Why Men Shouldn’t Pay On Dates (Not Even The First!)
This topic is a hornets nest, but considering I’ve already caught flak for my article on why women should buy their own engagement rings, I might as well kick this one as well. This article isn’t meant to be argumentative or negative in any way. L Bee wrote a post about how long she’s been a prostitute (sorry guys, pretty sure she was being facetious with the title, but it made you click, didn’t it?) and there was a pretty good discussion in the comments section. It was also civil, which is pretty rare on the internet. On that note, I’d like to keep this friendly. No bashing allowed.
I’d like to be clear: I’m not going to defend anybody out there calling the “dating for dinner” types as exemplified by this Jezebel article ”gold diggers” or “prostitutes” or anything like that, because that’s mean and uncalled for. You can disagree without calling names. We’re all adults here, right?
“Dating For Dinner” Is Wrong
By “dating for dinner” I mean any person (male or female) who goes on dates merely for a free meal with no intention of pursuing anything else and are dishonest about that fact as laid out in the Jezebel article linked above. If you tell potential dates upfront that you’re just interested in a meal and/or a drink and some friendly conversation and you don’t intend to pursue it any further than that, more power to you. I suspect almost nobody is that honest, of course, but I’m sure it happens occasionally. To me, this deception is unambiguously wrong. There’s an almost 100% chance she hurt more than one man with her exploits. That’s not okay. Actual gold-digging, though? That’s perfectly acceptable. At least you’re being honest.
“But what about when guys lie about wanting a relationship when they really just want to hook up!?!” you might protest. It’s a valid complaint. I condemn that as well, but two wrongs don’t make a right. Besides, I’m not so sure this happens nearly as often as one might think. I’ve seen statistics thrown around that as many as 6 of 10 (and by that, I mean I saw it exactly once in the post I linked above) guys on dating sites are just there to hook up. I doubt that number. I have a far more nuanced theory on what might be happening there, but it doesn’t really belong on a site about personal finance. Ask me if you’re interested. Maybe I should start a dating blog.
So yeah, I think even if we can’t agree that “dating for dinner” is wrong, we can at least agree it’s a pretty shady thing to do. Nothing controversial there, in my opinion. If you can come up with a coherent argument for why this is not only morally acceptable but even commendable, I would love to hear it. Please leave a comment! Now on to what is controversial.
Why Men Shouldn’t Pay On Dates (Not Even The First!)
There are a lot of obvious arguments on both sides of this one. I won’t rehash those, but what I will do is attempt to refute a few of the most convincing (and most common) reasons people give for preserving this heinous tradition.
Argument: It’s tradition!
On the face of it, this would seem to be an easy argument to toss aside; however, I think it has some merit. Tradition is an important thing to people. A shared tradition helps us feel connected to each other and to the past and makes us feel as though we belong to something larger than ourselves. It gives us a cultural identity, and that’s unbelievably important. However, that in itself isn’t a valid reason to reject change. Traditions that no longer serve a useful function to society should (and will eventually) die out. It doesn’t have to happen all at once, but unless you can point out some meaningful societal value the tradition of men paying for dates holds, you don’t have much of an argument, not even on the it’s tradition! grounds.
Argument: Men still make more than women for the same work, so men should have to pay for dates
The first part of this argument is true: on average, men do earn more money than women for the same or similar work. Unfortunately, the second part of the argument doesn’t follow from the first. The existence of a gender gap is a societal issue. While it’s true I am a part of the society perpetuating said injustice, it doesn’t follow that I’m personally responsible for rectifying it. After all, you’re part of the society as well. By that logic, wouldn’t you be at least somewhat responsible as well? This line of reasoning will quickly devolve into name-calling and hand-waving, so I’ll leave it at that. I like women. I think women should earn equal pay for equal work. It’s not any individual man’s fault (unless that man happens to be your boss, but stay with me here) you earn less than he does. Expecting him to pay for your dinner just because he’s unwittingly part of some greater inequality-generating machine is unfairly holding him responsible for a wrong he can do nothing to change. That strikes me as immoral and as I pointed out above, two wrongs don’t make a right. But then, I don’t actually believe most women who make this argument really believe it holds much merit. There’s a lot of injustice in the world. It sucks, but it doesn’t necessarily mean every member of some group owes you something. Feel free to work towards bettering society, though. I’m all for that! Let me know if you need any help. Just don’t expect me to pick up dinner in the meantime.
Argument: But he insists on paying! He turns me down even with I offer and he will feel like less of a man if I don’t let him pay.
False. Let me tell you what’s actually going on the vast majority of the time. If a guy is on a first date with a girl he likes and she offers to pay, he will usually turn her down. Most women assume it’s because he actually wants to pay because he’s a “gentleman” or some other such nonsense. The real reason he turns you down is that he thinks it might be a trap. At that moment, he’s thinking “if I take her up on the offer she’ll think I’m a cheapskate or that I see her as just a friend and I don’t want to send the wrong impression or etc etc etc.” It just catches most guys off guard, so they will naturally wave the offer away. I promise you, if you explain that yes, you really are just more comfortable going 50/50, that it doesn’t in any way impact how you feel about him, and explain your reasoning, 95% of the time the guy will happily let you. You’ll score major triple extra awesome bonus points. He’s also going to tell his friends how cool you are, so you’ll have an in with them before they even meet you.
Argument: But I need to impress women with my financial resources so they will want to spend time with me!
Nobody puts it exactly that way, but that’s the gist of the whole “guy insisting on paying for the first date” thing. The thing is, it’s dead wrong. If you’re awesome, any sane girl is going to go out with you again whether bought her a fancy dinner or not. And if you aren’t awesome, no amount of fine dining is going to get you very far with the kind of woman you’d actually want to date (actual gold-diggers excluded). If you’re the type of guy who thinks he has to impress a woman on a first date, I urge you to instead use that money to go out and actually do something to make yourself more intrinsically attractive to women. Travel the world, take salsa lessons, learn a foreign language, join a sailing club (they are surprisingly cheap!), have adventures, and generally turn yourself into the kind of guy people actually want to spend time with because, you know, you actually have cool things to talk about. I’ll let you in on a secret: women like interesting men! You’ll get far more second dates being interesting and not paying than being boring and springing for that $200 bottle of wine. That will be $197.95, guys.
Argument: Well I just like it when guys pay. I don’t need a reason.
This is really the only valid argument, in my opinion. Just tell it like it is: you like it that way. There’s no need to justify yourself to me. Let me ask you a little favor, though – please don’t call me a cheap bastard just because I choose not to date you. I’m not cheap, I just have differing opinions.
What do you think? Should men always pay on the first date? I’m especially interested in opposing viewpoints.
Note: Personal attacks and misogynistic slander will not be tolerated in the comments. I’ll just delete you without acknowledgement, so don’t bother.