It’s a very modern dating dilemma — who should pay for dinner? The debate has been reignited by two contestants on Channel 4 show First Dates, after the man (Brian) asked the woman (Mary) to contribute 50 per cent of the bill.
In fact, Brian didn’t even ask Mary to go half and half. He simply assumed that she would, and this is what left Mary “absolutely fuming.”
“I think when you first meet somebody, you should always go halves, but that’s just my opinion,” said Brian, who clearly shouldn’t expect a second date with Mary anytime soon. Mary is best suited to a man who shares her rather more traditional views of dating. As she herself said, splitting the bill is “a big no-no.”
First Dates viewers didn’t waste any time sharing their opinions on this particular dating etiquette issue. Some thought Brian was absolutely right, and that in 2016 it should be the norm for men and women to split the cost of dating. Others were firmly in Mary’s camp, siding with tradition and accusing men who don’t foot the entire bill of not being “gentlemen.”
Poor Brian has been labelled a “tightwad” and “selfish.” Although, he does have some people on his side, who have blasted Mary for her old-fashioned views and suggested she rethink her attitude if she ever wants to find a partner.
It’s worth noting that Brian and Mary are from an older generation. When each first started dating decades ago, it was simply a given that the man would pay the bill, and insulting, even, for either dater to expect or assume otherwise. That’s just the way it was. But times have changed — even Brian has — and there’s simply no valid argument in favour of a man being expected to pay the bill. Perhaps he will, and that’s fine. Perhaps the woman will, and that’s equally fine. What’s not fine is the expectation that the man will pay simply because he is a man.
This isn’t just a dating etiquette issue — it’s about gender equality. How can women expect equality in the workplace when they accuse a man of being tight or impolite if he suggests they split the bill on a date? Romance isn’t about money, but if that is your line of thinking, why should only women benefit from romantic gestures?
I’m happy to let my man pay the bill — and I’m a raging feminist. But I also pay the bill, and it makes me feel good. Because I’m treating someone I care about. Because I know he’s a gentleman, and that has nothing to do with what he does with his wallet.