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Who Pays For the Date?

By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50

A controversy started during a speech I was giving at the Laguna Niguel, California, Library to a group of 90 middle-aged and senior singles, on the topic: how baby boomers can meet a mate.

When I said, “Women should be willing to ask a man out and pay for the date,” a woman in the audience whispered to the woman seated next to her, “It’ll be a cold day in hell before I pay for a man’s dinner.”

I didn’t hear her comment, but 76-year-old Ray, of Dana Point, heard it. During the question- and-answer period, Ray wanted to know why the woman thought that way, and why, in the year 2002, some women are unwilling to share dating expenses.

A lively debate followed. The woman tried to explain her position, but most of the men in the room disagreed with her unwillingness to pay.

Later, in a letter Ray sent, he explained his position: “The time has long passed when older single women considered a man a provider, a protector, a financial provider and someone to ‘take care of them.’ Unfortunately, too many older single women still think of a man that way.”

Ray asked, “How do older single women relearn their priorities in dating? Perhaps many will never learn such as the woman sitting in front of me who made the comment.”

Ray included in his letter a copy of a column from the Register, “Courting costs are yours, too, ladies,” by Amy Alkon, who appears on Mondays in Accent. Amy wrote: “If a woman considers herself a man’s equal, her equality shouldn’t evaporate when the check comes…dating shouldn’t send men to the bankruptcy court and women to the mall.”

Sometimes, I don’t agree with what Amy writes, but on this “who pays” topic, I strongly agree with her, and with Ray.

The old days of when men always picked up the tab are gone. There is no reason why this should be happening today.

Ray wrote, “I live on social security and retirement investments. I live a conservative lifestyle and am financially secure.” His resources aren’t endless, and he questions why he should always have to pay, and says he won’t do it.

There are older men who still insist on always paying. If that’s their desire, that’s okay. But, the majority of older single men I know don’t feel that way.

Joe, 51, formerly of Huntington Beach, now living in L.A., e-mailed, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek, regarding a woman he’s had a few dates with.

“…she has not offered to help pay for anything on the last two dates… so I guess I have met another one of those ‘freeloader women,’ that I seem to find everywhere. She works, has a nice house, so what’s the deal?

“I drive a ten-year-old Honda, live in a one-bedroom apartment, and work for a non-profit agency…is there something about my ‘resume’ that says this is a wealthy guy?”

I usually avoid writing about the “who pays” topic. It always gets me in trouble. But, since Ray initiated the discussion, I’ll say this to single older women.

If you feel that you deserve to be with a man who always pays, you may find a guy willing to do that. But, for the most part, if that’s the attitude you have, you likely won’t be asked out after a few dates with a man.

Guys appreciate when women share expenses, and won’t enter relationships with women unwilling to do so. Neither men nor women should always have to be the banker in a relationship.

Amy wrote in the same column, “The point here isn’t calculating each person’s outlay to the bent dime.” Again, I agree, what’s important is having a sense of sharing as equally as you can, without nit-picking about how much each spent.

Women’s roles have changed--in the workplace, at home and on the dating scene. If you hope to end up with a good man, you’d better be willing to share in the expense of dating, because that’s the way it is among the older set in 2002.

Reader Comments and Tom’s Responses:

Mary, San Clemente: “When you are alone you expect loneliness and somehow it’s tolerable. When you are married, you don't anticipate feeling isolated and it can be devastating. Response: Being unhappy and single is better than being unhappy and married.

Linda, Chattanooga, Tenn. “Imagine, age 50 and still having parent problems. My mother, age 70, is giving me grief about my relationship. She has always been nosey, bossy and opinionated.” Response: In the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the parents, who were against their daughter’s relationship because her fiancé wasn’t Greek, ended up giving the newly married couple a house. Of course, it was next door to their house.”

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