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Do I "owe" him a ride home if he pays for the date?
October 12, 2012 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Do I "owe" him a ride home if he pays for the date?

Lately, I seem to end up going on dates with guys who don't have cars and I'm finding this extremely irritating. I would like to be open minded, but it's becoming more and more difficult to be the only driver in dating situations.

I'm in a woman my early 30s and have been dating men within 5 years of my age who have well paying jobs. The age thing isn't a rule, but it just seems to happen that way. I use OKC and have been on countless dates and these days it seems to be a rarity for a guy to actually have a car. I live in Chicago, near the center of the city. The guys I have been dating mostly live in Chicago, but not necessarily near downtown.

How can I avoid driving these guys around? Usually, we meet up for a date at a location near me. After the date, they invariably walk me to my car, but then give off the impression they want me to drive them home. Of course, I do the polite thing and offer them a ride home and from then on, I am the driver and after subsequent dates, they expect a ride home or to be picked up before dates.

I don't particularly like driving. It makes me anxious to drive someplace new and I have to fight against that anxiety every time. I have learned to deal with this anxiety, so I can lead a normal life, but it still gets to me and I would rather not be in charge of driving a grown man home. It makes me feel like I'm his mother and I am shuttling him off to soccer practice. I'm a bit conservative when it comes to dating and during the first few dates, I highly prefer a guy who acts like a gentleman and treats me like I am special.

These guys usually pay for the date, so I end up feeling obligated to return the favor by driving them home.

Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

I'm thinking of adding a car to one of the six things I couldn't live without in my OKC profile. Would something along the life of this work to weed out the carless guys: A car: While I don't like driving, I prefer it to being a sardine on public transportation.

Lastly, if you are a guy who doesn't have a car, do you expect the woman to shuttle you home after a date if you paid for the date? What is your reason for not having a car? Would you consider getting a car in the future? If you had kids, would you attach a cart to the back of the bike to shuttle the family everywhere?
posted by parakeetdog to Human Relations (100 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
How about splitting the difference and offering to drive them to an El stop?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on October 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Having a car and a license" is a must-have for me to date someone. It's shallow, but it's too hard for me to be the chauffeur out in the suburbs where I live right now.
posted by xingcat at 9:20 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

Not in a major city with a mostly good public transit system, bike-ability, and frequently cost-prohibitive parking options.

But if you're not ok with it, you're not ok with it. And that's ok. You can offer to drive them to the nearest train station as a compromise.
posted by phunniemee at 9:20 AM on October 12, 2012 [33 favorites]


I dated becarred women while in an urban area and carless. Personally, I think EmpressCallipygos is on the money. You're not leaving him in the lurch, but you're not going above and beyond reasonable either. Remember also, it's a courtesy to drive them anywhere, you have NO obligations to these men, PERIOD.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:24 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars.

Cars are really expensive. I live somewhere I don't need one, and I, literally, could not afford to live somewhere where I would need one. From what I know of Chicago, you can live without a car, and that's a whole lot of money saved. Fiscal responsibility is a sign of maturity as well, and if a dude is living a life where a car isn't absolutely necessary, why should he have to shell out for a car, gas, insurance, repairs, cleanings, and all the myriad little expenses that come with car ownership? A guy who has a car but suffers to pay for it is a considerably redder flag than a guy whose life is not inconvenienced by not having one.

But, like everyone else says, "no car, no date" isn't the equivalent of "I don't date bald dudes." Your life is, clearly, not compatible with the life of a guy who does not own a vehicle. That's okay.
posted by griphus at 9:25 AM on October 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

I live in Chicago, near the center of the city. The guys I have been dating mostly live in Chicago, but not necessarily near downtown.


Granted, I'm 25 with friends generally between my age or in their early 30s (your age), and almost none of us have cars or use them frequently if we do; if they do it's because their life (job, children) requires one. It's often seen as an unneccessary luxury, bougie, wasteful Trixie kind of thing, to be honest. We have one of the best public transportation systems in the world and are incredibly bike friendly, and having a car here is really expensive.

Why don't you take public transportation to your dates if you hate driving so much?
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:25 AM on October 12, 2012 [56 favorites]


You can avoid driving them around by meeting in places that are either near them, to which you drive and they walk, or by meeting in places accessible by public transportation, so that neither of you has a car.
posted by elizardbits at 9:26 AM on October 12, 2012 [26 favorites]


They may not own a car because they do not know how to drive (people aren't born with this knowledge, not even in the US). Or, like you, they aren't that fond of driving. Or they believe that not owning a car is an important environmental choice. There are lots of reasons that adults have for not owning a car that have nothing to do with their maturity.

As for whether it's polite to offer a ride home: I come from a very different dating culture, in that I don't believe that men should pay for dates (it's too patriarchal for me - fortunately, my SO agrees). So that probably influences my impression, since if someone (male or female) has been so nice as to buy me dinner and I was driving anyways, giving them a ride home seems only logical (and is not actually as much bother as paying for the date in the first place). Especially since, as you note, they have even come all the way over to your neighbourhood to be with you.

That said, you don't like driving. Maybe you should tell them this. Though it looks a little suspicious that you like to drive well enough to drive yourself to the date, rather than to walk or take transit. Most people I know who actually hate driving (while still having a license) rarely drive anywhere that transit will go.

Of course, maybe what they would really like is for you to drive them to YOUR house.

Solution: try not driving to the date. That way, they can walk you to the bus stop and you can get on the bus together.
posted by jb at 9:27 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't have a car, but I don't expect a ride.

I'm married so not dating, but if I go out with my friends, and want to drive home I arrange to have enough for a cab, or book the car coop car. Otherwise I am happy to bus or cycle quite happily.

If they can afford a car and don't have one, I would assume this is also the case for them, and simply not offer unless you wish to give them a ride..
posted by chapps at 9:27 AM on October 12, 2012


Perhaps they're not so much mooching rides as prolonging the date - maybe hoping you'll come up to their apartment?
posted by kickingtheground at 9:28 AM on October 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


Why don't you suggest locations near their house? Failing that, it's nice but certainly not required to drive them home.

As a (non-male) guy who doesn't have a car, it saves an incredible amount of money and isn't really necessary in my city (not sure what Chigago is like for transit etc). For me the minor convenience isn't worth the major cost. It's up to you to decide whether that is an immature mindset, but I don't think it is.

That said, if they're actually demanding/expecting rides everywhere (not just you assuming that they expect a ride), that's not cool. Independence is usually an important trait for people in healthy relationships.
posted by randomnity at 9:28 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I lived in Chicago happily carless for 7 years until my wife got pregnant. Believe me, I didn't miss having a car.

I dated plenty without a car and yeah, you take public transportation to the date, and a cab home if necessary. It's not a big deal, and not at all unusual for 25-30 year olds in the city.
posted by Oktober at 9:29 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm confused as to why these guys need rides home.

Presumably they otherwise get by in their lives without cars. If they can get themselves to downtown Chicago for a dentist appointment or a museum outing or whatever people do downtown in Chicago, they can get themselves there for a date with you.

If there is an obvious reason this isn't feasible, like the buses stop running after 11, maybe try to schedule dates in locations that are convenient for both parties. Either you meet in a central location they can get to easily for a nighttime date, or you meet on their turf and the ride home is a mere formality (e.g. home is just a few blocks away and you give them a ride because you're a nice person, not because you run a free taxi service).

Or do what I did and stop going on internet dates with people who can't physically get to you. This is the main reason I won't go out with people who live in NJ or Long Island -- I'm not building my life around the PATH train schedule, sorry.
posted by Sara C. at 9:30 AM on October 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Just don't offer the ride. If they are a grownup, they will manage to find their own way home. It is not your responsibility to be their chauffeur or to subsidize their carlessness.
posted by Forktine at 9:30 AM on October 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Why do you keep having dates out near you (which is inconvenient to them)? I think that "man chooses place convenient to woman, then pays, but is jerky for asking for a ride home" is sort of off balance. If it's more like half the dates are near you and half not, or they work near you, then it's different.

