Check please?
October 26, 2010 6:10 PM   Subscribe

I went out with a girl twice and she just sent me a Facebook message telling me that she's seeing someone else now and that she wants to take me out to dinner to pay me back for the previous dates.

I met this girl at a student mixer and asked her out, once to play pool and then again to a relatively pricey take out place. I was sort of expecting this email because she hadn't returned my call in a few days but I wasn't expecting her to offer to take me out.

I sort of just want to say, "mail me 30 bucks" and forget about it but then I think, "well she didn't have to offer anything at all, she could have just not replied back". Coincidentally she's a friend of one of my housemates so more than likely we'll see each other again, maybe this is her way of smoothing everything out? I just don't want to go out and sit down for an hour or more and make small talk with someone who dumped me for another guy. I was also considering changing the venue to a bar, have her buy me a really expensive bottle of beer and just enjoying that; I think that would be worth my time. I also just don't want to totally blow off her gesture because it could strain relations with my housemate.

What would be the best route to take?
posted by Groovytimes to Human Relations (51 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is really weird. Unless you feel like you want to see her again, I'd politely decline.
posted by something something at 6:12 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best route? "Don't worry about it. It was nice getting to know you, see you around!"
posted by oinopaponton at 6:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [55 favorites]

I would just say, "That isn't necessary, but if we happen to see each other out at the bars, I'm always a fan of free beer!" (IMHO, her offer is weird.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:13 PM on October 26, 2010 [13 favorites]

I'd say, "No thanks," and move on.

In all my years, I've never, ever heard of someone offering to do this. I could be reading this wrong, but this strikes me as overly dramatic. Well-intended, but really not done.
posted by dzaz at 6:14 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Hmmm... I think the best route to take is the magnanimous one! "Wow! That's very... considerate and really beyond generous. I enjoyed my time out with you and you don't owe me anything. Good luck with your new relationship and let me know if you come across any eligible single friends!"
posted by amanda at 6:14 PM on October 26, 2010 [14 favorites]

You willingly went out on dates, you knew you would be spending money on her - really, by society's standards, she doesn't owe you anything. the response i would give - "I definitely appreciate the offer, but don't worry about it - it was my pleasure to take you out. i wish you the best with your new guy! see you around." done and done.
posted by assasinatdbeauty at 6:14 PM on October 26, 2010 [8 favorites]

Tell her thanks, but no thanks and move on with your life.
posted by nomadicink at 6:15 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

first off, i think it's weird that she would offer to take you out to "pay you back" for you taking her out. who does that? it would have just been less weird if she told you she was seeing someone now, but would love to hang out and then just picked up the tab then.

that said tho, if you have no interest in hanging out with her, then tell her thanks, that you are glad she found someone, but paying you back isn't necessary. that would be the class way to do it. i wouldn't think much of someone who felt that i owed them money for taking me out on a couple of dates when things didn't work out (in fact, i'd file that in my collection of stories to whip out to entertain ppl). i mean, that's just part of the cost of dating.
posted by violetk at 6:15 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Thank her for the gesture, but indicate that you don't feel she has any obligation to you (because she doesn't). Thank her for the previous dates (assuming you enjoyed them) and wish her the best.
posted by ssg at 6:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could go out to the bar with her and your housemate and possibly other folks, be gracious, and quietly let her get your bill if you want to. You're right, it's a nice gesture and she's probably doing it to smooth things over.

However. You didn't get her that expensive dinner and pool Expecting Payback, did you? You're supposedly offering to pay in those cases because you want to do something nice for this person you like, expecting nothing in return. So if you don't want to go out with her, send her a pleasant response saying you appreciate the gesture, and you look forward to seeing her at future events with housemate, but you do not expect anything from her, including a dinner in return.

It hurts to be rejected, always, even when you'd only been on a couple of dates. But take the high road, always -- especially when there's a shared social circle.
posted by ldthomps at 6:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

To her "No thanks--it was fun."

To yourself "FUCK THAT SHIT."
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

Maybe this is her way of trying to become friends? Some people really do like making friends, even with people of the opposite gender whom they've ruled out as sex partners.

If that's not it... she's being a weirdo.
posted by telegraph at 6:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Print out all our replies so she knows how f'd up this offer is.

