Photo by Emily Long
The two of us are completely lost in engaging conversation over dinner. The Chilean sea bass was delicious. My second glass of Riesling has eased initial first date jitters and I’m able to kick back, relax and gaze into his green eyes with intrigue as he recalls his eight day hike up Mount Kilimanjaro. Things are going well. And then the check arrives.
It’s as if I’ve been violently woken up from a dream. Panic ensues. I reach for my purse in an exaggerated manner, making sure the gesture doesn’t go unnoticed. He picks up the bill, waves me off and offers to pay. I’m relieved because I secretly wanted him to foot the bill and only made the good faith reach-in because I didn’t want to come off as presumptuous. You know, as a modern day working woman and all. Call it a test, but a worthy one because this gives insight into the type of person he is, his interest in me, and our future relationship dynamics.
In today’s modern dating terrain, there are no rules about who pays for what. Money is already an extremely touchy and pesky subject to breach with a significant other let, alone a new love interest. Most will say that it’s important for the man to pay on the first date. However, gender roles are shifting as women become more powerful in the workplace, and this dynamic has challenged the status quo of dating etiquette.
Going Dutch on a first date is a common occurrence nowadays when men can claim gender equality and weasel their way out of what is supposed to be a respectable, romantic, and courteous gesture. Bottom line: it feels good as a woman to be treated and taken out, especially if he initiated the date. Going Dutch implies a platonic connection, usually a sign that neither party is interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. The man picking up the tab also lets a woman know that he values her company and is willing to invest in their date. It shows a strong, dependable commitment from the man. Just because feminism is alive doesn’t mean that chivalry is dead, people.
As a rule of thumb, the person who initiates the date should pay because they are the ones hosting. Usually, that person is the man. When a woman initiates, in theory she should treat but often that doesn’t happen in practice because all women appreciate chivalry at some level. There shouldn’t be any other expectations beyond just the dinner or drink, or an intimate experience can turn into a financial transaction. Besides, we all take risks in dating. If you don’t want to break your wallet on essentially a stranger sitting across from you then don’t dine at a fancy restaurant on a first date. Save the splurging on someone you know you like.
What happens after the first date? Who should take care of the expenses then? When, if ever, is it okay to go Dutch? Let’s look at some statistical findings:
From a survey of 17,000 straight, unmarried participants between the ages of 18 to 65 conducted by NBCNews.com:
- 84% of men and 58% of women report that men pay for most expenses after dating for a while (huge discrepancy here!)
- 57% of women offer to pay but 39% of women want their men to reject the offer
- 44% of women were bothered when asked to pay
- 64% of men say that the women should contribute financially to a relationship
- 76% of men feel guilty when a woman pays
- 44% of men would end a relationship if a women did not contribute financially
- 75% of men and 83% of women share some dating expenses by the six-month mark
It’s apparent that modern dating hasn’t necessarily caught up with the evolving gender roles brought on by more women entering the work force and having their own financial resources. Some can argue that women want the best of both worlds: equality in the workplace and chivalry on dates. The real difficulty is how to adapt for modern society without losing the special aspects of the chivalrous past. One of the charming parts of being in a relationship is romance (doing special things for the one you care about), and you are essentially taking that right out of the equation by going halfsies. In the end, it’s less about who pays for what and more about the reasons behind why they want to pay.