So, if you're each going out of your local area sometimes, then you just say "I'm sorry, I can't give you a lift tonight" when you're not in the mood. If they're always coming to you, suggest a date that is near them instead.
posted by jeather at 9:32 AM on October 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

Not in Chicago. Cars are a huge waste of money if you don't need one to get to work, particularly in the age of zipcar. Owning a car is simply not the norm in a large city. (I have a car b/c I work in the suburbs, but I tend not to use it at all on the weekends)

However, part of being carless is knowing how to efficiently manage public transit and understanding that the economic benefits of not having a car can be poured into hailing a cab when necessary.

There's no reason to give someone a ride home... but is part of the problem that you insist on having dates that are inaccessible to public transit? Because, honestly, while I understand why someone wouldn't like public transit, if they lived in a place like Chicago and refused to use the El of a bus and instead wanted to drive everywhere and wanted to meet at places that didn't have nearby transit, I'd consider that kind of a turnoff.
posted by deanc at 9:34 AM on October 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm thinking of adding a car to one of the six things I couldn't live without in my OKC profile. Would something along the life of this work to weed out the carless guys:

Maybe, but I've had better luck just putting a note in the "You Should Message Me If" section. Per my "no commuter relationships" thing, I just have it written in that section that I'm not interested in dating anyone who lives more than an hour from my apartment. Period. Nothing personal. Sometimes I'll get a message from someone who is all "Hey actually I live super close to the LIRR, so I live only an hour from Penn Station!" or the like. But that's an easy weed out, because it inspires them to mention this. I'm never in a situation where I really like someone and then there's this sudden "Oh btw I live in Jersey" situation.
posted by Sara C. at 9:34 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Walk to the date and then you're fine! Or it would be fairer to meet up at a place that is easy to get to for both of you, which means that you have to consider where the public transport goes.

I live in the UK so we're not so car-obsessed, but certainly here not having a car is nothing to do with maturity. I reluctantly bought a car at age 31 because I got a job that required me to drive around during the day in an area where I couldn't use public transport instead. When I lived in London I didn't know a single person who had a car.

Having been on both sides of the issue, I like it when my friends offer me a lift home and I would be pretty miffed if I'd just bought them dinner, having gone somewhere that was a pain to get to by public transport and then they cheerfully waved me off towards the bus stop when they could get me home in 20% of the time, but on normal evenings out I expect to be walking home and I'm happy with that.

I am also quite comfortable saying 'no' if someone asks me to drive in an area I'm not comfortable in, or to politely not offer. You always have that option. You also have the option of not allowing them to walk you to your car.
posted by kadia_a at 9:36 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm confused as to why these guys need rides home.

It gets very cold in Chicago.
posted by goethean at 9:36 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am not a dude but I am a 20-something without a car and located near a big city. It is a choice I have made, as an adult, and I do not regret it nor do I see it as a comment on my life. I absolutely never expected rides to or from dates, and I actually feel bad that even now my long-term partner is shouldering all of the driving burdens. (Though he hates our local transit system, so...) What I did do was plan dates that required no driving on behalf of either party, if possible-- are you suggesting the locations, or are they? Is the timing a factor? I mean, I wouldn't leave them in a blizzard, but presumably they can ambulate around in some meaningful manner the rest of the time.

Alternatively: are they trying to see if you'll take them home with you? I mean, you say "impression," but what are they actually indicating or saying?
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:36 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do they ever explicitly ask for a ride, or do you feel awkward and offer? Me, I would let them walk me to my car, say goodnight, get in and drive away. You aren't obligated to do anything just because a man paid for dinner (sexual, automotive, or otherwise). Many would call me overly cautious, but I wouldn't be comfortable driving a virtual stranger to a location that's unfamiliar to me.
posted by telegraph at 9:36 AM on October 12, 2012 [23 favorites]


I'm in my early 30s and don't have a car, and would consider it rude to mooch a ride home off my date (unless, *maybe* we stayed out later than planned and transit had stopped AND they offered a ride). Tell them no. Part of a carfree lifestyle is planning ahead.

Also, why are you driving to the date if it's meant to be convenient for you?
posted by momus_window at 9:40 AM on October 12, 2012


I lived in DC and did this a few times until I wised up and started asking, "Can I take you to the metro stop?" That was my offer and they could take it or leave it. Never had to drive someone home after that.
posted by Flamingo at 9:40 AM on October 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you're meeting "near you", that must be in/near downtown, where public transit in Chicago is particularly easy.

1. Why not walk them to the train, then go to your car?
2. Or, alternatively, walk or take public transit to the date since it's close and won't require a lot of time on the train.

Just as a datapoint - I'm a childless adult city-dweller with a job which pays enough that I can 1. Live a basically middle-class lifestyle but not have a car; or 2. Live in a much more financially precarious life and have a car. Buying and insuring a car in my neighborhood - I worked this out once, back during the 3 years when I owned one - cost me about $6000 a year for payments, gas, redlined-neighborhood insurance, repairs and parking. My total after-tax income at the time was about $18,000. Biking, walking and busing plus the occasional car-rental and cab set me back less than $1000/year plus there was never a "surprise, your car needs $1000 worth of repairs!" or a "surprise, your car broke down on the freeway!" and I didn't have to pay for the gym. It would have been stark lunacy to own a car under those circumstances. This had nothing to do with not being grown-up.
posted by Frowner at 9:41 AM on October 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


[they] give off the impression they want me to drive them home

Are you sure? People who live in Chicago are pretty used to taking public transit everywhere. If they're not literally saying "can you give me a ride home?" they might not actually be saying that.

Do I "owe" him a ride home if he pays for the date?

No, you owe him nothing - but you could also offer to pay for some dates, or go dutch.

Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle.

It's pretty common in Chicago, where gas is at its most expensive in the US, parking sucks, people drive like maniacs, and public transit is ubiquitous, cheap, and convenient. You mentioned your own anxiety about driving - some of these men may share that.

> Why do you keep having dates out near you (which is inconvenient to them)?

She lives downtown - it's pretty much the most convenient area to have dates in Chicago, because the Loop is the hub of public transit. All roads lead to Rome and all that.

Which is why I also agree with the statement that if you start taking the CTA to your dates, then this will not be an issue.
posted by capricorn at 9:41 AM on October 12, 2012


Carless Chicago lady here: When I go out on a date I choose a place either in my neighborhood or his. I bike there, and he can either walk, take the bus or drive. If he drives, I wouldn't expect him to drive me anywhere even if I was on foot. Offer to walk him to the L or bus stop or wherever they're going. I think picking a good location in his neighborhood is a start, or at least near a L stop. As a non-driver I pick destinations based on how I'm going to get there so this shouldn't be a foreign concept to your dates.

Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

I've been going through the opposite, saying "I don't understand why these guys don't have bikes" on my dates lately. Sometimes I take the L to meet a date instead of biking but it's really a drag for me to wait around for a train or bus. After a date the guy usually walks me to my bike. If I take public transport they walk me to the stop. If you really feel this way then you may be incompatible with these guys, but honestly it's a weird position to have in Chicago where it's very easy not to have a car.

I'm thinking of adding a car to one of the six things I couldn't live without in my OKC profile.

That may help to stop carless guys from going out with you. Someone messaged me who listed his car on his profile and went on about how he doesn't understand anyone who's carless and doesn't even like public transport. Great, it made it easy to understand that we're not compatible. Perhaps put in that you love your car and prefer dating men who also have cars.

I avoid men on OKC who don't live in the city proper because that essentially turns into a long distance relationship for me, and involves long train rides or one-sided dating. So I think it's okay to let this be an issue for you. Obviously, you will be limiting your dating pool but if it really bothers you then it's worth it. One nice guy who I may have gone on a second date with told me he mostly hangs out in the suburbs and was really confused that I exist without a car. That was a dealbreaker for me. It's okay to turn people away when they don't fit into your lifestyle.

Would you consider getting a car in the future? If you had kids, would you attach a cart to the back of the bike to shuttle the family everywhere?

