I am fairly new to dating. In my 20s, which I’m guessing is when you’re meant to casually date, I spent the first few years having Boatloads of Fun [Corp.] followed by a 6-year relationship that ended just shy of my 31st birthday. Now in my 30s and new to dating, I feel a bit like an alien, observing long-held social customs I cannot fathom.
Several males and females maintain the following rules [among others, I’m sure]:
- The male must pay for the first date
- The female must feign willingness to pay all or some by reaching for her wallet
- The male must acknowledge and reject this offer and pay everything
- If the female’s insincere offer to pay is accepted, the female may consider the male cheap and/or uninterested in her
- If the female insists too much on paying at least some, the male may consider her controlling/argumentative
When I question the reasons this script is still followed in our 30s and particularly with female earning power no longer being negligible, the actors themselves appear to have never thought about it, but just do what is expected of them as part of the mating ritual.
Why is this still the norm?
In the context of a first date where the two parties are getting to know each other, the gesture is devoid of emotion or affection [but not necessarily attraction — there is a practically biological purpose behind a male’s flaunting his financial plumage as well as just getting the girl drunk] and appears to these alien eyes to exist solely to create an imbalance of power in the male’s favor, which is bizarre as 40% of women are now breadwinners.
It’s also inefficient. Maybe people already know their lines pat, but they still have to put on a show to get to subsequent dates. I understand going through the motions in one’s 20s, but I didn’t value my time then as much as I do now. Rather than wasting time with faux offers, faux protestations, faux gracious and blushing acceptance [perhaps accompanied by a head tilt, a hair twirl or a giggle hidden behind my hand], I could otherwise be reading/writing/sleeping/watching TV/spending time with actual friends for whom a round of drinks is a sincere gesture.
How do LGBT daters navigate these landmines? In a glorious new post-DOMA age, these antiquated gender roles no longer apply.
So can I, as a financially independent adult, please just buy my own damn drink without fear of reprisal?