I feel sorry for straight men sometimes, the ones on dates. Nowadays it must be hard to know exactly what you’re supposed to do when the bill arrives. Not long ago it was very straightforward. Women always got their dinner paid for because they weren’t really allowed to earn their own brass. Men went out to work, women did not, so the solution was obvious. A lot of couples – my parents included – still work like this. And that’s fine. Each to their own.
But what happens now that many women are out earning the same money as men? All my twenty-something year old girl friends go to work, pay their own rent and buy their own drinks. Overall, they’re earning the same as my guy friends. Some earn more than others, of course, but gender has nothing to do with the size of their pay packets.
So is it right that men are still expected to pick up the cheque? These days, anyone who thinks that a bird can’t look after herself just because she’s female is universally regarded as an arsehole, so why are men still paying for everything? It’s a thorny issue. It makes me uncomfortable to be paid for, but at the same time, there’s nothing more unsexy than a bloke who snatches up the bill and immediately announces to the waitress that you’ll be splitting it, just in case you think for a second you’re getting a free lunch. (In an ideal world, I think it’s nice when a bloke offers to pay and then doesn’t look too relieved when you insist on splitting it. Don’t ask me how they’re supposed to know that.)
Some boys feel the need to pay. While some women lose their shit completely at the sight of a gurgling baby, some men get all caught up in their supposed role of Great Provider and throw a bitch fit if you insist on splitting the bill. In the spirit of investigation, I asked the manliest person I know what he thought of it all. Not that there’s a universal unit of manliness, but this dude makes the majority of my male friends look like trembling pussywillows. This is because he:
a) is a professional sniper;
b) is known by all as ‘Tree Trunk';
c) once ate so much pizza at an all-you-can-eat buffet he had to get his stomach pumped. True story.
Anyway, according to TT, there are three kinds of blokes when it comes to man-on-man cheque-paying action. “Firstly, there are the ones with deep pockets and short arms,” he said. “These are the guys that that will count up to the fucking penny exactly how much they ordered and to said penny is exactly how much they’ll leave on the table. Next you’ve got your ‘fair-sharers’. And this seems to be your most socially acceptable way of going about things after a meal as a group of guys, which is to just split the bill equally with any change being left for a tip; and as a general rule no one cares about the pisshead that had a couple of extra beers or the fatty that ordered the most expensive thing on the menu and had a second starter. Finally there are your gambling alpha dogs. These guys lose more money than they make 90% of the time betting on sports, but when they win they like to show it, usually by putting money behind a bar in town or by paying for a slap-up scoff for the lads.
“That’s the general norm when it comes to a meal between lads, but when asked about taking a girl out the opinion was unanimous: unless she’s ‘rollin’ in dollar’, the guy pays. Food, drinks, the works. Not necessarily in a relationship, as it isn’t really expected of you, but definitely in the early rounds of the dating game.”
Interesting insight there, Tree Trunk. But it explains a lot.
In my experience, most men on dates will try to pay for me. Some have even been a bit put out when I pull my card out or go to get a round in. (Exceptions: Clam Boy, who did nothing to hide his supreme disinterest, and one guy who spent an entire meal explaining why he couldn’t afford the whole bill, even before I’d had a chance to get my purse out. It was awful and awkward and I screened his calls afterwards, not because I didn’t want to go out with a guttersnipe, but because the whole situation made me cringe so hard I damn near gave myself a hernia.)
I don’t care what a guy earns. For some reason, people find this hard to believe. I was talking to someone recently who thought I was kidding myself. “You do care about money,” he said, “even if you think you don’t, you do. At the back of your mind.”
But as a fully-functioning adult with a job, I don’t need to date a bloke to pay for my dinner. Bank balances aren’t important. But you know what is? Ambition, responsibility, confidence and competence. Money isn’t the key, but it is often a by-product of other qualities that are undeniably hot. Who is more attractive, the man who lives at his mother’s knee and spends his life idly frittering his parents’ millions, or the man with a plan? People who sets goals are attractive, and men who set goals and then smash them are irresistible. The second guy could be a prince or a pauper – ambitions don’t have to be money-makers – but he’ll have a mind of his own and some stories to tell.
And that’s what women want.
Ladies, what do you like blokes to do on dates? Do you offer to go Dutch, or do you let them pay?
And gentlemen, do you like to pay or do you prefer to split? How would you feel if a girl tried to foot the bill? Offended? Flattered? Aroused? I’d love to know!
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