April 19, 2016

Just the Tip? A Brief Look at One of Dating's Oldest Questions

For better or for worse ... the question of who pays for the *wedding* is now less complicated.
For better or for worse … there is less discussion about who pays for a *wedding* than who pays for a date.

By Alexa Day

I love the Sexy Saturday Round Up. Don’t you? It’s the cool, sexy way to make sure I’m up on the real news of the week. This past Saturday, we had sex toys, girl gamers in Saudi Arabia, and tattoos. If you haven’t been over there yet, you should go and check it out.

One of G.G. Andrew’s links caught my eye. Refinery29 published an article about a favorite topic: when a man and a woman are on a date, who pays?

As I write this, I am mindful of how limiting this question really is. In my tiny little cishet world, I’ve never had to consider how same-sex couples address this question, if they address it at all. I am curious, though. If you have intel on the topic, please educate me in the comments.

Inside the cishet bubble, I think the question of who pays has been around for a long time. If anything has changed since our the time of our parents and grandparents, it’s that this question now has many answers.

The Refinery29 article focuses on millennial women, and while many of them are pushing back — hard — at women who don’t pay for whatever reason, the numbers suggest that more of them, 59 percent, let the men pay for first dates. But I think that if the ‘male pays’ dating tradition changes, it’s likely to change first with that age group, which may not be as attached to the concept of male-as-provider that gave rise to the tradition in the first place. Even at my age (I’m no millennial, friends), I see lots of my peers shifting to an ‘asker pays’ model, where the person who asks for the date is the one who pays. That seems to me to be a more gender equitable way to handle things, although I do think men are far more likely to ask for dates.

Now, I do see where the problem arises for men. Their long-held contention is that dating is expensive. I get it. This is why I don’t take myself to dinner as often as I’d like.

I do have a question, though.

Why aren’t you guys reducing those costs?

I’ve only dated in the South, a place where it’s possible to badly offend one’s date by even offering to pay. Many Southern men in my age bracket interpret such an offer as a suggestion that they are incapable of footing the bill without help. I wonder if that presumption is forcing them to be more creative. I’ve been to dances, the county fair, long walks around local parks to look at the river, and museums big and small. I’ve always thought the point of the first date is to spend a little time getting to know each other and decide whether a second date is a good idea. A stroll through the museum, followed up with some ice cream, gets the job done just as well as something expensive, if not better.

Refinery29 briefly touches on the many factors that come into play before the check arrives. If both parties split the bill, is it still a date? If one party pays, is the other required to reciprocate in some way? At what point in a relationship is it acceptable to stop splitting the bill? That little slip of paper carries a lot of weight.

Should it?

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  • Post authorKel

    People who allow themselves to be ruled by their unthinking expectations will have a harder time at almost everything; dating is no exception. And I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have any expectations about their interactions with other people, but they should certainly know why they have them, and what they mean.

    People who believe that their own biases are the only way to think will expect others to judge them on their ability to function (or appear to function) in the roles demanded by those biases. They do not know how to adapt, they do not know how to change their expectations, and they will eventually fail within a relationship unless they find someone who both shares their exact bias and wants to support their attempts to confirm to the expectations they believe are necessary. They may or may not be successful, but I have yet to meet one that’s happy without changing their own expectations.

    I don’t think that who pays should carry that kind of weight, but I do understand not wanting to owe anyone anything. I also understand wanting to take care of people as a sign of affection, and not knowing how to do so, which seems to be a perpetual state for men who accept society’s “thou shalt not emote” thing for male-persons. And there’s the hard part of “showing care” for a virtual stranger, which is what the initial stages of dating are for most people. Society has declared certain rituals acceptable, it takes a bold human to step outside of those rituals, and most people aren’t actually very bold. Even, or maybe especially, the ones that crave acknowledgement for being so.

  • Post authorSadie Jay

    In my opinion, I think whom ever asks the other out should pay, regardless of the sex of both parties. In the past, it was usually the man who approached the woman, so naturally he paid. But as we’ve progressed and it’s acceptable of women to ask men out, then it should be the woman who pays. And I think this should go with same-sex couples– whomever does the asking does the paying!

    Reply to Sadie Jay
  • Post authormadeline iva

    And then there’s the whole world of “hanging out”. A new-ish subset to the whole dating thing. I like ‘hanging out’ — not dating so no one pays, no expectations of sex either. You’re getting to be friends, it’s casual, you’re ‘hanging out’.

    Reply to madeline iva
    • Post authorSadie Jay

      That was me before I was married! I never dated–I just found it very uncomfortable. Instead I “hung out”, even with the man I eventually married. We never really dated and then I moved in with him. So for the most part, we paid our own way or took turns.

      Reply to Sadie Jay
  • Post authormadeline iva

    Me too, Sadie! Although we never used the term ‘hanging out’ I was aiming in the relationship direction, and just wanted to move oh-so-carefully.

    Meanwhile, I did get snagged a time or two hanging out with guys I thought were friends only to find we were ‘hanging out’ not just spending friend time together. Whoops! Live and learn.

    Reply to madeline iva

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