Saturday, April 23, 2016

Why I Believe Men Should Still Pay for Dates in the Year 2016



It was a week ago that an article called "It's 2016. Why are men still paying for women on dates?" appeared in the Boston Globe, and it really put my knickers in a twist. The completely clueless author (Afie Kohn) had been married for a few decades, got a divorce, and re-entered the world of dating expecting to get a free ride (and meal.) Namely, he was shocked to discover that women still expect him to pay for dates, given that we're holding positions in professions that would have been unheard of at the time he got married.

"Men paying for meals may have made more sense when fewer women worked outside the home -- and those who did faced a much bigger gender wage gap," he argues. "But today, unmarried women earn, on average, almost as much as single men. Yet traditional roles have persisted. Besides, what matters are the two specific people having dinner. If both make a good living, then the man’s paying for her makes precisely as much sense as the woman’s paying for him."

The thing that surprised me most about this editorial is that the author is not in his 20s or 30s, but appears (from his public website) to be older than me. He should know better.

This dude seems to be spewing his rhetoric coming from the perspective that he's all about women's rights, feminism, and that women should be HAPPY to pay for the food on a first date. But, my personal perspective on it goes hand-in-hand with something I said in the post I wrote a few weeks ago about men holding doors open for women. It doesn't matter what title a woman holds or how powerful she is in her job. At the end of the day, most of us still want to let our hair down and be treated like a lady. And a man can help her feel like a lady by paying for her meal.

I have had some lousy dates in my life, but I can honestly say there is one thing I have never encountered, and that is having to pay for even part of a meal bill. Even guys I went out with that made less money than me always paid for everything. And frankly, if I were out on a first date and the man didn't pay, it would be game over for me.


I may get some disagreement from some of my readers, but here's my opinion on the whole paying-for-meals-thing: I have no problem with couples taking turns with paying or splitting the bill once they're in an established relationship. But when a couple is just starting to get to know each other, and they're dating, that to me is courtship. And frankly, paying for the meal is part of that courting period.

That's right, it's called courtship -- something that I hear is falling by the wayside, especially as people find dates via Tinder and other ridiculous dating apps that are really meant for emotionally disconnected people that just want to have one-night stands.

However, if you're genuinely interested in a woman and want to show her you care and are interested in getting to know her, you court her by paying for meals.

I also don't understand how a man could let a woman pay for a meal on the first date, and somehow still feel like a man. Wouldn't you feel emasculated in some way?

Lastly, wouldn't it make you feel like a total cheapskate? Is that how you really want to be perceived by potential relationship partners?


What if you don't make a lot of money, or don't want to invest a lot of money when it comes to dating? No problem. If you're meeting a woman for the first time that you know little about (say you contacted her on a dating site) then meet for coffee, or for a walk around the local park followed by ice cream. Then, if you think she has potential, you can suggest dinner for the next date.

At any rate, as soon as I read the Globe editorial, I knew who to bring its attention to: James Michael Sama. He's a relationship and dating coach in the Boston area that I follow, and he advocates holding onto traditional dating values in our mobile-addicted, instant gratification, short attention span world. And while his blog declares that "the gentleman is the new bad boy", his site contains oodles of juicy advice for women as well. In fact, James reminds women to do their share of the work to make a relationship successful. One of the best quotes I saw on his site was aimed at women as well as men (I'm ad-libbing here): "A relationship is like a fire. You can't start it and then walk away; you need to stroke it and keep feeding it."

James has written many times about the whole who-should-pay-for-dates debate. Not only has he mentioned some of the points I brought up above, but he also argues that women will make the extra effort to look good for a guy; we'll do our makeup, buy a nice dress, and sometimes get a manicure. He maintains that the amount of money a woman invents in a first date is often more than the cost of a meal -- so men should take this into consideration and pay.

James thanked me on Twitter for sharing the article with him, and immediately said he was going to write a response to Kohn's article. As I rub my hands together with glee I admit that I can't wait to read it...I'll be waiting with my popcorn.

