2010


...yet if someone suggests going Dutch you wouldn't date them again? This must have led to some weird encounters.

Not really. Chivalry is hundreds of years old. :) :) :)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:51 AM on February 25, 2010


I would recommend trying to establish who is treating during the initial planning process. Most of my first dates were "let's get together" kinds of dates, where you don't really know if it's a date or two friends until an hour or so into the date. I realize that this is the norm, but I just hated it.

Nothing sweeps me off my feet like hearing, "Can I take you to dinner?"
It's miles more flattering than, "Do you want to get some dinner?" and really sets up that all-important romantic tension.

Subsequent dates, I tended to offer to pay for something or reciprocate. I agree with the advice upthread that taking turns treating each other is far more romantic than splitting a check. I don't even split checks with my friends; in my mind, splitting checks with anyone is like saying you don't want to feel any kind of reciprocal social obligation whatsoever. Of course, I've also had a few dates that were going so badly that I insisted on splitting the check for that very reason. But not every woman would agree, so don't take it personally if you try to treat and your date wants to pay her share.
posted by Knowyournuts at 11:57 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


if a man asked me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.

Well, I wouldn't want to date a woman who would refuse to date a man who wanted to go Dutch, so I guess it evens out. :)

To wrap this up, what I'm planning to do from now on is: I'll go ahead and assume I'm going to pay, without mentioning it. She's free to change this if she wants, or she's free to just let me pay -- I'm fine either way. If a few dates have gone by and things are getting more serious, we'd probably be comfortable having an open discussion of the underlying issues involved. That discussion is probably unwelcome on a first or second date, but if things start getting serious we should be able to talk about an obvious relationship-y issue.

Thanks, everyone.

zoomorphic: If you haven't seen it, you have to watch the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High! (In reference to your last paragraph.)
posted by jejune at 11:58 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it would be nice if you offered to pay on a first date. For me, it always seemed like a sign that the guy didn't like me if he didn't offer to pay (unless I knew he was having a tough time financially).
posted by parakeetdog at 12:04 PM on February 25, 2010


Sounds like you've come to a brilliant plan jejune. I follow a very similar philosophy to dating.
posted by special-k at 12:20 PM on February 25, 2010


I make more than my long-time gf, and the way I see it if we split the check every time that would not be an acknowledgement of equality but of inequality. Even though I make more than she does, I don't think I necessarily deserve to make more than she does, but for whatever reason society values my labor more than it does her labor. So therefore my paying most or all of the check is a way of making up for that a little bit. I'm not sure that kind of explanation would fly on a first date, though.

Also, a good way of getting somebody to let you pay the check is to say something like "But I want to pick it up. You wouldn't want to deprive me of the pleasure of treating you to dinner, would you?"
posted by ekroh at 12:26 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't get why people are getting on roomthreeseventeen's case. For some people it's not the money, it about romance. Some people are more traditional than others and there's nothing wrong with that, and there's nothing wrong with weeding people out based on these things. That's what dating is for.

Personally, I always went on a date prepared to pay my share, but I preferred that the guy offer to pay, especially if I really liked him. To me it's a sign that he's interested romantically. Also, on dates where I'd met the person online or something, I rarely did anything more than meet for coffee. Dinner dates/ movies were usually further down the line or when I was dating someone I knew in real life.

Jejune, do what aligns with your values...if the woman gets bothered by it then you know she's not for you.
posted by cottonswab at 12:29 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is simply a very nice, generous gesture to offer to treat someone...So I think you can treat your dates without feeling like you're awkwardly hewing to some sexist old convention.

Yes, I think this is fair. It only gets into sexism when you insist on paying and won't let her. ("You can pay next time!" isn't an example of this.)

If you talk about it and both of you have a say in the outcome, lovely.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2010


With the person I'm currently dating, we've been going Dutch or taking turns, but since money is tight for him right now, he's been covering things like food for dinner at home, and I've been covering things like movie tickets. I end up paying more in the end, but he's taking care of necessities (we have to eat!) and I've been covering fun stuff. I don't mind at all, and, in fact, am pleased to do it.

I like taking care of people, and this is one way of taking care of him.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:57 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


For a first date, I'd expect to split the cheque unless the guy suggested some place very expensive. (Don't do this, it's sort of weird.) As long as you do it good-naturedly, I don't really mind if someone says "let me get this" or not. (I'll usually try to split it.)

