Mayte's Dating Chronicles: The Wage Gap
It's a question as old as time. Who pays for the first date?
(Side note: if I ever use phrases or idioms incorrectly, it's because English is my second language. Sometimes I just put things together that sound right. Let me live.)
Most people are shocked when I reveal that in my recent experience (read: the last two years and half in particular) I have paid for my half of the dates I've been on. I do the little "reach for my wallet" dance but I don't have to wonder whether or not I'll have to contribute - *insert any man here* the waiter will hand him the bill. It wouldn't matter if the bill ended up in the center of the table, this will always end the same. he reads the bill out loud, let's me know what my half is looking like. He'll tell me he's a good tipper. They always tell me they are good tippers. But it depends though - if the service is really terrible, then he might just tip a standard 15%. They all say that. It's the conversation that's supposed to quiet the sound of my wallet contributing to the bill.
According to social rule, men are "supposed" to pay. I know this is an antiquated mindset.
It speaks to the roles we are all meant to play. (The roles are nonsense.)
It's supposed to offer us clarity and balance. (It does neither).
It is something less to worry about. (But then we worry more about it.)
According to convention, of course the men are supposed to pay! Traditionally, they've always had all the money. But it's 2021! I know that it's 2021. Let me just remind you that I didn't invent patriarchy. And the wage gap is STILL a real thing.
Nowadays, men only pay if they like you or enjoyed the date. I'm often left knowing I won't get a call back. A second date? Unlikely. I used to get disappointed. Until I started asking myself why? Why was I disappointed? Did I want a second date with them? Often times, the answer was no. So that makes every rejection easier - it's always mutual. I try to spend my dates thinking whether or not I like them and less about whether or not they like me. Well... that is until the bill comes.
I know that money has no business dictating my worth. I know that the patriarchy will disagree with that statement. Because to the world, it's clear I am not worth being taken care of, not even as a ruse, not even for tradition.
I know that money has no business dictating my worth. I don't know someone else who enjoys first dates the way that I do - it's easy when you enjoy your own company. You ever go to a restaurant by yourself? It's a lovely time. You choose a great restaurant, try a delicious meal. Indulge in a new drink. There's always a bill at the end. You are the one that pays it. Going on a first date is like going to a restaurant by yourself... but with someone else. Which is why I'm never surprised when I pay. I'm used to paying the bill at the end.
So who pays for the first date? It ends up being pretty simple for me. If I ate food or drank a beverage and I would like to leave that establishment at the end of my time there, then I pay my part of the bill. I try not to think too much into it. After all, I never call the men back either.
But still, when I tell people about my experiences, I'm always met with shock. I tell them maybe I'm a terrible date. We chuckle. They tell me that surely, this isn't a reflection of me. I ask myself in my head "then what is?" We chuckle until we think I feel better. "How was the food at least?" I remember that I don't need to feel bad in order to feel better. At least, we tend to settle on solid restaurants. That's really the key.
Oh, and in case you were wondering - I always tip well - capitalism sucks.
Drink some water. Wear a mask.