Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Overheard at the Gym

I can't help myself! I have to share some of the funny conversations I hear that relate to money, even against the advice of some commenters.

This time, I was at the gym, getting dressed after my morning swim. A group of women were talking about dating. One of them swore she would henceforth only date men taller than 5'9" and then proceeded to tell a series of stories about her nightmare experiences with short men, one of whom she believed was trying to compensate for his lack of stature by being "extremely aggressive" about trying to make out with her after their date. She declined his advances but as she was telling this story, she happened to mention that this guy had spent $400 on the dinner they'd had. I couldn't quite hear how she was relating the money aspect to his aggression-- the standard themes are either
"He bought me an expensive dinner and I'm outraged that he thinks that entitles him to sexual favors!"
or
"He bought me an expensive dinner so I can't help feeling slightly guilty that I'm not giving him sexual favors."
In this case, who knows, maybe she was thinking "He spent $400 on dinner hoping it would make me forget that he was short."

Anyway, the $400 dinner comment set all the other women off-- obviously money is a more compelling issue than height! One was talking about a guy she only went out with once because on their first date, he asked "So, should I put this on a credit card and you give me cash for half? Or do you want to put it on your credit card and have me give you cash for half?" Another date ended with a shared cab ride-- the girl lived further away so the cab dropped the guy off first, and he jumped out without giving her any money towards the fare.

Obviously the tone of the conversation was that these women believed men have to pay for dates, period, and that anything else is tantamount to an insult. This always gets on my nerves. As has been discussed many times in this blog's posts and comments, there's more than one way to do things, and more than one reason people might or might not want to share the costs of a date. As far as I'm concerned, it's common courtesy for whoever did the asking to offer to pay for the date, and it's common courtesy for the other party to offer to chip in at some point, if not on that date, perhaps on the next one. If the guy really wants to pay all the time and can afford it, fine, but if he doesn't/can't, it doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't respect you! What should make him question his respect for you is a prima donna attitude towards sharing costs.

The thing about these situations that always does seem a little tacky is ASKING someone else to chip in. It's an awkward thing to have to do, and the person being asked is always going to feel a bit disappointed that they aren't getting a free gift! So the best thing for everyone, in my opinion, is always to volunteer to split the check, or say you'll get the next one. You avoid putting the other person in the uncomfortable position of having to ask you for money, and you avoid putting yourself in the unpleasant position of being asked. You get to feel generous, while the other person can graciously accept or decline. And it's a comfortable way to embrace equality between the sexes while still allowing plenty of opportunity for the good old fashioned male ego to assert itself by paying the check.

21 comments:

Susy said...

Yeah, it's funny how women want to be seen as equals to men, yet they still expect chivalry.

Money Minder said...

If it's a first date, I think whomever did the asking should foot the bill. Unless it's a two part date (i.e. dinner and a movie) then you can each pay for one part of the date. If the date goes well, and he paid, it's fair to say that you'll get it next time and take turns from then on.

Optioned Unarmed said...

I could never date a guy who wanted to pay for everything.

(If he were incredibly wealthy, I could make an exception, but only if his ego was not attached to it.)

Rachel said...

I live in NYC and while some men certainly have more money than others $400 for an early date sounds extreme! I would never go out on a date with a man and let him spend that much if I was not going to make out with him afterwards. Actually I doubt I would let him spend that much in general, no matter how long we've been dating. Usually early dates for me involve a couple of drinks and as long as he hasn't opened a tab, I'll try to pay for a round.

Middle Class Hick said...

I make it simple on the first date. I provide a list of places I was thinking of (usually 4) and let them decide where we are going. I pay if I ask them out, they pay if they ask me out. The only exception is if they say we are going "as friends", then I immediately say we will go with separate checks. This is all decided prior to going out for the evening. Simple, easy, and to the point.

Once you get to the third date or so, that is where it gets a little harder. Hopefully by this point, they offer to pick something up by then. I am generous, but not willing to carry a free loader.

kat said...

" Optioned Unarmed said...

I could never date a guy who wanted to pay for everything."

Seriously! Who wants to be indebted like that? It's just awkward.

I'll always offer to pay my share. If he wants to pay after I've made the offer, I count that as sweet, and if we go on a second date, you can bet I'll be picking up the tab.

Women who want to be independent and responsible for their own lives, but then expect men to pay for things, open doors, etc. just annoy me. You can't have it both ways.

Miss M said...

I'm very independent and would always offer to pay half or get the next one. I don't need to be taken care of, though it's nice at times. A little chivalry is nice, but Mr M has never heard of the word!

Cap said...

"...good old fashioned male ego to assert itself by paying the check."

Haha.. so true. Despite knowing that its perfectly okay either way, many times I still have a certain drive to foot the bill. I suppose its part ego and part cultural 'tradition.'

Agreed though that the one doing the asking should be the first to offer to pay the bill.

Here's a tip for guys to know that you reasons for footing the bill is less than genuine... if at anytime you have a slight thought of "man I pay for all these crap but she ____" then my friend, you're being a tool.

MtnMama said...

Yeah, I'm thinking that the kind of woman who would accept/expect a man to always pay but will get in a huff because he "expects" something back is not the kind of gal who reads this kind of blog...
just saying...
we all gotta be the "put your money where your mouth is" type.

Anonymous said...

For me personally it's important for the guy to pay on the first date. But, to make it bearable I always suggest drinks or coffee. This gives us a chance to get to know each other a little without the price tag of dinner. It works well for me!

