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Let's set the record straight on who should pay on a first date

May 21, 2014

Get over here NOW! I told my friend about you and he wants to meet you!

I looked at the text as my hairdresser fluffed my hair forward. "All done! Looks great!" she said.

(Okay that's a lie. This was four years ago and my hairdresser was a total B-word and she probably said something more along the lines of, "Well I did my best...")

I happened to be two blocks away from my friend and the allegedly eligible dude, so I didn't feel so desperate responding immediately to her text: Be right over!

She'd been mentioning this guy to me for a couple of weeks. He was a Marine who was tall, tan and had heart-crushing dimples that punctuated an almost too perfect smile. I'm always wary of guys who are too good-looking, but she'd vehemently vouched for him, so I thought he may be all right.

I walked in the sports bar and waited to take off my sunglasses until I was sure she'd seen me and pointed me out to the dude. Then I slowly took them off, gave my hair a shake and smiled coyly before I walked over and said hello. He couldn't take his eyes off me. I made small talk and commented on the game then ordered a beer and shifted my attention to my friend to seem nonchalant. Inside I was dying because his biceps were really, really hot. I couldn't keep up the act more than 20 minutes, so I made up an excuse and left.

As I walked down the stairs toward the street, I heard my name and turned around.

"Hey!" he said. "Uhh...do you want to meet up sometime? Maybe lunch, since we both work in the Pentagon?"

"Sure!" I grinned, stifling my excitement. We exchanged email addresses and planned for lunch in the main food court on Tuesday.

I remember what I wore that day because I wanted to look sexy like I would on a date, but it had to be conservative-sexy because it was a date in the Pentagon. I opted for a plum wrap sweater with slightly puffed sleeves and my best figure-flattering black pencil skirt with heels. When I showed up he was hovering near Subway.

"Do you know what you want?" he asked after we'd said hello and awkwardly side-hugged.

"Um, Subway is fine with me," I said.

"I love the $5 footlong deal, but I never eat the whole thing," he said.

"Do you want to split one?" I offered. I always ate the whole thing, but I figured I shouldn't eat more than a Marine on a date.

"Sure, that's a good idea," he said. I told him to choose whatever he wanted because I wasn't picky. At the checkout counter, the lady asked us if we wanted any drinks. He ordered something and asked what I wanted. I got a green tea.

"Your total comes to $9.64," the lady said.

"Oh...how do you want to do this?" he asked me.

Do what? I thought.

"Do you want to just split it with our credit cards?" Before I could answer he turned to the lady. "Is that okay if you just split it on our cards?"

You've. Got. To be kidding me.

"I have $5 I can just give you, it's fine," I said. This wasn't just disappointing -- it was holding up the line and outright embarrassing.

The date was okay. He talked a lot about his Marine adventures. He didn't ask much about me. I got the sense he was bored.

I never heard from the Marine again -- except for one email he sent with a link to a YouTube video of him skydiving -- and when I told my friend about it she said, "Yeah, I was afraid he might not make a good impression. He usually dates strippers and I was really hoping he'd give a normal girl a shot."

Two Things We Can Learn From This:

1) If a guy's type is a stripper, don't set him up on a date at the Pentagon.

2) He could have so easily impressed me by paying, if for no other reason than the fact that I would tell our mutual friend about what a gentleman he is. 

Okay. Here's the deal, dudes. You don't need to spend a lot on us. You don't even have to buy us dinner. (That's been a tough one for me to concede.) But if you want us to go out with out with you ever again and also not spread the news to our friends about what a cheapskate you are, you must pay for the first date. 



Yes we know the pay gap isn't as wide in DC. Yes we know dating is expensive. And yes, we know that most first dates don't lead to second ones and it feels like a colossal waste of time. 

But, dear dudes, this is not going to change anytime soon. We want you to pay. It's not about wanting free stuff and it's not about us needing to know you can provide for us. It's just how we're wired. A few women out there disagree and subscribe to egalitarian dating, but let me tell you...I know a lot of single women, and of all of them I only know one (1) who is okay with splitting the check or even paying on the first date. 

Get mad at me if you like, but a simple google search of this topic will prove I'm in the majority. But remember -- while splitting a $5 footlong isn't ideal, it's exponentially more likely to get you a second date than if you suggest a fancy bar and let us pay our half. 

Word to your mother,

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