Paying for dates

Can you call yourself a feminist if you still think the man should pay entirely for every date between a man and a woman?

I never thought so. Equality means equal opportunity and equal responsibility. One argument against shared payment is that women still don’t have equal opportunity. We still aren’t earning quite as much as men. To this I say: then maybe we should stop dating more than we can afford to, until that changes. What better way to inspire men to back us on the importance of equal pay for equal work, than letting them ask out their girlfriends only to hear, “I’m sorry, I can’t afford another date until next payday”? [This suggestion is tongue-in-cheek. Edited for clarity.]

The most persuasive argument I’ve heard in favor of expecting men to pay for dates is: because women spend so much more money on getting ready. This is undeniably true, on average. Most of us remove hair from much of our body. We moisturize. We use conditioner. We wear makeup. We use products in our hair. Our clothes and shoes are generally more expensive, and we’re expected to own more of them. We’re expected to carry handbags. These expenditures add up, even for very frugal women.

Men like to whine that they don’t force these appearance standards on women, that women do it to themselves. This is bullshit. How many women do you know who keep their hair unconditioned, don’t moisturize and don’t shave, and still get dates? From men? While male heterosexuality is signaled by a cheap, efficient hygiene routine that leaves the man looking slightly better than when he rolled out of bed, the same routine in a woman is culturally coded to indicate we’re lesbians. No, if we don’t take the time to alter our appearance to something unnatural, that means we don’t like sex with men. The absurdity, it blows gaskets of the mind.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on who should pay for dates, and why?

Comments

  1. Meena says

    I am a queer woman, and the woman I am dating and I alternate paying for dates (we also take turns organizing them). I think of it as an exchange of gifts, if only a symbolic one. I also feel obligated to pay for a date if I am the one to do the asking out, and I think it’s a little tacky to ask someone to dinner or coffee and then expect them to pay. I think it would be absolutely fine to do this in a straight relationship as well, though I have never been in one. This would still probably mean that men pay for the majority of dates, however, since they do the majority of asking out in hetero relationships. Of course, this all works best if both parties have approximately the same income, otherwise the burden will fall harder on one person than the other.

    • says

      Yeah, there’s definitely a cultural thing going on where men expect to be the ones doing the asking out, paying, etc. I really don’t know who is still teaching this, because it’s certainly not me, but I don’t have any brothers, so I can’t speak to that.

      It comes up a lot on those “Right or Not?” Battle of the Sexes type debates people are so fond of. *retch*

      I suspect machismo has something to do with it, because some guys seem to get a little emasculated that a woman would pay for her food, or, God forbid, their food, but then you’ve also got guys who feel “owed” something (read: sex and/or sexual favors) when they have “put in their share” for the date. *double retch*

      Just a lot of issues of entitlement and gender-typed posturing…

      • says

        Meena, you bring up another interesting point: should the person who earns more spend more on the relationship? Perhaps, especially if the one who earns more is the one suggesting the expensive date activities. With friends, this is exactly how we handle it – we share assessments of our ability to pay for an activity, and if it’s worth it for the richer among us to pay extra if the poorer just can’t swing it, it happens. But this could be a very awkward conversation with someone you’re on a first date with and really don’t know that well. (Which is one of the many reasons I HATE dating as a way to establish a relationship. I much prefer getting to know someone as a friend, then moving into the romantic territory, and using dates as a way of doing something fun/special – like you said, an exchange of gifts.

        Gena, check out the “dating” section at a local bookstore – it’s full of this crappy advice. So yes, many men feel like you’re not letting them be manly if you ask them out/offer to pay/in any way break up the status quo. But (I think?) even more think it’s just not romantic, or that it means you don’t really like/trust them, or something like that. Which is just silly, but it can feel awkward to discuss these things frankly on a first date (not that it should – it’s just people are nervous enough anyway, sometimes), so it can lead to frustration and confusion that never should have happened.

        • Maria says

          Suze Orman actually has a really interesting discussion about this in her book Young, Fabulous, and Broke, where she suggests that if you’re with someone and being “with” them impacts your finances re: living or dates, you arrange things to pay proportionately.

  2. says

    I’ve always subscribed more to the idea that whoever does the asking should do the paying. This is especially true if they are also planning the date. My friend who is still in the dating pool follows the rule of ‘whoever picks out the restaurant picks up the tab.’

    • says

      I agree with this. I thought it was just good manners that if you invite someone someplace, you pay; sort of, “I am going to X place, would you like to accompany me?” vs. “This is a place I am going, if you were to show up there, independently, that would be cool.”

      Although, I also think it’s good manners to offer to pick up your tab, or at very least the tip, so yeah. The main exception being if I have been invited someplace SUPER PRICEY, at which point I stop and go, “WHOA, I feel bad you’re spending money on me like this!! It’s out of my budget, are you sure you’re okay paying?”

      • says

        My friend who is still in the dating pool follows the rule of ‘whoever picks out the restaurant picks up the tab.’

        I kinda like that, actually. Letting it fall on whoever asks can tend to put it all on the guy, same as usual, because even a lot of men who totally accept women as equals and haven’t a macho bone in their bodies often succumb to old-fashioned ideas about gender roles in dating.

        • jennygadget says

          Not that I have a lot of experience with dating, but my impression is that such guys are just nervous about coming across as completely rude by not insisting on paying. Which, maybe this is just me being weird or my inexperience, but I can’t see that lasting past the first few dates with any guy that I’m actually interested in. Or, rather, continued insistence that he pay every. time. (or even most times) would make me much less interested.

          But yes, I agree, I think the “whoever does the picking” is a good rule too.

      • jennygadget says

        Yes, this. That’s always sorta how I saw it too. The person doing the asking is essentially playing host/hostess.

    • Anne says

      I agree with this. However, if it’s a long term relationship, it would revert to every-other.

      For me, what will happen is we go see movies, too, and since I work at the theater I get free movie passes so that usually ends up being my contribution (as well as candy or drinks if we’re in the mood).

    • says

      That’s interesting – I’ve read so many women saying they do just the opposite: let him cover at first, to demonstrate his appreciation of her? financial value? I’m not sure? – then go Dutch as the relationship gets more comfortable.

      But particularly if one partner makes more than the other, it makes plenty of sense to do it your way.

      • Maria says

        Heh. I wanted to signify that I was cool with things being pretty casual, and used the paying to signify that.

        Once I realized that he wasn’t into using money as power, I stopped anticipating him doing so and relaxed.

  3. says

    How many women do you know who keep their hair unconditioned, don’t moisturize and don’t shave, and still get dates? From men?

    You’re kidding, right? Admittedly, I haven’t been single since the mid-80s, so maybe standards have changed or something. But back then I certainly didn’t “condition” my hair (whatever that means), and my skin care regimen had nothing to do with the male gaze, everything to do with the health of my skin. My leg hair is very pale and fine, so I’ve never felt a serious pressure to shave it and thus I haven’t.

