“I had to pay for my drink.” One woman’s horror.

Via on Dec 21, 2010

The Tide of Feminism Slows at the Beach of the Bar.

Gents: are you told it’s unromantic to want to go dutch?

I recently had a conversation with a good friend who will go unnamed (hint: he makes a cameo here). It’s a conversation I’ve had dozens of times with dozens of young men and women, and it’s this: why, in 2010, are so many of us gents expected to pay for so many of our ladyfriends?

Now, on the first date, call me old fashioned, but I’m happy to pay. I don’t mind, though, if my date “pretends” to want to go dutch—a gesture toward the wallet is sweetly unnecessary. Once we’re “dating,” however, I find it offensive if I am expected (assumed) to pay. Aren’t we equal?

Well, no. It’s a crime that candidates for political office don’t talk about enough: professional women make 75.5 cents on the dollar compared with professional men in the same position.

Coincidentally, the other night, my buddy said, look, I’m happy to pay 75% of the time. Call it chivalry. Call it the individual modern man’s gesture toward righting our national status quo wrong.

In my case, I’m lucky if I have $1,000 in the account at any given time—and I’ve got no family money, dammit. But this has little to do with money. I’ve had poor girlfriends who, despite being somewhat younger, insist on paying dutch. I’ve had rich ones closer to my age who never once offered. I’ve had an older girlfriend, much poorer, who nevertheless insisted on taking me out once in a while.

It’s a question, I guess, of how women see themselves in today’s society. And it’s something difficult to talk about. The best I do, once in a while, is suggest that a date pays for our tip—or I joke about it. But the basic issue, here, is that it feels strange when there’s an expectation that I treat—and that’s the difficult part to swallow—I want my treating someone to dinner to feel like a spontaneous act of generosity, as opposed to an expected gender-based burden.

Look. I’m not trying to offend anyone, here. It just comes naturally. In any case I just thought that someone should put it out there…and I’m dumb enough to be the one to volunteer to do it.

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10 Responses to ““I had to pay for my drink.” One woman’s horror.”

  1. Elissa says:

    Damn funny magazine cover and good points in the article. Just need to find me a man happy to even pay 75%

    • elephantjournal says:

      Whoops! I'm so sorry, I clicked thumbs down but meant to thumb up! Everyone else, click thumbs up, make up for my clumsiness, and someone buy Elissa 100% of a drink! ~ Waylon

  2. AngelaRaines says:

    Thanks for raising the question, Way. There's something sweet and old-fashioned about having a man treat me to something — yet there's something sweet and empowering about treating him back. Roles are meant to be fluid and played with, not substitutes for identity.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Agreed Angela! I think it's sweet when you feel like you're being treated and taken out to dinner. To me, it feels more like a date. So me and my man usually just trade off who takes the other out. Feels special, but still keeping the paying equal. ~ Lindsey B.

  3. AlpineLily says:

    In casual dating I adhere to the "whoever invited = pays" rule….if I invite a guy to a concert I buy the ticket, if he wants to pitch for drinks cool, but I wouldn't make the invite and "expect" the other person to pay.
    Serious relationships it's about communication and compassion for the person we are with- sometimes situations happen where one person has more money than the other, and I think that instead of being about 50% or 75% or whatever it should be about what that person can give apart from money as a contribution to the relationship. If they show appreciation, respect and love then who cares who is paying what for dinner!

  4. Alden Wicker Alden says:

    My boyfriend and I spar about this all the time. We've come to a comfortable "Pay when you want to" sort of rule that works. But I've been blessed with a bank account that allows me to comfortable pick up the check more often than not.

    But he still thinks it's "funny" (in a sarcastic way) that women expect men to pay all the time even while we fight for equality. He especially gets miffed at my friends who have hit the online dating scene at go out with a different guy every night of the week and never pay. He thinks they are taking advantage of an archaic rule.

    Besides just the fact that women statistically make less than men, I see dinner as a "I'm taking a risk by agreeing to meet with you," fee. Date rape, being taken advantage of or groped, becoming the emotional victim of a what turned out to be a one night stand – women navigate a perilous world that men, for the most part, rule.

    Finally, women are more likely to date older men that are established in their career.

    Now that I am in a trusting relationship, we split dinner and drinks. But he paid for the first three dates and he didn't complain. That's the way it should be, IMHO.

    • AlpineLily says:

      I agree with everything except the part where you said "becoming the emotional victim of a what turned out to be a one night stand"- unless you were raped, there is not way you can be an "victim" of a one-night stand,
      Sleeping with a guy and then getting upset because he doesn't call back or doesn't want to date is the risk you take by sleeping with someone the first time you meet them- and if that decision was made without pressure then both parties are responsible. Sorry, but I think its totally lame to blame the guy and say a girl was victimized by a one-night stand she participated in willingly.

      • Alden Wicker Alden says:

        Hi AlpineLily,

        I was trying to succinctly summarize the many things I’ve experienced over my years of dating: the guy who had a girlfriend (who I ended up meeting later and is a sweetie), the guys who have lavished me with praise of my beauty, who have promised trips, weekends, dates to events, dinners, whole lifestyles if only I would come home with them, guilt trips, “blue balls” (spare me), outright lies, pushiness, and all manner of tactics that women have to put up with until they find a guy who will just give you some respect and drop you off pleasantly at home without making you feel like a bad person. The first date or tenth encounter, it often seems the same. Women walk a fine line between “frigid bitch” and “slut” that men rarely find themselves subjected to. If you’re going to spend a week lying to me so I’ll sleep with you on the third date, I’m not going to pay for the privelage.

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  6. elephantjournal says:

    Hear ye, hear ye brother. Still, it's tough. Some wonderful women are downright offended/shocked to be asked to pay 50%. Again, if it's special or romantic occasion, I'm honored to pay—especially if it's not take for granted or expected. ~ W

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