Check. Mate.

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December 17, 2013 by nooffensebut

Ladies and gentleman, we begin this week with a brief theatrical interlude:

Setting: Any restaurant, 2010. Two people are on a date. The waiter brings the check. Date A reaches for it. Date B pulls out a wallet.

Date B: Here, let me split it with you.

Date A: No, please, I insist. My treat.

Date B: Oh, that’s so nice. Thank you.

And … scene.

Unfortunately, it might not be as simple as it sounds.

Is B really prepared to pay, or is she/he testing A to see if she/he will insist? Is A at all hesitant to offer for fear of offending B’s modern sensibilities? And is A wanting to come across heroic but secretly hopes B will insist on splitting the bill?

The question of who should pick up the tab on a date is such a minefield, I’m starting to think the only logical solution is dine and dash.

Actually, the logical solution is to split the check. It can set a precedent of equality and it works well for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. But the reality is more complicated than that.

“When you pay, it emasculates him,” one source told me.

“The man should pay for the first date. It is perfectly acceptable for the lady to pay for dates on occasion, but the man should pay for most,” said another.

“Alternating is usually nice unless there is a clear income differential,” suggests another source.

“I always offer to split, but secretly hope they want to pay because that’s nice and old-fashioned,” another admitted.

A note to the gents on that one: No, you absolutely shouldn’t be expected to pick up the tab — I admonish any ladies who do the fake reach — but we notice if you do. And, yes, it earns you points … if you’re gracious about it.

A friend of mine recently went on a date with a man who insisted on paying, then had a mini-conniption at the price of dinner.

“Total buzz kill,” she said.

Part of the confusion is the fact the notion of dating has become so skewed.

“I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been on a real date,” someone shared. “Like ‘Hi, someone-with-whom-I-would-like-to-be-involved. Would you like to go out for coffee??’ I don’t know how the rules should work in that scenario.”

Sweetheart, that’s a whole other can of worms.

 

Originally published Oct. 29, 2010 in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

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