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“Seth, I don’t like it when guys buy drinks for me because then I feel like I owe it to them if they want to have sex with me later.”
Said my talented, smart, beautiful friend, Alisha, just a few days ago. Her comment lead to a conversation about who should pay on a first date and what it means if the girl asks to pick up the check.
As it goes with many conversations about gender and relationships, many thoughts an opinions are inspired by a very simple question: Who should pay on a first date?
I think that while the man ought to pay, he is not obligated to (it’s just polite) and the woman should always offer- not assume- and be willing to accept splitting the bill graciously if that’s what he seems to want or need to do. If he wants to pay and she feels uncomfortable about him paying she will probably insist more than passively and he should agree to split it, otherwise (and in most cases), he should thank her for offering and buy her dinner or a coffee.
I used to never want the man to pay for the same reasons as your friend. Many men are wrong-thinking about this- where they think of it as an investment in potential sex rather than a kind gesture to honor the time spent together regardless of where it leads. I just don’t tend to run into cads like the former as much anymore and therefore I have changed as I’ve gotten older (late 30s now) And frankly, I will graciously split an expensive dinner bill, even when the man expressly invited me out, but I am not (as) likely to want to date someone who isn’t thoughtful enough to spend even a nominal amount of money to take me out (if you’re broke invite me to coffee..it’s not the cost it’s the principle.)
The tricky thing for men is they don’t want to set a model of paying for everything every time, which is quite understandable, but the unwillingness for a man to simply pay $2-$12 for that first coffee or glass of wine, tells me he will never open the door for me, he will always give himself the better chair, the bigger slice, whatever. He is always out for justice. In this man’s mind if women want to be considered equal they shouldn’t EVER expect a shred of chivalry or favoritism.
Please. I love a little chivalry, and would venture to say that is true of many/most women. I don’t expect it constantly, but a little goes a long way. It might be old-fashioned for such a new fashioned woman as myself, but a man with conviction, kindness and backbone doesn’t only not have hangups about spending a little money on me- it wouldn’t even cross his mind not to. Sounds complicated, but it’s not.
Have good intentions and a generous heart. If she’s digging for gold you shouldn’t be dating her. You picked the wrong one. If she is like me, she just wants to feel special enough to warrant a romantic meal or a simple coffee on the first date. And if she’s like me- she’ll happily buy you a beer next time and the bill will usually be split, but she’ll like that you still buy sometimes. Damn. She might even make you dinner for two with groceries she bought. Now what do you think?
Is this a workable solution to the “who should pay on a first date” question?
Who do you think should pay on a first date? Do you think the guy should pay? Should the girl offer to pay, insist on paying, or sit back and ignore the check entirely? I’d like to know what you think.
photo credit: trent bigelow