    My experience is that “appearence costs” for women are almost entirely a function of her work — where they can be very considerable — and have little or nothing to do with her ability to get dates. Except that my husband always liked the fact that I didn’t wear makeup, and hates it when I wear it even now. Nowadays, most of our “appearence budget” goes for him: daily shaving is expensive, as are dry-clean-only suits.

    • Maria says

      That might be a race/class/gender thing — most ethnic women are mocked for being hairy and having uncontrollable hair.

      • says

        But isn’t the pressure to look a certain way for *work* much stronger than the pressure to conform to get dates? Now, I know (or knew, because we’re mostly fogeys now) a fair number of white women who had to put on a certain look for work, and then would change and put on a different, equally-expensive one for dates — but those of us who stepped down the effort after 5 didn’t have any trouble finding guys.

        Not to mention that the guys we liked generally preferred women who *didn’t* spend so much on appearance, not least because we’d usually either split the bill or trade off who paid.

        Which may support your point.*g* There was definitely a sense that “if she spends a lot of money on her appearance, he should expect to pay for the date” — but it was a choice by both men and women to have that sort of dating, and there was another, lower-cost and -pressure type available.

        • says

          But isn’t the pressure to look a certain way for *work* much stronger than the pressure to conform to get dates?

          Quite the opposite in my experience. I hope I can say this in a way that doesn’t sound pointed because it’s really just an observation: you sound like friends of mine who are much closer to meeting the “beauty standard” than I am. They’re always shocked at first to hear the pressure less “pretty” women describe feeling to “fix” what’s wrong with them or else accept that no one will date them. My prettier friends roll out of bed in the morning looking not that far off from the beauty standard, even if they’re not gorgeous and imagine themselves to be far from starlet material, and so they don’t feel that pressure because they’re already acceptable as they are. Many of us… it’s been made very clear to us that how we look is NOT good enough.

          As Maria points out, women of color have an additional layer of “unacceptibility” in which racial traits are deemed unilaterally undesirable.

          • Jaynie says

            I know someone who is close to meeting the “beauty standard” when she roles out of bed, but still feels enormously pressured to put about 50 layers of product on her face every morning and night. No matter how many times the nice people at the beauty store assure her that she doesn’t need extra-strength concealer or foundation or whatever, she can’t quite convince herself. So it’s not just those who fall further from the norms, though obviously they will feel much worse pressure. Girly mags and celebrity gossip can take one hell of a beating on your ego, especially when you’re a teen and the guys around you *also* take their cues on this stuff from those sources. Yeah, that’s immature, but it gets inside your head…

            :( Definitely not playing the “but why won’t you think of the norm-conforming preeeettty girls” card, though — just pointing out that yes, a lot of women do moisturize/condition/shave religiously (even if they don’t need to) in an effort to attract men.

            • says

              Jaynie, I totally got that you weren’t playing that card, and you’re right. I’ve known a lot of women who worry WAY unnecessarily about their appearance. That’s how much pressure we’re under.

          • OlderThanDirt says

            My experience conforms to yours. When I was not so old, I could roll out of bed, shower and wash my hair, wet-comb the whole long, straight length of it and leave it to air-dry. Since I was very pale with dark body hair, my big time-suck was hair removal from legs, underarms and upper lip. Still and all, I was perfectly respectable because no one expected my arm hair to not exist and no one that ever saw my crotch expected it to be hairless. Lipgloss was all I needed. Then, as time went by, I needed more and more work to stay at the same spot on the “beauty standard” spectrum. My experience is that where you fall naturally totally dictates how much work you’re expected to do. Now I’m “letting myself go” when I don’t curl my much-shorter and layered and tinted hair or I don’t wear makeup or I just throw on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. My husband has the same “beauty routine” he had when we married, only with less hair, and mine has nearly tripled just to “maintain”. I know I don’t need to maintain but it’s hard to move from passing to failing and it’s not like you don’t get a lot of criticism when you don’t make the grade.

    • says

      Not kidding at all.

      My leg hair is very pale and fine, so I’ve never felt a serious pressure to shave it and thus I haven’t.

      As a woman with dark body hair, I can assure you: wear visible hair on your legs or armpits, and it’s actually a great way to get men to steer way, way clear of you. Additionally, dark arm hair is considered weird, so you have to do something about that too if you want men coming near you. I’m not even sure it’s that they find you hideous so much as they interpret it as a signal of disinterest: you’re obviously unavailable or you wouldn’t have “let yourself go” like that, or you’re into women, or you’re such a weird hippie that dating you might feel like dating someone from a cult.

      My skin care is also entirely about my skin’s health and not what men think, but my point was: most women at least use some kind of moisturizer, even if they never wear makeup. Most men don’t. It may not be a huge expense, but it’s a differential. I know tons of men with skin disorders who have never even thought about going to a dermatologist. It is quite simply OK for them to have “bad” skin, while a woman with the same problem absolutely must at least cover it up with makeup, or else boys will assume she’s not interested in dating (or maybe they do think she’s hideous, I don’t know).

      • says

        most women at least use some kind of moisturizer, even if they never wear makeup.

        Not my experience *at all*, over decades. Maybe it’s a regional thing — here in the swamps of Jersey, moisture is not usually what one lacks in air or skin. Similarly for hair conditioning: it’s less universal here, because one’s hair doesn’t necessarily dry out just by being in the air.

        I have also heard that “appearance standards” vary in different regions. I’ve known quite a few women with dark body hair and pale skin here in the East who never considered shaving arm hair — but then, the amount of shaving women are expected to do has definitely increased since the 70s. Or it may be that I’ve always hung out with such hippie types that I didn’t notice.

        • Maria says

          I’m gonna go with the hippie types ;) Shaving your arms would be weird where I grew up, but my not plucking my eyebrows was a BIG DEAL when I was in HS — and we were nerds!!

          • says

            I know loads of women who remove arm hair – most of them deny it, except to other women whom they know to be sympathetic. But you know, I just never, ever see a white woman with visible arm hair. It’s simply not done. And when I was young and didn’t worry about it, guys would ask me, “Why do you have hair on your arms?” with a distinct tone (evident from the rest of the conversation) of “What is wrong with your body that it produces manly hair on womanly arms?”

            There may be some regional things happening here too, but I’ve lived in the Northwest, Southeast and SoCal. To my knowledge, I’ve never known a woman who didn’t use moisturizer, even if it was a very cheap brand or just aloe gel or something simple. The Northwest is very moist, and the Southeast is humid as anything 10 months out of the year (and slightly less humid the other two). I’m very surprised to hear there are women in the United States who don’t moisturize. Even women I know with extremely oily skin moisturize. I think it’s mainly the hippie thing causing the differences we’re seeing. That and… see my other comment.

          • sbg says

            Jenn,

            Anecdotal: at least two of my sisters have lots of dark hair on their arms. If either have considered removal, they haven’t actually done it. Neither have problems with attracting suitors. ;)

            I’m pretty sure Alyssa Milano has visible hair on her arms, bless her.

