Last week, boyfriend picked me up at my apartment. I dressed up in a red dress and put on sparkly earrings. We went to one of my favorite restaurants and ate by candlelight. It was a lovely night and romantic night, but is it wrong to say that boyfriend paying definitely upped the romance factor?
Maybe I’ve been “socialized,” (oh society and its expectations about the financial aspect of love and dating) but there’s something inherently more romantic when the man pays for dinner than when the couple goes splits on the bill. At first, I felt slightly guilty about that. After all, why should the man paying be more romantic?
I’ve been raised to be a financially independent woman. I read a lot of history and nonfiction books that discuss the intersection of love, money, and power. Maybe that’s why when I was in high school, I was always uncomfortable with guys — even friends — treating me to dinner. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve realized that sometimes, I should just stop analyzing everything.
Boyfriend and I take turns paying for things or we split it down the middle. I think it all evens out at the end. But last evening was a real, old-fashioned date. And, according to real, old-fashioned romance protocol, he opened the door, pulled out my chair, and paid for the dinner.
Most of my girlfriends agree with me: The first date, the guy pays. The dates after that, couples will take turns paying or split the check. Or perhaps, one party will pick up the check for the dinner and the other will pay for the movie tickets. Whatever the arrangement, I’ve discovered that the most important thing is that neither side feels like they’re mooching or taken advantage of. And if boyfriend paying for a special dinner makes the night seem more special, well, I suppose I don’t have to beat myself up for it.
I’m not giving up my “independent woman” card. I can support myself, yes, but I hope I’m never so independent that I can’t let a little romance in my life.
Published or updated September 2, 2009.