Dating Diary Part Four

I’ve been dating a woman who is really great fun. So far I’ve only discovered one flaw in her character: she always expects me to pay for everything. 

I didn’t mind the first few times, but now it always happens. I don’t want to sound like a tight-fisted-male-moaner, but is it fair that I always have to pay? Some of my female friends say yes, definitely! And some of my male friends agree. People think that when you’re on a date, picking up the tab is the mark of a true gentlemen. 

But when I say she expects me to pay for everything, I mean everything: Cocktails. Dinner. Cinema tickets. Coffees. Taxis. Groceries. I even had to pay for the batteries for her vibrator! Where did we get this rule that men must pay?

I know that some men feel that their masculinity is threatened by a woman who earns more money than he does — but I’m not one of them! On the contrary, I love it when out dining a woman gently pushes my hand away from a bill and says, “Please, let me get this.” And when she sees the cost and doesn’t pass out, I always think: Wow! What a woman!

Is it simply the case that my current date is tight with money? I don’t think so. One of the things she said she hated most about her last boyfriend was that he was rich and tight with money. “I hate tight men!” she declared. 

“Me too!” I said in solidarity, reaching for the bill.  

In retrospect I realise that this was the moment I’d condemned myself to a life of always picking up the tab to prove that I was not one of those awful tight men. Subsequently, I’ve tried all sorts of tactics to get her to pay. I’ve dropped little hints. I’ve kept my wallet in my pocket. I’ve charged off to the loo when the bill arrives – all to no avail. 

By the way my date is not rich, and she’s not poor either.  I don’t think this is about how much money you have or don’t have. I once dated an heiress who was very rich. I mean seriously rich. She could have paid for the bill and bought the restaurant too. But did she? No, Muggins here always paid.  

I understand that paying for your date is a symbolic thing. It’s a man’s way of asserting he’s a good provider for you and your children.  Fair enough. But it’s a bit galling sitting having dinner with a woman who proudly calls herself a feminist; a woman who believes in equality of opportunity/ equality of pay/ equality of this and that, but not the equality of getting the bloody bill! 

Dating can be an expensive business – especially if you go on more than one date a week as many people do. One survey, from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, found the average cost of a date in the UK is £129 for two people. But that doesn’t include extras. Dry cleaning. New clothes. Taxis. Hair cut. Thos batteries …

So I’m pioneering a new style of dating I call ‘downsize dating’. It’s where you spend less and learn more about your date. The idea is that spending all that money in an overpriced restaurant is unnecessary. Try going on a lovely walk together instead. It’s a really good way to get to know someone – and it’s free! 

Cosmo Landesman is the former dating columnist for The Sunday Times and writes about love and romance for a wide range of publications including The Times and The Spectator magazine. He is currently single — but remains optimistic that true love is just one date away. 

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