JUST as hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, it appears Facebook wreaks its wrath when a woman suggests a man should pay for the first date. Well, this is what I experienced last week, anyway. Yes, you could have been forgiven I had suggested we bomb all the boat people, such was the passion with which friends responded to a first-date which, in my opinion, had gone a little wrong.
Now, I am the queen of the first dates, and I have pretty much seen about everything. And yet still, the surprises keep on coming. Last week’s first date was with a lawyer, and for the record, Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury, I’d like to put forward my case of what occurred. Something that is rather difficult to convey in a Facebook post. So, with the permission of the kangaroo court, here’s my account of what happened.
The lawyer found me on my dating site and, after several email conversations which occurred while I was overseas dodging grenades in Bangkok, asked me out for a drink. Let me repeat: he did the asking. He suggested a place and I met him there after work. While it became rapidly apparent that we weren’t a good match (at least to me), never let it be said that I don’t give things a go. He then proceeded to out-drink me (I was driving) three drinks to my every one. But when he also suggested we dine, I agreed. We ate, we talked and then, just as the bill arrived, he excused himself to go to the bathroom. Where he was for a very long time.
Photo courtesy of Mike Larder
When he eventually returned, there was a long, awkward pause, during which I offered to pay for half. To which he rapidly replied: “Oh, very good”. There was no mention, Your Honour, from either party, of his copious drinks. In the spirit of being a decent person (remember the days when we were all just basic decent people?), I offered to give him a lift home, as it had already become apparent that we lived in neighbouring suburbs. However, when I went to pay for the rather large parking bill, the machine kept spitting out my $50 note. The lawyer stood with his hands in his pockets, and watched as I then fumbled in my wallet for my credit card.
I drove him home, he gave me a sloppy kiss on the cheek and by the time I had arrived home, he had texted me, saying he would like to see me again. Unfortunately, I did not feel the same. But when I went on Facebook that evening to tell my latest dating tale, something interesting occurred. At first, the crowd was sympathetic, lambasting the lawyer for his tight-fisted approach. But then, the mood changed. One friend accused my behaviour of not being “Goddess-like” (What part of The Global Goddess ever pretends to have it together, I wondered?). Another friend took it further, saying the situation “smacked of desperation”….mine. Ouch. In their defence, and having spoken to them each privately, their comments were out of concern. But to say their words didn’t sting would be lying. The Facebook mood changed again and then the crowd turned on each other.
Such passion prompted me to conduct a survey, of Facebook friends and their friends, to examine this issue in more detail. And here’s what I discovered so far, from 102 respondents:
Almost 60 per cent of people believe a man should pay for the first date, 10 per cent believe he shouldn’t, and a further 30 per cent are divided. Of the 30 per cent who were divided on who should pay, most believed it should be the person who did the inviting or that both parties should split the bill.
The “Should a man pay for the first date” survey, of whom one third of respondents were male and two thirds were female, found the concept of chivalry is far from dead with a whopping 82 percent of respondents believing a man should hold the door open for a woman.
But, in a sign the times are changing, more than 70 per cent of respondents also believed a woman should pay for something else – such parking, cab fare or an after-dinner drink – if the man did pay for the first date – the survey found.
Comments on the survey were colourful and controversial.
“I think it depends on who initiated the date but I would definitely say that it is polite and chivalrous for the man to pay. Call me old fashioned…”
“Not when you are meeting for the first time with someone through a dating site. I think it should be a 50:50 split no matter who initiated contacted (provided one person doesn’t drink like a fish and the other doesn’t drink at all!”)
“The woman should offer, but surely not expected to (pay).”
However, old-fashioned manners are not dead with 50 per cent of respondents believing a phone call was the appropriate follow-up to the first date from a man; 28 per cent believing a text was appropriate; 11 per cent said flowers; and only 1 per cent supported an email as the acceptable post-date response. (Nothing and “other” made up the remaining 10 per cent).
Respondents also believed women should respond quickly to the follow-up and avoid “game playing”. Interestingly, more than 40 per cent believed the man should also pay for the second date, 10 per cent believed it should be the woman, and almost 50 per cent thought it should be both parties. (Nothing and “other” made up the remaining 10 per cent).
Overall, modern dating remained a vexed issue.
“A man should be a gentleman, be open, polite, clean, and interested. No excuses for rudeness or meanness. A first date should be fun and engaging even if you never see the person again you can still be polite and show respect.”
“Broadly speaking, I believe this speculation around ‘1st date etiquette’ is a bit sad. That we need to speculate at all presents an interesting ‘comment’ on the human/dating dilemma. However, given that ‘it is what it is’, I hope for an outcome which indicates respect and generosity of heart – assuming same, make the 15-30 group aware…
“Date as much as possible. Aussie girls don’t go in dates enough. Don’t settle too quickly on a person, think of the dating scene like a box all assorted chocolates?”
“Basic manners are not old- fashioned. There are circumstances such as each party’s financial status to be considered eg: a billionaire male lawyer wooing a lowly paid journalist or a squillionaire female surgeon wooing a uni student but it is generally accepted that whoever initiates the date should pay for it.”
Proving they may know a thing or two about dating, the majority of respondents were either married at 38 per cent; or in a domestic partnership or civil union (18 per cent). Single, but never married respondents (17 per cent); divorcees (14 per cent); separated (7 per cent); and single but cohabitating with a significant other (6 per cent).
The majority of survey respondents were aged 30-45 (38 per cent); followed closely by those aged 45-60 (36 per cent); 18-30 (21 per cent); and just 5 per cent aged 60 and over.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, in closing I simply say this. I am quite happy to pay for my share of the bill, but I would be lying if I said it wouldn’t be “nice” for the man to pay for the first date. I can only speak for myself, but I am looking for a kind and generous man. At the very least, don’t out-drink me, agree to a lift home and don’t even split the parking. It’s mean-spirited and there’s no room in the modern dating world for this.
I rest my case.
To participate in this survey, please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WTFNPXT