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Eventually, We All Pay

January 21, 2011
Man making woman pay for date

Recent surveys indicate that most women don't expect men to always pay. But most men prefer to pay. Once a fella is my exclusive BF I expect us to try to go halfsies. But what I don't know is...what happens when you add kids into the mix?

So, I have been writing long enough and often enough that I have some regular readers who have some issues they would like my opinion on. I usually just write a blog on the topic and let you all know what I think. But this time I don’t really know where to go on the topic.

I have opinions of course (I wrote a bit on the topic of paying for dates earlier this month), and I will include a few here. But I really feel like fully weighing in would require me to step into a realm I’m not too comfortable with. But my friend has been waiting a long time for an answer and I am actually dying to know what you all think on the topic. So, here’s her question:

Hi Crystal,

I love reading your blog. I was having a conversation with friend about dating last weekend. We were wondering what are the rules for paying on a date. We are both pretty independent single mothers. We usually offer to pay after we’ve been dating a guy for a little while.

Somehow it seems like we end up paying for a lot more than we’re comfortable with at some point in the relationship (to the point of the guy is a jerk). She ended up in a situations where instead of buying dinner for herself and her daughter, she was also buying dinner for the guy and his 3 children too. (And it was expected).

I ran into a situation when a guy came to Florida with my family for vacation. He didn’t have enough cash to pay for the 3 of us until I said that I had some cash. Then he ordered the most expensive thing on the menu (ribs plus an appetizer). I broke off the engagement after that vacation.

My dad said he would never ever had made my mom pay for anything when they were dating.

—  S.V. Single Mom Extraordinarre

So, a bit of my opinion quickly. I guess I don’t think a guy should have to pay for everything during the dating process — especially considering how long people date nowadays before they get married. But I definitely think these examples above speak to the character of the men involved and they aren’t saying anything too good.

Furthermore, my personal policy is to talk about everything. Decide what you think and where you stand and then have it out. Granted, talking about money (or any area of potential conflict) can be very uncomfortable, but the situations above seem even more uncomfortable and they may have been avoided with a few conversations.

I should also bring up that I think we often dismiss things while dating or avoid the confrontation because we want to be affable and we want the other person to think we are easy-going. We figure we will eventually deal with it, but in reality we are setting precedence for future behavior. And money is something you will have to deal with for the rest of your relationships whether it lasts for a month or 40 years. I suggest deciding what you want, talking about it early and consciously setting precedence for future interactions.

Now, to all my loyal readers — or anyone reading for that matter — what do you all think about this? How should my friend handle this dating issue?

(S.V., pay attention to the answers some of my male readers give. They are good guys — the type that I think you would do well with. They’ll give you a good idea of what to look for in a good fella on this topic.)

22 Comments leave one →
  1. dave c permalink
    January 21, 2011 8:26 am

    When you’re dating and you’re on your best behavior, and you screw-up. That’s bad news.

    (I have more, but I have to run)


  2. January 21, 2011 9:01 am

    Good post!

    In my current relationship, he paid for about 80% of dinner/drinks/breakfasts/etc when we were first starting to date. Now that we are officially a couple, practically living together, the split is more 60/40 with him paying…even though I actually make more money than him.

    In my last relationship with someone who made more than 4 times what I made (he made a crap load of money), he paid 98% percent of the time over the 2.5 years we were together, but like I said, he made a crap load of money.

    I am much happier now with someone who makes less, yet treats me with so much more respect and love than Mr. Moneybags did, even if I pick up the tab more often (though not every time).


    • January 21, 2011 9:28 am

      Are three kids in this picture? I think S.V.wants a little insight into how to roll when there are babies in the mix.


      • January 21, 2011 10:23 am

        No, no kids.

        If I had kids and the man didn’t, I would not expect him to treat *us* (me and my kids) all the time. If it’s just the two of us for date night or whatever, then maybe, hopefully sometimes. If we did something as a family, then I would expect him to pay for himself, at the very least, most of the time — he’s NOT my child. Same thing if the roles are reversed. That’s how I feel, but I don’t have kids and am not in this situation.

        But I do think that what you said about being honest about financial expectations is important, especially when including others outside of the immediate one-on-one relationship.


        • January 21, 2011 11:46 am

          I don’t have kids of my own, but in my limited experience dating men who do I really think it is a good idea to leave the kids out of the dating experiences until pretty far along in the relationship. I have seen many of my female friends bring their children into the situation far too soon. I know you want your kids to like this guy and ultimately the kids’ reactions may be a deal breaker for you, but pushing a guy into a daddy role before he knows he wants you and vice versa just screams complication and failure in my mind. On the other hand I know a lot of men who leave their kids out of the equation entirely and are surprised when issues surrounding their children arise.