But if you do split it, don't be penny-pinching. Add your stuff together, round up, add tax, give a nice tip. (You can also divide by two assuming you guys both bought stuff that costs more or less the same amount.)
posted by jeather at 1:10 PM on February 25, 2010


OK, I'm a butch dyke not a dude, but I date femme women so the issues are similar. Actually, I"m probably more OK with the genderization of the dynamic than you, in fact, I enjoy paying because of the whole masculinity vibe, not because I actually have much money! Having said that, I'm still a feminist and I certainly want my date to feel agency in any given situation, so here's what I did recently:

1st date - took her somewhere nice. When the check came, we both reached for our wallets and I said, "Mind if I get this one?" If she'd insisted on splitting it, I would have been fine, but I wanted to pay and when she got that I really did she was fine with that and I think appreciated it.

2nd date - involved going to a cafe (which is cheap) and she asked me if she could buy my coffee and I said yes (and appreciated it).

As you say in your question, after the first couple dates it'll be easier to just honestly lay the issue on the table by saying something like, "I feel really lucky to be making a good wage right now, and it would make me happy to pay when we go out to the movies [or whatever]. Does that feel OK to you?" I'd also just continue to be sure to graciously accept when she does want to pay for stuff or go dutch.
posted by serazin at 1:11 PM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ooh, serazin, "Mind if I get this one?" hits the nail on the head—it shows that you want to do it while still allowing the date to say no if she does mind.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:21 PM on February 25, 2010


I'd offer to pay, but don't push the issue if the woman goes, "no really let me get my half." I think it's nice when the guy offers to pick up smaller things, but I generally like to pay my fair share. I'll let a guy pay for a drink or a coffee, but not generally anymore more costly unless we've been dating for awhile.

However, I always offer to pay or say I'll get the next round/parking/movies whatever it may be.

There are certain women that have literally been raised to believe that if a man doesn't pick up the check ALWAYS, he isn't a gentleman and he isn't really interested in them. I think this is utter BS, but I guess what I'm getting at is that some women that expect a man to pay may not be golddiggers per se, but rather attach a lot of significance to men following certain "courting" traditions to prove they are "worth" it.
posted by whoaali at 1:24 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are certain women that have literally been raised to believe that if a man doesn't pick up the check ALWAYS, he isn't a gentleman and he isn't really interested in them. I think this is utter BS, but I guess what I'm getting at is that some women that expect a man to pay may not be golddiggers per se, but rather attach a lot of significance to men following certain "courting" traditions to prove they are "worth" it.

I know that, but I'm really not interested in dating someone with that kind of attitude. I see these kinds of comments in women's online dating profiles all the time, and I inevitably move on to the next profile.
posted by jejune at 1:56 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are certain women that have literally been raised to believe that if a man doesn't pick up the check ALWAYS, he isn't a gentleman and he isn't really interested in them. I think this is utter BS, but I guess what I'm getting at is that some women that expect a man to pay may not be golddiggers per se, but rather attach a lot of significance to men following certain "courting" traditions to prove they are "worth" it.

I wouldn't even go that far. To me it's just a social nicety, like saying "Hi, how are ya?" when you see someone. You don't really want to know everything single thing that happened to them that day and what kind of mood they're in but people still say it. Why? Because it's nice. You say "How are ya?" and they say "I'm good how are you?" It's just a framework for people to relate inside of that makes it easier when they don't know each other very well. A guy offering to pay is generally being nice, and it shows that he's interested and polite and yes, a gentleman. What's wrong with that? What's wrong with preferring to date guys who have good manners and are willing to do little things to show they "like you-like you"? I certainly don't look at it as a measure of my "worth", just as a way of gauging the guy's feelings about the situation.

I'm attached now, but when I was single, I did not date very casually. I certainly don't judge people who do, but that's the way I'm wired. Experience taught me that I was more compatible with guys who are the same way, and those guys (in my experience) do tend to follow more traditional patterns of holding doors open, offering to pay, etc. So if I were, god forbid, to be single again, and I went on a date and the guy didn't do things like that, it would be one little signal to me that maybe we're not compatible. Of course there are other factors but it would definitely be a black mark.

I should also clarify that this is only for first or second dates, when you're still in that unfamiliar, awkward phase. Someone who's not willing to put his best foot forward on a first date is, in my opinion, someone to wonder about.
posted by cottonswab at 2:19 PM on February 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think reasonable minds can differ over the implications of the guy paying for the meal on a first date. Some see it as being nice, or as putting a best foot forward. Some see it as chivalrous, others chauvinistic. That's why it can turn into the scorpion dance that hermitosis referred to.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:36 PM on February 25, 2010


[A few comments removed. Argue with each other over email if you want to but leave it out of the thread.]
posted by cortex at 3:23 PM on February 25, 2010


My major, recent dating experience went something like this.

