I’m venturing into the wild world of online dating, and I find that it is filled with more questions as I go along.
Namely, the first date.
Who should pay?
Back in the olden days, the boy asks the girl out, and since the boy is the only one with the money, he of course buys the milkshake and the burger. Easy. Simple. Girls never asked boys out, and they certainly didn’t meet anywhere other than the school or dance competitions.
Yes indeed, the olden days in my mind are exactly like Grease. Thank you, Olivia Newton John.
But now, on these various dating sites (Match or How About We) the rules have changed, and probably for the better. The logic goes like this. If you are a female, you will get all kinds of gentlemen (and some sleazeballs) sending you winks, pokes, intrigues and whatnot. Some will send you emails. My favorite one thus far? “Email me back, I will do ANYTHING you want.”
But, it usually goes a little something like this:
Person one initiates contact.
Person two responds, adds cute witty things, pokes a little fun at something in the other’s profile.
Person one responds, shows how they can take a joke and dish it back out.
They decide to meet. Meeting should happen sooner rather than later. Otherwise you just put a bunch of effort into building rapport with someone you don’t find a physical connection with. And, call me shallow, but that’s important. Sunglasses and a hat disguise very easily what a guy looks like in person. And women are just as bad, from what I’ve heard. Using pictures from 20 pounds ago is deceitful.
Who pays? Person one, always? Does gender matter? Does the person who suggests meeting have to assume they are footing the bill?
Is that why most people just want to meet for a drink?
I’ve found, based on… hmm, I should have kept better track… five first dates from the internet, that the norm is to split the cost.
And that’s fine with me. I’m never suggesting we go out for caviar and then to a steakhouse, so I’m comfortable paying my share. In fact, I think it’s prudent to carry enough cash to cover your part. Or tip, if you find someone who insists on paying.
And gentlemen? You will stand out in the crowd if you insist on paying.
I suppose I always thought the back and forth was part of the script.
You know, the script:
Me, reaching for my purse: “do you want to split this?”
You: “No thanks.”
Me: “Are you sure?”
You: “Yes, I’m sure.”
Me: “Thank you.”
But it turns out, that script is from the olden days. Now it’s more like, do you want to split it? Sure. Sometimes he’s the one that asks if I want to split it.
Lest you read into this and think I’m a good-for-nothing gold digger, let me be clear: I am an independent woman who can pay my own way. I can even buy a condo (with help). I can certainly afford my five-dollar drink or ten-dollar burger. But it’s a very nice gesture if you offer to take care of it. I don’t expect to meet someone who will swoop in and solve all my money problems. And that’s typically not what a first date is about.
So, who should pay for the first date? Either split it, or take care of it. And if you want my advice? Treating someone gets you brownie points.