I would think about getting a car if I had kids just because it's easier to go grocery shopping and visit family. However, I have a number of (female and male) friends who have special cargo bikes to transport their kids. There's a year-round monthly meetup in Chicago for little kids on bikes and a lot of people who transport their kids by bike in Chicago year-round. I'm only telling you this to make you aware that there's a huge bike subculture out there in Chicago. You shouldn't feel like you need to be part of it, date anyone who is, or feel obligated to drive anyone anywhere no matter who pays.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:42 AM on October 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


When they walk you to the car, are they walking *away* from the El/bus stop/etc.? If so, I think it would be nice to take these guys to a nearby transport stop (after all, you didn't want to walk to your car by yourself; they may not want to walk back to the subway themselves). I certainly don't think you need to drive them home.

(I was car-free for my late 20s and early 30s and it was great. I miss it all the time.)
posted by mskyle at 9:43 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


There may be some subtext here:

"Can you give me a ride home" may in fact be a precursor for "do you want to come inside for a little bit?"
posted by Oktober at 9:43 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

No, this is kind of a bizarre generalization.
posted by elizardbits at 9:43 AM on October 12, 2012 [34 favorites]


I would nth just not taking your car on dates, if it's causing this much stress for you.
posted by bleep at 9:45 AM on October 12, 2012


Lately, I seem to end up going on dates with guys who don't have cars and I'm finding this extremely irritating.

You don't have to go out with guys who don't have cars if you don't want to.

How can I avoid driving these guys around?

Just don't offer.

Would something along the life of this work to weed out the carless guys: A car: While I don't like driving, I prefer it to being a sardine on public transportation.

Well, it would help. You can always be more straightforward and say you're looking for a guy who owns his own vehicle. These things would be a big turn-off for me, for example. But it would be a turn-off for me whether I owned a car or not (I've owned one before and I'm likely to own one in the future).

It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

The fact that you are asking this question makes me feel like you are immature. No, it's not true, especially in a place like central Chicago where it is pretty easy to live without a car.

Lastly, if you are a guy who doesn't have a car, do you expect the woman to shuttle you home after a date if you paid for the date?

No. I've been carless and dated women with cars and I never expected them to offer me a ride home. Of course, the nicer and more datable (from my perspective) women did offer (sometimes even when we had just met, which I probably would not do as a woman).

As someone who could afford a car, but chose not to have one mainly to save money, I always viewed it as my responsibility to get home without asking for assistance. The cabs I had to take home were still way cheaper than owning a car.

What is your reason for not having a car?

To save money (which I can spend on things that make my carless life more awesome). To "be the change I want to see in the world," which is a more environmentally-friendly, walkable, dense city. To save the hassle of buying a car, maintaining a car, repairing a car, keeping up with car paperwork. Because I might move in the next few years to a place like New York City or San Francisco where it would make even less sense to own a car. Because, like you, I don't like driving that much and consider it a necessary evil to be avoided sometimes.

Would you consider getting a car in the future?

Definitely. I've owned three in the past, considered buying one in my recent life and it hasn't made sense yet.

If you had kids, would you attach a cart to the back of the bike to shuttle the family everywhere?

No, because I'm not fond of bicycling with extra loads. I would take them on the bus, though, and it would definitely make buying a car more likely. But I detect a bit of disdain for people who choose to do the hard work of transporting their family in a more environmentally-friendly way, and I wouldn't want to date someone who had that sort of disdain.
posted by grouse at 9:45 AM on October 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


When you are leaving your place of date, unless you want to take him home, say "I'm heading this way" and leave it at that. Have the romantic kiss or send off at that moment. If he offers to walk you where ever you are going, just decline! If he insists, be firm. That way the issue of you having a car never even comes up until you are more serious about the guy. You are also saving yourself the potential (extremely rare) trouble of having a Bad Dude try to harm you in a non-public place.
posted by two lights above the sea at 9:47 AM on October 12, 2012


(I just want to add that part of the car-free mentality for me is never having to worry about a car. I don't have to find parking. I don't have to worry about snow days and tickets and getting towed. I don't have to worry about sudden unexpected expenses. I don't have to worry about hitting someone or something and having my insurance go up. I don't have to worry about hitting someone and hurting them or godforbid killing them. I don't have to worry about someone breaking into my car and coming down in the morning to a smashed windshield and a huge work-day complication. I don't have to worry about speeding or getting pulled over. Not having a car frees up such an enormous amount of headspace for me that it is unbelievable, and I live in dread of getting a job where I have to own a car.)
posted by Frowner at 9:48 AM on October 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


I get why someone who lives somewhere with good public transport wouldn't have a car. I also understand how, on a cold, blustery night someone might appreciate a lift home.

If you like the guy well enough, don't think too hard about it, drop him off if he's no the way. Now, if he's at the ass-end of where you're going, I see no harm in saying, "You're going in a different direction, but would you like a lift to the bus stop/train station."

This is how it is in urban places. In San Francisco I was the one who drove everyone, everywhere. Husbunny hates driving and so I do the bulk of it. I enjoy driving though.

If you don't want to drive the guy. Don't.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:48 AM on October 12, 2012


Just tell them what you said here, that you aren't a very good driver and do not feel comfortable giving other people rides. It's the truth, simple, and let's them know what to expect, all in one.
posted by Vaike at 9:48 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


People who live in Chicago are pretty used to taking public transit everywhere. If they're not literally saying "can you give me a ride home?" they might not actually be saying that.

I live in New York without a car and take transit everywhere and never think twice about it. A friend of mine has a car and often chooses to drive to social outings we both attend. I don't know if it's the fact that she's a super-polite Ohioan, assumes that everyone hates transit as much as she does, or that she feels a sense of guilt similar to the OP, but she always offers me a ride home after we hang out.

I actually like the introverted decompression time of my commute home after a big social evening, so I'm always coming up with excuses not to accept the ride. It's like this never-ending dance of her offering and me declining and everyone feeling vaguely guilty about everything.

Maybe this is what's happening with parakeetdog and her dates? Maybe these guys don't actually want rides home at all, and she's assuming that she ought to offer out of politeness, and they're assuming they have to accept out of politeness?
posted by Sara C. at 9:50 AM on October 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


What to do about this: Don't offer. Don't even consider driving them home unless they ask if you'll drive them home, and then make your decision at that time. You may find a drastic reduction in the number of rides you're giving.

Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

I don't personally think so. They're living according to what they need, I'd say. If a person lives in an area with even halfway decent public transport, they can (and often do) just do without a car because it's much more practical - they can get a Zipcar if they need wheels for something and in the meantime they don't have to deal with the hassle of finding a parking spot or the inflated insurance for living in an urban area.

That said, I do have a car, but I live in Boston and I take other means of transportation whenever I can help it.

HOWEVER:

from then on, I am the driver and after subsequent dates, they expect a ride home or to be picked up before dates.

The expectation of being picked up and/or driven home every time - that's more of a warning to me than the other stuff you said. I do think that if someone's carless AND they treat people who have cars as if they were taxis - yes, that's kind of immature to me, and it drives me up a tree.

If you'd rather, you can walk the guy to the train station and part ways there. No mess, no fuss.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:50 AM on October 12, 2012


I always suggest meeting someplace downtown. I rent a parking spot there so I can drive to work. Most recently, this happened on a beautiful night (one where I wish I could have just walked around all night) and when he walked me to my car, he just got in! I felt safe since we'd been on two other dates, but he lives on the far north side and I was really looking forward to going home and walking my dog on that beautiful night.
posted by parakeetdog at 9:52 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It sounds like that guy was being rude, and you shouldn't go out with him again.
posted by Sara C. at 9:54 AM on October 12, 2012 [18 favorites]


Oh, and one more thing about men and cars, although I'm not a man: when I was growing up, many of the working class and lower-middle-class men I knew were always basically suffering from having cars. Cars were, in fact, a matter of dread to me growing up because they were basically these big honking expensive monsters that ate gas and ate insurance payments and could at any moment cost you a non-negotiable month's pay in repairs, because how would you get to work without a car? The men in general were more likely to be responsible in their families for buying and maintaining cars and were more likely to make the bigger salary. Cars were bad things. They weren't beloved sources of fun vacations, or something shiny that you upgraded when you made partner. They were like a shitty job in the mines - it might be messing up your health and your peace of mind, but you had no choice about it because there was no other option.

