June 27, 2008

To Go Dutch Or Not To Go Dutch—With Your Date.

Who should pay? I like a partner who stands on her own two feet. Then, generosity, either direction, is romantic.

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 are so many of us boys 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 wants to go dutch—even a gesture toward the wallet is sweet, though 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 $500 in the account at any given time—and I’ve got zero family money behind me. 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.



These (ladies and) gents agree…and I wish they wouldn’t. We don’t need to be “dicks” about equality.

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