            But, yeah, it’s become another place on the body hair is not acceptable for women. Pretty sure by now the only places hair is okay is the top of the head, and the eyebrows (but both should be maintained!).

            Blarg. What does this have to do with paying for dates? Nothing. I go away now.

            • says

              Hmm, maybe it’s a Southern thing, or maybe it’s that my arm hair was REALLY dark. But whatever the case, men asked me what caused it and why I didn’t do something about it. Except one man I worked with, an immigrant from South Africa – bless him, he actually really liked it! That was my introduction to the fact that much of the world thinks the US ideas about beauty are quite weird.

        • Anne says

          Ouch! Here, out west, not using moisturizer would be a bad idea! Most people I know use moisturizer, though I’m more likely to find men who don’t. Also, the men I know rarely use conditioner–most women do. I’m also in a fairly “hippie” group of friends in that some of us don’t shave as often as society tells us we should, though some do shave very frequently.

          Only one of my friends would not get ready for a date the way women stereotypically do, but she had no trouble getting boys! Though I also think out west there may be more relaxed social norms, what with so many of us being rural mountain girls with a progressive flair (near Boulder).

          • says

            Don’t ever move to L.A. :D I had a friend from Boulder out here for a while, and she could not get over the fact that her “attractiveness factor” dropped from guys as young and cute as she was to old skeezy men who were unappealing in every way imaginable.

          • Anne says

            Well, crap, since that’s what my plan is! XD I’m not terribly worried about it, I kind of enjoy the “getting ready” process of my morning, and tend to look tidy and neat…and I am kind of banking on all the people I know out there helping me out on the dating scene, though should I wind up without a man I’m not worried about it. I’m pretty solitary anyway!

            Haha, but that’s just disheartening. Boulder is a fairly good looking town, but yeah, the times I’ve been out to LA it’s just a hotspot of good-looking, maybe because it’s just set up as “where to go” for aspiring whatevers.

            • says

              Yes, it’s where being beautiful can be a career, and also because so many gorgeous people have been meeting and breeding here for several generations, some of the people not remotely into the entertainment industry are also surprisingly good-looking. But it’s worse for women: you see some really not-great-looking men out with very attractive women, and it’s just kind of deflating. :D

      • Genevieve says

        I know tons of men with skin disorders who have never even thought about going to a dermatologist. It is quite simply OK for them to have “bad” skin, while a woman with the same problem absolutely must at least cover it up with makeup, or else boys will assume she’s not interested in dating (or maybe they do think she’s hideous, I don’t know).

        Definitely true to my experiences. My ex had tinea versicolor (due to working outside and sweating and hardly ever showering during the summer before I met him), and didn’t do anything about it for years. He passed it to me via skin-to-skin contact, and once I noticed it I pretty much immediately Googled it, figured out what it was, and bought topical fungal creams to get rid of it (of course, because his was still untreated, it kept getting spread to me over and over again). Topical fungal cream is not inexpensive, it’s around $10 per small tube. Plus it’s labeled as being for “jock itch,” which is kind of embarrassing. But it was far more embarrassing to have weird pink splotches on my chest and neck, even though he didn’t feel the embarrassment at all.

      • SunlessNick says

        I know tons of men with skin disorders who have never even thought about going to a dermatologist. It is quite simply OK for them to have “bad” skin, while a woman with the same problem absolutely must at least cover it up with makeup, or else boys will assume she’s not interested in dating (or maybe they do think she’s hideous, I don’t know).

        I’m currently getting over a bad case of contact dermititis with flared-up exczma and a secondary infection (which totalled into something pretty unsightly, mostly on my arms). Not many people of either sex foisted a reaction on me, but when women did so, it was all, was I ok, did it hurt, and so on.

        (Reminds me of a prior discussion about smiles, where you were being told to smile so as to be decorative and cheer the men who were seeing you, while I was being told to smile because I was obviously miserable and needed to be cheered myself).

    • says

      My leg hair is very pale and fine, so I’ve never felt a serious pressure to shave it and thus I haven’t.

      Leg hair is not the only hair women feel pressure to get rid of, you’d be hard pressed to find a woman who doesn’t shave/wax her underarms and is totally comfortable with it in all situations.

      My experience is that guys also have a hard time going out with women who don’t conform to hairiness standards because they cop a lot of flak from their friends.

      I don’t shave my legs and I don’t get a hard time for it because, like you, I have light hair that really isn’t visible from more than 2 or 3 meters away (depending on how close you look). But my friends with dark leg-hair definitely can’t get away with it, unless they wear long pants all the time and that kinda defeats the purpose / totally sucks in an australian summer.

      • lilacsigil says

        You’d be hard pressed to find a woman who doesn’t shave/wax her underarms and is totally comfortable with it in all situations.

        Hi, that’s me! I’ve never shaved my underarms in my life, occasionally shave my legs in summer if they’re scraping on each other, and have never waxed anything. BUT I’m very pale and have light body hair – I don’t have to do anything to my eyebrows or minimal, invisible facial hair to fit in perfectly. This is a privilege that my Italian-Irish girlfriend (and pretty much any woman with visible facial hair and a job) doesn’t have.

    • Anemone says

      My experience as a woman with black hair and pale skin is that hair on legs and in armpits can signal earthiness, which some men find very sexy. It isn’t the US ideal, though.

  4. says

    I never allowed any man to pay for me on a date. The reason was simple: I wanted to feel completely free to walk out at any time without feeling any sense of obligation. I didn’t want to feel like somebody was paying me for my company. I wanted to be completely sure that I was only there because I chose to and only as long as I wanted. When somebody else is paying for you, you feel like a paid companion. I never needed any of that.

    Now that I’m married, we pay all the bills 50/50 and take turns paying in restaurants, movies, etc. This system allows me to be completely sure that no financial concerns are keeping either of us in the relationship.

    • Maddy says

      Ditto. I like feeling like I don’t “owe” my date anything.

      On the first date, I always insist on going Dutch. Usually, the guy hasn’t done the asking, so the “but I asked YOU out” argument falls flat. Plus, even if he HAS done the asking, we decided together what retaurant to attend, what movie to see, and so on. Dates are a mutual choice. He may have asked, but I’m the one who agreed — or vice versa. He’s not dragging me out on the date! We’re going TOGETHER.

      If the guy puts up a huge fuss about going Dutch, it usually spawns an interesting conversation about gender roles and my relationship expectations, which I like to make clear early on. Initial anger about not getting to pay for me even comes from guys who I strongly suspect make less money than I do, and on dates where I was the one who asked THEM, etc.

      Also, the reactions I’ve gotten have proven to me that even though men THINK women are the privileged ones in the Who-Picks-Up-The-Check Debacle, they’re really not. Men feel good about themselves when they pay, and a woman asking to go Dutch makes them feel emasculated, especially if it’s never happened to them before. Usually the hardest part is convincing them that it’s not some sort of weird trick, and I REALLY DO just want to pay for myself.