When you're from certain kinds of backgrounds, cars say "freedom and maturity"; when you're from another kind of background cars say "devastating crisis waiting to happen". Bear this in mind when you meet dudes who don't want cars.
posted by Frowner at 9:55 AM on October 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah that's hella rude.
posted by griphus at 9:56 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


After the date, they invariably walk me to my car, but then give off the impression they want me to drive them home. Of course, I do the polite thing and offer them a ride home and from then on, I am the driver and after subsequent dates, they expect a ride home or to be picked up before dates.

I don't know ... this sounds a lot like you're making inferences about what they want, or you're pre-emptively offering things, or that you simply have no agency and this situation just keeps happening to you. You're talking about impressions and expectations, not requests.

These guys usually pay for the date, so I end up feeling obligated to return the favor by driving them home.

Again, this sounds like it's more about you than about them. Has anyone said the meal for the ride as a quid pro quo? That you are uncomfortable about a situation doesn't mean someone else is making that situation happen to you. If you don't want to offer someone a ride, don't.

If you had kids, would you attach a cart to the back of the bike to shuttle the family everywhere?

I have friends who do this, it's healthy and economical and self-sufficient. They are definitely mature & responsible people.
posted by headnsouth at 9:56 AM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Most recently, this happened on a beautiful night (one where I wish I could have just walked around all night) and when he walked me to my car, he just got in!

Yeah either there is a severe miscommunication here or he was being extremely rude. You are not obligated to provide transit, except maybe in the case of blizzards and medical emergencies.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:59 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


That guy sounds like a creep.

It's nice to occasionally offer a lift. It's nice to be sure to choose a place which is convenient for the carless person, and if you go to a public transit dead spot, to then offer to at least drive them to public transit. I think doing neither of these would be ungenerous, and I put a big premium on generosity. But again: occasional lifts home, regular lifts to/from the bus/train station. You really don't have to pick them up and drop them off every time. Carless people who expect lifts all the time are either teenagers or assholes.
posted by jeather at 10:02 AM on October 12, 2012


Part of this is about me, I admit. I put myself in their place and since I dislike public transportation, I assume they dislike it too and then feel bad for not offering a ride.
posted by parakeetdog at 10:06 AM on October 12, 2012


I dated guys when we both had cars. I dated guys when I had a car and they didn't. I dated guys when they had a car and I didn't. A car is a thing, it is not some measurement of who you are as a person.

If you don't want to give them a ride, stop having them walk you back to your car. Or go places you don't need a car to get to. Or date men who only have cars.
posted by loriginedumonde at 10:08 AM on October 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


I don't know ... this sounds a lot like you're making inferences about what they want, or you're pre-emptively offering things, or that you simply have no agency and this situation just keeps happening to you. You're talking about impressions and expectations, not requests.

I got this impression as well. On the previous dates, did you offer to drive him? If he asked on the first date, that's kinda rude, but you could have said no. By offering, you set a precedent. For all this guy knows, you LOVE giving rides.

Part of this is about me, I admit. I put myself in their place and since I dislike public transportation, I assume they dislike it too and then feel bad for not offering a ride.

They aren't you and this is a silly assumption to make. I LOVE NYC's public transit (no, really), and I am always happy to take it. But if someone with a car just straight-up OFFERED me a ride, I'd take it. Partly because it's more convenient for me, but partly out of politeness to them, and an assumption that they won't mind doing it, BECAUSE THEY OFFERED TO DO IT. Never offer to do things you don't want to do.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:08 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a single dude without a car (by choice), I always expect to provide my own transportation to and from any kind of date. I'm not going to subject myself to letting a girl crazy enough to date me know where I live after the first date!

I think it's really presumptuous to expect a ride home after a date. I agree with the others who said maybe the guy is hoping to "extend" the date, or there's a big communication gap between you and your dates.

The "paying for the date" thing should have nothing to do with it, either! If he's paying for dinner, he can pay for a cab or for bus fare. If this is a huge hang-up for you, I'd indicate something in your OKC profile - I have something in mine about being a non-car-owner (though I actually LOVE to drive!), just to weed out potential mates who would sometimes wonder how I manage to stay alive without a car (it's a really dull conversation topic).
posted by antonymous at 10:08 AM on October 12, 2012


It sounds as though the problem is partly the "walking to the car" thing-- it creates the awkward closing moment where the natural expectation is that you'll drive somewhere together, so you're obliged to be the one who actively closes down that possibility.

Assuming you're parking on brightly-lit, safe streets where you don't need the escort, could you just change the dynamic of the evening so that you and your date naturally part ways upon exiting the date venue, not at the car? Maybe bust out the cell phone and say, "I'm going to say goodbye here-- I promised a friend I'd give her a call before I drive home." Or claim that you've got to stop into CVS to grab some shampoo, or whatever, and make sure to give an active hug goodbye so the guy doesn't tag along. If he got to the date without your help, he shouldn't need your assistance to get home, so I've got to think any date who's reasonably socially aware will just bag it at that point.
posted by Bardolph at 10:08 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


One could easily flip the argument around and say it's immature to always drive places when there are convenient alternatives. I'm another guy without a car in a big city, and I've been on a number of dates where the woman was late because she couldn't find a parking space. And often I'll walk her to her car afterwards because *that's* the polite, expected thing to do, not to mention I'm usually happy to extend the date a bit longer. And when the car's right there, she quite often offers me a ride, again, because it's almost awkward not to offer. I usually but not always accept-- I do find it embarrassing to be driven home by my date, but again, polite thing, nice to extend the date a bit, yada yada.

I had a car when I was younger, and being able to show women that I was grown-up and able to "be the man" was a big part of why I wanted a car, I have to admit. But it was old and unreliable because I was poor at the time, and the frequent costly breakdowns, parking tickets, and failed emission inspections made me give it up. I could easily afford a better car now but I haven't replaced it because I don't need a car to meet my adult responsibilities right now, Zipcar is available for occasional use, it's so much less hassle despite the reduced freedom I have, and quite frankly, it seems wasteful of resources to have one. But I do in fact still worry that women I meet secretly think less of me for it.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 10:13 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


and when he walked me to my car, he just got in!

That's rude. Especially in a city as geographically sprawly as Chicago; here in compact San Francisco, we (car-owners) do often offer to drive people home because "the other side of the city" is still pretty close.

So was it just this one guy? It's not all carless guys you've dated?

You don't have to offer any of them anything but simple courtesy after a date. And like others here, I know lots and lots of actual grownups who don't have cars because they don't need them and don't want to spend the money on them. When I worked in the city I mostly liked taking transit it work because it gave me more time to read.
posted by rtha at 10:17 AM on October 12, 2012


A man who hasn't spent money on a car, gasoline, insurance, repairs, etc., can damn well afford a cab every now and then.

I would be way too embarrassed to ask a woman I'm newly dating to drive me home. Unless there's some circumstance like I have a migraine that would otherwise outlive me if I didn't get back to my sofa. But short of that....holy shit, I'm incredulous about these guys you've been dating.

That said, I can't say I know a tactful way for you to get out of it -- do they ask you directly for a ride? If they don't ask directly, don't invite them, with body language or whatever, to join you in your car. If they do, I guess you could try to lightheartedly mention while you discuss the logistics of the date that you are each going to be responsible to take yourselves home.
posted by Philemon at 10:19 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Part of this is about me, I admit. I put myself in their place and since I dislike public transportation, I assume they dislike it too and then feel bad for not offering a ride.

I'm not going to explain or apologize for the guy who just got into your car (unless maybe you had offered him a ride home before and he just assumed you were going to do it again. possibly thinking this time you wanted to hang out with him at his place for a while?)

But for the most part I think there's a basic culture clash between you and "city people." Even people in the city who own a car are likely not going to drive it to a downtown city date-- the entire point of living in the city is not to have to do that. And while most people in the USA wouldn't opt for putting their kid on a bike cart outside of a few recreational rides, people who have friends and family in European cities see them do that with their kids (sometimes 2 or 3 at a time!) do that regularly and don't look their noses down at the idea.

it sounds like there's a lot of projecting of what you think their desires are, as well as giving off a bit of hostility to not driving to dates like you do.

