Should a Man Always Pay?

Are Men Still Expected to Pay in Today's Society?Are Men Still Expected to Pay in Today's Society?

Posted by Ginny Humber for

Dating is tricky. And money makes people touchy. When the two combine, there's lots of room for stressful wallet fidgeting. So what is a modern girl to do when the check drops? It's not an easy question to answer.

When my parents got married in the late seventies, my dad was 27 to my mom's 20. All during their courtship, he paid for everything. This continued until she graduated from college two years after the wedding, and finally got her own job. I asked her what would have happened if she had tried to pay for dinner some time, and she said it would probably have hurt Dad's feelings, not to mention his pride.

It had a lot to do with their age differences and the fact that he was the one with the higher-paying job, but even so, that was just the way things were done back then, and few questioned it. Today, with women earning as much as or more than men, at least percentage-wise, things are very different. However, the trend hasn't done a complete 180, and I doubt it will any time soon. Because that would just be weird, right?

Related: A Modern Woman's Guide to Chivalry

I once dated a guy who made me pay for everything, both my part and his part. Every dinner out, every movie ticket, every tank of gas. It all came out of my part-time waitressing income. Needless to say, it built up quite a bit of resentment over the two ridiculous years we were together, especially since he continued to act like he was taking care of me. Having been on the other side of the issue, I can't imagine my current boyfriend would be very happy if I expected him to pay for everything.

At the start of our relationship, being of roughly the same socioeconomic status, my boyfriend and I did the separate checks thing for awhile. Now we mostly take turns paying, although it still makes me feel a bit like a kept woman whenever I forget my wallet and he has to buy my five-dollar footlong at Subway. He handles it pretty well when I pay, too, but he'll always make sure he's the one who leaves the tip, if it's a fancy type of evening. It's a give-and-take, and I always try to give exactly as much as I take. I'm a liberated woman like that. We take turns buying the ramen, and everyone's happy.

Related: Stop Playing the Comparison Game

Honestly, if I were to meet a couple today in which the man paid for everything, I would probably be a little disgusted. I would want to say, "Hey, lady! You two are equals now. Take care of yourself!" Even if I were to date a big corporate mogul with millions while I got by as a dog-walker, I would still treat him to an ice cream cone every now and then. Probably from the McDonald's dollar menu, but that still counts.

Is it a power struggle? Would I lose myself if I allowed him to constantly buy me off? Lacking any experience with dating millionaires, I can only conclude that I am most comfortable when the payouts are equal. Good thing my boyfriend is unemployed, just like me. We can be happily broke together. With our ramen.

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