About Guys Who Insist on Paying the Bill …

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S2: I mean I’ve done some weird stuff to get to the bill first. I’ve taken my date’s credit card that she put down and kind of put it in my pocket before handing it to the to the waiter and then forgotten that I did that and had to return it like the next day.

S3: Do you still get a credit card. Because I was trying to be chivalrous and that is the highest form of chivalry stealing stealing someone’s gotta go. It’s like the best way to secure a second date. Take your coffee to come back. And now they just live with you. Oh that’s awful. So that’s Sara crow. She is a writer whose work you might have read and the Huffington Post.

S1: MTV or 17 she wrote a piece for GQ called why you should always split the bill and if you’re a guy do you maybe understand what I was talking about a second ago. I mean have you ever been on a dinner date. Maybe leaning back in your chair a little bit. Happy with the meal and how well your date is going but then the bill comes. The waiter drops it right in the middle of the table and all hell breaks loose. Then you have to explain to your date why you spilled her drink just to rustle the bill out of her hands.

S4: I mean am I getting too specific here. My heart was in the right place. But now we’re really going to think on it. Why are guys like me guys who are not specifically old fashioned about gender roles so obsessed with grabbing the check when we’re on a date.

S5: I’m aiming to smile and you’re listening to man up on this show every week. We tell honest stories about our lives and investigate where we get our ideas about what it means to be a man.

S1: If you’re in the New York New Jersey area you’re going to want to listen up for the first time ever. You can pull up and be a part of the studio audience as we tape man up live November 8th at the very intimate green space studio. We’re going to be talking relationships family sex identity and I’ll be chopping it up with the audience afterwards too. You can purchase tickets in advance at Slate dot com slash live. That’s Slate dot com slash live so earlier we were talking about wrestling the bill out of the hands of your date just to show how much of a gentleman you are. Well Sarah Crowe has been in a lot of those dates and she’s frankly tired of it.

S6: I have had people on dates like either kind of like sneak their card to the waiter or like get kind of weirdly aggressive when I’m like no like let’s split it. You know let’s not make it weird and they’re like No really you know like they start insisting in a way that I’ve always found kind of like it changes the tone of the date. You know like you’ve been having a nice time it feels like you’re pretty much on equal footing. And then all of a sudden this person is like I have to do this thing.

S7: Facts so I know exactly what you mean. I have a confession to make. Jean a second ago you were like some people trying to sneak behind you. Yeah I’m that guy. I just thought I would be like a nice gesture. So I just got up. I said How many is the bathroom real quick on my way just to make you know I didn’t lie I did go to the bathroom on the way I talked to the waiter and I said hey here here’s my card just handle this. And I came back to the table than the bill came after already paid for I was expecting them to be grateful and happy and that’s not the response I got. They’re like Oh why’d you do that. And I was taken back by that I was still stubborn in the moment. I’m still like trying to be like No. Like don’t worry about it I’m. I’m the man in this relationship. I mean let me take care of you. Let me pamper you but that’s not necessarily what she wanted and I felt a little conflicted about it afterwards.

S6: I mean just you know on a personal level as I mentioned I just I think if you want to start a relationship you want to start an on equal footing you know. And I’ve had the experience in the past where people get really weird about the idea of who pays for whom. And then there’s this kind of weird aggression at the end of the date about someone kind of taking on all of a sudden taking on this kind of antiquated role like I’m a dude I’m paying for this. Yeah you know even when there’s like no hint of that beforehand with my husband he would do this kind of frequently. He’d be like No. Like I have to pay for it even when like he was in grad school and I was like you don’t have any money or like you know just I’ve been on a lot of dates with people who I don’t think are like bawling out you know but like insist that they pay for me and pay for themselves. And I’ve always found it really uncomfortable because I also like if I want to order a second glass of wine like I just want to do that and if I have the money to do that like I want to pay for it I don’t want you to get weird and be like Okay I can’t make rent because like this chick is like you know doing something I don’t want her to. And it just kind of like I don’t know forces people into these you know this like provider and provide a situation which like feels really strange with a person that you’re basically a stranger would have you ever had to fight someone to pay for your share of the meal. Oh yeah absolutely. So I like I dated a bartender for a while when I was living in Brooklyn. And he like insisted even when he like you know it was running low on money would like insist on paying for me. And it became like a thing where we’d kind of like. Like I would also try to like slip my credit card to the waiter before he could do it. And just like it turned me off eventually just like it felt like a weird kind of like power play and there wasn’t really any of that dynamic anywhere else in our relationship just like kind of like hyper masculine behavior just in this one area it was like absolutely never pull out your wallet Yeah. And so I mean it just made me uncomfortable and it continued to make me uncomfortable and you know he wasn’t the one that I married. It didn’t work out so well.

