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Dating: Who should foot the bill?

In the 21st century, damsels in distress are a thing of the past.

In the 21st century, damsels in distress are a thing of the past.

Lunches and dinners can say a lot about people.

I believe you should take it in turns to treat each other
- Kristina Chetcuti

At a recent dinner, a good friend of mine – let’s call him Pete – brought along his new girlfriend. She seemed a perfectly nice girl – until we sat at the table, that is.

Upon taking her seat, the girl glanced at Pete and then glared at the folded cloth napkin on the table. “Oh,” he muttered, and dutifully proceeded to place the napkin on her lap.

It was odd but I didn’t give it a fleeting thought until, throughout the meal, at regular intervals, she kept snapping “Pete!” and tapping her empty glass of wine.

Each time, Pete picked up the bottle of wine – which, may I add, was standing right next to her elbow – and topped up her glass. By the end of the evening I wanted to shriek: “For goodness sake woman – what’s wrong with you?”

She kept stalling an otherwise perfectly pleasant conversation, interrupting Pete every time he was about to join in because, oops, her napkin had fallen on the floor (he picked it up), or, oh, her fork got stuck in the quail’s bone (for Christ’s sake).

You get my drift: she spoilt the evening. And lest you think Pete is a wuss: honest to God he is not.

Upon quizzing later on, Pete admitted that in the two months he had been dating the girl, he had been footing all the bills.

He was fine with that because he was head-over-heels in love and really wanted to shower her with affection – but she had never offered to pay once, never treated him to any gifts whatsoever and never even said thanks.

Typical attitude of ‘the princess who never pays’.

Therein ensued a debate about dating and paying. I was surprised that I found this girl’s behaviour extremely irritating because I am quite a romantic at heart. In fact, you can say I am extremely old-fashioned.

First off: I have issues with bill-splitting. Even if I’m lunching with say, a girlfriend or even my sister I never split the tab.

Getting the calculator out and counting the pennies is something I find crude and unpleasant. I believe that when lunching out there should always be a ‘treater’ and a ‘treatee’. Today it’s on me, next time it’s on you: you should take it in turns to treat each other.

When lunching out with male friends, the same rules apply.

I do admit that I have male friends who absolutely can never bring themselves to let a girl pay, not because they are sexist but because they are of firm believers in chivalry: “It’s a way of showing women respect,” claims one friend.

They are all too happy, however, to accept treats of wines, cigars or books – so the balance of friendship is never lost.

Of course, the crucial question is what to do when you’re on a date. I asked several male and female friends (all in their 30s) and they were all in agreement: The bloke has to pay.

To be exact they all said that whoever dishes the invitation has to pay. But, they said, even if it’s the girl who asks the guy out, then he should still offer and insist on paying.

“If you’re asked out, always offer to pay – it’s always appreciated by the men,” said one male friend, But he added that if my offer is taken up, I “should dump him on the spot: he’s either stingy or not into you”.

And I thought I was the only old-fashioned grandma around. I find it charming that a man foots the bill on a first date. I don’t know, there is something alpha male about it, something which says: “I am a man. I will build you things and wrestle bears and throw my coat over a puddle for you.”

It’s just like the warm feeling I get when a man holds the door open for me, or makes sure I’m walking on the inside of the pavement, or carries a water six-pack for me.

The only time when I insist on paying is when I haven’t enjoyed the company of the ‘datee’. If that someone spends all evening talking about himself, then I can’t wait to settle the bill and scurry away.

Having said all this, I don’t think men should all the time be surprising the woman with flowers, perfume or pearls, settling all her cheques and balances, or topping her wine glass.

In the 21st century, we have the luxury to appreciate chivalry just for its own sake rather than because of women’s economies of scale.

In conclusion: damsels in distress are a thing of the past.

As for Pete, at this rate he’ll soon be fully qualified to apply for a butler’s post.

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