          One of my gut reaction is: Ladies, pay for a sitter and make him pay for dinner.


  3. January 21, 2011 9:35 am

    Whenever I go out to eat with my boyfriend and his two children (who usually order off the adult menu), my boyfriend always pays.

    Now occasionally I buy ice cream or other treats when all 4 of us go out, but I never pay for a full dinner. I didn’t start paying for ice cream until my boyfriend and I had been together for almost a year.

    When it’s just my boyfriend and I, we take turns paying.

    I’m not a mother, but I feel like the parent (father or mother) should always pay for their child.


    • January 21, 2011 11:32 am

      I agree with you. I think while you are just dating they aren’t your kids. Just like I would say that my boyfriends bills, car, pets belong to him. Of course, once marriage is an option things need to be reassessed. Personally, I think (THINK) I would want to share everything to some extent after marriage. Both perks and responsibilities. Although my parents manage to keep some of their money separate even though they have been married 33 years.


      • January 21, 2011 1:18 pm

        I like the pet analogy. They belong to him; they’re his responsiblity. If I offer to watch them while he’s out, that’s nice of me, but definitely not required or expected.

        Like you said, things can be discussed and re-evaluated later…after the relationship progresses.


  4. Lurker permalink
    January 21, 2011 9:36 am

    I’ve been trying to get me head around a single, satsifactory answer…and I got nothin’. I say, S.V. made the right decision cutting the guy loose. If someone travels across the country to see someone, without planning enough to have money to be ABLE to take her out to dinner….it’s nothing more than a glorified “booty call.” And to order the most expensive thing? Rude.

    Maybe that’s the real issue here. Not the nuances of romance, but the errors of fiscal responsibility. Technology allows us to court people who we maybe would have never met before, but that doesn’t mean we should act carefree and throw our rational mind out the window. Interestingly, I can’t think of any dating/romance website that has ever offered any advice on this matter (hint, hint Crystal *wink and smile*). Thoughtful budgeting and planning for a distance rendezevous should be just as relevant and important as budgeting for a new girlfriend who lives upstairs. (i.e. If you’re planning a movie night, you save, so you can buy tickets/popcorn/dinner before/rose/etc.)

    As to the S.V.’s friend, that guy sounds like a tool also. If he had taken her out for dinner a few times, or treated ALL the kids to amusement park rides or something, then maybe she should pay for dinner (I don’t think women today are looking for a “sugar daddy”) But to presume she WILL pay, that’s just mean. I don’t advocate bringing the issue up on the first date (“You will pay for this, this and this, and I’ve got this covered” = silly) but taking a bit of a stand (“Honey, before we ALL go to the most expensive restaurant in town, are you sure you REALLY want to do this?”) I think is not only practical, but kinda sexy.

    I guess my simple rule would be, treat a new prospect as a close friend. They take a turn, you take a turn, without anything being said. But always be prepared to get everything (just in case – no one wants to wash dishes). I like being humbled when I accept a gift of a free meal – from a “friend”. Sorry, I’m so long-winded. *smile*


    • January 21, 2011 11:40 am

      Hints winks and smiles…man I get so much blog action. Thank you Mr. Lurker for your insights. I’m dying to know what S.V. thinks of all of this!


  5. January 21, 2011 10:39 am

    Good post. I’ve had this discussion with friends, during the time I was single. Since, in my case, I was the one being asked out, I let the man pay the first couple times. After that, I would offer to pay. But if he refused, I didn’t make a big deal about it. Then, when my husband and I started dating on a regular basis, I tried to mentally keep it equal. Even now, we have a very fluid financial situation and I try to keep things equal. And a PS: Some men make a big deal about paying for everything, but that can be (can, not definitely is) a kind of control thing. That would make me really uncomfortable.


    • January 21, 2011 11:52 am

      I actually once knew a guy who refused to ever pay for anything. Especially the first date. For some reason he was afraid of getting into a relationship with a woman who was a gold digger — even though he didn’t have any money. Guess what…12 years later he’s still single. I’m glad you and your husband have been able to keep things fluid. I think that is part of how my parents have done it. They have guidelines but no hard and fast immovable rules. They each have money of their own and they each have responsibilities to one another regarding money. This is important stuff to try to deal with while dating because it is one of the top reasons people do get divorced. Thanks for giving us your perspective!