S7: Because it worked out in other ways. Yes. So I guess I was trying to figure out why I felt so compelled to pay for everything. And I think it goes back to like my first date ever in getting advice from friends and all of them saying like you’ve got to bring your money cause if you want ice cream you’ve gotta get her ice cream. And I also had friends that were girls and one of the constant complaints was oh and he didn’t even pay for the meal like that was also one of those fears that I had of like liking this girl going on a date with her I’m saying girl because we were young and then it’s not working out. Then she has like this laundry list of complaints and one of those being oh he’s super cheap to him.

S8: I mean I think that when you start the first date you know with the understanding that you’re going to be splitting the bill then you can make those decisions if that’s really important to you that can be something that you like address on the first date and that other person can be like No that’s not cool with me. But when you like make it a thing on the first date it really sets the tone for the dates to come. Because like so what if you want to go out like two days later you know like not everyone has you know a five hundred dollar week like a purse a budget or whatever.

S7: So right right right right right. What I’m still confused about I think is what I still have questions about is what splitting the bill does for you.

S8: I mean it gives I guess kind of like a semblance of power in that initial situation. You know it’s not I don’t think that any guy that I’ve ever been out with has been like this is explicitly like a quid pro quo like you know I’m going to pay for your meal like we’re gonna have sex later. Like you know I’m not dating sociopaths or anything but. Right right. You know I think that there is some kind of there is like an initial imbalance when you have someone saying like I am paying for this thing what is it that you’re bringing to the table because it’s like are you paying for my time. You know it’s like it does feel very weird to have someone kind of take the upper hand. But yeah for me I also like I’m proud that I can pay my own bills and that I can make money. And you know buy the things that I want. And just when someone’s like no I’m the person who does that for you now. It kind of like undermines a lot of stuff that I’ve done my whole life. You know it’s like it’s like no I you know none of what you’ve been doing up to this point matters because like I’m just gonna be that guy who’s you know. Yeah your money guy now which is like very weird thing.

S9: Yeah. I think what we’re really talking about here are gender roles. Yeah. And what’s all what I’ve always been confused about though is when we do talk about gender roles we usually frame them as like a conservative versus liberal principles right. If you’re a liberal person supposedly you’re less prone to fall into gender norm traps.

S8: But still yeah I mean internalized misogyny is a bitch. You know like it doesn’t help anyone when when women are expecting that men are going to pay for them. That’s oh I mean I know a lot of women who would consider themselves feminists who would be horrified if a guy was like No. Like we’re splitting it down the middle.

S6: But I think it just these things are so ingrained and you hear these things you know like I definitely when I was first dating when I was in middle school or high school or whatever you know heard like you know if he doesn’t favor you on a day like don’t go on a second date with him.

S8: But I don’t know that people when they really break it down necessarily think that way. You know just it’s one of those things that you hear repeated so often that you’re like OK sure that makes sense but I don’t know how many people like if they were like here’s a really really great person that you’ll have a great time with but you’re going to have to buy her own meal would be like now like calling it quits here you know dating is not for me that’s where I’m drawn down.

S10: I mean I think that I think a lot of men have just been told that like if you’re not capable of providing financially then you’re like not doing the most essential part of your job as a man. And I think that’s changed. You know in the past 50 years even in the past like 20 years there’s been like a major shift. I mean I’m not saying that men and women are like completely financially equal but like it’s getting better.

S11: But I think that you know your grandparents or your parents were probably in situations. I mean I know mine where we’re like. I mean my grandparents like my grandfather worked and my grandmother stayed home. You know that was what was expected. I’m pretty sure every generation in my family prior to that that was the situation as well.

S12: So it’s really hard to undo that in like 30 years or whenever dating kind of sucks for women like it’s a lot of work and maybe a lot of risk involved because a lot of the times it’s online.

S9: And if you’re just sending anonymous messages to people you might get a picture of something you didn’t necessarily ask for.

