The Importance of Being An Earner

November 13, 2012 1:00 pm


In this day and age, is it safe to assume that the ideology of the female form has changed to a degree that she would be unrecognizable to those of the 20th century? The world has undergone massive technological advances in the last century, but also massive leaps in the social chemistry of interactions between observed parties, men and women, father and daughter, and many other examples. Therefore, are we led to believe that among these changes has formed a new kind of expectation when it comes to dating and relationships?

Picture a date between a man and a woman just 20 years ago. They are enjoying a lovely meal at the local Italian restaurant “Finucchio’s”, as they finish up their dessert of delicious ice-cream, she looks up at him expectantly, spoon in mouth savouring the last morsel. He then turns to the waiter and says, “Can I get the bill please?” The woman doesn’t bat an eyelid as he takes out his brown leather wallet and with an almighty show of strength and willpower, tears open the metaphorical purse-strings to produce the cash or credit-card required for him to cover the expense of the meal.

Now skip back to present day. Is this still the same stereotypical date of the modern age? Or is there a fine line between taking a lady out to dinner and simply trying to show off by flashing the cash? Quite often I see vouchers for 2 for 1 meals come up in my email inbox, or the opportunity to buy a card with would give me 25% off the bill when I next went to aforementioned restaurant. Is it now socially acceptable for a man to use these to take a woman out on a date?


In discussing this we must note that there are very different social expectations for a first date, compared with any other occasions that one might take someone to dinner. With a first date, I believe personally that social convention dictates that a man should pay the bill, either to show that he is financially capable of supporting the woman (though that is somewhat outdated) or to be courteous as it is often him that has proposed this date rather than her.

I, myself, am only days away from my first date with a new girl. We have known each other for a few weeks now and it is clear from our conversations, not intentionally focusing on the subject but mere passing interest, that she is in a better situation financially than I am. In fact being that I am a student, to take her out somewhere that I deem to be a special first date will cause me to forgo eating for a few days the following week.

But is it okay for her to pay? She has offered to foot the bill, but I can’t help feeling that this would be an act of sympathy rather than a good footing to start a relationship.

So am I right in declining her offer and instead picking up extra hours at work on a night that I know we could spend time together? I believe that, through the way I have been brought up, this is the best course of action. I feel personally that I would be amiss in my duties as a male (though clearly from an outdated androcentric model of humanity) if I didn’t pay- at least on the first date.


Her reply to this was that in    future we could simply split the bill in half. But this could arise just as many problems. What happens if I decide to go to a local restaurant of fairly standard quality, except for their special higher priced menu that contains things I wouldn’t dream of paying for as a student? If she then orders from the prestige style menu what do I do? Do I ask her if she intends to pay for what she eats compared against the minimal price of my scampi and chips? Or should I hold my tongue and cough up for her expensive taste?

This expectation on dating that a man can afford to spoil a lady is now an outdated model that needs to be updated to the 21st century. Women are just as able to pay as men most of the time, vouchers are a great way to save money and should not afford the user a glance of disbelief from their partner at the social faux-pas of allowing the other diners to see his frugal nature.

And what’s worse is that this model only applies to dating. Not that long ago it wasn’t uncommon for the father of the bride to contribute a sum of money towards the wedding, but these days this may not be entirely feasible with the economic climate. While the climate is a strong issue, the father could also refuse on the grounds that the daughter is able to earn her own money.


In this evolving and ever-changing world, I am sure that many things will change in this area and become more or less acceptable as time passes. For now, we just have to hope that all successful relationships won’t forever be based on the man being the ‘earner’.

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