Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dear PMcE: Dating Etiquette

Dear PMcE,

As a single woman newly entering the dating scene, I find a lot has changed since I was vamping around in college. Adult dating apparently requires more than simply jumping around to House of Pain. For instance, finances are more complicated now. As a high-earning professional, I need to know where do you stand on the paying for dinner question.

Do you think a woman should absolutely offer to pay, even if she has no intention of doing so? Do you think not offering is rude, even though if he accepts she will never date him again? Do you think it is not equally appropriate to reciprocate in other ways, like paying for other non-dinner activities or hosting a follow-up dinner in her own home?

Sorry for the rapid-fire multiple questions, but I rarely let anyone get a word in edge-wise.

Confused in the Queen's Quay

Dear Confused,

I think that unless you are dating a younger man who you intend to ravish and never call again, perhaps also stealing one of his sweatshirts, you should NOT offer to pay.

Now, there are certainly exceptions, but most of them obvious - i.e. an extraordinarily expensive guest-chef-prix-fixe dinner that was your idea or something like that (ballet would fit here but that's kind of its own Dating Advice topic). But on the whole, I do not think that you should feel obligated to make the fake offer either, especially considering the consequences of his accepting are so dire.

I have always been a big fan of the reciprocity. In fact, I used to consider it the hallmark of a good date. Frequently I would suggest it myself while refusing a ham-handed attempt toward the purse (all my dates had hands made of ham, it's why I married a Latina woman instead: hands of cornsilk.)

The reciprocity game is socially graceful in so many ways:

  1. It can bridge pay inequity, so the weaker earning partner can "reciprocate" with an appropriately priced event.

  2. One can preserve the old-time chivalry of the gentlemen paying for dates

  3. It means that the next date is assured, and, by corollary,

  4. The sense of obligation can be quickly quashed in the time it takes to drink an apple martini at "this great spot I know" that also happens to be really close to your house.

As for the rapid-fire questions and general run-on sentences, don't let a little thing like the other person's thoughts get in the way of a good date. What if they turn out to be boring? Go with what you know is good, and that's you.

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