There's a difference between "equal" and what's "fair."
Up until a few years ago, this was a genre reserved for "Ahhnold" (Arnold) Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Chuck Norris. Now these action vehicles showcase wiry females with martial arts skils and an attitude to match.
Not too long ago, Playboy featured an article about men, using iconic male stars like Dean Martin and Paul Newman to hawk a bunch of facial creams and hair products. It seems that having smooth, glowing skin, product-laced hair, and squeezing into your skinny jeans has become a new way to demonstrate your "guy-ness.”
Nowadays, we can marry whomever we choose ─ Harry or Sally. It doesn’t matter and most of us don't care. But, in the face of all of these changing gender roles, interesting questions emerge as we dance in this mosh-pit of modern dating.
For example — exactly who picks up the tab on a date these days?
Here's what I think: Generally, if you ask a woman out on the first date — even if it's just for a latte or a glass of Sauvignon Blanc — the guy should reach for the check. Even if the woman starts digging through her hobo bag, the guy should pay.
However, as always there's an exception to all rules and it is this: Perhaps, you two didn’t hit it off, at which point she insists on paying her way because she's just not that into you. She doesn't want to give you the impression that she owes you something for picking up the tab. If that’s the case, let her throw a few bucks down and call it a night. And call it even.
Moving forward, a pattern occurs between potential partners and although it varies in each relationship, the bottom line is — you want things to feel equal so no one seethes inside or gets all passive aggressive because they feel patronized or taken advantage of. In a perfect world, since women are increasingly taking the wheel in business, politics, and relationships, paying for a date would be split down the middle every time.
But, we know that this isn’t a perfect world, so we must practice being flexible and open-minded about almost everything.
As such, whoever asks the other person out should definitely willingly pony up for the bill. But, that can get old quickly. Besides, what do you do if you’re an investment banker, raking in the cash and she’s a teacher? Are you really going to make her split every tab down the middle? And vice versa, what if your lady pulls in major coin as a corporate litigator and you’re "freelance consulting?" What you're aiming for here is a split that feels "fair," not necessarily exactly equal.
Keep in mind, there are women who never (ever) crack their wallets open, and that just doesn’t feel right — not in 2015. It's up to you whether you date women like that or not.
What I do to make life easier is take charge and arrange the first few dates, at least until we’ve "gotten to know one another" better, and either I paid the bill or put in an offer to do so. After you’ve taken care of the first major date, if she wants to go dutch next time, cool. That said, I suggest having no pretensions and just always be prepared to pick up the bill if necessary.
Modern women understand that them contributing to the dating process in some way is now expected.
If they don't choose the 50-50 split route, they usually make up for it in other ways by cooking a nice dinner at her place, or bringing along your favorite Pinot Noir when you cook for her, or offering up event tickets that she got from a friend.
Women do pay attention and the vast majority aren't looking to exploit you. So if every check is not split exactly down the middle, chill. Notice her contributions in other ways. This is a relationship you're building after all, not a business merger.
In many ways, dating is a microcosm for how we interact and treat people in general, so all I'm suggesting is to always be a gentlemen, do what you know in your heart is the right thing, and always give a lady the benefit of a doubt.