The Vine: February 27, 2013
I need some dating guidance. I recently opened an online dating profile and hit it off right away with one of my matches. We had been communicating on the site for about a week when he asked if I wanted to try texting. I told him that I didn't want to give away my personal contact information before meeting in person, and since we live in the same town, I asked if he wanted to meet during the following weekend. He said that he did, and asked when I wanted to meet. I suggested a lunch date in a restaurant that I hadn't tried but had heard good things about. He wrote back and asked if we could meet at somewhere more affordable.
I told him that I don't believe that men should be expected to pay and that the asker of the date should treat, which in this case would be me. I told him that I understand it might make some men uncomfortable, but it makes me uncomfortable if a man always pays. I explained that I had experienced dates that were upset or offended when I offered to pay, or to split the bill, and found this behavior very unappealing. With all that in mind, I still wanted to try the restaurant, but I didn't want it to be an issue.
He wrote back and told me that would rather go somewhere that he knows he likes so he can focus on the date instead of worrying that he might order something he might not like. Furthermore, he said he would insist on paying for the first date because he was raised to be a gentleman, even though I might call it old-fashioned, but it's okay if I want to pay for other dates.
I'm worried about how to proceed. I know that ultimately it's not a big deal if he pays for the date, but I feel like he is ignoring all of my reasons and feelings about wanting to pay for a date that I asked for, which I don't feel is very gentlemanly behavior. I'm a little nervous that using a phrase like "old-fashioned" means he might have some antiquated ideas about men and women (I've already told him I don't believe in traditional gender roles).
It's also a little obnoxious to say I can pay for future dates…let's see how this one goes, buddy, because it's not off to a great start. And I'm a bit annoyed that for someone so particular about where we meet and the cost, he hasn't provide an alternative suggestion, even though I've asked him for ideas twice.
Should I chill out and tone my feminism down when it comes to paying etiquette, or should I tell him how I really feel?
Progressive Woman Who Still Wants A Boyfriend
Neither. It's too much trouble with this one and you haven't even laid eyes on each other yet — your budgets don't match, he's unresponsive on alternatives, and if it's this difficult to get on the same page with a lunch date? Yeah: no. Next.
With that said, he may not have provided another suggestion because he doesn't want to meet up at all anymore, and I do think you need to chill out. It's not really about the feminism, though. Let's go to the videotape:
I told him that I don't believe that men should be expected to pay and that the asker of the date should treat, which in this case would be me. I told him that I understand it might make some men uncomfortable, but it makes me uncomfortable if a man always pays. I explained that I had experienced dates that were upset or offended when I offered to pay, or to split the bill, and found this behavior very unappealing.
So there's this issue, first of all, namely that it's a first date, not oral arguments. "I told him," "I told him," "I explained" — you haven't even met the guy and you're hammering your 95 Theses up on the sneeze guard of the salad bar, so dial that shit waaaaaaay back next time and force yourself to wait until the actual date to mention it. On that occasion, do a ten count when the check arrives, then say, "Since I invited you, it's my treat," and when the dude doesn't go for that (and most of them don't), press it once more, then give in graciously with a "Okay, but I got it next time" or a "Splitsies it is, then."
"Graciously" is the key here. I think you just want to prevent misunderstandings or awkwardness at the table, but it's having the opposite effect. The next thing is that it doesn't make you a bad feminist to allow the guy to pay. It really doesn't. It just makes you someone who isn't going to make a federal case out of a generous gesture, and maybe this is why previous dudes got uncomfortable — not that you wanted to pay, but that you wouldn't let it drop?
And that's the third thing: on a first date, you can't tell that much from it anyway. When a man reaches for a check, it's usually not because he wants you barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, making him pot pie. He just doesn't want to look cheap, an urge that isn't limited to our friends on the Y side by any means, and you kind of have to get to the third or fourth date and see if he's still doing it and then see if you can live with it. If he's ordering for you like it's the 1957 Copa? You've got an issue there maybe, but if he's reaching for the check? Like…you're planning to do?
Don't read quite so much into this stuff. "Old-fashioned" is probably just an expression for him; covering the bar tab once doesn't make a guy a Schlafly devotee. And here's my last thing: so many guys are actually already feminists themselves but don't realize it. You tell them there's still a wage gap and they're like, "In 2013? Pfff, no there isn't. …WAIT REALLY THAT'S SO DUMB WHAT WHY" and they are so mad. You can't assume they're all like, "Bitches, amirite?" My grandma used to tell me not to look for trouble because it already knew right where I was; sexism, kinda the same thing. Be aware, stand your ground, et cetera, but you have to give people a chance to deserve you, no?
Try to handle it diplomatically at the time instead of pre-controlling it next time. This guy, chalk it up to bad fits and move on.
Tags: boys (and girls) etiquette feminism