Dating etiquette in the 21st century can get a little confusing. Between Beyonce declaring that women run the world and T.I. making it clear that the women he dates can have whatever they like, pop culture sends one big mixed message about the looming question at the end of a date–who the hell is paying? Of course, some people might be reading this and think that the man is the default payee. However, in the times we live in, it just isn’t that simple and I have the proof.
Exhibit A: Living the Posh life
The summer of 2008 was the best time I’ve ever had dating. I kicked summer off with a trip to Miami. While I was there, I met a guy from London. We kicked it most of my days there and kept things friendly AKA no sex. When my week was up I thought I would never see him again, but that was not the case. He and his best friend surprised me with a visit to California. While they were there, not only did they cover my expenses, they also took care of my friends who were out with us, guys included. It was so baffling because they had never even met my friends and the stuff we were doing wasn’t cheap. For some reason, money wasn’t an issue to them.
Clearly this is the rarest situation. Finding a guy who will willingly pay for you and your friends isn’t something women should expect from all men. What I can say from this experience is that my London Boy treated me like a princess and I loved it. It wasn’t because I never had to reach into my pocket, but because he was willing to take care of me, making me feel special. The most important thing for men to realize is that spending money on a woman isn’t all about materialism. In the early stages of dating, its easier to gage a man’s interest based off of his financial contributions. It may sound shallow but it’s one of the many indicators we use to analyze a man’s exact intentions.
Exhibit B: Going Dutch
With a struggling economy and some of the highest unemployment rates our generation has seen, who wouldn’t think Going Dutch was acceptable? I am not completely against this style of paying for dates, but I will say that there is definitely a time and a place. Mr. Dutch as I will call him, entered my life just as the London Boy departed. During the majority of my time with Mr. Dutch, we did just that, went Dutch. In the beginning I was not bothered because we started off as friends. However, once we started dating, our paying arrangement never changed. Even though this was almost 3 years ago, I can remember the first date he EVER paid for. It was our date to the L.A. Auto Show. I was with this man for over a year and the fact that I can pinpoint the first date he paid for is a problem.
My issues with how Mr. Dutch contributed financially- or failed to contribute- go back to my first point. Women gage a man’s interest based off of his financial contributions. The situation Mr. Dutch created would have been fine if we had a platonic relationship. Going Dutch created a casual atmosphere that made it hard for any kind of romance to blossom. How special can a woman feel after a nice dinner at BOA, only to be asked if she plans on paying for her portion with cash or credit card?
Exhibit C: Major Fail
As if spending a year Going Dutch couldn’t get any less romantic, I managed to find the number one contender for the worst date ever. Fast forward to 2011. I had been broken up from Mr. Dutch for over a year and I was beginning to date. Going against my strictly enforced age cutoff, I decided to give a 21 year old a chance- Big Mistake. I will note that before this failure of a date, Mr. 21 didn’t have an issue paying for the both of us. However, on this night, which was more of us just hanging out, Mr. 21 committed the ultimate No No.
Noticing that he was a little low on cash I turned our date into hanging out. As if things couldn’t get any more casual, Mr. 21 brought his friend along. I decided to get Subway and the two of them settled on pizza. As I was getting my drink, Mr. 21 called me over to the cash register and pointed at it. This was his boyish way of indicating that he expected me to pay for his pizza. I was confused and asked what him pointing at the cash register had to do with me? He nonchalantly asked me why I didn’t know that I was paying?
Talk about humiliation. Not only were we in public, but I felt like I was with my younger brother who was begging me to buy him dinner. To make a long story short, I paid and saved the argument for later. Shortly afterwards, I got rid of him, and still get disgusted whenever I think of him.
The Big Question- To Pay or Not To Pay?
It’s not that I have an issue with paying for dates, I see it more as a principle. If a man is interested in me, I want to see him put forth some effort. Call me old school but chivalry is not dead. Currently, I am dating a guy who has by my book, aced my expectations of a man’s financial contributions while dating.
He may not be my London Boy but our financial arrangement is something I can call realistic with the current times we live in. When we first started dating he paid for everything. Now that we are transitioning into a relationship, I have started to pay for things, although he never asks.
Having a balance of treating your partner every once in a while, and rotating who pays is acceptable to me. There are still women in the world who will refuse to go on a date unless the man is paying, so try not to assume everyone is as open as I am suggesting.
Some advice that I can offer is if you are going on a first date, EXPECT to pay. Most women will expect you to especially if you invited them somewhere. My personal rule is that in the dating phase, men should pay, but once we are in a relationship, I don’t mind splitting things 50/50.
Another key factor is to learn your partner’s dating expectations. Mr. Dutch and I had different values when it came to dating. His mother taught him that women could fend for themselves which he applied to his dating expectations. I on the other hand grew up seeing the men in my family take care of the women and children. What saved us was being able to communicate our dating values in order to reach a compromise. Society and culture play a huge role in an individuals dating expectations. If you want to be a respectable guy pay for the first date. If there is a second date, have a discussion about dating expectations to make sure you don’t commit a Major Fail, and end up on someone’s blog like Mr. 21.