Photo courtesy of Tim Boyd
Things have changed. No doubt. And that’s for just about everything that takes place between the sexes or within the same sex. Every other movie or TV show that stars a woman these days seems to feature a buff chick toting a shotgun, dressed in a wife beater, about to take revenge out on the bad dudes who harmed her family. Up until a few years ago, this was a genre reserved for Ahhnold, Van Damme, and Chuck Norris. Now these action vehicles showcase wiry females with a martial arts skill and an attitude.
Concurrently, this month’s Playboy features an article about men, using iconic male stars like Dean Martin and Paul Newman to hawk a bunch of facial creams and hair products. It seems that having smooth, glowing skin, product-laced hair and squeezing into your skinny jeans has become a new way to demonstrate your “guyness”. And we can marry whoever we choose─Harry or Sally. It doesn’t matter and most of us don’t care. But change creates interesting questions as we dance in the dating mosh pit. Like who picks up the tab on a date?
Here’s what I think. Generally, if you ask a woman out on the first date, even if it’s just for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, the guy should reach for the check. Even if the woman starts digging through her hobo bag, the guy should pay.
Here’s an exception. Maybe you two didn’t hit it off and the woman feels patronized and insists on paying her way to assuage any guilt, anger, or because she just wants to get away from you. Let her throw a few bucks down and say goodbye. We’re all even now.
Going forward a pattern usually occurs between potential partners and although it’s going to be different in every relationship, the bottom line is that you want things to feel equal so no one seethes inside or gets all passive aggressive. In a perfect world, and in a big city where women are increasingly taking the wheel in business, politics, and relationships, paying for a date would be split down the middle every time. But we know that this isn’t a perfect world, except in its imperfections, so we’ve got to be flexible and open-minded about almost everything.
Directionally, whoever has the idea and asks the other person out should be willing to pony for the bill. But that can get old quickly. And what do you do if you’re an investment banker ranking in the cash and she’s a teacher. Are you really going to make her split every tab down the middle? And vice versa, what if your lady pulls in major coin as a corporate litigator and you’re “consulting”? It’s something to keep in mind. And there are some women who never, ever crack their wallets open, and that doesn’t feel right.
What I have done to make life easy is to take charge and arrange the first few dates, at least until we’ve “gotten to know one another better”, and either paid the bill or made the offer. After you’ve taken care of the first major date, if she wants to split the tab the next time, cool. I suggest having no pretentions and always being prepared to pick up the bill if necessary. Women get it, and if they are not choosing the fifty-fifty route they usually have some things in mind that will make up for it, like cooking a nice dinner at her place or bringing along your favorite Pinot Noir when you cook for her. Women pay attention and the vast majority are not looking to exploit you. So if every check is not split exactly down the middle, chill.
In many ways dating is a microcosm for how we interact and treat people, and all I’m suggesting is to always be a gentlemen, do what you know in your heart is the right thing, and always give a lady the benefit of a doubt.
Does who pays the tab really matter?