Possibly put in your profile, "I'm a car person" ? That should give off the right "vibe" that ensures you're paired up with "your people" when you go out on dates.
posted by deanc at 10:21 AM on October 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


Would you consider getting a car in the future? If you had kids, would you attach a cart to the back of the bike to shuttle the family everywhere?

In every place in the world, there are families where the parents do not know how to drive and/or cannot afford a car. Sometimes it is very difficult for them. If they are lucky enough to live in a city with a good public transit system, they take transit.

But living carless is something that is completely normal for lots of people -- and if you were raised carless, you may not have a choice about going on that way. I actually would like to learn how to drive, but until recently I never had the opportunity and now that I have access to a car through my spouse, I don't have much time.
posted by jb at 10:22 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with every other Chicagoan that it's not weird or immature to not have a car in a city that doesn't require it (and in fact would argue exactly the opposite, that your preference for driving when it's not strictly necessary seems weird and immature in a world where societal collapse from peak oil/global warming is imminent). But, that's not really relevant.

The real question is, who are these cheeky guys just getting into your car? That's weird.

The appropriate date-ender is either to offer to walk them to a nearby, convenient train station or bus stop if it's a nice night, or to go to your car and offer to drive them to a nearby, convenient train station or bus stop so they can get home more easily. You don't need to go driving them all the way home and I agree that sets a bad precedent and would make for a very annoying relationship. If you really want to go the extra mile, suggest that you alternate date locations between someplace downtown and someplace more convenient to your date's own home.
posted by booknerd at 10:23 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


(Also, in further answer to your "why don't people have cars?" question, I'd like to point you to the hassle from your own question from a while back.)
posted by griphus at 10:23 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's immature for anybody who lives in a city to not have a car. I haven't owned a car in well over 5 years and it has nothing to do with my lack of maturity-- if anything I feel like being carless makes me MORE mature and responsible, both in terms of my money and the environment.

But if you don't want to give them a ride home, you don't have to. It's perfectly fine to say "oh, sorry, I have to go run an errand it's not in that direction" or something. My guess, however, is that at least some of these guys are hoping for a ride because they want to prolong the date, increase their chance of a sleepover or some other reason aside from/in addition to convenience.
posted by joan_holloway at 10:23 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


nthing the "don't drive to the date". Solves the problem, and gives you an excuse to leave early ("I'd better get going, it takes forever to get home on the train/bus/whatever").
posted by blue_beetle at 10:31 AM on October 12, 2012


A guy might assume he gets a ride home when you have offered a ride home on multiple previous occasions, but, yes, it is presumptive. You are within your rights to say "hey, I was planning to go straight home" if he gets in without an invitation. The right guy will appreciate a woman who stands up for herself.

Have better boundaries around your car.
- Don't offer unless you *want* to give them a ride, outside returning the favor of them paying for the date. (Driving him to his bus/station is a good compromise)

- Don't get into your car in front of him. This can mean not letting him walk you to your car, or it can mean (if it suits your personality), requesting that he leaves before you get in. (Getting in a car is not exactly elegant/graceful, and often I need to situate myself and my belongings before driving off, and would rather do all those things in private. When my SO walks me to my car before work, then stands there while I plug in my phone and check my mirrors, it's just an awkward way to follow a goodbye kiss.)

- The first he asks you to drive, or hints that you should drive, tell him you hate driving and it makes you uncomfortable. Make it known early on that it's not conducive to an enjoyable date, and turn down/redirect any plans that don't sound enjoyable.
posted by itesser at 10:39 AM on October 12, 2012


One thing to think about: you can put something about preferring a guy who owns a car in your profile, but that doesn't guarantee he'd drive it to a date.

I live in Chicago and own a car, but the car is 8 years old and only has 30k miles on it, to give you an idea of how little I drive. I bike, take CTA, or hail a cab more often than I drive. I almost NEVER drive if I'm going out for the night. Mostly it's because if there's a chance I'll have anything more than a single beer, I refuse to drive. But it's also about the hassle of finding parking and all that stuff too. Especially if you're talking about downtown, where meters are a few bucks an hour and garages are $12 or more.

So you might want to make it clear that not only do you prefer a guy who OWNS a car but also someone who is willing to drive it to dates.
posted by misskaz at 10:39 AM on October 12, 2012


what? i don't even get why this is a question or a dilemma. these are grown-ass men. if they can get themselves to your date location without a car, they can damn well get themselves back home without one.

what do you say? "i'm sorry, i just met you and i don't feel comfortable driving you home."
posted by violetk at 10:42 AM on October 12, 2012


I'm also in an urban city and dated many guys who are carless. (My partner is carless.) I also hate driving. This has not been an issue for me.

- Having or not having a car is a choice. If they want to not have a car, they can take the public transit. Don't feel bad about that. Only offer to drive if you are going to the same place or if you want to spend more time with him. Or if you agreed to drive him home beforehand (e.g. so you can do something until past the last convenient bus).

- Say directly that driving makes you uncomfortable or that you just don't like it. If he still insists you drive him home, he's inconsiderate and you don't want to date him anyway.

- Put on your profile that you prefer someone who has "their own transportation." This can be a car, or a bike, or just a willingness to take the bus. Either way, it's their choice.

- If you really feel you "owe" him a ride because he paid for dinner, go Dutch.
posted by ethidda at 10:45 AM on October 12, 2012


If you live downtown, and your dates are also downtown, can't you just bus/bike/walk to the date yourself? They don't even need to know that you HAVE a car. You can part ways outside the restaurant.

I don't think there's anything odd about not owning a car in an urban area with good transportation, but part of that is you learn how to get around without one. Presumably they didn't have anyone give them a ride TO the date, so there shouldn't be any reason they need someone to give them a ride FROM it.
posted by Asparagus at 10:48 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

So I had a date off OKC a while back where after the first meeting the guy insisted on picking me up his car and chauffeuring me to our date. It was pretty obvious he wanted to show off the vehicle, it was a very expensive car, and believed it would impress me.

As we chatted it became clear that he could not afford the expense (it was leased), was having some problems with debt, and he was living in his parents basement not paying rent.

So do cars equal maturity? No.
posted by Dynex at 10:51 AM on October 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

So I had a date off OKC a while back where after the first meeting the guy insisted on picking me up his car and chauffeuring me to our date


This happened to me, too. And I live in Brooklyn, New York, where driving anywhere isn't really expected. Guy also showed me his flashy watch. SNOOZE.


I definitely don't connect maturity with car ownership.
posted by sweetkid at 11:17 AM on October 12, 2012


I would definitely not give somebody I just met a ride home, I wouldn't feel very comfortable with that kind of intimacy. I'm assuming these men pay for dates because they want to, and so you do don't owe them a ride. Parting ways before you get to your car would be the best way to deal with this.

These answers blow my mind that there are so many car-less fans here judging you for questioning this. This is definitely a city thing. I would NOT date a man without a car because.. camping, skiing, hiking, driving to the beach, the desert, sleeping in the back of your car while traveling, road trips across the country! Driving dogs around! Going to the store at 2 in the morning to get juice when you are sick! Not taking 4 hours to get to work!

I would not want to date somebody that does not value those things, would not want to both introduce someone and then be responsible for driving them to those those things. Car ownership is about autonomy, freedom, and getting out of the city, dependent on no one and no bus-line.
posted by cakebatter at 11:20 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you are resenting someone at the point of preliminary dating the solution is to stop dating them rather than focus on specifics like giving rides.
posted by srboisvert at 11:21 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Another perspective on this: Presumably you are dating so that you can get into a relationship. With someone you love. And share your life with. And have warm feelings about.

This unnecessarily adversarial attitude (Why don't you have a car? Are you immature? Why do you expect these things of me?) is a bit of a red flag. Why not just be straightforward and set your boundaries, without all of the assumptions and character assassination?
posted by 3491again at 11:31 AM on October 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


What's funny is that I often think of having a car in Chicago as a very immature thing in Chicago? It's what kids from the suburbs and downstate who move into the city need and keep so they can visit their parents back home, but they eventually The only single friends I know who still have cars need them for their daily work situation and would never, ever drive them to a date. Anyone who wants to go camping or something on the weekend can rent one easy peasy for so much cheaper that keeping a car feels like a security blanket.

