Nomi Leasure On… Who Should Pay On The First Date

by Nomi Leasure

Who should pay on the first date? – Anonymous

A friend of mine recently advised his younger sister as she readied herself for a first date to reach for the bill because: Girls who don’t offer aren’t worth it.

Maybe it was the harsh delivery, maybe it was the fact I had just begrudgingly split our brunch tab, but the comment really irked me. Okay, maybe there was some wisdom in his advice, but his younger sister might honestly have been better to look at tips offered by Lovedignity or another dating advice website that can be found in abundance, money shouldn’t really be a topic on the first date, anyhow.

Money is one of those touchy subjects that’s too intimate to discuss even with the person whose genitals you routinely put in your mouth. And as modern dating takes a turn for the ultra-casual, is there room left for these stereotypical gender roles? Should a guy always pay on the first date? And what is the implication if he doesn’t?

A New York Times article literally titled “The End of Courtship,” traces one sad, lonely girl’s journey through 21st century dating:

“‘The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,’ Ms. Silver said. ‘It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,’ she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called ‘hookup culture,’ millennials – who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down – are subverting the rules of courtship.”

And while I’m certainly not a fan of traditional dating, per say, it really feels like the modern man is subverting just about all of his historic responsibilities. You don’t have to build a house, hunt, and now you don’t even feel obliged to cough up for coffee.

Times cont.:

“A lot of men in their 20s are reluctant to take the girl to the French restaurant, or buy them jewellery, because those steps tend to lead to ‘eventually, we’re going to get married’… In a tight economy, where everyone is grinding away to build a career, most men cannot fathom supporting a family until at least 30 or 35.”

So, yes, true, I mean us ladies either. But if guys aren’t picking up the tab to signal their lack of commitment, what effect does this have on women?

Despite being, or maybe because I am, a staunch feminist I honour some traditional balancing of the sexual scales. We cannot deny our biology or our brains.

To cite some specifics, details from Dave Elliot:

“When it comes down to understanding the Laws of Polarity, masculine energy only has two gifts to offer the feminine. Simply put, it’s his job to protect and provide. In order for feminine energy to relax into a relationship and let her guard down, she absolutely must feel ‘safe’ and if she doesn’t, it’s game over.”

Now, maybe this is an oversimplification. But also maybe not. In the same way your brain triggers a cave-man like fear response to seeing spiders or snakes, creatures that in one point in ancient history could mean death, the oldest parts of our brains are still active and influential in our everyday lives. And the fact that deep, deep down we as women need to feel first and foremost safe with a man before any type of emotional connection can be developed does make some sense.

Elliot continued:

“In order to feel safe, she probably has to be in the company of a man who is confident, relaxed and grounded. He has to not only take care of himself, but also take care of her. This means she has to feel protected and safe in his company – both from outside forces – and from him. She also needs to feel like he can provide for her needs… Obviously, the easiest and most symbolic way to demonstrate that is by providing the meal you are sharing.”

I know a lot of guys who take great pride in these small, symbolic acts of chivalry. I also know guys who refuse to buy girls drinks because they think it’s a waste of dollars if the girl doesn’t then sleep with them. And I know spoiled women who take advantage of kind, generous men, as well as sweet, hell-of-a-catch girls who have been taken up on their offer to split a cup tea on a first date.

For the record, I always offer to pay my share of a bill. I know it’s to be expected, but also it’s just the polite thing to do. But I do genuinely expect that a guy foot the bill for it to be considered a date. And if we throw all of the traditional aspects of dating out the window, are we really dating? Or are we really just… hanging out?

Ladies, you set the bar here. I say go with your gut but also understand that your actions on the first date may signal a casual, hook-up only situation and if that’s not what you want then maybe don’t insist on splitting the check. It might not be the sign of a “boss ass bitch” you were hoping for.

And guys, don’t let a girl split the bill with you even if she offers. It’s a turn off. And you’re ruining the romantic landscape of our entire generation.


*Side note: I once went on a date with a guy who was so cheap he just ordered a baked potato at dinner and refills of the free bread and then asked me to pay for parking. It’s a sure fire way to never get called again, get ruthlessly made fun of, and then written about in an advice column.

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