      I also see a lot of internet comments from dudes that say, “I can’t believe she wouldn’t even sleep with me after I paid for a $100 dinner!” I like to think that no guy I’d date would ever have this mindset, even if I DID let them pay. However, I don’t even want the distant shadow of that thought to cross their mind. Also, going Dutch on Date #1 makes it that much less awkward if there’s never going to be a Date #2.

      Oh. And if the relationship becomes long-term, we start switching off, because splitting the check each time gets annoying. For now I’m dating a guy who makes about the same salary I do, so it’s logical enough. If I started dating a millionaire, I suppose he might want to go to expensive places where I could NOT conceivably go Dutch, at least not long-term. But that hasn’t happened to me, nor have I ever really dated a guy who made WAYYYY more than I did, so I’ve never had to really think about it.

      • says

        even though men THINK women are the privileged ones in the Who-Picks-Up-The-Check Debacle, they’re really not. Men feel good about themselves when they pay, and a woman asking to go Dutch makes them feel emasculated, especially if it’s never happened to them before. Usually the hardest part is convincing them that it’s not some sort of weird trick, and I REALLY DO just want to pay for myself.

        Yes, THIS. Even some really decent guys who would NEVER think “she owes me for this” seem to derive self-esteem (or something) from paying. Every time I’ve been asked out by a guy, then insisted on paying my part, he’s reacted as if he thinks it’s a form of rejection from me. But it’s not; nor is it even a case of “oh noes, he might think I owe him sex” because the kind of asshole who thinks that way will *find* a way for you to “owe” him no matter who pays for what – it’s not really something I worry about. It’s just… I was raised to pay my own way, and that letting others pay my way was “using” them. And I don’t think of myself as a user.

        • says

          I actually ended a relationship with a guy because he got annoyed at me for paying. He came up short and then wanted to change our activity, but I really wanted to do the original activity so I paid. He got miffed and acted hurt and stand-offish, which spoiled my enjoyment of the activity.

          Then he was surprised when I declined to go out with him again. He thought it was because he was ‘too poor’. The guy I dated after him was actually unemployed but still managed to be a lot of fun. I’d pay for the movie, he’d cook me dinner, and DAMN that boy could cook. It’s a pity his jealousy-issues surfaced before he taught his BBQ sauce recipe.

          • says

            This really sheds some light on all those guys at Male Rights forums kvetching about all the “bitches” who have dumped them for being too poor. I don’t remotely doubt some women do that – assholes happen in every gender – but I always wondered if it was as common as they think. Especially given that one often doesn’t know why one has been dumped.

          • says

            I don’t know that I’ve ever dumped/refused to go out with a guy for being ‘too poor’. I can think of a couple I’ve refused to date because they were stupid with their money, and one I refused to date because he came by his finances dishonestly.

            But come to think of it, my husband had been unemployed and I was the primary breadwinner at the time he and I got married. He was breadwinner when we got together, then I was breadwinner, now he is breadwinner, and when I finish my schooling I will go back to being breadwinner again.

  5. sbg says

    When I dated (sigh, how long it’s been), it actually made me very uncomfortable to have the guy pay for everything. I must not have approached the “let’s each pay for our own” conversation properly, because it never happened. Chances are I relied on hints and passive-aggressiveness as social conditioning suggests a woman do, instead of just saying “hey, I can pay.” Though I have said that before, it was also to no avail.

    I think there are gender hang ups on both sides of the dating pool. It seems to be an area that is stuck in some kind of time warp.

    • says

      That’s so true. This all evolved from a time when men were supposed to be demonstrating their ability to keep a woman financially, hence the paying. That’s not the cultural norm anymore – too few households can afford life on just one income. So it’s irrelevant to now, but it’s still with us. Why?

  6. says

    My boyfriend currently pays for our dates – mostly because our first date *wasn’t* a “date” but a “hey, let’s have dinner”. And when he offered to pay – thus moving us firmly into date territory – I decided that saying “no, I’ll pay my half” would have made him think I wasn’t interested in making it a “date”… so I let him pay to signal that, yes, I was into him.

    I still let him pay for dates, but we regularly go and grab stuff from the supermarket and cook together – and I generally try to pay on those occasions. He pays at restaurants; I pay at supermarkets.

    • says

      Mez, I read about that recently – it’s a tactic guys use, to ask a woman out as a friend, but then pay for everything to change it to a date midstream.

      Which is the kind of social cue that flies right past my head. :D I’d have insisted on paying no matter how much I liked the guy, and then wondered why he never asked me out again.

      • Nuri says

        I would’ve insisted to pay my share too. I always offer(ed – haven’t dated in over a decade due to happy monogamous life :) ) to pay my share, but I’d yield if my date insisted too much, mostly because I’m a bit stingy :p (and in Argentina, where I come from, there are still men who feel it’s their duty to pay for the woman).
        That’s for a single date, but if it blossomed into a relationship, I could not let my partner to invite me always. I guess that’s one of the things I liked of my husband, from the get go each of us paid his or her part.

  7. says

    Sorry that I’m breaking form and commenting before I read everyone’s thoughts, but the idea that a woman shouldn’t date if she can’t afford to is utterly classist*. I’ve always been too poor to afford my share of the date, but I certainly wasn’t going to sit around waiting for that mythical day when I was suddenly not poor before I got out there to meet people. It’s embarrassing as all hell to have to tell my dates, “I can’t afford to eat there” or “I can’t afford the movie.” One of the reasons I’m not all that certain what a date really consists of is that I’d rather have casual sex with someone than own up to the fact that I can’t pay my share.

    I have been poor since I was 17, I will probably be poor for the rest of my life. I’m not talking about broke, I’m talking about wishing I had enough money to buy a pack of ramen so I could eat for the first time in two days. Poor. I wasn’t going to spend my hottest years single and horny, thank you very much.

    I dated men who insisted on paying for food because they thought it meant I would owe them sex. I “dated” men who understood that we actually wouldn’t go out anywhere, we’d just hang in and talk. I met men who were insistent that “everything is equal now” so I was obligated to pay my share of the date, despite the fact that they were professionals and I was a sales girl who made minimum wage. I would have loved to meet a man who said “You know what, it sucks that women still make 60% of what men do and they’re routinely cut out of high paying jobs. I will get the check, it’s the least I can do to restore some parity.”

    *Not to mention ableist. Women on disability don’t have as much disposable income, if any. Are you suggesting that disabled women stay single? I certainly hope not!

    • says

      There are so many dates you can do that cost little to no money. Best date I ever had involved local bands giving a free concert in the park and peanut butter sandwiches.

      I’ve been poor. I’ve even been homeless. I’ve never had sex with a man just because he paid for the date. I’m happily married now to a wonderful man.

      • Anemone says

        I’ve lost friends because they preferred to do things that cost money, even when I couldn’t afford it. Gah.