And no, don't take her up on it.
posted by mittenbex at 6:19 PM on October 26, 2010 [4 favorites]

Once I took a colleague I liked to lunch and paid for it. She didn't like me back, but it wasn't all that big a deal. Just kind of casual, and we remained friendly at work. But she kept trying to arrange a lunch with me after that. Finally we went and she insisted on paying. We didn't go out to lunch again after that. It was weird, it was like she didn't want to be in my debt. She wasn't as far as I was concerned, but maybe she felt that way. Maybe yours does too. Who knows what goes on in people's heads. In your case I'm in the thanks but no thanks camp. There was no other guy in my case, but in yours I wouldn't want to sit through that either.
posted by Askr at 6:23 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

IF you take her up on this, which is really weird, do it in the way that ldthomps says and just let her cover your part. But really, this is weird and I wouldn't want to touch it.
posted by theichibun at 6:27 PM on October 26, 2010

Just tell her she's sweet to offer but no need and move on. Really not worth it to give it a bit more thought than that.
posted by nanojath at 6:28 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Her offer is weird. Don't take her up on it. I would reply with something like:

"Don't worry about it, but drinks are on you next time we're at [place you see her often]!"
posted by empath at 6:28 PM on October 26, 2010

When I go out with guys for a first date or two, I am incredibly uncomfortable if we end up going somewhere "expensive" and they pay for it because I subsequently feel guilty if, after those dates, I determine I am not interested in that person. I was indoctrinated as a young girl to feel that if a man takes me out somewhere "nice", I owe him something in return, and if I can't offer myself up in exchange, well, I'm a bad person and I need to do something to right that. (Obviously I no longer feel this way.) Even to this day, I have to insist that my date and I go somewhere affordable so that I do not feel obligated or guilty if in the end I don't want to continue seeing the guy. This girl may have the same sense of "shame" that I do when it comes to these things. Just say, "I had a great time getting to know you, and I'm glad to hear you're with someone you really like. Please don't worry about it." And know that the girl might just want to assuage her conscience because she views you as nice, wonderful, etc.
posted by patronuscharms at 6:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Is she really young? She sounds like someone who just hasn't figured out dating conventions yet.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:32 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Her offer is unusual, but probably well intentioned. She's trying, however awkwardly, to acknowledge that you did something nice for her. She's also trying to establish your relationship as platonic.

Err on the side of giving her the benefit of the doubt. A quick email that says "thanks, but not at all necessary" is probably your best bet.
posted by 26.2 at 6:46 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am confused as to how either of you got the idea that this is within the bounds of normal social interaction. Even when young and poor, I never heard of such a thing.
posted by desuetude at 6:54 PM on October 26, 2010

I agree with all the magnanimous-style responses (especially the one that also involves saying, "keep me in mind if you have any single friends!").

However I also want to counter those that say it's "weird" - yes, slightly, but can't you see where she is coming from? Women are expected to haggle over a bill, but never to the point you actually split it. For what? So that by approximately Date Three, you "owe it" to the guy to sleep with them? She is probably just a nice girl who genuinely (platonically) liked your company, or else just wasn't ready to let the budding relationship evolve to something more and perhaps felt you were pushing it.

It's only weird because we live in an conflicted society as to gender role etiquette and tacit expectations. Screw that. I'd probably do the same awkward thing if actually thought I was out with a nice guy. In fact, the times I decided I wasn't interested and graciously said thank you and goodnight, I got lambasted for being a rude, selfish bitch who likes to blueball people and take advantage of their generosity. Some generosity, I say. ::sigh:: What's a girl to do?

Maybe she has some cool friends who overthink things less. Or have no compunction. Good luck!
posted by keasby at 6:57 PM on October 26, 2010 [9 favorites]

I'd go with what was said above: "Don't worry about it, it was nice getting to know you, you can buy me a beer sometime if we bump into each other."

I once had a guy hand me $90 when he broke up with me after we dated for a couple of months. He said he's counted up all the times I refused to let him pay for me, or I paid for him, and was giving it back to me. I took it, since he was right in front of me handing me the money. Having $90 that I didn't expect to have in my hand made the break up better (and weirder and funnier to tell to friends), but I definitely wouldn't have had him take me out for $90 or mail me a check later.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 6:58 PM on October 26, 2010 [6 favorites]

It would be kind of you to assure her that she is not in your debt.
posted by amtho at 7:00 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Awkward, but I agree with the "buy me a beer sometime" approach
posted by radioamy at 7:06 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I am confused as to how either of you got the idea that this is within the bounds of normal social interaction. Even when young and poor, I never heard of such a thing.

