First dates are filled with social land mines, and you can only hope to score a second date if you successfully avoid them all. One of the biggest comes at the end — just when you think you've made it through, the server puts down the check. Cue camera zoom and terrifying music!
Even though we live in a world where gender equality is as prevalent as it's ever been, when it comes to paying a bill, more often than not, both sexes seem to retrograde. It doesn't matter if a guy considers himself a feminist during daylight hours. When the end of a date approaches, most feel an inherent compulsion to reach for the check first.
So what is this about? Is it just being polite, or does this outdated "chivalrous" gesture come from some deeply ingrained, sexist place that still somehow exists in all men? OkCupid decided to take a closer look by polling its users to find out if this old-fashioned tradition is really so common. You might be surprised by the overwhelming consensus on the part of men.
The results show that 62 percent said they want to pay the whole check when they're on a first date with a woman. Meanwhile, only 17 percent of women say they would prefer the men pay versus going dutch. When it comes to splitting the bill, women seem to be more on the gender equality train than men are, with 43 percent stating that's their preference. However, one thing that men are absolutely not OK with is having their female date pick up the tab — that is apparently way too far in the opposite direction of traditional gender norms.
I think it's well past time for this somehow still acceptable given to change. However, I also believe it's well past time for women to be earning pay equal to men instead of 77 cents to their dollar, but that sadly hasn't changed yet either. With that in mind, I see how women justify allowing men to pay on the first date, but that acceptance makes it easier for the other gender gaps to go on existing. Sure, it's nice to be treated to dinner or drinks, but it's effectively throwing us back into a position of less power.
I asked a few men from my own social circle (all of whom consider themselves feminists) about this issue and got some rather enlightening answers.
"I always offer to pay on a first date. I think it shows I'm a decent guy who likes where this is going and wants the relationship to continue. But I will happily accept if she asks to split the bill. And if she doesn't, we may have a problem down the line," said Mike from Santa Rosa, California.
"If she doesn't do the customary reach for the check, she's not getting a second date," said George, a marketing assistant from New York.
"Paying for the check makes you look capable. I'm all for gender equality, but that doesn't change the fact that ladies still appreciate a strong, take-charge kind of guy," said Matt from Brooklyn.
They all make valid points. There is something decidedly masculine about a guy who will pick up the tab, open car doors for you and buy you flowers. My argument is, why can't those things just be nice gestures both sexes occasionally do for each other? In today's day and age, it should not be considered presumptuous for a woman to pay and simply expected for a man. It's time to either kill chivalry or make it a universal, not-male-specific descriptor.
I admit I've been in a relationship with the same man for many years, and therefore it's much easier for me to advocate equalizing everything between men and women. First dates are altogether different animals. Like a job interview, everyone's on their best behavior, doing everything they can to seal the deal. All I'm saying is that it should go both ways. Women are not the hiring committee, as much as we'd like to think we are sometimes. Both sexes are trying to get the other to like them, and for that to happen, they need to meet in the middle.
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