Dating: Not Down With Going Dutch

I always think it’s a bad sign if a man doesn’t pick up the check, at least on the first couple of dates. I never let this be a deal breaker for me, but I’ve also never walked away from a date where I had to pay for myself feeling good. That’s no way to start a relationship. I should have heeded my feelings. In every case, those men who betrayed a lack of fiscal generosity at the outset exhibited an emotional one down the road. Monetary stinginess and emotional withholding go hand in hand.

I dated those men so you don’t have to. I won’t tell you not to go out with a man who lets you pony up your share of the check, but I will tell you to tuck that information away. He’s giving you a message when he takes your money, be it ten dollars or fifty. If he’s unwilling to share his wealth (no matter how much or little he has), I suspect that he’ll be unable to share his heart in any real and satisfying way. A man should plan a date within his means (pretending he has more than he does adds dishonesty to the already mounting problems), and pay for it. There are fun, romantic places to go at any price point. There’s nothing so unromantic as the Dutch treat – a date so unsexy you may as well wear wooden shoes on it.

The argument that the women’s movement has confused this issue is utter nonsense. The idea that feminists burn bras and take offense at chivalry is a fallacy perpetrated by those who wish to hold us back. Feminism is about women being empowered to do anything they want to do, be it running the House or staying at home. There’s no power in buying dinner. The powerful one is always the one who is being courted. As it is in business, so it is in romance – the client doesn’t buy. Eventually, the host benefits from the client’s resources, but he has to woo her first.

This custom may have been born out of an all-but-dead tradition of the male breadwinner, but it’s still valid, because what money signifies holds much more currency than actual dollar signs. In the early stages of courtship, the price of dinner is not a down payment; rather, it’s a way of saying: I want to take care of you. Not financially, but in all the ways we support each other in healthy relationships. The man has to make that declaration first, just as it’s the man who has to ask for the date, call after it, and make all the pursuing moves. It’s been roundly established that feminism hasn’t altered that, nor should it. Feminism is about women having choices. And I choose to date a generous man.

Giulia Melucci is the author of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti. Read her Blisstree relationship column from last week here.

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    • the_mick

      Awesome post. It totally gels with something my very Irish father taught me years ago when I started dating as a teenager: “If you ask a woman out, you pick up the check. Always, no exceptions. I don’t care if you’re flat broke or between jobs, buyin’ her hot dogs or high-end cuisine, scratch some cash together and ante up. if you want a woman to take you seriously, you invest in her company. It’s like applying for a job. If you want it, prove you’re worth it.” Dad was right. It’s just too bad many ladies out there (and I truly do believe this is a generational thing) continue to shoot themselves in the foot by insisting on paying for their half on a dinner date. It’s a totally emasculating move and, quite frankly, rather insulting to guys. Having said that, Giulia’s observations about undoing dutch are right on the money … pun intended.

    • nancy melucci

      I think as in many other life situations the answer here is “it depends”. I’ve been online dating long enough to know from forums and interactions that many men feel that women in that realm are basically in it to get “free meals” (and I’ve met women who acknowledge that it is true.) So I feel I should offer to show that I am not there to take advantage of anyone. If I don’t like the man well enough to continue to an intimate relationship, I feel I’ve shown my good will in not taking advantage of him. I hate being treated to dinner and then going home and telling him by email that I don’t want to see him again. If I LIKE him, I would never argue about paying my share. I would happily accept the treat. That being said, once we’ve been dating for awhile, I would also hope that he’d be secure enough in his masculinitiy to let me pay for the movie (if he buys dinner) or provide the tip on an expensive dinner bill or even allow me to treat him occasionally as a gesture of love and affection – not to disempower him. PS – Giulia that’s a beautiful picture.

    • Tiffany

      I had this happen to me and I really didn’t like it when I went out with a guy and he asked me out and picked the place and then wanted me to pay. If I wanted to pay for myself I would have went with one of my friends who’s company I actually enjoy and I would have picked a restaurant I wanted to eat at. I would have really had to like the guy to pay and when some guy asks you out you generally aren’t sure if you like him. If he’s trying to win you over, asking to split the bill isn’t the way to go. I totally agree with the client analogy. Or at least be up front about it so the girl can something else besides go out with him.

    • whateverusay

      What absolute tripe. There is a reason certain women are single. They feel entitled to treating a man like a piggy bank but don’t want to be treated like a commodity. Women like this author are completely without merit. Maybe the real truth is that by your age the decent men you passed over are all happily married. Nancy melucci is the only commenter with a brain apparently. If you act like cattle or a commodity,don’t be surprised if the guy moves on when something else catches his eye, leaving you wondering where “all the good ones have gone” until your ovaries dry up.

    • brakers

      This is precisely why men are in the position they are in. What gives any woman the right to feel or be entitled to have a man pay for her meals? As for the notion of “invest in her company” forget it. I thought we lived in an era of equality. Women already have that many concessions simply for being female.By treating women as peers you have a far greater chance of finding a suitable partner. Men who rely on their credit card to get ahead with a woman are kidding themselves.

    • kees

      you americans are really backward nation in comparison to us europeans. women fought for their rights 50-60 years ago and they got it. in the netherlands we have single mother help; women receive child support on each child no matter what, they take top positions as well. what is that hunting crap you all talk about? if you wanna be equal pay the half of the damn check or pay the next time. why you people have to know all about your date’s finances at once. maybe he’s just there for fun and pleasure. you’re all too much focused on settling, family etc. half of us in EU do not want children at all.

