What to do about the Expensive First Date

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I grew up with men in my life that treated women well. Not to the extent they traditionally follow in the South, just that they extended a general courtesy as the man to the women in their life. I appreciate and am looking for that kind of respect in my other.

I have a hard time, though, letting a man pay for what I consider an expensive first date. I don’t think anyone should have to spend a lot of money to get to know someone and I feel uncomfortable when my date is shelling out the dough to see whether or not we are compatible at the most basic dating level.

Its hard to tell whether the gentleman is using the money to impress you, whether he simply operates on a more expensive scale than you do, whether he’s one of those “the man always pays” dudes, or some combination of the above.

How does a modern, financially stable lady walk the line between traditional gender roles and equal-opportunity dating? For me, its case by case, and sometimes I have a better read than other times.

Try to Deter the Spending in Advance: Fail
I think you should go dutch on expensive first dates if you’re just getting to know someone. I had explained this theory and desire to split the bill before I accepted a sushi date knowing we’d go over my first date limit, but at dinner my date just snatched up the check and pretended we had not had that conversation. I appreciate that he wants to pay for dinner, but I would appreciate even more if he respected that it made me uncomfortable given the cost of our dinner.

Make an Exception to the Rule: Success
Sometimes you make an exception, like when I was invited to go to a concert with someone I had met online but hadn’t yet met in person. I told him I was uncomfortable about just taking the ticket but he pawned off the expense saying he had planned to go with a friend who had bailed at the last minute, and didn’t know anyone who wanted to buy the extra ticket. It sounded sincere, and I agreed to go. The concert was incredible, and he let me buy a few rounds of beer to even things up. Letting me contribute went a long way towards making me feel better about his paying for the ticket.

I know some guys like to go big on the first date or find it offensive when gals insist on contributing financially. I know that I need to set aside some of my personal opinions on the “right” way to date and be open to the many possibilities for successful dating.

I’m working on being less uptight about the money thing, but its taking some time. In the meantime, just ask me to grab beers at a bar with great turkey burgers (and sweet potato fries for extra credit).