Dating 101, 2018 Edition
June 21, 2018 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Parents of Metafilter: when your kids just started dating, did they always go Dutch? (Is there a better term for "go Dutch" nowadays?) I'm talking earliest dating -- where your parents are driving you to the mall, say, to meet someone (who's been driven there by their parents), and you're gonna see a movie and have a froyo or taco or something.

Both kids are just 15, and they're classmates. It's the very dawn of "this person was my friend and now I'm having even more special feelings for them." Neither has any particular amount of money beyond allowance and stuff like that.

I'm sort of assuming go Dutch, and my kid seems to agree. Just wondering what others think.

Another complication is the absurdly expensive prices. Theater at our local mall has adult tickets at $16.75, with popcorn and a soda commensurately expensive. So that's a looooot of dough for one 15-year-old (or their parents) to shell out.

posted by BlahLaLa to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
"split it" or "split the check" or "each pay our own way" are all regular phrases around "going Dutch". It's also pretty standard for one to pay for one event for both and the other one to "get the next one" and do turn taking.

Otherwise, in the US, it's also pretty common for young people to not really "date" and just hang out, often with groups of friends.
posted by miasma at 6:39 PM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes, my young teens paid their own way if they weren't "officially" on a date. Official dates, for my daughter and her boyfriend, are paid for by the organizer, or one will get the movie tickets while the other gets dinner.
posted by cooker girl at 6:50 PM on June 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you belong to AAA? Many branches sell discount movie coupons.
posted by brujita at 6:53 PM on June 21, 2018

I have 3 teenagers, age 17 and 15 year old twins, all dating. It's normal in their circles for a boy to ask a girl out and pay the first time they date alone, and then it turns reciprocal again, just as it was before they suddenly were "dating" vs "going to movie with a bunch of friends." They do not say "Go Dutch." They say "split it." (As I see above). It gets more complicated when one kid always has more cash on hand than the other, wants to do something the other can't afford, etc. Sometimes they start out splitting or taking turns but one just sort of winds up paying for more because "I have popcorn money and BF doesn't so I'll just get it."
Also watch out for one paying more than the other over time as a sign of anxiety or power imbalance in the relationship. This requires a talk from parents about self regard.
One of my kids is gay so this has nothing to do with gender roles.
posted by nantucket at 7:39 PM on June 21, 2018 [4 favorites]

To address the cost, in general, you might look into if MoviePass is accepted at your theatre. $10 a month for a free ticket a day. Some restrictions (no repeats, no 3D) but it’ll help bring down the cost if they’re not paying for tickets, and only snacks. Just a thought.
posted by greermahoney at 8:40 PM on June 21, 2018

I would second MoviePass, although officially you need to be 18 to be a member. However, half of the time we use the automated kiosk to buy tickets, so there is no one to check. If you have a Costco membership they have an even sweeter deal of $90 per year for a membership.

It is a weird feeling when you pay $9 for 10 cents worth of popcorn, but feel like you are getting a deal with the "free" movie. One thing they do not expressly tell you is that you can only see each movie one time, so you can not really see a movie every day, but you could see every movie that rolls through the theater.
posted by Yorrick at 10:04 PM on June 21, 2018

MoviePass yes, but:

Please note we are no longer offering the Costco Promotion, please check ( for current promotions and offerings.

Current promotions (including a $7.95-for-3-movies-a-month package, with partner iHeartRadio).
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:40 PM on June 21, 2018

Oh, well, dang: MoviePass is going to introduce surge pricing on popular movies by July
This article also mentions that AMC is introducing a pricier subscription service as of June 26
Costco still sells ticket packages, online and in-store.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:49 PM on June 21, 2018

(Cinemark also has a movie club thing, btw. And Fandango. Gotta catch 'em all, I guess.)
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:49 AM on June 22, 2018

I live in Canada. It's pretty common here for kids to take turns or split it. But I find there is a socioeconomic divide. People from more affluent backgrounds will have the family/teen cover the date's expenses and then expect similar the next time. This can be a problem when people from different backgrounds are dating, as one family may find $40 for movie is not a big deal but the other family sees that as exorbitant. It can help to encourage other activities, like going to the pool, teen night, cheap movie theatre, streaming, going for a hike with friends, going to minor sports games, doing a hobby together, shooting hoops, people watching at the coffee shop, board games at coffee shop, etc. If you can work out a homework schedule, it may also help to encourage activities on a cheaper night. Where I live, the theatres discount on Tuesdays and sometimes there are matinee or morning well as group buys.

Trying to encourage a range of activities and interests can help the teen get to know the other teen better and to learn financial management skills and what healthy social time can look like. So many of us gravitate to movies or restaurants, when we could also be doing more active stuff.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:45 AM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

First, how sweet and fun! I'm not a parent but rather a teacher who observes this in my students.

Most students, regardless of socioeconomic status, go on "cheap" dates. Movies seem to be more of a rarity or activity with family or a group of friends where everyone pays for themselves. I live in a small town with two movie theaters: one has special events that are free or low cost and the other has reduced-price admission before 5 p.m. and drinks and popcorn for $2 each on Tuesdays.

Teens here aren't really going out to fancy restaurants on dates unless it's a special occasion like Homecoming. They'll go to Chipotle and then play mini-golf or walk around downtown and eat at McDonald's. It seems that most teens pay for themselves and, once a couple starts going out a lot, they take turns paying. We have a number of coffee shops that are safe and hip so those are popular as well: teens buy one drink and hang out for a long time. It seems the most popular activity is hanging out at each other's house -- with and without parental supervision and/or siblings present -- to eat snacks and play games and watch movies (these days most kids are streaming videos at home rather than going out.)

People will also drive around together if one of them has a car -- many do not -- or as a group with friends, even when they become a couple. Attending parties is still popular and doesn't cost money but may mean bringing drinks (ahem.) They also go to high school games together and to the pool and park and the like. Cheap stuff we did back in the day, too. People still go to the mall to hang out or shop but it seems mostly walking around and eating rather than buying; going to a bigger mall out of town is something they might do with a parent. While people mostly want to do stuff alone or with peers, doing stuff occasionally with a parent or other older family member is not uncommon or unwelcome.

It seems that even for teens from affluent backgrounds, big outings like a concert or college sporting event, are rare and done for special occasions like a birthday. Celebrating anniversaries -- and we're talking two months or two weeks even -- seem to be big deals but commemorated more by a special photo on social media and then a gift that is more sentimental than expensive -- think a balloon or candy or flowers.

It's really good that you're having these conversations because so many kids are excited about dating but not sure how to do it. In fact, I'm dating a fellow educator and we were talking about how many teens don't even know how to act in a healthy relationship, and that's something you can really discuss with your child. On the other hand, it seems most teens are very financially savvy and will use money from part-time jobs for dates, even saving and budgeting for big events like prom. I wish them lucky and happiness! Fifteen is a great age to start dating, and how nice that this has grown out of a friendship. Just something else to consider, which I know you already have: many young teens will start dating a friend only to find after a date or two that they really just prefer being friends. By keeping the cost of dates down they can avoid some of the extra pressure; that way it's easier to go back to being friends or, if things intensify, the fancier dates like a movie or meal out can feel like another step in their relationship rather than been-there, done-that.
posted by smorgasbord at 6:46 PM on June 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

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