        • says

          You know, I’ve been in the position of having unemployed friends with no “discretionary income” when I was doing better. I always figured: either I give up the expensive thing and we do something we can both afford, or I shell out and pay the friend’s way. I’ve done it both ways. It seems only fair to me.

          • The Other Patrick says

            Yeah, that would be the normal thing to me, too. And it switches: I had a job and they were studying, so if we went to a pub, I would pay for the beer; I went back to university and they got jobs, so now I sometimes get a sponsored drink. And if money’s tight for any, we just as likely stay home, cook together and drink tea :) I mean, the thing for me is spending time with my friends.

        • says

          I have to say, if that’s the case, you didn’t lose ‘friends’. Friends would have taken your circumstances into account and valued your presence enough to adjust their activities. A friend of mine comes from a wealthy family and always had money, and she’d go star gazing and cheap beer drinking with us without complaint because it was the company that mattered, not the activity.

          On the flip side, I’ve also had people stop hanging out with me when, instead of just paying for them, I suggested less expensive/free activities.

          I do also have a friend who is constantly broke and hates charity, so drives us all nuts insisting on washing dishes and mowing lawns to pay us back when we pick up the tab. And when I type that, it seems like a silly complaint to make, but I guess you kind of have to be there.

    • says

      My suggestion was tongue-in-cheek, as evidenced by the laughable idea that turning men down for dates because we “can’t afford to go out” would actually result in them marching with us in protests about the wage gap. I have edited it to make it obvious it was a dry joke.

  8. Lucy says

    Australia really doesn’t have this kind of dating culture, or at least, not in my experience. In my current relationship I paid for half of our official first date before the guy could even say anything, because I didn’t want it to seem like I expected him to pay all the time. Now we generally alternate paying for our day-to-day activities, and if one of us suggests going somewhere special for dinner then they usually pay. There’s an occasional bit of negotiation because he has a little more disposable income than me, but he also has a car and drives me around a lot, while we usually stay at my place rather than his, so we’re bringing different things to the relationship.

    • says

      Hmm, there are two Aussies in a row saying it’s different there. Sounds like splitting the check is closer to a social norm there than the man paying? Is that what you’re telling me? This really interests me, because it’s a Big Deal Part Of Manly Manhood for American men to pay for dates. I’m not saying they all conform to this “standard” – many do not, of course. But it’s still very much considered a norm in the US.

      • scarlett says

        I don’t have much ‘dating’ experience in the sense that most of my dates have envolved into relationships but my experience has been about 50-50 of men paying/going Dutch. I actually forget who paid with my current boyfriend, but we were really good friends first so it quickly settled into the same thing we’d always done – split the costs 50-50. (It’s actually EASIER to split the bill as a couple because we just pay half each, rather than working out who ordered what and paying for certain stuff.) But it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a stronger culture of going Dutch in Australia; enecdotally, we seem to have a more egalitarian attitude. Wouldn’t surprise me if it geos all the way back to not having as strong a religious right on account the US was founded on religious principles and Australia was founded on the backs of convicts who hated religion :p

        • says

          I agree entirely with Scarlett, I have never gone on dates with someone who wasn’t my boyfriend, and it has always been very even with who pays, either by going dutch or alternating.

          I was visiting a conservative christian college in the US with my (then) boyfriend, we went to the cafeteria for lunch and I had cash so I paid. The guy taking our money (who knew us both) was like “whoa, shouldn’t it be the other way around?” whereas I didn’t even think of it being a problem.
          I think here it really isn’t a big deal, so it is interesting reading your stories because I think if I were dating a guy who insisted on always paying I would be very wary about him as a person.

          • scarlett says

            Joss, sorry, I should have clarified: the men I have dated have mostly turned out to be my boyfriend. (Four first dates, three boyfriends.) So I haven’t, for lack of a better term, ‘casually dated’. But based on anecdotal stories from those who have, Australians seem to have a more go-Dutch approach to early dating.

            Though I have several pleasant memories of friends, male and female, who, when I said I couldn’t afford x activity, sprung for me because they wanted my company. I think untimately it comes down to what feels right for the situation, tough unfortunately women often aren’t in a position to trust therit judgement

          • says

            Well, that’s how *I* have always felt because I was raised with the idea that I should pay my way and be damn proud I CAN pay my way because my grandmother’s generation sure didn’t have education and job options like those available to women in our socioeconomic class now. But apparently this is just one more way I am far out of step with US culture, because many guys who fret about not paying are not (that I can tell, and I’m a good judge of character) trying to control women or overly invested in macho posturing. They just behave like paying is their responsibility and they’re worried about being irresponsible.

  9. tori says

    I must be an odd one out, or as above Aussie culture is that much different. I’ve always gone halves on my dates. Unless the guy really insisted, and that has been rarely.
    Even now that we’re married, by husband and I still tend to both chip in. Or if one pays for dinner, the other gets desert/movie tickets ect.
    I think we see it as a case of sharing home and income. we both work, so we both pay our share.
    Makeup wise I also rarely use it. I’ve rarely ever used it and when I have its usually just a tiny smidge of eye shadow, liner and lip gloss. I hate pancake stuff on my face, it tends to make me break out after a few minutes.
    I ocassionally shave my legs, mostly a summer thing since I have very dark hair on my lower legs, but I’ve never shaved armpits or arms and find the idea …odd.
    I’ve never had people or guys say I need to wear more makeup or dress up more. Then again I also tend to hang around in more alternative social groups.
    It boils down to anyone shallow enough to expect me to spend hours painting expensive crap on my face in order to “look pretty” isn’t someone I’m going to like enough anyway to be bothered to expend the said energy in the first place.

    • says

      See my response to Lucy above, another Aussie talking about how different it seems to be in your country compared to mine. Very interesting!

      Also, I don’t believe armpit shaving is at all common anywhere outside the U.S. We had a discussion about it somewhere around here ages ago, and U.S. women told stories of people reacting with disgust at their unshorn armpits, as if they were unclean.

      • lilacsigil says

        I live in a very rural part of Australia, and it’s *mostly* expected here that men pay for dates, but also that women wouldn’t ask a man out. At the same time, every is expected to pay their own way on group trips or casual dates where you just meet up somewhere. But we’re 30 years behind the times in most ways! I’d say about 75% of young women remove their armpit hair in summer (very few in winter), but very few older women do it, and it’s not a huge taboo to have a bit of hair in the armpit.

      • Jill says

        In Germany armpit shaving for women is definitely common.(Judging from seeing friends, and the naked women I see in the sauna/locker rooms). Shaving your arms is not very common, but I know a few people (women/gay men) who do it.
        And I think more and more body hair is removed in general, by men as well, I was very surprsed that two men who had lots of back hair (which they did not remove) shaved their armpits.

        On topic:
        The dating culture here is completely different. Going dutch seems to be normal. Also, I got the impression from talking to an US friend who was disappointed that no one “treated her like a princess” that dates over here are way more low-key in general.

