Gilles' payment of Carrie for her escort services leaves her "unsure whether to take it as an incredible insult or an incredible compliment" and sparks a discussion among her girlfriends about when and how and whether it is okay to take money from a romantic interest. They debate whether Amalita is an "international party girl" or a "hooker with a passport." Samantha says "men give and women receive, it's biological destiny" and asserts that women should enjoy their sexual powers which are equivalent to men's financial ones. Miranda is totally offended and says these are the very arguments that have been used to oppress women for centuries. Charlotte ponders the hysterical question of whether she should allow the famous painter Nevil Morgan paint her vagina in order to secure his participation in an exhibit at her Gallery.
The question of whether or to what extent to allow a romantic interest to pay for you is obviously a timeless one. While the show boldly depicts an extreme, the issue of money is virtually unavoidable when it comes to dating. Men, too, struggle with this question, as increasing numbers of women earn more than the average guy they date. So, what do you think? Is it okay to let someone else pay for you when you are dating and barely know them?
More from YourTango: Rejection & Moving On: Lessons From Downton Abbey [Spoilers!]
My advice? The question of dating and dollars spent basically boils down to expectations. If a guy is a gentleman taking you out for a nice evening, this is totally appropriate, as long as there are not expectations of returned acts of service. The same is true if someone you date buys you flowers, or a gift, or any other romantic gesture. However, the more cash someone spends, the greater the liklihood that expectations are involved. It is worth discussing expectations directly, especially if you sense that your intentions and expectations are different than those of your escort. Such discussions can be awkward, but try saying something simple, kind and direct like:
Thanks very much for a lovely dinner, I just want to make sure you are comfortable taking things at my pace.
Consider that Carrie ultimately feels insulted, not complimented, and wonders:
We had such a fantastic connection. Then he leaves me money. I don't understand, what exactly what about me screams whore?
When Carrie runs into Amalita and her brand new escort, Peter, the suave Italian who resides at the Carlyle, and the dashing Mario tries to lure Carrie to his palazzo in Venice for the film festival. Carrie admits that she is seriously tempted, but she ultimately declines and rationalizes her choice to let go of the jet set and hold on to her values:
Just because Venice was sinking, didn't mean I had to go down with it!
Check back next week to consider episode six: "How Many of Us Are Having Great Sex with Someone We Don't Want to Introduce to Our Friends?"
More from YourTango: Call in the Auntie Brigade! Lessons from Downton Abbey