Downpayment On The Goods?

Driving to work this morning, listening to a morning radio talk show, I caught a popular segment called “Second Date Update”. People who’ve had a promising first date, yet never hear back from their possible love interest, contact the radio program so the DJ’s can assist them with getting a second date (or at least finding out why they didn’t). The show is usually good for some chuckles or a bit of voyeurism into other people’s dating lives (which, honestly, don’t we all enjoy?).

This morning, a woman called in saying she’d had a great first date with “Jack”. They went to an upscale restaurant, had great conversation and shared some laughter. According to her, the date was really great and she couldn’t understand why he hadn’t called to ask her for a second date. Enter the DJ’s: They call “Jack” and get him on the phone, to try to get his take on the evening. Jack’s version was similiar, with one exception: According to him, she had told him mid-way through the meal that she wanted the relationship to be platonic (plutonic is actually what he said, but I’m nitpicking) and just wanted to be friends. He said at that point he lost interest, got the check and ended the evening. Reasonable, right? Afterall, he was looking for a romantic relationship and not somebody to hang out with.

Still, this is where “Jack” turns into “Jack-Ass”…

According to him, it was her obligation to tell him she just wanted to be friends before he took her to a nice restaurant and spent a substantial amount on dinner. He said he wouldn’t put a downpayment on a sports car if he just planned to park it in the garage–he wanted to be able to drive it! He elaborated at length about the amount of money spent, did his best to demean her during the entire conversation and said she should have offered to pay half if it was a “friend” date, because he doesn’t spend that much money on just “friends”. He even went so far as to say the most he’d ever spent entertaining a friend was $65, elucidating this was for a returning war hero. He said, “Now tell me why in hell I should spend $120 for dinner with you, if we’re just gonna be friends, when you haven’t even been shot at?”

And thus we come to the crux of my blog: Do men feel we owe them something if they pick up the check? Are they really just putting a “downpayment” on the future event of sex? Now, most decent men would object and say, “Of course not!” Yet…are they being honest with themselves? Maybe they don’t expect sex that date, or the next, or even the one after that. Yet if they continue to spend money on wining and dining a woman, they have an end goal in mind. For most men, this at least includes sexual intimacy.

I have typically opted to go dutch on dates, for precisely this reason. I don’t want to feel any obligation to a man I barely know. Do I feel I have to sleep with a man if he pays for my dinner? Of course not. Still, if he continues to pay for dinner, I always feel there is some level of reciprocity that is anticipated. Perhaps 60 years ago, the pleasure of a woman’s feminine presence and company was enough, although I’d be willing to wager that wasn’t the case even then. Perhaps the knight slays the dragon for the princess as an act of gallantry; or maybe he’s really just hoping to get the king’s okay to shag his daughter (Sorry: Have her hand in marriage). Today, marriage isn’t always on the table. Sex, however, is almost ALWAYS on the table.

Of course, this isn’t meant to pick on men. I know LOTS of women who think the man should pay simply because they are women. I know plenty of women who would be willing to accept dates just to get a free dinner out. There are people who say they are “old-fashioned” and think a man should pay for at least the first date (if not every date). Really? Why? If you want things to be “old-fashioned”, are you willing to put on a pretty dress and pearls and meet him at the door with a martini in hand? Are you willing to stay at home and play housekeeper and take care of all his needs while he brings home the bacon? Are you willing to have him be the head of the household, since you’re assigning him the “protector” status? If so, that’s totally fine. However, don’t scream about your liberation or your equal rights. If you are seeking out a man to take care of you and be your protector (which is what you’re signaling when you expect him to pay), expect to be treated like someone who needs to be taken care of and protected. Expect to be treated like you are not his equal. Pull the gender card when it comes to who pays and be prepared to have him play the sex/inequality card. It’s not that he should, it’s not that it’s right, but reality isn’t always the ideal and we often create our own reality by the decisions we make.

I think we need to take the money out of the dating equation. Go dutch on dates. If a man insists on paying after you’ve offered to split the check, then offer to leave the tip. Pick up the check on your next date. Allow a man to woo you in ways other than monetarily. Take the pressure off the man financially (what a burden!). In return, guys, if you offer to pay, don’t have an agenda. Don’t make innocuous little jokes about “now that I’ve bought you dinner, I guess you’re going to have to put out”. By making the joke, it hints that you expect something in return, but know it’s not really kosher to say it in a straight-forward way. If you do decide to pay, consider it a gift freely given. If you are going to resent the gift, don’t offer it.

For all the great guys out there who would never dream of thinking a woman owed him because he pays on the dates, know there are lots of great women who appreciate you and won’t abuse it. We realize you won’t refer to us like we are objects you can “put a downpayment” on; we are human beings you are trying to get to know. We’re not naive; we know if you continue to ask us out you probably want to have sex with us (probably sooner, in many cases, than we are ready to have sex with you). We know it and appreciate you putting in the time it takes for us to be ready.

As for “Jack-Ass”, go find a professional. That way it will be an honest, monetary exchange, with a guaranteed rate of return. Ending the date and not contacting her for a second because she played the friend card doesn’t make you an asshole. Referring to her as an object, stating repeatedly and in detail the money you spent on her, acting like she was a gold-digger…well, that certainly does.

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3 Responses to “Downpayment On The Goods?”

  1. I go Dutch with my partner on just about everything. I never want to feel dependent on him or have him feel as though I’m ever taking advantage of the fact he has money and I don’t. So, when he does pay for things it becomes a romantic gesture and not an expected one.

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