I’m forced to consider this question after an intense conversation with my new neighbor over a brunch I hosted on New Years Day. He’s adorable and 26…looks like Bradley Cooper’s younger Doppelganger. He’s setting up a dating profile on OK Cupid, or wiggling through considering it and running from it, and I was offering some advice on the types of profiles that get responses and the type that don’t. Explaining how certain profiles may subtly attract what he doesn’t want and doing or saying something that may appear counter productive will help him attract the type of woman he DOES want.
All of this was fine and good, until we ended up in a discussion over my spicy pickled veg bloody marys about etiquette on paying for dates and outings. He wanted to know if he was expected to always pay for them all or at the least, was he expected to pay for the first ones. I explained that as much as we “hate” gender roles, sometimes they have a place in the irrational world of dating. A woman wants to feel wanted, desired and, as much as we say we don’t want to be taken care of, knowing someone wants to and could, if needed, is sexy. Maybe that is generational. When I was younger I found door holding not only unnecessary, but at times condescending. Then when I dated women, I was the one that paid and took care of. As a nurturer, letting go of this control, which is what it was, is extremely difficult when dating men. So, the point I was trying to make is that paying for the first date makes the woman feel good, unless she offers, and then it gets tricky cause you need to know the difference between her offering and when you should accept her offer and her offering and you needing to say, no, I have this. If it is going to offend her irrevocably that you won’t accept her offer, than let her pay.
Do I sound antiquated because I enjoy some compartmentalization in a world that lacks it most of the time? Always paying dutch takes the romance out of dating, removes the woo. What separates the romance than from hanging out with my guy friends? Oh, sex? Well, I can sleep with my guy friends too. I don’t always want to be an equal in the bedroom, in my romance. Sometimes I want to be treated like a unique and special non-equal.
So, then he argued that he ends up investing more in dating then. Oh really? I reminded him that all of the things that he likes and appreciates and notices about women, the things we do for ourselves but ultimately for them, because we know they appreciate it, all of these things cost. Being a woman just costs more than being a man. Now, I could choose to shave or go au naturale, to let my gray grow out and not highlight, to go to a barber, not a stylist, not to wear any make up or expensive body creams to keep my skin soft or “glowing”, I COULD buy cheap bras and cotton panties that exist for practicality, versus attractiveness, and I could wear cheap jeans and t-shirts, rather than trying on 30 dresses for that one that shows off my figure without showing too much, a wearable wink wink, nudge nudge that promises garters and stockings and sex on the kitchen table later. Sure, we could forego that for cotton/poly blend hairy legged Pollyanna with a fuzzy upper lip and natural caterpillar brows, but I bet you all prefer the silky smooth skin of I am woman hear me purr, rather than I am woman, when you weedwack your way through the bush and find me… hear me snore.
Then there is birth control. Sure, you guys sometimes buy condoms, so do we. Then, when we get sick of condoms, we pay for birth control, we take the need for you to worry about it, deal with it, and we swallow that every day, so that we can be more spontaneous and we, as a couple, can enjoy greater pleasure during bed without stopping and searching all the time for the elusive condom.
I’m not saying that women shouldn’t contribute at all. I make Type Geek expensive home cooked meals with groceries I lug over. I buy him little gifts and send him flowers. I spend money on him in other ways, but on the dates, I like when he takes me out. I do. It makes me feel less like a friends with benefits and more like a special person that he appreciates. I can’t explain the rationale. It’s a unconcious thing that exists. Rather than change it, I am just admitting that it makes me feel good. I don’t feel ashamed that I enjoy having someone treat me now and then.
Now, lets review, what do men really do to get ready for a date? Maybe paying is a nice way to show they notice and appreciate the time and expense we went through getting ready for them. They may say it doesn’t matter, but lets face it, they notice and if choosing between the one that invests more behind the scenes and one who doesn’t… we know which girl is getting the calls.