Anonymous said...

Hey!

Some of us come here just for the anecdotes!

Don't curtail your posting because of a few prudes in the house.

Optioned Unarmed said...

MtnMama said...
"we all gotta be the "put your money where your mouth is" type."

Lately I've been tempted to put my money where my mattress is...

Anonymous said...

At some point in the past you said (I think) that you would do detailed posts about furnishing your apartment after you settled in. Any plans to do such a series any time soon?

stephanie said...

I expect that if a guy asks me on a date, he plans to pay for it. If I go on multiple dates with someone, we usually end up taking turns paying for things. I'm more than willing to pay my share of times, especially if someone accompanies me to an event they are not particularly interested in but I want their company. :) (Examples being a play or concert I'd like to see, where the other person probably wouldn't decide to go on their own.) I absolutely refuse to split checks on dates though - that is, they can pay or I can pay, but if we end up agreeing to split a check, I go from "date" mindset to "friends" mindset. So, we can split a check (I'm not going to make a scene in a restaurant about who should pay!), but there probably won't be future dates - I'll think of it as hanging out with a friend.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the women you described are the rule rather than the exception. If I don't want a second date with a girl, I'll ask to go dutch on the first date and that will usually guarantee no further contact! Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, it's funny how women want to be seen as equals to men, yet they still expect chivalry."

I really don't see how the two are mutually exclusive.

I am 38, have been married and dated since I was 15. I have never, ever had a guy ask to split the check or to chip in on a date. Never. Not one single time. On the odd occasion where I have insisted on paying bec it was the guy's birthday or whatever, the man was always visibly uncomfortable. Not all men want or expect a financial 50/50 dating situation.

In an established relationship, money may be handled differently, but I still know plenty of couples where the man is a higher earner and picks up most of the costs of dates, weekends etc. I really think most men just want to make their girlfriends happy and it only becomes about the money if she's hard to please or ungrateful.

If someone asks you on a date, be gracious and appreciative, whether it's $4 coffee or a $400 meal. Decent men don't expect something in return other than the pleasure of your company and I find it bizarre to think that a woman would feel obliged to repay the dinner in sexual favours.

My parents have been married for 50 years and my father never expected my mother to contribute her wages to the household. He opens doors for her and performs other such chivalrous actions. He is the most feminist minded man I have ever met but still feels women are to be cherished and protected. His motto is 'Men and women are equal in all ways, however her ways may be different'.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Anonymous 5:19. I'm a feminist to the core, but my boyfriend makes more than three times what I make: He usually pays for us, but he also usually picks more upscale dining spots, whereas I'd be happy with mac and cheese at home.

It does feel odd to me sometimes when he pays for so much or buys me the occasional item of clothing, so sometimes I find myself begging to pay for something just so the scales will be a bit more balanced. (For example, he'll pay for a nice dinner, then I'll pay for a casual brunch, etc.)

He doesn't expect anything more out of me than he would if we were splitting everything 50/50. I gather that because he's been fortunate enough to make so much money, he just wants to care for me and give me nice experiences that I couldn't otherwise afford. I, in turn, care for him however I can, with small thoughtful gifts or cute surprises. Everybody wins, regardless of money.

bugbear said...

I am a guy.

Look, if you are going to date women, expect to pay the way. That's just the way it is.

After some dates and you get to know each other and you see it continuing, you could have a little more "equality" and split some bills with her. But, just assume you are going to pay for the date and be happy with it. It's a role. It's traditional. And it works.

If I date a woman and she is very nervous about accepting my covering the tab, it would (and has) put me off. Dating is, in some sense, a role playing game. It's important to understand your role and meet it gracefully.

Save equality for more important issues in the relationship, IF you get to the point where you HAVE a relationship. Don't try to go equals in money if you barely know her. You need to take control of that part and be sure about it and feel good about it.

That's my advice, based on experience.

bugbear said...

"I find it bizarre to think that a woman would feel obliged to repay the dinner in sexual favours."

Well, the first thing is, it's a mistake for a man to invite a woman on a $400 dinner unless they are at a point where she has either given a major green light or if they are already in an established relationship. $400 is too much to spend, and too awkward, for an undeveloped relationship. Better to keep it in the lower price range-$40 to 50 bucks maximum.

If some women think that there are no expectations for a $400 dinner, I would say that in most cases that would be ignoring an important reality: $400 is a lot of cash to most people, which represents a lot of emotional investment on the guy's part if he is paying it. Clearly he is expecting something, however undefined it may be. Unless he is of an income level that can do the $400 dinner just as easily as the $40 dinner, I'd say the $400 dinner is likely a mistake and a misplay on the guy's part.

My 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree with BugBear: let the guy pay.

I'm a girl. I have now decided that if a guy doesn't pay for all of the first and second date, i'm not seeing him again. It isn't about money, it's about generosity. If a guy that has money isn't generous with it, i feel like he won't be generous with his emotions and other things. Also, men don't know that women pay a lot BEFORE a date getting ready, buying new make-up, shoes, etc. A woman usually has already invested in the date before he even shows up. And a guy should feel gracious to have a lovely woman in his presence that he should pay.

Anonymous said...

Oh god, that last comment: "And a guy should feel gracious to have a lovely woman in his presence that he should pay." almost made me vomit. This is the entitlement mentality common today in American females and why more men are dating and marrying foreigners.