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Thursday, December 8, 2011

MMM Mail 2: Chivalrous Or Chauvinistic - Who Pays?

Q: As a single lady in the dating game, I feel really awkward having my date pay for me. Not necessarily for one date, that's nice and normal and polite to do when you ask someone out. However, once I'm in a relationship it gets iffy. You have to work out who's going to keep paying for dates and/or hangouts and I don't feel comfortable with the idea of my guy always footing the bill. The transition from traditional first date (where the guy pays) to the relationship arena (where we go dutch or equally split) is awkward, but in a good relationship you can work through that with communication. So imagine a scenario where a guy asks me out and I say, "Sure! I'd really like that. This may sound strange, but how would you feel about going dutch?" Is this too much for a first date? To me, if we both pay our own way, we'd be more relaxed and our expectations would be more realistic. But I realize that in the past I've unwittingly stomped all over a guy's need to feel manly when I've ignored "social constructs" that to me don't make sense, so I'd like to be more sensitive in respecting my dates' ideas of their roles as men. Is my interest in paying my own way too much? Should I let it wait until the second or third, or even the seventh date?

A: Call it old-fashioned, but most men feel they should pay on the first date. A few of our contributors give their two cents below and we hope many more of our readers will open their opinion wallets as well.

I think you hit it on the head with "in a good relationship you can work through that with communication." Because, really, the goal of dating isn't to see who pays or if his manliness or your feminism will stay intact, but to begin the discovery process of what could be a solid relationship. My suggestion would be to just enjoy the dates and if you go on more than two or three and you're really getting along, then bring up the possibility of you paying for the next one or something. If he's cool and you really are compatible, he'll be open to it. Asking to pay on the first date (of before it) can be weird for the guy even if he is totally on board with your feminist tendencies.

Apparent Parent
As a man, I want to be able to pay for the first date. It's not so much a manly thing or a hunter-gatherer thing, like "I'll take care of you and provide for you, because I'm a man." My cro-magnon self has evolved beyond that. It's more like, "I invited you out here and I don't want you to incur unnecessary expenses on my behalf. After all, it's my fault you're stuck with me for an evening." Maybe after a successful first date a woman who would like to pay her own way could say something like, "Next time I'll pay." That shows an interest, expresses a desire to get back together and shows a willingness to chip in on the dating experience. But on a first date, if the guy asks you out, let the poor dude pay. It'll make him feel like you haven't fully accepted his offer for a date otherwise. It's almost like saying, "I'll go, but as a friend. You can't pay for me or it'll be too much of an (eeewww) date."

Seattle Jon
Here is my definition of the kind of guy you should look for. He will plan on paying, but won't be too overbearing. He will realize that some women find it disempowering, old fashioned or chauvinistic when men insist on paying for everything. On the other hand, he will recognize that some women find it chivalrous. Most importantly, he will get a feel for what you prefer and then do what makes you most comfortable.

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