I took my parents and 17-year-old daughter out to dinner. My treat.
My parents, order carefully, drink water. My daughter orders a steak, extra appetizers for the table, as I have encouraged my kids to do.
After dinner, my mother takes my daughter aside and says to her "You know, when you date, you shouldn't order the most expensive thing on the menu".
My daughter looks at her and says "What makes you think I'd let the guy pay?"
Hearing this was one of one of my proudest 'YES!' moments. My daughter gets it!
I was not as evolved at 17, but by 19, I would not let a guy pay for me. Why should I 'owe' him anything? And why did he have to pay for the honor of MY Company if I was on the date and enjoying his company as well?
If I want equal, equal means equal…right?
Easy enough, split the check, take turns paying, whatever you do with your EQUAL girlfriends.... If the guy is the right fit, and the guy is a good guy, it should be an easily worked out issue. You should both argue over the check each time, take turns, lose track of who paid last, and never keep score.
Okay, so here is my dilemma though; I don't only have daughters (I have 3), I also have 5 sons. How do I coach THEM???
I must admit, there is a double standard. While a woman shouldn't expect more than equal treatment, society still expects it. Do I want to raise boys who don't always insist on paying and don't hold the door for a woman?
I will contradict myself, but I tell my boys to ALWAYS offer to pay, and absolutely insist on the first date. But if the girl is strong-willed about paying her share, say 'maybe next time', or 'you get the popcorn', or split it.
DO NOT think that just by getting the popcorn, or the tip, or the taxi is you doing your share. YOU must get it (and by IT, I mean the dinner bill) the next time. A token is lame, and real reciprocity is required.
If you had a girlfriend who always only got the tip and the popcorn, but you always covered dinner and the movie, wouldn't you resent her? So what’s the difference?
I tell my sons, if she follows up and gets dinner the next time, she is worth pursuing!
If you make more money, don't go to places beyond his means and do take turns, or split the bill. If he’s always leaving you with the bill, this is not a good sign!
Let's say he makes more money than you, and he recommends an expensive dinner as a first date. Tell him you would like to go somewhere more casual for the first date, something you can afford. If he is my son, and insists on paying, tell him that you plan to get it if there is a next time, and you need to go somewhere you can afford.
If we want equal, all I am saying is be ready to pay for that right, and the cost is more than just the popcorn.
Smart & Sexy CEO
P.S. I wrote this article 10 years ago. My 27 year old daughter is now expecting her 3rd child, working for Intel with a very wonderful equal-minded husband, physical therapist, fabulous dad and grocery shopper!
Who do you think should pay? Share your thoughts in the comments below.