But that's just me. And I realize that's not true for everyone What I'm saying here is that there's no assumption you can make on this, except that if you don't want to drive, don't. Anyone who expects a ride for paying for dinner isn't worth dating, but if I had a car, I'd give anyone worth dating again a ride home. But again, to each his or her own.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:37 AM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


We have one of the best public transportation systems in the world and are incredibly bike friendly, and having a car here is really expensive.

I can't call it one of the best -- the CTA has some real problems, and it's somewhat of a joke compared to systems like New York, Tokyo, London and Paris (and note that Chicago is bigger than the latter two...)

However, living carless in Chicago, esp. east of Western, is trivial. I have a car, but it's half toy, and there are weeks it doesn't see the road. It does make grocery shopping easier, but I'm not lying to myself, it's a luxury, not a need, and I know full well the costs. On sunny warm days on LSD, it's the best thing in the world, but a need? No way. Plenty of people live, and live happily, in Chicago without a car -- and have a good deal more money per month because of that.

Car ownership is about autonomy, freedom, and getting out of the city, dependent on no one and no bus-line.

Blue Line -> ORD -> Every City Of Note In The World, or another airport that can reach that City of Note.

Compared to a car? That's freedom squared -- and $2.25 is a ton cheaper than $17/day in the far away extended parking lots.

And if you want a beer or six? Freedom cubed.

OP: As a guy, I think it's wrong just to get into the car. I would walk your date to the driver's side of the door, said my farewells, and only if she said "Want a lift...." I might say yes*, but I wouldn't insist on it in any way. I got there without a car, I'll get home without a car.


* Proximity to 0°F would definitely be a factor in that decision. And, if it was too close to 0°F, I would stay regardless until I heard the car start -- too many times, I've see a cold day take down a weak battery.
posted by eriko at 11:44 AM on October 12, 2012


I don't think having/not having a car is an issue of maturity. We all have varying circumstances that dictate whether we need to have a car. For years I lived in Washington DC, blissfully car-free. Now that i'm a suburbanite elsewhere, I couldn't get to work or daycare without a car.

It's an issue of polite regard for another person. I find the presumption of a ride incredibly rude. But then, I was raised by fussbudgety parents and am a bit of an irkable dude on matters of polite consideration.
posted by Philemon at 11:47 AM on October 12, 2012


And by the way, when I did live without a car, I solved the problem of dealing with public transport's shortcoming by renting a car every now and then, for a week or 10 days every other month or so. I'd plan errands or trips or events that are way easier with a car that way.

Plus, if you reserve rental cars way ahead of time and take a lease that's at least five days or ten days, you can get massive discounts from several carriers. There's also Rent-a-Wreck available in many areas, which allow you to rent an older vehicle at rock-bottom prices.

Plus, as mentioned above, zipcar is around in many places for short-term, cheap car rentals. Not to mention, again, in a city: taxis!

There are so many ways a person who is otherwise saving oodles of cash on not having a car can spend a little bit to make a date with a great gal easier and less awkward for everybody.
I'm all for public transportation, but I think city dwellers I know sometimes get stuck thinking they're always in a subway-or-bust situation.
posted by Philemon at 11:55 AM on October 12, 2012


What's funny is that I often think of having a car in Chicago as a very immature thing in Chicago? It's what kids from the suburbs and downstate who move into the city need and keep so they can visit their parents back home

Yeah. The whole "cars as freedom" thing kind of strikes me as holdover from one's suburban teenage years. You can't rent a car, you can't go anywhere without a car, so that time when you own a car means you've GROWN UP! And possibly for your parents' and grandparents' generation, if they grew up poorer and/or in a city, see having a car as the sign that they've "made it" by getting out of the city, buying a single family home, and having a car for everyone. The combination of growing older, getting over that initial suburban teenage rush of enthusiasm for that moment when you get your "first car" and the fact that changing living patterns and changing standards for what material possessions imply "success" means that cars are optional in many cases.

It's kind of like a television... in the 50s, having a television was a BIG DEAL. Now, televisions are so easy to acquire, having many associated expenses (eg, monthly cost of cable, the high power costs of leaving an LCD TV plugged in), and there are so many alternatives (netflix, online streaming), that plenty of people do without.

I know immature people without cars-- I totally understand FAMOUS MONSTER's description of those who "treat people who have cars as if they were taxis". A friend does this, and the lack of car and her unwillingness to use zipcar fit into her overall immature persona. But, then again, I know immature people WITH cars, and their immaturity comes out in other ways.
posted by deanc at 12:21 PM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


As with the range of answers already, some people don't have cars for the time being because they're inconvenient or to save money, but would if they were coupled up with children or earned more or something, and for others it's a capital-L lifestyle choice that ain't ever going to change. (I am one of the latter). Given the questions in your last paragraph it seems you have strong feelings on the subject and there's nothing wrong with that - if you have no interest in having a relationship with someone who would want to cart kids around on the back of a bike five years from now I don't see how or why it would be wrong to get that into your profile (how to do that elegantly I am the wrong person to ask), or bring it up on dates if they don't drive. Either way, as everyone has already said you certainly don't need to drive any grown man around an urban area unless you've deliberately arranged a date way off the beaten path, no matter who buys dinner.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:44 PM on October 12, 2012


Why are you driving to dates in Chicago? It's not even cold there yet.

These answers blow my mind that there are so many car-less fans here judging you for questioning this. This is definitely a city thing. I would NOT date a man without a car because.. camping, skiing, hiking, driving to the beach, the desert, sleeping in the back of your car while traveling, road trips across the country! Driving dogs around! Going to the store at 2 in the morning to get juice when you are sick! Not taking 4 hours to get to work!

You can walk to the store at 2 AM, you know. And I would guess, as another person with a car, that the majority of your driving time is not taken up by these exciting activities, but rather, by going to the grocery store. Or work. (Which, if you live in Chicago, it would not take you four hours to get to work via public transportation and/or bicycle). Or whatever.

I live in LA, and I try to drive as little as possible. Saves money, burns calories, and I feel connected to my neighborhood. If I lived in a place in which a car is not a dire necessity, I wouldn't have one and I'd rent a zip car for hiking trips and so on.

In sum: It seems more immature to drive to date that is easily accessible by public transportation and/or walking than it is to own a car when you don't really need one. Also, I would never get in a car with someone I met off the internet after a first date.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:45 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are not his designated driver. If he can get himself to the date he can get home afterwards. This is a safety issue and can be extremely dangerous especially since you are meeting men from online and you have no idea who they are. Hopefully you are doing enough research/check before you meet these men.
posted by pakora1 at 12:47 PM on October 12, 2012


It's always a bit awkward at the end of a first or second date with someone you don't know very well unless there is major chemistry right off the bat.

There's that moment of wondering whether to kiss, how to kiss, and whether and to what extent it will be reciprocated, where and how to say goodbye. And so on. No matter how much everyone likes to say that "it's perfectly okay for the woman to make the first move," most Americans today still expect the male to take the social risks associated with these questions. Just like the still-common expectation that the male to pay for the date. So, on behalf of those who navigated potentially awkward end-of-date decisions for their entire dating lives, I welcome you into the fold.

I'm kidding, of course, but only half-kidding about the post-date awkwardness. The guys are probably walking you back to your car for the same reasons that they might walk you back to the front door of your home if you both lived in the neighborhood. It's a social expectation that they do so. And the doorway (or the entrance to the train, or the parking lot if they're getting into separate cars) is exactly where the "awkward post-date moment" usually happens. Do they kiss? Does she invite him in? Does she give him a pat on the back, or does he offer her a handshake? Etc., etc., etc. You have simply transferred the location of this moment to the front of your car. The awkwardness seems compounded for you because, knowing that the other person doesn't have a car, you are unsure as to what the expectations are for you or how you should go forward from there.

Clearly you feel some cultural pressure to offer a ride, and I can appreciate where you're coming from. Looking at it from my perspective as a male, if I were in your position I would feel it was incumbent upon me to give my date a ride home. A man who got into his car and drove home while letting his date fend for herself on public transportation would run a serious risk of being perceived as lacking in gentility and gallantry -- and that doesn't tend to result in a second date.