7 comments:

  1. I’m a big believer in courtship – totally agree with you that it’s a declining art form that needs to be brought back. I also believe in acting like a lady and being treated accordingly. But I also believe that being a lady does not mean being anything less than equal to a gentleman.

    So as far as the old “man must pay” thing…I’m not so sure. A cup of coffee is not such a big deal - but a meal? Sure a woman wants to look good for a date. But is that to say the man isn’t going to make any effort at grooming? If not, he’s probably not going to get a second date.

    And all that talk about cheapskating? What about freeloading, or a sense of entitlement that automatically expects a free meal from a first date? I also don’t like the sense that in your first encounter you’re already in a position of being “beholden”. I see that as unequal footing. I agree about taking turns paying once you’re in a relationship. But I believe that both the man and woman should approach a first date as equals. That means nobody pays for anybody’s meal but their own.

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Blakeney, but as a gal with some traditional values, I have to respectfully disagree. I think if a woman has a job (or is actively job hunting) and it's obvious that she has purchased some things on her own, such as a car, then it's pretty easy for a man to tell she is not a gold digger or looking to freeload.

      I live at home, and I help support my 86 year-old mother. I just started working full-time again earlier this year after being out of work for two years. I may have money, but if a man asked me out I would feel uncomfortable if he didn't pay for the meal. To me it's a traditional gender role and dating custom and I just don't think it looks good for him to not do the honors.

      Several years ago I was friends with a coworker that went out with a doctor that took her to one of the most expensive restaurants in Boston and absolutely refused to reach for the bill when it was placed on the table. After 15 minutes or so of my coworker waiting, she finally took it and was able to talk him into paying for half of it.

      Needless to say, I can tell you it was a huge turnoff for her. Really made the guy look cheap and classless and she didn't go out with him again.

      And I especially feel that if the guy did the asking, he should do the paying.

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  2. As a man who, like your original author, found myself dating again after almost three decades of marriage, I'm in total agreement with you. I like the courtship ritual, I open doors, I stand when she joins me at the table, I offer my arm when we walk and I definitely pay for whatever entertainment we decide on; dinner, movie, a drink or coffee, I act offended if they try to pay and there hasn't been one that has insisted she pay (that would be our last date). I have two grown daughters, and have taught them the importance of dating men that treat women with respect and dignity, hopefully that follow the rules of the southern gentlemen of my heritage. Good for you Pam, stick to your guns.

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    1. Dryheat, I can't thank you enough for your comments. I had to stop reading the ones left on the Boston Globe site, because so many of them (authored by both men and women) sided with the author, and a poll the Globe posted on the subject found that 50% of those that responded believe a woman should pay for the date. I didn't want what I was seeing/reading to affect my beliefs about what's out there. A woman paying for the first date seems absurd to me and again, I'm all for sharing duties once you're in an established relationship, but if you're a man hoping to make a good first impression. In fact years ago I offered to pay the bill for a guy that was a social worker and probably made less money than I did at the time, and it was awkward and embarrassing. He insisted on paying it.

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  3. So most of the time I agree with Alfie Kohn. He is a well respected educational researcher (he was the first to raise the alarm about the dark side of "everyone gets a trophy syndrome" and the negative impact it has on children). But I think he is dead out wrong on this

    Don't laugh but The Mister still pays for our dinners out...even though I'm the only bread winner right now so that he can take care of his parents (they both have Alzheimer's Disease) and he says it is MY money (I think of it as OUR money). Anyway, even though my out-of-the-house job is what puts the money in our joint account, we still like those traditional courting roles of him doing the actually payment transaction.

    It's the little things like paying for dinner that make it seem like a courtship and not a meal with colleagues.

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    1. I think it's sweet that The Mister pays for your dinner after all this time (and I also think it's sweet that you still refer to him as "The Mister"!)

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  4. I'd say that the person making the invitation to the date be the one to offer to pay....

    By the way, Pam, on a related note, this site - http://www.artofmanliness.com/ - has a lot of good, retro-influenced advice for the modern man (and woman).

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