Who pays on a first day?


So I went on a date with a new guy.

It went well. I got dressed up and he fussed over where we ate, finally picking a restaurant with a warm, buzzy atmosphere. I laughed at his jokes and he laughed at mine.

Then the bill came.

Since neither of us announced we would pay, that piece of paper was left sitting there, sort of loitering aimlessly between us.

Then he grabbed the piece of paper and put it firmly under his glass. Good. Taking ownership. I thought.

“So how do you want to do this? Should we split the bill?”

Hang on. Where was the polite tango? There was meant to be a tango. I’d offer to pay. He’d insist on getting it. I’d try again, more tentatively this time, possibly doing The Reach for my wallet. He’d wave my hand away.

Isn’t that how it goes?

Look, I’m going to come right out and say it. I like a guy to pay on a first date. Even at a minimum, I expect him to offer, even if we ended up splitting the bill. And then it got worse.

Sensing my confusion, he rationalised by saying “…because I’m a firm believer in the Feminist movement, you know?”

He sat there looking at me, such a sensitive new age feminist guy, as though it was all supposed to make sense now.

This was the lowest point so far. Because was it really? Did he truly respect my independent womanhood so much that he wanted to tip his hat to equality and not pay? Or did he just, not want to pay.

I felt it was a pretty lame use of feminism, really.

After that, I knew the date was over. Not because I didn’t like him. I did. I do. Quite a bit. But if he liked me back he’d never suggest splitting the bill, right?”

Now, I get the contradiction here – I can’t have my feminism, eat it too and also expect someone else to pay for my dinner. I know that splitting the bill is the modern thing to do. And after the first date – and certainly in a relationship – I’m cool with it.

But what about chivalry? Isn’t it the same as liking it when a guy holds open a door for you? I’d be fascinated to hear what other MM readers think. Is everyone else a bill-splitter but me?

Nichole is a journalism student at the University of Technology Sydney and is an intern at Mamamia.com.au

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