    • adam

      girls, I’ll tell you only this: if I pay for your share it means I want something in return for my money. why we men should pay for your company? it’s that simple. reasoning that we should pay for your presence is nonsense. then you should pay for our dicks to inseminate you. If I wine you and dine you, you owe me. you can repay me by opening your legs giving me a blow-job. if you don’t want to feel obliged then pick up a half of check AT ANY OCCASION AND THAT”S THE RULE NOWADAYS!

    • GroovyPrincess

      I am experiencing this as we speak and I really don’t like it!. I can pay for myself but its just not romantic and I think Giulia is on the money here with the emotional stuff too – I just feel that I can’t depend on him whether it is for emotional support or financial support should I need that soft place to land. I was thinking that I over think everything until I read this article – but generosity is such a nice trait to have and these men who don’t think they can shout a girl out once in awhile ? Are they worth the makeup and new dress I just put on to look good for them?? not too sure anymore – so guys if your thinking about the dutch date .. this is what goes through our heads.

    • Tammy

      Women are treated how they allow themselves to be treated by men. The only reason why men are okay with going Dutch is because many women are okay with that. They get a way with dating you, making out with you, whatever they do with you without spending a dime. It has nothing to do with money, it has to do with his character and intent.
      You as a woman set the standard. If you make it look okay from the very start that a man does not has to be good with you, that’s exactly how it will be.You set the stage. You make it okay for a man to worry about spending $ 15 on your dinner, you make it okay for him not to even ask if you would like another drink. If he can’t buy you some rice with chicken, how in the world do you expect him to ever buy you flowers or surprise you with a gift. In fact, why would he open a door for you. Why would a man do anything for you if you make it look okay that there is no need to treat you like a lady. If as a woman you are okay with dating a man who tells you to pay your way, you are lacking some self esteem. It’s basically you telling youself ” oh why should a man do anything special for me, no need to, I will open my own door, buy myself some flowers and pay for my own romantic dinner”. Ladies if a man is worried about some stupid meals or movie tickets, how would he ever have your back if you needed him to help you, that’s a same guy who can’t buy you a coffee for $3. If you want a man and not a cheap boy, then set the stage or don’t complain when you see other women who are treated like ladies and you are left to do things on your own.

      And just don’t try to convince yourself that a man should not have to pay, because you have a job and can pay for your own stuff. It has nothing to do with that. He is showing you how he intends to treat you, he sets the stage by going Dutch. Yes, it means he is cheap and you’ll never see anything from him in the future because remember he believes in not doing things for a woman but rather his formula is 50 50. Well girl you will end up with that. The spill that men who go dutch give you about their rationale that it’s course because women now days are independent is b.s. Of course no man will want to tell you or fell that he is cheap so why not blame it on equality. Men and women are different, no matter how modern we all get, some things will never change. Sure you may get jobs like guys can get, woohoo or go to college as men but how about you try sleeping around and see how people with judge you as a whore and look down on you but will never apply to men of course. Next time you walk down the street with a miniskirt and open top, how people will judge you by looking at you like a slut but this will never apply to a man. He can go run without a shirt and you lady will get pulled over with no top on and go to a police station. He can’t get pregnant, but you can and it is you who risks pregnancy every time. It is you as a woman who will get put down for either getting abortion or having a kid out of wedluck. Nobody will ever look down at a man for screwing. It is you who bleeds every month in pain and not a man. My point is men and women are very different and we will never be the same.

      My point is, girls get it together. See yourself as a worthy woman who deserves the best, who deserves romance and to be romanced by a man, one who deserves a gentleman who puts you on a pedal stool and treats you like a woman wants to be treated. If you don’t believe inside yourself that you are a special woman and should be treated as one, then don’t expect a man to somehow treat you special.If you think of yourself” I am girl a regular girl, nothing special” that’s how you will treated.


    • the harvest

      A woman needs a man in her life just as much the other way. Dancing is more exciting with two bodies together. Melucci start dancing on your own or find a pet.

    • the harvest

      woman + man + love = sharing.

    • JJ

      Equal rights for both men and women providing women can pick the good ones and leave the bad. I want to treat my girlfriend or date out of love and respect, not because of some out dated gender role. If I take a girl on a date I may well pay but but if she does not get a round of drinks in or offer to pay her half she will not have any respect from me and will be seen as an object who can be brought. I will not be calling her back.

    • Catch

      Feminism is a package deal. It’s about equality. Inequality when we are the ones to benefit is always more pleasant. It’s nicer to be the ones to get to sit at the front of the bus than those forced to the back, but that’s wrong isn’t it? Gender roles nicely define things, don’t they? But, if you are going to support some unequal gender roles, how can you argue against others?

      Both should be generous, not just the man. If we are going to support inequality, it should go both ways, not just one.

      If the man is supposed to ask, pay, open the doors, carry the heavy stuff, call again, ask again, pay again, open the doors again, there is no argument against her being the one who is supposed to cook , clean and serve.

    • EJD90

      “Feminism is about women being empowered to do anything they want to do, be it running the House or staying at home. There’s no power in buying dinner. The powerful one is always the one who is being courted.”

      So your version of feminism is ‘yes to the things that empower me, no to taking on the responsibilities that equality demands’?

      By advocating that and calling it feminism, YOU are the one hurting feminism by validating the idea that feminists want privilege rather than equality.

      • Eric M.

        Feminists DO want privilege rather than equality. This article is yet more evidence of that.

    • steve

      sister, if you are not ready to share the costs for first couple of dates then something is really wrong with your value system. we men can also claim: look at this bitch, she just wants to wine and dine on my account.

    • Sophiasanti

      Amen a man should thrive in treating his woman like a queen. Yuk to tight men!