Here is the scenario: My friend met this guy. They liked each other, so they went out a second time. The third time, they met for lunch. She got a $10 sandwich (because, of course, it is rude to purchase the most expensive thing on the menu), he got a $35 lobster meal and two beers, and then asked her to split the bill. So, her $10 lunch “date” turned into a $25 expense. So, she asked the question, “At what point is it socially acceptable to ask to split the bill?”
I, of course, turned this question into a research project. I asked old people, young people, boys, girls, single people, married people, etc. and the consensus everyone overwhelmingly came to is: NEVER. It is never acceptable to ask the girl to split the bill.
Here is why: First of all, by the guy asking you to split the bill, he is basically saying, “I don’t think this date is going well and I don’t think you are worth enough of my time to spend my hard earned money on you and I don’t anticipate this going anywhere anyways so there is no reason I need to adhere to social standards since we aren’t talking again anyways and I don’t care if I offend you”. Perhaps, of course, this was not the message my friend’s date intended to send (he did, in fact, continue to ask her to hang out the remainder of the week), but I am a firm believer that behaviors determine attitudes and motives. Deal. So, you don’t like me. I get the picture and let’s just move on.
Second of all, as the ‘gentleman’, you are supposed to be courting me, which means you are supposed to be on your best behavior (until, of course, we hear embarrassing high school stories about each other or are forced to poop in front of each other or see each other sick or whatever and we realize humans are flawed but we are in too deep to get out). I can’t speak for all girls, but if you are dating me, you are potentially getting a girlfriend who (a) will take very good care of you and make you feel like a king, (b) would never cheat on you, (c) is offering you her undivided attention and probably sacrificing some social time to try you out, (d) most likely spent hours talking to her friends, shopping for a new outfit, and straightening her hair for you, and, if it goes any further, someone you might potentially ask to drop her life, move to a new city, have your babies, and take care of your smelly Depends diapers when you get old. You are actually getting a pretty good deal, so the least you can do is pay for our date.
There is always the potential that you don’t have enough money to pay for the date. Ok, in high school and college, I get that. We are all poor. But, as a ‘man’ approaching his later 20somethings, not being able to afford a date brings up a few red flags about you. First of all, do you even have a job? If you are living off mom and dad’s money, then I know it’s probably not going to work out–I dated a mommy’s boy one time, we had this weird love triangle going on–it was awkward. Second of all, do you even show up to work? If you have a job, but don’t show up to work and that is why you don’t have any money, then that makes me skeptical that will translate to our relationship. Third of all, if you have a job and show up to work, then where is all your money going? This could definitely be signs of a drug, alcohol, gambling, porn, or shopping addiction, which as we all know, leads itself into other issues and problems that I am not sure I really want to deal with at this stage in my life. And lastly, if you have a job, you show up to work, you aren’t wasting it away on frivolous activities, then how much money are you really making? I completely understand that we need those Wal-Mart, minimum wage employees to support our capitalist society. However, I work very hard to support myself, I work very hard to budget my money, I continue educating myself so that I can climb higher on the professional ladder. So, someone who is content with mediocrity is probably not going to work out. I always joke that I am going to marry rich, and while I do not intend whatsoever to marry a billionaire, I do intend to marry someone who has a decent financial standing, because that speaks to their character as a person; it means you are conscientious, diligent, a planner, have aspirations for yourself, etc.–those qualities are all way more attractive than the dollar amount in your bank account.
If course, let me write a disclaimer here: while is it never acceptable to ask to ‘split the bill’, it is also never acceptable for the girl to just take advantage of her date’s wallet. After about the third or fourth date, it becomes the girl’s responsibility to start planning adventures, offering to pay, or finding other ways to compensate. Girls kind of get a bad rap for using guys for their money, which I can totally see why, and I think it’s important that, if you really like him, you start making the gesture. I once dated a guy who paid to take me skiing, which I know is an expensive endeavor. So, as a way to say thank you, I bought him a really rad Colorado t-shirt. The gesture says, “if you do this for me, I will give you something back in return”, which is the way a relationship should work–there should be an equal amount of give and take from both sides. Or, my sister and her boyfriend will trade off who pays for which meal. Or, some couples will have one person pay for dinner, the other pay for the movie. If you end up together, you will most likely be sharing a bank account anyways so it will all even out eventually.
Money is definitely the elephant in the room, especially when it comes to dating. I am curious as to what others think about this issue.