First date: was coffee, something we could order and pay for separately so the issue never came up. And for the record I think this is the way to go for a first meeting.
Second date: movie and a meal, I paid for the movie, he paid for the meal.
third - I have no idea: we basically alternated who pays for what but we also alternated on who was coming up with an idea for the next date so it basically turned into your idea = you pay.

When we were established in our relationship I noticed that he only really let me pay for certain meals and other ones I was wasn't allowed to pay for. It took a while for me to realize the pattern was that I was allowed to pay for lunch or snacks but I was never allowed to pay for dinner, I finally brought it up and he confirmed it was true (although at places where you order at the counter or something for lunch he'd frequently pay for his own, the sneaky bastard). I am a strong, independent woman but quite frankly I am also a poor student and he was making good money so I got over it.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:51 PM on February 25, 2010


Women generally have to spend a lot more on grooming to make themselves "presentable" for dates, so men pay for dinner.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:43 PM on February 25, 2010


If she says something about wanting to pay, tell her she can get the next one

I've used this to a) alleviate the situation, b) create the initial notion of a "next time," and c) see whether, on the next time, she remembers and offers (that's a winner, right there). I've found it to be incredibly useful. Just don't say it if you don't mean it.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:18 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Women generally have to spend a lot more on grooming to make themselves "presentable" for dates, so men pay for dinner.

Seriously? But women use make up and sexy clothes even if they just go out with the girls. I can't imagine dolling myself up so much further than that for a date to the extent that it becomes a signifcant expense...
And furthermore, yes, I understand wanting to look ones best for a first date, but if you change you appearance that much from how you normally dress for going out that it becomes an expense in the same category as a restaurant dinner...wow...he must be in for a disappointment when he gets to know the real you (or in for a relief, if he prefers not-dolled-up girls).
posted by Omnomnom at 4:37 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Women generally have to spend a lot more on grooming to make themselves "presentable" for dates, so men pay for dinner.

Sorry, I'm not buying it. I could come up with equally arbitrary rationales for why being a man is more expensive. Anyway, I abhor the prevailing American stereotype in which women get dolled up and men don't care what they look like. When I see a couple out on a date where the woman looks like she's ready for a fashion shoot and the man looks like he just stumbled out of bed, I just think they look ridiculous together. This actually seems to be the norm in the United States these days, but I have no interest in following it.
posted by jejune at 6:27 AM on February 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think its a little weird to turn this into a forum to argue with individual points. When asking for advice you're sure to get a range of responses. It's understood that you'll take some suggestions and not others - but I don't get the urge to smack down any answer given with respect and in good faith.
posted by serazin at 7:56 AM on February 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


You pay for the first two or three dates. After that, you're sort of in a relationship, and things can be divided more evenly, or at least, respective to your salaries.

I consider myself pretty liberal, but if a man asked me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.


This is very foreign to me. Unless the man says 'I'm going to take you to do X' I'd expect to go Dutch. But then 'dating' is more of an American thing anyway.
posted by mippy at 9:42 AM on February 26, 2010


There are certain women that have literally been raised to believe that if a man doesn't pick up the check ALWAYS, he isn't a gentleman and he isn't really interested in them. I think this is utter BS, but I guess what I'm getting at is that some women that expect a man to pay may not be golddiggers per se, but rather attach a lot of significance to men following certain "courting" traditions to prove they are "worth" it.

In a similar way, I have a friend who would insist on asking the father's permission to marry his girlfriend. If a boyfriend of mine did this, I'd find it odd at best. (And not just because he'd need a ouija board to do so these days.)
posted by mippy at 9:47 AM on February 26, 2010


I consider myself pretty liberal, but if a man asked me to go Dutch on our first date, that'd be our only date.

roomthreeseventeen, you may well be liberal. You are also sexist. They're not incompatible.

Sadly, I find a LOT of women think that way, even if they claim to be interested in equality.

I began dating a women whose online profile made a special point about how "women don't need men to pay their way in life". I took this as a fair indicator that she was interested in true sexual equality, and asked her to split the bill on the first date, making an allusion to her profile's comment. She agreed, but later asked one of her girlfriends why I didn't offer to pay for the whole date...!

Happily, her friend advised her to stop overthinking it, and just go out with me if she felt like it. We had a lovely relationship, and are still friends.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:53 PM on February 28, 2010


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