To address your issue directly, if you don't want to feel pressured to give your car-less dates a ride home, I see a few possible solutions: (1) Don't drive your car to the date. If you live in the middle of a city with decent public transportation and driving makes you anxious, why would you drive to the date in the first place? (2) Don't let your dates walk you back to your car and contrive to have your "parting moment" elsewhere. (3) Only date people who own a car.

In any case, if you want to disassociate yourself and the meeting from the social niceties attached to dating, like offering a ride home to someone who is without a car, then I would suggest setting that boundary early by paying your own way. This should have the effect of making it clear that some of the "older model date protocols" are not in effect. And there's no reason they necessarily should be in effect. But it doesn't make sense to be resentful about inconveniencing yourself as a result of a perceived cultural expectation to offer a ride to your car-less date at the end of the evening when you presumably don't expect your date to be resentful about following the perceived cultural expectation that he pay for the date.
posted by slkinsey at 12:53 PM on October 12, 2012


You can walk to the store at 2 AM, you know. And I would guess, as another person with a car, that the majority of your driving time is not taken up by these exciting activities, but rather, by going to the grocery store. Or work.

This is the point I am trying to make. No, I can't walk to the store at 2 AM. And yes, I do spend more time driving around to adventures than to the store. I am a geologist, I don't work in a suburban office, trains don't go to where I go, on my breaks from work I'm not shopping at the store in the city, but getting away from the city. Everyone in this post is trying to shame the OP for not wanting to date guys who don't have cars and I am saying that the opposite case can be made. It is a neutral issue, she can date whoever she wants on whatever basis based on her preferred lifestyle, which happens to include a car.
posted by cakebatter at 12:54 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


and from then on, I am the driver and after subsequent dates, they expect a ride home or to be picked up before dates.

Another thought: Is this explicit, or implied? If it's explicit, that is super rude. But maybe they think that you don't want to take public transportation, or there's some other sort of misunderstanding? People who expect rides are freeloaders, but people who don't have cars don't necessarily expect rides.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:04 PM on October 12, 2012


Everyone in this post is trying to shame the OP for not wanting to date guys who don't have cars and I am saying that the opposite case can be made.

I think the defense of car-free living/dating is in response to the OP specifically asking for input on her negative judgment of it:
Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?
Of course some city-dwellers choose to have and use cars, but that's not what she asked.
posted by headnsouth at 1:04 PM on October 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you had kids, would you attach a cart to the back of the bike to shuttle the family everywhere?

I'm assuming sarcasm here, but the answer is still yes.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:58 PM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just read today about Massachusetts' Secretary of Transportation. He and his wife "live car free." Like millions of other car-free adults, there is nothing immature about his lifestyle.
posted by grouse at 2:26 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lastly, if you are a guy who doesn't have a car, do you expect the woman to shuttle you home after a date if you paid for the date?

No. What would I do with my bike?

What is your reason for not having a car?

They are expensive and slow and generally unnecessary for any journey under ten miles. They make urban centres unpleasant. They reshape cities around people unwilling to walk to the shops, and the resulting shape is not a pleasant one. Traffic; traffic is a peculiar indignity after a few months away from driving. A difficult one to return to with perspective.

Would you consider getting a car in the future?

Possibly, if my circumstances changed and I had to move around a lot of kids or commute.

They are great for long road journeys, but I can usually rent or borrow one if I need one.

If you had kids, would you attach a cart to the back of the bike to shuttle the family everywhere?

I would like to do this, absolutely. It would probably be impractical for longer journeys, but certainly a good option to have available.

This entire line of questioning is gobsmacking me a little, I have to say.
posted by distorte at 3:02 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Part of this is about me, I admit. I put myself in their place and since I dislike public transportation, I assume they dislike it too and then feel bad for not offering a ride.

1) You're making way too many assumptions.
2) Obviously everyone has different opinions, but I personally find public transportation neutral-to-mildly pleasant on the whole-- and this seems generally true of the other transit users I know as well. (I also genuinely enjoy the walking part of the whole deal, and I know others who bike who really love that part.)
3) If it was me (not a guy, but I don't think that's relevant, is it?), I wouldn't think you should-- or want you to-- feel obligated to give me a ride home. I would probably hope that if there was something you could do with minimal inconvenience to make my trip significantly easier/nicer-- like giving me a ride to the closest train or bus stop, especially in bad weather, or maybe even to a stop a little further away that would mean I wouldn't have to make an extra transfer-- that you'd offer to do it as a nice small favor, somewhere between "occasionally" and "usually," if we were seeing eachother regularly and you liked me. But if it would involve you spending more than 5-10 extra minutes, I wouldn't expect it at all and would treat it as a big favor-- and I wouldn't expect even the small favor of a short ride every time, I just might be a little put off if you never offered ever to even give a short ride and/or if the weather was really miserable and you still didn't offer... although if you actually told me that driving made you anxious and it's hard for you to have someone else in the car, I probably wouldn't be put off. (It would all be firmly categorized as "you doing me a favor," though, not something expected, with the general sense that I should be doing other kinds of favors for you as well.)

And I find it kind of bizarre to think of the act of not having a car as being immature. At worst it's neutral-- but really, to me, if you don't need a car, it seems like a more environmentally conscientious, economically wise, and overall more mature decision not to have one. (Of course, this is not to say that someone who doesn't have a car can't be an immature person about it by constantly trying to take advantage of the cars of other people-- but that's not at all fundamental to the question.)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:33 PM on October 12, 2012


Change your dating profile to not only include salary range but _must own car_. You may even want to include the make or type of vehicle, cleanliness, etc.

But seriously, if you're dating fun, hip, urbanista men in the heart of Chicago 1) they will tend to be more portable, lightweight, and environmentally conscious. 2) not traditional types. Also, a reason perhaps these men may ask (or appear to be asking) for a ride is because they too want to feel special and cared for (this works both ways).
posted by uhom at 3:38 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You don't owe them a ride, and not owning a car is perfectly normal and adult.

I may be a more extreme data point, but I (male, mid thirties) would not want to date someone who had organized their life around having a car. I'd be happy to never have to use one again.
posted by ead at 4:08 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would absolutely put it in your OkCupid profile if you would rather date someone with a car. For me, if someone is really into car ownership as a lifestyle that's a total dealbreaker, and I'd be appreciative of seeing something like that in her profile to save me the time.
posted by threeants at 5:03 PM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


After the date, they invariably walk me to my car, but then give off the impression they want me to drive them home.

Last time I did this was on a date with someone I met through a friend, and even though I figured it would be OK to give them a ride since we had a friend in common, things got weird when I pulled up in front of his building and he refused to get out of my car.

I suspect these men are not so much hoping for a ride, but hoping that might be the first step towards you ending up in their apartment. I'm sure they would be very happy to have a "ride", but that's up to you.

Think very carefully before you let someone you just met get in your car with you.
posted by yohko at 7:02 PM on October 12, 2012


It's cool not to date guys without cars if that's what you want.

If you had kids, would you attach a cart to the back of the bike to shuttle the family everywhere?

I have a child and I get him around fine without a car. Today we went to visit a baby I sit for in another neighborhood, then I got him a pain au chocolat from a local bakery and he ate the entire thing (!!! as he is only 1yo and it was nearly as big as his head). Then we went to his pediatrician where he got some shots and ran around. Then we went home. I did this by taking him on a stroller on the subway, and by walking. Usually I carry him in a carrier, but we were going to be out for a while and I wanted him to be able to nap. He was happy and healthy the entire time and he was not suffering from my car-less ways.

So yes, it is possible to have a family without having a car. For many people it isn't a choice, they have a family and can't have a car.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:58 PM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Would something along the life of this work to weed out the carless guys: A car: While I don't like driving, I prefer it to being a sardine on public transportation.

I think saying something like that would do exactly the opposite: you might attract carless guys thinking you'll always be the designated driver or help with errands. You can live very well without a car in Chicago (as I have done), but even among the carfree-by-choice, knowing someone who has a car and will give you rides can come in handy.

And if I were dating someone who disliked public transportation to the point of driving everywhere, yeah, I'd kind of expect them to drive on dates. Because I'm fine with taking the train.