        • says

          This brings up another confusing issue. Some guys I hang out with were complaining to me recently that “feminists” think men should pay for dates exclusively, and spend lots on them, ergo feminism sucks. I said, “I would agree, except those aren’t feminist women. There’s a whole right wing conservative movement of women calling themselves feminists but embracing values straight out of the 1950s. Judge them by their actions, not what they call themselves.”

          This came about after Susan Faludi exposed the right-wing backlash against feminism for the pack of lies and official misogyny it was. The right wing started bringing in women to call themselves feminists (the legacy of this is: people thinking of Sarah Palin as a feminist rather than just a woman who benefited from feminism without ever espousing its values). This is where you get that screwball image of third wave feminism as being about the “empowerment” of getting breast augmentation and supplying men with blow jobs. Somewhere between the Spice Girls version of feminism and a 1950s housefrau emptily calling herself a feminist.

          So here we all venture into the dating foray, with some of the men resentfully thinking feminists are the reason they *have to* pay for dates (yes, I’ve seen many men complain about this in forums), others wondering if it’s even acceptable to offer to pay, and some women thinking it’s all about how much he spends on her while others are looking for how he makes her feel. U.S. culture is such a morass of bullshit, I don’t know where to start.

        • Elee says

          I second this. I remember from the time I used a dating service that there were heated debates about which way is better, mostly coming from men bewildered by completely different exeriences when they just followed “competent” advice in good faith, but general consensus was that the older generation is used to men paying for a date and the younger with a split check, so both is acceptable and one should go with what feels natural for both parties. For myself I would feel very uncomfortable without splitting like “does he think I can’t pull my weight”, esp. on a first date. All the things my fellow commenters said about their experiences in dating – fascinating and mind-boggling as it is, no offence, but these tactics of who pays what and when and is a date a date or is it an apple, it sounds perfectly complicated.

  10. The Other Patrick says

    I like going dutch, but I have paid for dates where the woman I went out with was a poor student and I had a paying job. It seemed natural.

  11. Hailey says

    I’ve pretty much only had female friends growing up, so I encountered a weird dynamic now that I’ve gained two guy friends. Granted, it turned out later one of them was interested romantically, but both of them constantly insist on paying for things when we’re hanging out together. It’s not a date… yet they still can’t seem to repress the instinct that man + woman + food = man paying.

    • SarahSyna says

      I’ve had this happen to me in a grocery shop. It was so annoying because he paid without so much as a by your leave, and I was trying to get change for the bus. Not to mention that I just hate people paying for me unless we’re really close friends.

  12. meerkat says

    Re: women’s hygiene routine standards for being considered heterosexually date-able:

    Ironically there is a cosmetic products survey from BlogHer on the right of the blog right now. I filled it out to let them know how much I just don’t care.

        • says

          Okay, I guess we’re going to have to set up a page explaining ad complaints. Dating ads should never be coming through here (we use no contextual ads and block “dating ads” at all our brokers), so clearly something is amiss. There are several thousand ads potentially coming through here from several different brokers. Some target certain locations, and will not be seen by anyone outside that region, so I could refresh a million times and never see the ad you’re talking about. To complain about the ad, use the CONTACT FORM and not the comments, which are too numerous for me to see every one of, and give me:

          –The brand or website the ad was for
          –Description of ad
          –Which location? Leaderboard (top), box (side top), skycraper (side, lower down) or banner (below a post)
          –When you saw it

          Otherwise, there’s not a lot I can do. Thanks!

  13. Casey says

    I’ve only been on one date, and it was extremely douche-chilly and I ended up guilt-tripping myself about it afterward.

    I just wanted someone to go with to see the new Friday the 13th movie, but since my friends flaked out on me AGAIN I ended up venting to some guy on the bus who went to the same community college/bus route as me…apparently he had been admiring me from afar and said I was really cute (even though I actively make myself look as unappealing as possible so people leave me alone), but he was too nervous to talk to me because my friends are so “scary” (not really, they’re just really hyperactive). So in a moment of weakness I ended up agreeing to go with him and he was all like “IT’S A DATE~!!” but in my mind I was like “OH NOEZ~! NOT A DATE! THIS IS PURELY PLATONIIIIIIIIIC~~!!!”

    I met him at the movies and he had already payed for the tickets and smuggled in snacks, even though I had intended on paying. Then he whooshed over and hugged me and I was like “WTF~?!” It was really awkward during the film because it was just hot teenagers fucking for 90 minutes, and during all the “scary parts” he wrapped his arm around me and accidentally crushed me because of it (he’s a big guy)…he wouldn’t let go until I did a dramatic throat-clearing noise.
    (also, I was freaking out about this “date” a week beforehand because he kept calling me every evening to get to know me better….UGH!)

    TL;DR – FROM NOW ON I’M GOING DUTCH/WEARING THE PANTS…I just feel safer that way.

  14. says

    While I’ve been involved with my fair share of people, all of them have been friends first, so the dynamic is a little different. I’ve been on significantly less “dates” than most people.

    The ones I’ve been on… hmm. The guy who is now my husband insisted on paying, and since I was pretty broke at the time, I shrugged and went along with it. I later found out he does this with EVERYONE, regardless of whether there’s any romantic interest, because when he was in his early 20s and broke, people covered his tab.

    We’re poly, and so there have been dates since, and usually, it’s more a matter of “Who’s the least broke?” since we have financial issues due to health problems and no medical insurance, and the people we are involved with usually have finance problems too. If we have a nice fat paycheck from overtime, we cover it. If they have a better paycheck, they cover it. Again, though, we’re talking about involvement with people we already know well and are close with.

    The other thing about dating friends is, I don’t really do any of the typical stuff to “prepare” for a date. I shave my face and underarms, as I have PCOS and hair out the wazoo, and if I’m not feeling horrid, might put on some light makeup, but otherwise… nothing more than usual, really.

    • says

      I shave my face and underarms, as I have PCOS and hair out the wazoo,

      This lodged in my brain and stuck there overnight. I too have PCOS and “excessive” hair on my face (until I finally managed to afford laser removal) and elsewhere. But this: when do MEN have excessive body hair? Men range from no visible hair/can barely grow a fuzzy beard to fur-covered. No one ever suggests that perhaps hair growing on shoulders or up the neck indicates an endocrine problem, and he should go to a doctor and get that taken care of and, also, remove that ugly hair from that area. Further, we are daily presented images of gorgeous, sexy men. Some of them have no visible body hair; others have quite a bit (though there are some beauty “standards”, i.e., no tufts on shoulders). We het women and gay men are supposed to want to fuck them all. Interesting.

      Some women grow “excess” body hair or visible facial hair WITHOUT having any kind of hormone imbalance or health issue. So why aren’t we allowed the same latitude as men? Even if our “excess” hair is connected to a disorder that needs treating, removing the hair is not part of the treatment. No matter how weird people think visible facial hair on a woman is, shaving it solves nothing for our health. Leaving the hair there hurts nothing…except other people’s sense of entitlement to only look at women who conform to certain standards.

