This week, I was quoted in an Associated Press story about dating and recession that was picked up by New York magazine. My observations sparked some intense conversation, which got me to thinking about the complicated question of who pays on a first date.
As I told the AP, I’m a traditionalist in that I think a man should pick up the tab. I’ve always believed that being respected as a woman and treated like a lady are not mutually exclusive -- and I’ve dated enough to know there are many men who are of the same mindset.
“It would make me feel emasculated,” my old flame Steve told me, when I asked for his take on having a woman pay or going Dutch.
Friend and fellow writer Eddie says he was raised to believe a gentleman always treats a lady -- but admits that point of view has gotten him into trouble on occasion.
“I got hammered on dates when I asked for the bill and handed over my credit card,“ he says. “My gesture did not go over well because the dates presumed it meant that I didn't think they could pay their own way. But the old tradition was too ingrained in my soul for me to change. What I did do was a add a line that anticipated the challenge: ‘I have had such a great time with you. Would you mind if I picked up the tab?’ Issue resolved.”
Eddie went on to say that there’s merit to both sides of the argument and I couldn’t agree more. Plenty of men and women are happy to go 50/50 on a first date. And I’d venture to say an equal number of us believe modern-day mores can happily co-exist with the time-honored tradition of a man taking a woman out.
Neither approach is wrong. Recession or not, though, I think a first date should involve more than going for a walk (the suggestion that one guy proposed to a friend of mine). You don’t have to break the bank to come up with something fun -- you just have to exercise a little creativity.
And when it comes to romance, that’s a muscle we could all afford to flex more often.