“It’s 2016. Why are men still paying for women on dates?” Alfie Kohn asks in a recent Boston Globe Magazine article.
He continues in his 2016 article: “Men paying for meals may have made more sense when fewer women worked outside the home — and those who did faced a bigger gender wage gap — but today, unmarried women earn, on average, almost as much as single men. Yet traditional gender roles have persisted. Besides, what matters are the two specific people having dinner. If both make a good living, then the man’s paying for her makes precisely as much sense as the woman’s paying for him.”
The flaw in Mr. Kohn’s logic, whose intelligence and accomplishments I hold much respect for, is the idea that a man paying for a date has anything to do with money, at all. In reality, the concept of a chivalrous act that has persisted when many others have diminished, is not financially driven.
Consider: You’ve spotted this woman at your local coffee shop, or grocery store, or tagged in a friend’s Facebook photo. You’ve started up a conversation, and she has agreed to spend some time with you. Let’s keep it simple and say you go to dinner.
Fantastic! You pick her up, open the door, and are a perfect gentleman all night. Then, the bill comes.
The next thing out of your mouth is “So, should we split it?”
A sure way to make your first date, your last.
In my opinion, the man should always pay for dates, at least in the beginning stages of a relationship. But, why? She makes her own money, maybe even more than you. Shouldn’t she split it? Or, maybe even pay for it?
No. And this is why:
Dating is about courtship. Traditionally, men have been the ones to do the pursuing when it came to dating. They had to prove to a woman (and probably her family) that he was serious about getting to know her and being part of her life. This required effort. Planning the date, and yes, even paying for it. But more than that, being creative. Being thoughtful. Paying attention to what she likes and enjoys, and working that in to the equation. All of these things draw the line between just dating and courting.
Courting has a purpose, a purpose that our generations easily lose sight of because they are caught up in the dating game and don’t understand how beautiful it is to actually form a connection with someone.
She doesn’t need you to pay for her dinner, and she might even offer to split it. But damn it you fool, don’t you ever take her up on that offer. She wants to be swept off of her feet, to be romanced, to be valued and appreciated. To be pursued. That is why you pay for the date. It’s symbolic. It’s symbolic like wanting you to kill the spider. To open the door. To slay the dragon.
Many men will then say “But it is about the money, why does the woman always get a free ride?” Well first of all, if you are taking a woman out who is only spending time with you for a free meal, then your instincts may have to be re-calibrated so you don’t spend any more time or money on people like that.
Secondly, dating is not exactly a free ride for a woman. A 2011 Match.com survey uncovered the following statistics:
– 53% of women said they spend money in advance on new outfits and pre-date grooming.
– 65% of women spend more than $50 on preparing for the date.
She might go out and buy new shoes, or get her nails done, or even get her hair done. Do you have any idea what it costs for a manicure, pedicure, and a haircut? Probably more than you will spend on dinner, even at a nice restaurant in the city.
This, however, is still not about the money. It is about feeling good and looking good for you. It is about making a good impression with you and it is about hopefully, in the future, getting to spend more time with you.
But since this all happens behind the scenes, men tend to give a “wow, you look beautiful” at the beginning of the evening and really overlook the work and effort it took to achieve the result they wanted. I don’t care what Beyonce says, they did not “wake up like this.”
Romance is about spending time, not money. Your competency at it will not depend on what you are willing to spend, but on how creative and thoughtful you are going to be. I guarantee you that a woman would rather you put real effort into doing something less expensive together than she would taking her to a five star restaurant and having a lousy time with lousy conversation.
She doesn’t need you to take her out for a nice time, but she wants you to. That’s why she said yes to the date, and she doesn’t care what it costs. There are two things a woman should never touch on a date: The door, and the cheque.
The right woman doesn’t want your car, your money, or gifts. She wants your time, your effort, your honesty, your loyalty, and your respect. Those are the things that are truly valuable.
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