I'm not really sure why I thought that this was within the bounds of normal interaction but it seems very obvious once 20+ people say the same exact thing within a span of 15 minutes. I just sent her a message thanking her but politely declining.
posted by Groovytimes at 7:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Take her up on the offer and then during dinner pretend you think she's building up to asking you to take part in a three-way with her and her new boyfriend. Act all flattered but politely decline. When she protests just say, "No, no, shush, shush, you don't have to say anything, I understand, it's okay." Then order bottle after bottle of wine and get really drunk, and after a while stand up and kind of stagger around the table to her, get down on one knee, take her hand in yours, and drunkenly slur a marriage proposal. When she says no, weep loudly. A few days later send her an email offering to take her out to dinner to make up for the awful time she must have had, and apologize profusely.

Or take the smart advice and politely decline the offer.

It's up to you.
posted by luke1249 at 7:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

My take is that she had intended to take you out on your third date together, and pay for it herself, before deciding that this other fellow is a better prospect after all. Having decided, she still felt guilty about not paying for either of the first dates, and sees this as a way to take you out in return, but just as friends. A little ham-fisted, but well meaning.

I think you should gently turn down the dinner, but leave it open for the next time you bump into each other - "Have fun with the new fellow. There's no need to take me out, but if I'm out with *housemate* sometime, I wouldn't say no to a nice beer."
posted by twirlypen at 7:09 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since you have mutual friends, she's concerned that you would be angry. I agree with those that say you should just tell her you don't expect a return gesture and move on. That way, your mutual social circle will have minimal waves from the situation.
posted by effluvia at 7:10 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm not really sure why I thought that this was within the bounds of normal interaction but it seems very obvious once 20+ people say the same exact thing within a span of 15 minutes. I just sent her a message thanking her but politely declining.

Heh, sorry for the pile on. Consider us a chorus of older brothers and sisters passing along perspective as a favor? I certainly had some "you thought what" gently schooled outta me.
posted by desuetude at 7:31 PM on October 26, 2010

It's not weird, it's awesome. It's society that is weird. :)
But yeah, while the gesture is appreciated, it wouldn't be a fun time, so it's clumsy but well intentioned attempt at being fair despite society's weirdness, to be graciously declined, but the thought counted for something.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:31 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do NOT take her money. Just say thank you for the offer and move on.
posted by darkgroove at 8:07 PM on October 26, 2010

To be a contrarian, I'd say take her up on her offer. What the heck, it's a free meal, you might have a good time, you probably have no emotional investment in the person, at least not after her missive.
This might just be another step in the monkey dance. She's throwing you a curve. Depending on your response, you might actually be in contention.
What could you possibly lose? A couple of hours and a nice meal. Go for it.
posted by diode at 8:13 PM on October 26, 2010

My memory is hazy, but I think it was Samuel Johnson, who, upon finding out that his evening's guests had already eaten, totted up the cost of the meals he would have served them, then gave them the money. (Jonathan Swift, on the other hand, gave all his guests a shilling each and instructed them to sort themselves out for food.)

Some people have certain quirks towards money and obligation and recompense. What's best, I think, is not to be too alarmed by such habits, but not to feed them either.
posted by holgate at 8:50 PM on October 26, 2010 [3 favorites]

Agree with oinopaponton.

And, I wouldn't say anything like "just remember you owe me a beer the next time you see me"—you don't want to come across as her own personal Kenny Bania.
posted by blueberry at 9:27 PM on October 26, 2010

I loved katehasquestions' answer. It reminded that no matter how old, tired of people, and pessimistic I become I still get to help invent the world each time I interact with someone.I agree that saying thanks but no thanks is the right course of action but I'm happy to be reminded that occasionally the strange path works.
posted by rdr at 9:40 PM on October 26, 2010

I interpret this as a roundabout, slightly passive-aggressive LJBF.
posted by dhartung at 10:18 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hey, I know you've already responded with what I would probably advise which is "No problem it was my pleasure" (assuming you don't want to be friends), but I wanted to say that doesn't seem weird to me at all. I'm friends with most of my exes - which is what I think she was trying to do here. So she's trying to extend the olive branch, with 'owing you dinner' as a justification. If you're not interested in friendship with her, you say 'ah sorry it was fine, I'd rather not'; if you are interested in friendship with her you take her up on it or say "I'd love to get dinner but let's wipe the slate clean and just split it".
posted by Lady Li at 10:42 PM on October 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would act casual and tell her to forget about it.

(Well actually being truthful, I would ignore her email and stop talking to her, but I tend to be a passive aggressive mother fucker when I'm feeling hurt, and it's really counter productive.)