      • The Other Patrick says

        Well, I often hear that at least hair on the shoulders and back are no-gos with men (and of course the back is the easiest place to shave :)) – other than that, even Robin-Williams-like hirsuteness is considered more a matter of personal preference, as in “I don’t like it if the chest hair comes out of the shirt’s neck”.

        And it’s been no problem for me that I shave my armpits, so for men, there definitely is more freedom.

        there is a German blog, btw, of a woman who one day decided not to shave anymore and let her beard grow. (links point to the galleries, which should pose no language barrier).

        • The Other Patrick says

          Oh also on the topic of shaving, I sometimes feel a little left out since I actually like women with pubic hair, but that seems to be almost a thing of the past (and doubly so in the bdsm subculture). It’s strange: I shave my armpits and my pubes (and my head ;)), but I prefer women who don’t.

          • Casey says

            OH LOL! That’s kind of how I am, I don’t like to/don’t want to/don’t care about shaving* but I like men who are slippery like a seal…EVERYWHERE!!! >8D

            (*the asterisk is there because I like shaving “sporadically”, and I also like shaving my pubes/armpits more than my legs…it’s mostly because my leg-hair is very faint until you get below the knee so I see no need to)

  15. Tina says

    Maybe something to think about is WHERE these cultural expectations of beauty originate. A part of me suspects they come from beyond “media representation” of beauty. For example, I currently live in India–for what it’s worth, I’m a white woman living in India. Women here are darker skinned–plain and simple. BUT there is an idealized version of what a woman should look like that is some-what independent of media (movie, magazines, etc.): a woman should be fair-skinned, have long luscious shiny locks, and seems to favor women with small breasts, a tiny waist, but generous hips and more rounded stomachs. This description of beauty comes directly from various religious text and is clearly represented in period art and sculptures. When I asked a woman friend of mine about perceptions of what is considered “beautiful”, she quoted a passage from (what I think was–I’m not entirely sure/don’t remember)the Mahabharata in which Krishna’s lover, Radha is describe thus. Women bleach their skin here, oil their hair (which also goes a long ways towards moisturizing it in the arid climate), etc., but pay little attention to things like shaving–as a result I’ve had a duce of a time finding razors. That being said, Bollywood actresses seem to be getting skinnier and skinnier (there’s a lot of talk about certain actresses attempting to achieve a size zero), so it seems that the standard of beauty may be changing BUT only starting to change in the last couple of decades… far after British rule. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find pictures of INDIAN woman at any point during the British Raj that portray (Indian) women by British (read: Western) standards of beauty. Even woman who were high class, high society, highly educated, etc. still dressed traditionally and adhered to the INDIAN version of beauty.

    So, to get to the point. I’d be interested in knowing where these cultural expectations of body maintenance come from, if there is any indication that they exist outside of media representations.

    Regarding men spending less money on maitenance. I think this is a tricky and some-what generalized statement to make. I know men–my brother-in-laws included–who spend more money on their clothes, engage in normally female grooming activities (i.e. manis and pedis, monthly hair cuts, moisturizer, etc.) than some women. I think there is just as much pressure for men to look good for women as there is for women to look good for men these days. HOWEVER, I do think that it is made easier (via cultural expectations) and less expensive for them to do so.

    Lastly, just weighing in on the paying thing. I’ve always been uneasy about letting a man pay fully for a date. I always make an attempt to pay some portion, even if it is just the tip. This has less to do, for me, with expectations a man might have and more to do with my hang-ups about always carrying my weight. However, certain days like my birthday I let my boyfriend pay. As such, living in India on my partner’s stipend has been challenging because he has a lot more money than I do.

    • Anemone says

      I don’t remember Radha being mentioned at all in the Mahabharata, not that it matters. But yes, that image of beauty is all over traditional artwork.

    • says

      Tina, what do you mean by “media”? If you mean the modern entertainment industry, then yes, there are other influences. But everything you listed comes under the classification of “media” in my mind. “Media” is simply how the culture informs itself what is expected of its people. As we’ve discussed, being fat and pale (for whites) was fashionable long before being slim and tan was – it all shifts according to what’s more expensive to achieve, so the rich can continually distinguish themselves from everyone else. And of course, it’s the job of women to spend ALL their time working to achieve the beauty norm (whatever it is at the moment) so as to reflect well on the men in their race/class/ethnic group/whatever division.

      I think there is just as much pressure for men to look good for women as there is for women to look good for men these days.

      I disagree. I see very little decrease in the cultural belief that any man who makes any attempt to look good is OMG!GAY! and must be shunned. I do see some decrease, so we may be headed in the direction you’re talking about, but I think… well, L.A.’s certainly nowhere near that (then again, I keep saying this town is as redneck as it gets, underneath all the Save The Whales bumper stickers), and I seriously doubt a hetero man in the South can yet get a mani without his sexuality coming under a heavy fog of suspicion.

    • Cinnabar says

      Tina: may I ask, which city do you live in? I was just thinking about this myself and trying to come up with an accurate judgement of where in general India stands on the whole hair removal thing. But even within the same country we have so much difference in the kinds of culture and social influence that people come under I don’t think I could accurately say without reading some thorough research papers or something.

      For one thing, I can’t resonate with your statement that women don’t pay attention to hair removal. Shaving, yes – women don’t shave here generally, but I assume you meant that as shorthand for hair removal in general? Sorry if I was wrong about that.

      Practically every girl/woman I’ve known through the years with very few exceptions goes in for waxing of under-arms, arms and legs and bleaching/threading of facial hair. It’s the done thing, what’s “normal”, a part of growing up like how one day you start wearing bras. Over the years, this has been increasing more and more to the point that I think a regular full body wax is aready or is approaching the norm. (I don’t know anyone closely enough to ask and disclose my complete lack of knowledge. xD) Anyone who falls outside of this norm is somehow not right or lacking in the requisite desire to be within permissible societal bounds or basic attractiveness. Seeing another woman with hair on her skin was always something of a blessed relief to me, telling me I wasn’t alone. (Since I’ve become more comfortable and confident of myself as I am, this has lessened.)

      Although there have been many wonderful people in my life who really don’t give a damn, I’ve also personally been treated with attitudes ranging from “one day you’ll grow up/should grow up” (apparently body hair = immaturity, isn’t it the other way around?) to veiled “if only you’d try HARDER maybe you’d get a boyfriend” (has it ever occured to you that I don’t WANT anybody who doesn’t share my beliefs about certain things, like small boobs and body hair? 9.9). Basically trying to force me to fit the mould.

      But then I live in one of the “big cities” that has always been under far more influence from western media sources, so I don’t think this would be an accurate representation of all of the country at all. That’s why I’m VERY interested to know more about where you live and how that plays into your experience of what beauty ideals are here.

