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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Old School Rules

This is so not a new topic, but it's one I'm always curious about, 'cause different folks handle different strokes differently.

So I have a close friend, a young woman who is like a sibling to me. And she told me a story recently about a guy who had been courting her.

Unfortunately for him, she decided relatively early on that she wasn't so interested. But while she was still deciding on what potential he had - friend, more, or nothing at all - they still went on a few pleasant outings like dinner, drinks, coffee, etc., always at his invitation.

And while my friend ultimately decided that this guy was/is nice enough with platonic potential, my friend did have one procedural beef with him: he always expected to split the bill down the middle when they went out.

Now, before you react guys and cheer for him, and before you react ladies and scoff at him, you should know a few other things: He even expected the bill to be split on occasions that he asked her out. After one meal, in which his food took up the lion's share of the cost, he suggested they split the bill. And (worst of all to me), after their first outing he told her all about his monied family.... and then proceeded to suggest they split the bill.

I'm old-fashioned enough. So my thoughts on this are:
  • If the guy asks the woman out, he should pay;
  • If they both agree mutually to "hang out" they should both be prepared to split the bill(s);
  • Even if they're just "hanging out" and it's not exactly a full-fledged romantic thing, if one person's food/drink costs significantly more than the other person's then the former should cover a larger portion of the bill than the latter;
  • If a woman actively pursues a guy and asks him out, she should offer to pay; but the chauvinist in me says he should graciously decline and the bill should be split.
  • Finally, if your family's money is a significant enough part of who you are that you feel the need to tell your date about it your first time out, then screw the rules, you should pay! That'll teach you to tout your deep pockets.

But trust me, I need no reminders that not everyone thinks like me. So let's have your thoughts on this one.


  • Bravo. Spot on JB, I agree completely with all of that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 PM  

  • Let's face it. We date girls to ultimately get their panties rolled up in a little ball at the foot of the bed. I know women who are just as sexist as me, so don't even start. The man should pay. Always. Period. Even if the woman is the one doing the persuing. If he can't afford to pay, he shouldn't be going out on dates in the first place.

    By Anonymous tony, at 12:35 AM  

  • Ha! Tony I can't argue your point. You're right about guy's intentions. I agree the guy should pay (if it's a date). And I agree broke dudes shouldn't try dates. That scenario never ends well.

    Funny. It was easier for me to talk about this stuff before I got married. I'm trying to be sensitive, but I'm with you on this point too: most of my single women friends are every bit as sexist as I was when I was "in combat."

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 1:07 AM  

  • I agree 100%, James. However, my b/f is still in college and even though he works, he has very little extra cash. A lot of the time I pay for dinners and dates so we can go out and enjoy ourselves. He's always very grateful and once he graduates in December, he'll work on reversing the situation. :) It bugs him a little that he can't pay for a whole lot, but I'm not going to sit at home and do nothing because he doesn't have the money.

    By Anonymous Adlib, at 8:46 AM  

  • If I'm asked out on a date (all this pre-marriage, naturally), I expect the guy to pay. If we've been on a few dates, I'll mostly like offer to pay the bill or split it, but I would prefer to offer, not have it imposed on me. Once we're in a more serious relationship, I really don't care who pays. If I can't afford it, I say so. If I intend to pay, I say it off the bat. And if I'm the one who wants to go to a particular place, I've already assumed I'm paying.

    Of course, now that I'm an old married woman, it's still nice when we go out to dinner and my husband tells me to get anything I want, he's got the bill covered.

    By Blogger Tere, at 8:58 AM  

  • I always paid, it's the gentlemany way and what would make my grandma proud. But only for girls I invited out.
    But I understand guys frustrations with the rules. If I'm at a club and we meet for the first time there, don't expect me to pay (standard Sobe barfly procedure) unless I offer. Call me cheap all you want.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:39 AM  

  • I agree with tony. We should always pay. However, if a woman is stringing him along to get a free date out of the deal, then she should split it. Though we are taking a girl out to hopefully 'get in her pants', if she KNOWS she'll never be interested, she shouldn't be out on that date in the first place. Hence, she should offer to split. That way she doesn't feel obligated and it can be an indicator for the guy on where he stands.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:24 PM  

  • If you invite somebody out to a good time, you should be willing to foot the bill. I will inject some Iceberg Slim advice here and say that the way you start with a woman is going to be the way you end it. If you start by wining and dining her, then that's how it will be, regardless of the state of intimacy in the relationship. Let me be sexist here and say that women in America have an expectation during courtship that they will initially be catered to in some way. I think it flows from the paternalistic nature of American culture and the mores of protectionist thinking that a male dominated society exhibits towards its female members. Therefore, regardless of a womans financial status, if you pursue her, you must bring some game and some cash. If you determine it won't be worth your time (she's not into you, you're not into her, etc.), then drop the courtship and be friends, if possible. Friends often pay for each other when they go out and stop inviting if the flow is too one way.

    On the other hand, if you're a woman who is still deciding where to place a man on your filing system, you shouldn't accept any more dates until you have it settled. Using someone whom you may decide is a friend is an awful way to start a real friendship. I know a lot of people in So. Fla. are "user-friendly" (if this person has something you want to use--a car, boat, house, skybox, etc., then you're their friend), but it makes for real shitty friendships and after a while, the person getting used simply wishes they'd never met you.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 1:18 PM  

  • There is a deeper philosophical issue here I won't get into and of which volumes has been written. Thing is, single women have a hard enough time trusting guys as is, and a woman footing the bill or offering to pay for half doesn't give HIM half the chance to be generous. It's sort of like saying, hey, don't open the door for me (well duh, I can open the door myself), but heck, what if the guy really WANTS TO and not just because he HAS TO?

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 1:19 AM  

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