S13: So what would you say to someone who says that that’s probably a lot of work and therefore the least they can they can get in exchange for that is a free meal.

S14: I mean I think we’re gonna we’re gonna start talking about all the ways that women should be compensated for their work. Maybe like you know getting a lobster tail once in a while. It’s not like the top of the list of priorities. Yeah. Obviously it sucks that women have to like you know I mean not have to. Yeah people could clean up their act a little bit. Right.

S15: But I don’t think that like you get send a dick pic from one guy the next guy should really be paying your date because like that dude was really shitty. You know it’s the dick pig texts. Yeah. And also who knows like that that dude you’re on a date with. Could have been getting it. Catfish could have gotten a dick pic too. You know you never you never know what people go through.

S16: We need the best mug mathematical minds to come together and figure out the right ratio. Exactly. Suggesting a dick pic tax is not where I expected we’d end up with this conversation.

S5: But here we are and it seems like a good time to take this discussion to someone who has zero problems whatsoever accepting a free meal and.

S17: I once went on a date with a man who was much older than me who had a solid career and I knew he had money and he offered to take me out to eat. And it was so uncomfortable.

S18: At one point he performed a rap. No way about Marx and Lenin just loudly.

S19: At the table unprovoked and ultimately I mean all things considered and would probably be into that kind of thing. But I really was just like crawling out of my skin wanting to leave but I didn’t feel unsafe. So I just stuck around and you know he paid the bill and I never really interacted with him again.

S20: If you’re a woman on a date and you really aren’t having a good time and you know you don’t want to see this person again and you don’t want to feel like you have any investment in it then we should go ahead and split the bill if that’s what makes you feel better about it but to me it just it’s gonna make me feel worse that I have less money.

S1: You know this is Madeline Taylor she’s an assistant editor at male magazine and she wrote this piece called People need to chill about women getting free food on dates. Some people have called this going on a foodie call or sneezing for this piece. She interviewed a slew of women about their shittier experiences with dating men and why men paying for meals barely begins to offer a men’s. She also did the brave work of scouring men’s rights message boards for their feelings about this.

S4: Yeah it says that as you imagine. So I read your essay that you wrote and I wrote it down some see splitting the check on a date as the feminist thing to do. Not me.

S21: Talk to me about why you see it that way I don’t want to say that like women shouldn’t ever pay their half of the bill. And I think that the most feminist perspective one could have on this is that women should do whatever they want to do in this situation.

S22: But I I’m I am somebody who is just very comfortable being paid for and I mean I think there’s a variety of experiences that have lent to that but I think it has a lot to do with me about the fact that I don’t like going on dates really. And I like that. You don’t like going on dates. Well it’s sort of like I think a lot of women feel like dating is so time consuming so stressful and a lot of the time you know you match with somebody on Tinder and it yields harassment.

S23: It yields dick pics.

S24: It’s not it’s not a polite experience. Quite often.

S22: So there’s don’t really do so much labor that goes into dating. I think more so as a woman than as a man that knowing that we would have to also spend a bunch of money on bets it’s kind of like why do it at all.

S2: So I know in your article you called it a foodie call. Heard it otherwise called sneezing. I mean for me as someone who always tried to pay the bill. I don’t know it kind of scares me a little bit.

S4: It poses a dilemma for not just me but everyone who wants to go out and make an impression and do like you know like a dramatic display of gentle meanness.

S24: I do think that the whole idea of a foodie call is just like a myth. I really don’t. I don’t know of any buddy who is actively scheduling dates solely so that they can get a free meal. But I think for a lot of a lot of women see the free meal maybe as an incentive. And I think. For me really it’s like if you’re a guy and you’re asking a girl out and she’s unsure. But she considers the fact that she’s going to get a free meal as a reason to say yes.

S25: Like would you rather that you don’t get a chance or that you do get this chance to shoot your shot.

S2: That’s just my thing. So foodie calls are a myth.

S24: Nobody’s out here tricking guys. And just like hustling them for a meal like it that’s it’s just not happening.

S2: So I’m married now but back in the bachelor days I would go in a bunch of first dates and I would try so hard to pay for everything and I’m not exactly sure where it all came from. You know I feel like the fake answer would probably be oh it’s chivalrous and I want to be the one taking care of everything. But it was a little bit self satisfying like unwisely I felt good by being the one to take care of people. And it also really if to be honest with you it kind of felt like a cheap way for me to signal to someone that I’m someone you can depend on. And me right. And when you can trust. So definitely.