So yeah, just be cool and say "don't worry about it". In fact, pretend you didn't even think those were dates, just hanging out, and you are too cool and generous to keep track of who paid for what.
posted by w0mbat at 1:55 AM on October 27, 2010

I'd take her up on it, she might end up as a friend, though not the kind you originally had in mind.
posted by rmmcclay at 3:00 AM on October 27, 2010

She's probably aware of the social circle and is doing this to avoid any possible awkwardness if you meet in an unplanned way.

Say "you don't need to, I hope your new man works out for you", suggest a donation to charity in your name if she indicates that she feels the need to even things up.

The first meeting will still be awkward but you will have done nothing to feel ashamed of.
posted by epo at 5:27 AM on October 27, 2010

I think it is possible that she wants to be your friend.

Or, it's a crazy way of saying "I'm seeing someone else but I'm not sure I don't like you better."

What's the downside? Go out with her again!
posted by musofire at 6:48 AM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

thank her for the offer and kindly let her know that you are moving on and can do fine without remuneration
posted by patriot329 at 8:32 AM on October 27, 2010

Declining seems like the right thing to do...but I sincerely hope you go out for dinner with her one more time...on her...just so we can all better understand WTF she was thinking. Pls report back if you do.
posted by teg4rvn at 8:55 AM on October 27, 2010

I can totally see this.

I've actually paypal-ed someone money before when they ended up covering a check that was larger than expected. (Awkward, but whatever).

Some people just don't like being "in debt".

How about the Ben Folds Five "Song For the Dumped"?

Maybe give some of you all some empathy about where a young woman is coming from in this type of situation. Who wants to deal with a guy telling mutual friends bitterness about you, if it could be solved by some cash?
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:34 AM on October 27, 2010

As to how she got the idea that this was within the realm of normal human interaction. . . well, possibly, she's had people call her names (to her face or behind her back) for failing to put out post-date in the past. You're in the same social circle, she doesn't want to blow you, so she's desperately trying to figure out a way to get through this without losing her friends.

When you decline this offer graciously, partly, you're sending her the message that she doesn't owe you anything, including physical favors. And that may be a particularly kind message to be sending this confused young girl at this time.
posted by endless_forms at 9:53 AM on October 27, 2010

Who wants to deal with a guy telling mutual friends bitterness about you, if it could be solved by some cash?

what? are you suggesting this girl is doing this to bribe the OP not to talk trash about her to mutual friends? because that's even weirder than her wanting to pay him back for their dates in the first place. presumably their mutual friends know them both better than to believe any hypothetical post-two date trash talk.
posted by violetk at 10:07 AM on October 27, 2010

All these "she's weird" replies make me sad. I thought it was very sweet of her, and something I might have done in the situation. If she likes you as a friend but not romantically, this could be an offer to continue to "hang out" without the social conventions of one person (typically the guy) paying for evenings out. She'd pay you back for the dates you did have, then you'd be "even" since no further romantic entanglement would follow.

It makes sense for me--I'm in the south so male friends will usually take care of the bill for a work lunch or a casual friends' night out. It makes me uncomfortable, since I'm very independent and always pay my own way. If a potential relationship fizzled out after a few dates, 'd like the idea of thanking a guy with a bottle of wine or a dinner on me, and I might get a new friend out of it.

Guess I am weird, too. :(
posted by lychee at 12:31 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's not bribing, violetk, it's making sure that he feels like he was treated fairly.

It's a bit shocking to me how much judgment there is about this thoughtful gesture.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:06 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I thought it was very sweet of her

It's a bit shocking to me how much judgment there is about this thoughtful gesture.


I don't know how much money we're talking about here, but a free evening is worth much more than "an expensive bottle of beer." This is especially true if she has a boyfriend. If she's genuinely only trying to pay you back, then telling her not to worry about it is probably best. On the other hand, she might not be sure about her decision and she wants one more pseudo-date without expectations to make sure she made the right decision.

Either way, I'd forget about the money. Do you want to hang out with her? If you can spare the time, I'd probably do it. It's always nice to go the bar with a pretty girl (I'm assuming she's pretty since you were interested) — you might even meet someone else.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:47 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

This offer is totally not weird, and could be a really nice way of making sure you stay civil and friendly. When I break up with guys I have been casually dating and don't want want to keep dating but want to keep being friendly with, I usually take them to a bar and tell 'em what's up, but then hang out with them and buy them drinks to show them that I do like their company.

She probably just phrase it awkwardly...I would suggest you let her buy you the nice bottle of beer insteadand then bail after an hour claiming another engagement. That is, repay her politeness with politeness.
posted by custard heart at 4:55 PM on October 28, 2010

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