    • Lurker permalink
      January 21, 2011 11:58 am

      This reminds me of an old couple who lived near me when I was little. They always played a couple daily games of cribbage…and kept score in a little tablet. One time, I asked the grandpa who was winning. After nearly 40 years of daily games, he looked at me with a “Does it really matter?” look (which to my 9-yr old mind, YES, it did matter. Why play if you can’t win? I hope I’m smarter now) and simply said “We’re about even.” Ha!

      Isn’t that the point? Give a little, take a little. I like “mentally keeping it equal.”


      • January 21, 2011 12:12 pm

        I agree, if you are lucky enough to find a person who is your equal you should strive to keep it that way.


  6. dave c permalink
    January 21, 2011 7:09 pm

    it’s like guys anymore seem to be falling to one of two extremes:

    a) The honorable old fashioned, man has to work and pay for stuff guy.
    b) The guy that’s an insult to men everywhere, and sits on his ass.

    It’s funny this blog topic got brought up, because just last night I was on the topic of Boris and Natasha last night with Jill. Natasha is a licenced pharmacist. Boris, when we knew them, had no fucking job, and wasn’t in a hurry to get one anytime soon. I found it hard to watch him say, “oh, I got this…” with drinks when it was his wife’s money. He had a Harley-Davidson v-rod catalog for that year on the coffee table. I had a hard time hanging out with them because there was a little voice in my head saying, “GET A GODDAMNED JOB YOU DIRTBAG!!!!” I don’t care if his wife was Oprah Winfrey, that’s no excuse not to have some sort of productive activity as a man.

    Fast-forward to them being on their second kid. We ran into Natasha at walgreens (I needed some nasal decongestants, and it wasn’t for valtrex or anything like that. 😉 ). We said our hellos and goodbyes.

    Last night, I pipe-up, “I wonder if Boris ever got a job.”
    Jill goes, “Well, now he can be a stay-at-home Dad.”
    I say, “Yeah, but….”
    “I guess that’s ‘ok'”
    “You had to think about it though, didn’t you?”
    “Yeah, I did. I just think…wasn’t he even hesitant to be a stay-at-home Dad?”

    I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that I know for the first 3 years of a baby’s life, men are just shy of being as useless as tits on a donkey. Sure, they’re entertaining, but do you really want to do anything with them? So it’s easier for me to fathom a stay-at-home mom actually being a job.


    • January 21, 2011 7:53 pm

      I would feel the same way about Miranda if the tables were turned on this Mike and Miranda story — up until the kids. And I do think that logically it makes a lot more sense for the woman to stay home with the kids in the first couple of years. I mean shes’ the one with the milk-makers. After haning out with a newborn and her mom for a few days I can’t imagine dealing with the first year of life any other way. They need so much attention and I would want to be the one giving it to the kids.

      However, at least by the time the kids are in school I would start thinking the woman needed to have “have some sort of productive activity as a (hu)man” outside of the home and/or as a part of society as a whole.

      I like to thinkt hat if I were a kept woman I would be a published author with a 5-book deal by now. At the very least i would spend a LOT of time writing.


      • dave c permalink
        January 21, 2011 8:29 pm

        Erm… Boris and Natasha. 😉

        I guess my thing is when it’s a girl without a job and sits at home all day, I can still maintain that maybe she just doesn’t want to disclose her occupation as a phone sex operator, or that maybe she works for the CIA. When it’s a guy, I have no such allowances.


  7. January 22, 2011 8:30 pm

    Hey Guys,

    S.V. Had a thank you for you all:

    Thanks Crystal! There was a lot of reponse and it was very interesting. I think that I always put too much into a relationship and expect my bf to do the same. I would love to meet someone that is willing to put as much effort into a relationship as I am and it would probably be smart for me to keep finances separate. I think I have given up on men for the last few years. Although, I did have a guy sit down and talk (actually being interested in what I had to say and not trying to look cool) about a month ago. That has somewhat renewed my faith in guys. Unfortunately, I never saw him again, but it was really good for me. Thanks for the blog. I love reading ALL of your blogs.!


  8. February 1, 2011 7:42 pm

    Okay Crystal, good topic.

    I let him pay occasionally I’ll pick up a tab at breakfast or lunch, or I’ll pay the tip at dinner, BUT, if my children join us out for a meal I pick up the whole bill.


    • February 2, 2011 8:27 am

      Thanks for your input. I think that’s how I would handle it too. But if he had kids and brought them along I would pay for myself and my kids and he would be paying for himself and his kids. Period. None of this paying for everyone for me unless I told him beforehand that I wanted to treat them all.


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