  16. Anemone says

    My bias is a bit different, here.

    Back in high school, I dated a very poor 20-year-old one summer (I was 17). He treated me, he bought me flowers, he bought me stuffed animals, and it was fun. When I started feeling sorry for him because of his poverty and started feeding him, a lot of fun went out of the relationship. It doesn’t matter because we weren’t going anywhere anyways, and once he started making real money as a screenwriter he dumped me for a girlfriend more suited to his new sex-and-drugs lifestyle. (I was more suitable as a girlfriend for a suffering artist. :p)

    When I was in grad school, I was with a fellow grad student for a while, and we tried to split everything right down the middle, even though he somehow was earning more than me (for the same job – he hit his supervisor up for extra cash and bought an expensive mountain bike with it). So I would buy food and make it and we would split the cost. Then he would say “I don’t feel like cooking, let’s go for something at the food fair” and we’d do that and each pay our own way. I couldn’t afford it, but we both thought that was how you were supposed to do things. (I realize that most people who go Dutch probably aren’t that rigid about it, but it can happen.)

    Of course today I can’t afford to go out at all, so if anyone wants to go out with me, they have to treat. And if they want to do me a favour, they’ll keep it inexpensive so it doesn’t cut too deeply into my self-esteem. But I don’t go out at all unless it’s my brother (once or twice a year, maybe) because many people have a hard time socializing with someone on welfare.

    In terms of dating, I’m in favour of the man in a hetero situation treating, because in general women are more economically vulnerable even if we don’t get pregnant and have kids, and even more so if we do, so if he’s not going to treat now, what’s he going to do later if you need more support? Is he going to bail? For me it’s a chance to see how generous he is about money. If he’s insecure about sharing, I’m gone. For me that’s just being practical, though I can see that for a woman who earns good money it might not make any sense at all.

    Plus treating seemed to be more fun, at least for me. You can always treat back in other ways. Money is only one type of energy, after all.

    • says

      “Economically vulnerable” is an interesting point. If I’m understanding correctly, you’re referring to the many ways a woman’s income is far more likely to take a hit than a man’s. Not just the wages gap, but things that can go wrong in employment. I’m reminded of the woman who wrote Feministe a few weeks ago: she’d been sexually assaulted and intimidated by a co-worker, and the company’s wildly inadequate response was for them to avoid each other (they’re two members of a 3-person department).

  17. cycles says

    While there is a significant cost to keeping up with the beauty standard, it never occurred to me that it would be a trade-off for getting your meal paid for by a man. I have a problem with that model. When he pays for dinner, you get a benefit: free meal. So when you pay for beauty, does that mean he gets a reciprocal benefit: ogling you and enjoying the status of having attractive arm-candy for the evening? That would make me uncomfortable on so many levels.

    I agree that the beauty standard is expensive and burdensome and all-around fucked up, but it shouldn’t enter into mental negotiations for funding dates. For one thing, I have to keep up with the the beauty standard all the time, whether I’m on a date or not. If I were to buy a new dress for a party or something, I wouldn’t expect the host to give me something in exchange for looking good (the host may provide the drinks & snacks, but that’s just what hosts do at parties, regardless of whether you’re wearing a Dior ballgown or a potato sack).

  18. Liem (Not Liam) says

    I think a host should always pay for his guest… Even if “he” happens to be “she”.

    Since men do most of the inviting, men should do most of the paying. (And I’m aware that there are cultural boundaries preventing women from asking men out on dates.)

    But why should there be a separate set of rules for who pays on dates, and who pays on any other normal occasion? If I invite you to a barbique as a friend, do you expect to supply the burgers, and hot dogs? No. When you invite your brother out to lunch, do you expect him to treat? No. It’s only on dates that anyone suggests that gender should be a factor. It’s just an other sexist double standard against women. I’m pretty shocked that feminists are okay with it.

    So to summerize: If I invite you, I pay. If you invite me, you pay. Gender is irrelevant.

    • The Other Patrick says

      That is really fascinating, culturally, because here in Germany:

      If I am invited to a bbq, then it is expected of me to bring either my own food, or to bring part of the food for everyone (ex.: one brings meat, one makes salad, etc). And if I go out with my brother, then there is no question that we will go dutch.

      • says

        It varies regionally in the US, but generally if you’re invited to a party, you’re supposed to bring a dish, or some wine, or something. But I took Liem’s comment as meaning he isn’t expected to bring ALL the food items to the bbq, which makes the analogy work better.

        And I like the idea that the person who does the inviting does the paying.

        • Lilleus Von Lof says

          I’ve got to agree here. The custom in Germany, seems to be what we call a pot luck, not a barbecue.

          And I think it’s ridiculously rude to invite someone out to a meal, and then expect them to pay for your food. That’s basically inviting yourself to a meal, at their expense. And if there is no advanced warning, it’s not only mooching under false pretenses, it’s imposing a potentially embarrassing situation for the guest, who may not be able to cover the cost of the date. It’s even worse if the host invited the guest to a proper restaurant, or a movie, and not just a cup or coffee.

          I think the person who invites the other out, should pick the location, and pay for their guest. No going dutch unless the guest asserts that they are more comfortable paying their own way. I agree with Liem that gender is not the issue. This is basic social grace 101.

          Liem is a modern gentleman.

        • Anne says

          Yeah, definitely varies. When my family does bbq’s (usually at my dad’s place) it’s understood that we supply the food. We invite people over to spend time with them in exchange for good food and more good company. Sure, people will bring food, but we don’t ask/tell them to–it’s polite! Especially if they bring dessert. Dessert is waaaaaaay polite. :D

  19. says

    I’ve always been of the opinion, in any social invitation, that the one who asks should expect to pay. Of course, the person invited shouldn’t assume this to be the case, and should be prepared to pick up their own tab.

    Specifically regarding dating, I prefer a 50-50 over time split, ie, he picks up some things, I pick up others. This is very important to me, because I’m a vegan. I don’t want to pay for his animal products, so, if we split 50-50, I can justify this as my share going only towards vegan items.

  20. M says

    I’m a man who shaves his body, moisturizes, uses fancy hair products, and puts on makeup before a special date, so, for my dates, it’s about 50% likely I’m the one who spends more to prepare.

    Also…I tend to date women who make more than me, so they can often afford it more than I.

    I realize I’m not particularly representative of my gender, but for me at least, the expectation that I should pay for dates doesn’t make much sense, and I’m trying to rid myself of it.

  21. Kristy says

    I’m actually far more comfortable accepting someone else paying for me once we’re in an established relationship. For me, allowing someone else to pay my way makes me feel really vulnerable and a little beholden – do I owe this person something for shelling out all that money for me? Do THEY think I owe them something for that? Once I know and trust the person well enough to actually be in a relationship with them, it’s more ok – I still feel a little silly letting someone else pay for me, but it seems to make them happy and I know it’s not going to bite me on the ass, so why not?

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