The rules of dating have changed dramatically. Flash back historically to when the man asked a woman out on a date. She accepted. The man was required to pick the woman up at her family home in a vehicle, briefly meeting her parents and garnering a consent of some sort to take the daughter out on a date. A return time was negotiated between the young man and the father of the girl to ensure that there would be a safe and honorable evening in store for the daughter or consequences to follow. The young man pleased to have met the approval of the father would then escort the young woman out to the car, opening the car door for her while both her parents watched for signs of inappropriate behavior. The couple would head off to a social event, dance or dinner party at a friend’s home and you bet they came home on time or the father would have the police out looking for them.
Gentle times – this would probably be accurate if we were still living in the 1950’s era but we aren’t and dating looks nothing like that anymore. Flashing forward to 2011 when the reality is that a date might not even meet the parents for six months when the daughter decides that the relationship is somewhat of a “keeper” and the guy is worth introducing to the parents. The intrepid parents are most likely unable to keep up with the stream of new “boyfriends” and dates that they actually request not to be introduced until it is a guy that is likely to be around for a while.
In 2011 you probably didn’t meet your date in high school or at some kind of community dance. You didn’t bump into her on the sidewalk or pass her while you were riding your bike to the park. We are far more insular as a society now for those kind of niceties and introductions face to face are becoming a thing of the past in terms of dating dynamics. The reality is you probably hooked up on a dating site, one of many that you have your profile on. A picture and some winning description about how incredibly cool and balanced you are, how you love to work out (hey check out these muscles!).
The reality is that you probably have multiple dating sites on the go ferreting out the most eligible singles within possibly a one hour driving distance because now that everything is online it’s easier to meet people from other communities and get to know them without the expense of long distance – using webcam conference technology such as Skype to bridge the distance and give someone a good night kiss.
Online dating changed the rule books forever. The ability to use the internet to self-market as a single is limitless and so is the potential to meet someone new. There used to be a great deal of time that was invested in cultivating a relationship but in our new “throw away society” everything is done at the speed of light. Introductions for potential new relationships happen fast. Progression into new relationships happens fast. And the relationships can end without any explanation just as fast, if she has “shopped her options” and found someone she is more interested in. And since the whole process of dating seems so incredibly disposable it becomes necessary to go out on even more first dates than ever before. And that can get expensive and even beyond what most men can comfortably afford. But you also don’t want to appear cheap or uncultured by refusing to pick up the tab for the date. Thus a responsible and respectable strategy needs to be adopted with regards to paying for dates.
This concept of paying independently for one’s own expenses on a date would have never flown in previous era’s but is quite common now. We all work hard for our money and there are very few women who would be offended to split the cost of a first date. In fact many women will insist on it to avoid feeling as though they “owe” a second date if the first one didn’t go well. Women like to be on an even playing field and are very willing to pay for their own portion. It is not rude to ask to go Dutch or rather than the awkward gesture of splitting the bill down the middle “let’s see… you had the fancy wine…” ask for two separate bills. It makes things easier on both parties.
Part of the success of the retail coffee house is that the most popular place for a first date is the local coffee bar. This is for a number of reasons. First, it is in the safety of public view and so if meeting a stranger for the first time it is far more assuring to do so in a public place. Second is comfort. Most higher end coffee bars have arm chairs and couches and cozy little conversation corners that are ideal for sitting back and getting to know someone. Third is simple economics. Even a high end coffee place is not going to run you more than $15 for two cups of fancy coffee served up by a classy barista. You can be a gentleman and offer to pay in this regard (a classy gesture). Two coffees and biscotti to stay!
Walk and Talk
Be different! If the weather is nice propose a nice walk just after lunch. She will have eaten already and that avoids the awkward decision about where to go for lunch and who will pay for it. If you have a charming boardwalk in your community ask if she would like to join you for a long stroll. Go watch the boats come in or enjoy some free community theatre in a local park. Pick an area that again, is highly populated because that is safer for everyone involved. Walking is free, fun and healthy and a great way to get to know the person instead of staring uncomfortably from across a table.
If you are on date three or four and you are still very interested in the individual propose an invite to come over to your house and cook together. She will likely bring a bottle of wine to share with her and the two of you can cook a meal in your own kitchen. It’s a romantic low cost date that is fun and really tests the potential of the person you are dating. Best of all, you get to share a meal without having to pay a tip!
Most women are far more down to earth regarding the etiquette of dating. Be honest in your communication with her about your finances and encourage each other to come up with “cheap date” ideas that are fun and low cost. Unexpectedly you may find that you earn a new level of her respect for being frugal and responsible with your finances, both very attractive qualities in single men or women. And if someone gets angry that you did not “pick up the tab” consider that the cost of the bill was more valuable to her than your company and make that first date the last one with her.