Du-bae: "Who should pay on a first date?"

Our oversharing, anonymous dating columnists - one guy and one girl - take it in turns every week to detail their romantic escapades. This week, our girl discusses #splittingthebill
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Du-bae: "Who should pay on a first date?"

And then he murmured those three little words…“Shall we split?”

But let’s back-track for a moment. The subject of who should pay for who on a first date is evidently still a matter of great fragility, so it is one I’d like to discuss.

When I lived in London, it was an unexpected treat if the man offered to pay the bill – and it genuinely didn’t offend me to split (I’m quite capable of looking after myself). In Dubai, ahead of a date, my flatmates told me that if a man doesn’t insist on paying he’s not worth your time and doesn’t value you highly enough. Interesting...

I had mutually arranged drinks with a guy over the weekend. For context, we’d met once before IRL (not on a date) and he was 29. He didn’t ‘invite’ me and I didn’t ‘invite’ him, showing just how blurry the lines of modern dating are. After, say, two hours of sitting and drinking at a table for two in JLT, it seemed like a good time to conclude the evening. He asked for the bill and when it arrived in its imposing, leather-bound wallet he murmured those three little words...“Shall we split?”

Modern dating is riddled with stressful questions: What if you paying hurts their ego? What if one person earns significantly more? What if you order differently priced drinks? What if they chose the most expensive venue in the city?

In this instance, the tab totalled Dhs500. I slowly pulled out my purse, unsure if he was testing me or if he was seriously suggesting I contribute. It turned out he was. Based on what my friends told me, I was instantly offended, and I’ll admit, I judged him, placing him somewhere in the category of 'tight' and 'uninterested'. If he’d swiftly picked up the bill I would have thought he showed promising signs of being a 'keeper'.

But this was wrong of me. When you meet someone for a first date, you actually have no idea about their beliefs on financial values, dating etiquette or gender roles, so it makes sense to go halves.

Speaking of gender roles, at a time when women are campaigning for feminism and crying out for equal pay, not splitting the bill seems absurd. Regardless of who earns more money, why do we still entertain such outdated traditions? Yes, dating in the ‘olden days’ was simpler, but it was also consumed by the very gender stereotypes women are so desperately trying to stamp out today.

I’m not saying it’s not nice to be courted a little, and if the date sincerely wishes to pay, by all means accept. What I am saying, however, is it is rather unfair to expect the man to pay, and surely if we want to be treated as equals, we must behave as such.

Photos: Instagram @the3ffypancakes