S23: And I mean it is the case that making a financial investment can often indicate you know an emotional investment or that you are a reliable person that you really care.

S26: But yeah I kind of think that my generation I’m I’m only twenty three. I think that women 10 years older than me may have come up thinking more that splitting the bill was the right thing to do for their sense of gender equality but I think they think women of my generation have witnessed the failures of that thinking and we’ve kind of decided they’re still so far to go with gender equality that this is one of those things that’s not actually helping and that we might as well. Lean in to. Being a woman. I guess and being able to have people pay for us.

S16: I’m kind of split here. I’m probably going to continue trying to pay for everything not to balance pay inequality gaps or because the feminist thing to do to be honest it’s a lot more self-serving than that. Except there’s this one line from that essay by Sarah Crowe who we heard from earlier. That stuck with me. I felt called out by it. I pulled out a line from your essay that I thought really stood out to me. You wrote shelling out money for another person doesn’t make you a hero.

S9: That really kind of shook me because that’s kind of how I always saw it. I saw myself as the hero for swooping in and paying for your burrito right. Do you think guys like me are deluding ourselves.

S8: I don’t think it’s necessarily like a delusional stance but I do think that there’s an argument to be made for not not doing things that you think are complimentary.

S15: Without knowing whether the receiver thinks it’s complimentary. You know like the guys who catcall women think to some degree that they’re like paying a nice compliment to a stranger on the street. And that woman is like shit I need to like make sure I can run in these shoes you know. Yeah. And I think that just like you know like we’re talking about consent earlier you need to make sure that you’re on the same page because like it may feel really good to you to feel like you’re being kind of like heroic and being kind and giving the other person this gift. And then if that’s not something they want to receive it’s just baggage you know.

S13: Yeah I guess nowadays it probably wouldn’t hurt to worry a little bit more about whether or not you’re patronizing. Reggie I keep thinking about whether or not I should be holding doors open for women.

S9: That’s kind of like created like a paradox for me. You don’t necessarily you can’t mind read. You don’t know this person feels like they can open their own doors. Thank you very much. Or it’d be nicer if more people just held doors for everybody. So it almost feels like kind of walking into a date without having this conversation beforehand really feels like you might walk into a trap like how do you know for sure that if you say Hey let’s split the bill the person won’t be offended can you give me some etiquette tips on how to have that conversation.

S15: I think that just in terms of all things consent related being kind of forthright about them makes it easier you know not being like Hey we’re gonna slip the bill at the end of the date just being like hey I’d like to pay for this if that’s not cool with you. Let me know. You know kind of putting that out there at the beginning of the date. That gives the other person an option to say No I’d really like to split this. Or like cool. That’s very nice of you but I think that when you kind of do it behind their back it seems like you’re engaging in this power struggle that you know they never agreed to. You know you’re engaging in this like relationship dynamic already that they never signed on for. Yeah. You know I think that I don’t know that you need to ask if you’re holding the door for someone but if the person that you’re holding the door for says like hey look I’ve got this. Then you stop. You know that’s all it really takes. It doesn’t have to be some kind of like heated conversation where you lay out all the rules before you go on the date.

S27: But at some point if someone says like this is not a thing I’m comfortable with you know like you would in any other situation just be like okay cool then we’ll do it the way that makes us both comfortable.

S5: And that’s the show here at Man up. We love getting e-mails and voicemails and we’d love to hear from you too. So if you have your own story about splitting the bill or maybe you’ve cut yourself being a little aggressive about it leave a message at 8 or 5 6 2 6 8 7 0 7 that’s 8 0 5 men up 0 7. Or you can e-mail us at man up at Slate dot com. Let us know if you’ve got topics you want to hear as cover on future episodes too if you’d like this episode. Consider supporting the kid and leave of and Apple podcasts or wherever you like to listen. But more importantly we need you to subscribe. We’ve got new shows every week and you do not want to miss it. Man up is hosting and written by me aiming to smile.

S28: It’s produced by Cameron Drews our executive producers are Jeffrey Bloomer and lowing Lew Gabriel Roth is editorial director of Slate podcasts. June Thomas is a senior managing producer of Slate podcasts and as always we’ll be back next week with more man up.