Sunday, April 14, 2013

Who Pays These Days ??!!

Who Pays These Days  - man pay at restaurant check
Does being old fashioned still work in today’s society? Am I the only one still playing on that field while women have evolved out of it? Are women playing both sides of the fence?

A few years ago when I lived in Sao Paulo, Brazil, some friends of mine began introducing me to people in their social circles.  Some of those introductions were to women with whom I began casual and even deeper relationships with.  One of these women called me up one day to ask if I would care to join her at a local restaurant, saying that she could pick me up in a few hours.

I happily agreed, and upon completion of our date we asked for the check.  When it arrived she promptly picked it up from the table and began reaching for her purse.  I gently touched her hand and said, “no please…allow me to take care of it. You were so kind in taking me out and showing me a good time.” To which she replied with a smile on her face that indeed it was her that had initiated the contact and had asked for my company so it was her responsibility to pay. She then winked and said, “You can get me next time if you ask me out!”

There was no need to argue because you could see that she meant business and that in fact it would be rude to pursue it any further.  My first thought was “Wow, this doesn’t happen in the States!” My second thought was “Why not?”  If this was a common occurrence in the dating world in Brazil (and from my experience, most parts of Western Europe) then why do we insist on the traditional roles in America?

My inquisition around the city of Sao Paulo, questioning both males and females, revealed that the experience I had just encountered was, in fact, the norm. This seemed to strike a balance between the sexes.  A working woman was empowered and felt responsible for her actions and should be capable of paying for those actions.  I got the impression that this was their basic definition of women’s liberation.  They didn’t need me to define who they were or to take care of them.  They needed me to appreciate their independence financially, socially and intellectually.

So then who is meant to pick up the tab here in the United States? What are our underlying values? The simple answer that I’d learned from my new South American friends was this: the person who invited the other one out pays the bill. That seems too easy to be true! It almost works for me, but I don’t think I’m out of the woods on this debate with American women with that answer alone.

I admit that I was raised to live up to that old-fashioned standard that a man must pay all the time. I also lay jackets over rain puddles and hold a female’s elevated hand as she ascends or descends stairs and I tend to win carnival prizes for her by ringing the bell using my might in swinging the huge hammer (yes … sarcasm). But really, does being old fashioned still work in today’s society? Am I the only one still playing on that field while women have evolved out of it?  Are women playing both sides of the fence?

In this post women’s lib era, I’m still the guy who enjoys holding doors open and worshipping the elegance of the female form. But how does that translate to the wallet when you’re out on the 21st century date?

Here’s what I know, ladies: Contrary to popular American belief, male egos will not feel threatened if you pay or offer to pay even for only your share.  The opposite would happen.  We would feel as though you were a thoughtful, caring, solid person who we would like to further pursue. It shows that you have manners and that you no longer expect someone else to pick up after you.  It defines you as not being needy or selfish. Just like you, it’s the little things that we notice and take to heart. Why?  Because we really aren’t that different.

We want to be with someone that values faith, honesty and trust. A first or second date hasn’t constituted a union of marriage where all assets are shared.  This is the feeling out process. We shouldn’t be acting as though someone else owes us something simply because of some societal norm we had nothing to do with creating. We’re in the first stages of getting to know each other; it’s a matter of mutual respect between two people who earn their own livings.

A simple gesture to at least share the bill goes a long way in demonstrating the respect you have for others. For me, it speaks volumes.

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