It's rude to expect a ride, and it's especially rude (scary, even) to get in a car uninvited, but on the other hand it seems impolite to ask a date to walk you to your car and then drive off without at least offering to take them to the nearest el station. If you're parked on the street and not too far from a station, that's more okay, but if he had to go out of his way to walk you there, or go into a parking garage, it's not too nice to leave him there.

Can you dodge the walking-to-car scenario altogether? Spring for overnight parking, and go home in a cab?

I don't know how you can weed out the carfree in advance without being explicit. "I hate public transportation and prefer to drive. I also like fairness in relationships. Thus I'd prefer to date someone with a car - and we can take turns driving." You will be narrowing your pool quite a bit, but you'll get it out of the way.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:13 PM on October 12, 2012


Guy here. I was carless and happy about it for many years. People would constantly offer me rides that I didn't ask for, because it seemed awful to them the ordeal I must be facing getting home, because they didn't really understand how easy it actually was to get around without a car, because they were used to having a car, and so not set up for the alternatives, and thus would have struggled without one.

(Despite having no actual need for a car, I eventually bought one simply because in the USA, not having one means people assume there is something wrong with you - even people who think there need to be fewer cars - and that grows really tiresome. Especially online dating, where people are hunting for anything that could be construed as a red flag.)

Ie, to my eye, you're making two mistakes: 1. You're thinking you should offer a lift, and 2. you're thinking there is something wrong with people who don't need cars, largely because you offer rides to carless people and resent it if they accept.

If you find it difficult to not offer something, a middle ground that is always acceptable (and actually in many ways preferable in that it gives no mixed signals) is to offer to drive the person a few blocks - to drop them off back to their transport station or back to the restaurant.

If they ask for a lift home, its ok to say you don't have time. Only if your date ran a lot later than planned such that the buses have stopped running, would I think you'd be leaving them a bit high and dry by not giving a ride. And even then it's well within your right, it's just... not the ideal outcome.

As for the guy that stepped into your car without invitation, that's... forward. My guess is he was trying to prolong the date or get into your pants. It's ok to conclude the date and then communicate that it's time for him to step out (or conclude the date and offer to drop him off back at the restaurant.)
posted by anonymisc at 10:57 PM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Car-less, urban, twenty-something OKCupid user here. I think you should put something in your profile about how having a car is important to you, because that would be an automatic deal breaker to me. I have not responded to messages for this exact reason, because it shows a huge difference in values to me. Your "why won't these guys just grow up and get a car" is the perfect example of that (could just as easily be turned around to "why don't you grow up and take the train to your dates if this causes you so much trouble?").

This seems more about your own anxiety about transportation and expectations than about your date thinking you "owe" them a ride. I'm sure every urban transit user has experienced the awkward conversation with someone who is just completely baffled by how you get around and can't understand why you won't accept a ride. I've always turned down rides as a rule, because I like cycling home or would rather read on the train than to make someone else go out of their way. I also don't want my adult decision to not own a car to be a burden to someone else. If I really need to get home fast or after the last bus left, I'll just hail a cab.

There have been a few exceptions to that of course, on good dates with cute girls where I did accept a ride, because it was clear they wanted me to go home with them. Maybe in that post-date awkward moment they are misreading the situation (unless you're consistently making out on the sidewalk with these guys before asking them if they want a ride, I find this hard to believe).
posted by bradbane at 1:03 AM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


re: car owning & maturity levels, note that less than half of all new yorkers even have a driver's license. owning a car here (especially if you live downtown!) and driving it everywhere, and saying you dislike public transportation would mark you as deeply weird and not dating material for most people i know here—including the ones that do actually own cars!
posted by lia at 3:00 AM on October 13, 2012


This just seems like basic incompatibility. I wouldn't date someone who didn't have a car for the same reason I wouldn't date someone whose idea of a good time was going out drinking every weekend, or staying home doing puzzles. Our priorities are just too different.

The idea that public transportation to the airport means the world is available to you does not compute for me. Public transportation to the airport equals availability of more urban. I only know San Francisco, but the folks whose idea of being well-traveled does not include the redwood forests, Gold Country, or anyplace besides urban areas (including Paris, NYC) and an occasional trek to Napa come across as provincial as hell. You can't do rural via public transportation. I know people think they can, but they can't. It's fine if you don't value that, but denigrating people who do isn't any cooler than denigrating people who don't.

And no, I can't walk to the store at 2am. Jeez. And I don't want to rent a car everytime I want to go surfing or hiking after work.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:10 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can't do rural via public transportation. I know people think they can, but they can't. It's fine if you don't value that, but denigrating people who do isn't any cooler than denigrating people who don't.

It may surprise you, but I have been to extremely rural, isolated locations in the world without owning a car. Sometimes I took a train or bus, sometimes I got a cab, and occasionally I rented a car. But it didn't require owning a car.

But yes, as you say, the mindset reflects a basic incompatibility between the two parties.

One of the weird things, too, is that if you're going to end up on a date downtown, odds are that even if someone did own a car, he certainly would drive to a downtown date, leaving the date carless, and at the end of the date, the OP sounds like she'd feel obligated to give the date a ride home, creating the awkwardness all over again. So it sounds like this problem is going to continue whether the OP dates guys with cars or not until she figures out how to get over her feeling of obligation to give people a ride home if they didn't drive there.

The other thing is that the last time I was on a date with someone who took the transit to the date while I drove there, I offered her a ride home because I really liked her and wanted to do something nice for her and hang out with her a little longer. She turned me down, and I took that as a sign that she didn't want to hang out any more, if only for a 20 minute drive.

All in all, this sounds like a basic misunderstanding of urban social mores. People are supposed to be able to be carless without facing social suspicion for their choices and can be assumed to get home on their own. People who own cars should not be expected to be the taxi services of the carless.
posted by deanc at 4:11 PM on October 13, 2012


A responsible professional's car-free Chicago commute.
posted by headnsouth at 4:28 PM on October 13, 2012


Also, I don't understand why these guys don't have cars. It makes me feel like they are immature and aren't living an adult lifestyle. Is this true?

I'm in my forties, have a kid, make more than enough money to afford a brand new fancy car, my lifestyle is so adult it's practically x-rated and I've got maturity coming out my ears. I've never even had a driving license. Like other above have suggested, though, I'm a city person. Even when I lived in a crummy little town in northern Ontario I was a city person.

But in all my years of adult internet dating, I think only once has a date given me a lift somewhere after the date, and that was because we'd lost track of time and I was late for a work thing. I, too, think of it as a teen-age thing, like when my boyfriend borrowed his dad's care to take me to a fancy restaurant for my 16th birthday. When I go out with friends who drive, which is often, I almost always meet them at the venue, and then walk or bus or cab home after. Often people offer a lift, but unless I'm actually on their route or it's exceptionally late, I usually decline.

It's possible that, like others have mentioned, you are projecting your belief that they want a ride onto them. If I hated not having a car, I would totally get a car. I walk and bike and bus in wind and rain and sleet and snow and it's all good. It's nice to get a ride sometimes, especially if you want to keep chatting, but I wouldn't think twice about a date not offering me a ride home, and, in fact, I would almost definitely decline a ride offer from a first date. But that's a safety thing--which it also is for you!

My advice is to end the date at the venue and walk to your car alone.

As for the guy who just got into your car, or the ones who expect you to be their mom and drive them around, they do sound immature. I suspect the car thing is hardly the worst of it.
posted by looli at 4:29 PM on October 13, 2012


[Folks, this is not a general debate on car vs. no car. Please stick to the question. Thanks. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:25 PM on October 13, 2012


Thanks for all the different perspectives. I admit I felt sorry for the carless people and was baffled as to why they didn't want to own a car. Now, I will view it as a lifestyle choice and not assume they want me to give them a ride home and feel more comfortable turning down guys who ask for rides. I may or may not let them walk me to my car since if I like them, I don't want to give off the impression that I can't wait to get away from them.
posted by parakeetdog at 8:07 PM on October 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you're meeting them near your place, can't you take the bus to meet them. That way, you're saved from the ride at the end of the date.
posted by bbyboi at 9:43 PM on October 29, 2012


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