cocktails.jpg For the straight single man, dating takes a toll on the wallet. Queer dating has a more egalitarian approach to who pays for what, but those heterosexuals, well, they’re just not there yet. Regardless of how far feminism has uplifted women or how many glass ceilings it’s cracked, some women still expect (if not appreciate) their men to pay for their dates, dinners, and movie tickets.

Now, I know what you’re saying. “But I always split the bill when I go out!” Good for you, but that guy you’re going on a first date may not know that. Some men balk at the thought of a dinner date, considering the price of entrees in San Francisco, at least a drink apiece, and possibly dessert for two if the date seems to be going well. Depending on where you go, he’s looking at a bill of $60 or more for someone he’s never met, doesn’t know he’ll click with, or someone he may not even get a goodnight kiss from. It can add up! And for the penny-pinching I-should-really-be-on-foodstamps types out there, it’s enough to kickstart some palpitations.

I certainly don’t advocate unfair expectations on the first date, like expecting him to pick up the bill or expecting her to reciprocate in some sort of sexual or physical manner. But…at least in this case, you’ve got to look at it from the straight guy’s perspective. How many first dates does a single man go on in a year? In a lifetime? How many of those are dinner dates? And how many dinners does he end up buying? How many of those first dates develop into some sort of relationship or pleasant dating experiences? Come on, girlfriend, you know how hard it can be to find the right guy to date on the regular! Now imagine that schlub you dated back in November who’s probably still telling his life story to the women he wrangles into dates.

So skip the dinner and do drinks instead. It’s a step above coffee, which necessitates a sometimes too casual daytime meetup. But it’s not as costly as dinner. Drinks can even make better dates than dinners because you get to set the pace: you are not dining according to a restaurant’s schedule and there’s no waiter hovering around, waiting to clear the table and push you out the door. And if the other person is a beast, you can gulp down your poison, declare bedtime, and skedaddle. Although, of course, there are some caveats. One, don’t drink too much (two, maaaaaybe three drinks if you’re there long enough). Two–and I hate to say this but I should anyway–don’t leave your drink unattended with your date. I know laffin4u seemed like a nice guy on Plenty of Fish…but you never know.

Ladies, I know you’re paying behind the scenes for that first date, for the new tube of mascara or the extra set of razors or the chin wax you so desperately needed. Meeting for drinks, though, is relatively low-cost in the dating arena…enough so that you, I’m quite sure, can afford to at least buy one of your drinks yourself. Sure, you may only earn 77 cents to his dollar, but that’s why you insist on going to your local bar on ladies’ night. Cheers to that.

Image by blueandwhitehoops.

The Sexual Manifesto is Christine Borden’s weekly column on sex in the city, sex and culture, and, well, sex. Got a tip for Christine (and it’s not in your pants)? Email her at

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  • bloomsm

    Strongly disagree. Meeting for a drink is non-committal to the point of “why bother”? If you can’t manage to put on your best behavior for a few hours and enjoy yourself, why date? It’s like we’re not happy unless we can have a sample of something first. Jump in whole hog, I say. I paid for lots of first date dinners and drinks for one reason: it’s a nice thing to do for someone else.

  • Eve Batey

    But what about the gents who don’t have the bucks for a dinner date for two? Is he just banned from dating until he gets money?

  • bloomsm

    No. That gent learns to cook. Which is waaaayyyy sexier than buying food at a restaurant.

  • bloomsm

    I.e., make your first date into a picnic. C’mon folks. Let’s be creative.

  • Christine Borden

    Picnic dates are totally cool too. Drink-dates are just another option. I’m the type of person, though, who really enjoys going out to new restaurants/bars. Also, rain/cold/general bad weather ruins picnics, so what do you do in the late fall and winter?

    I appreciate a man who cooks (read: really really like it), but a dinner at his place or mine is not only NOT SAFE for a first date with someone you don’t know very well but also kinda uncomfortable if you two don’t hit it off.

  • Greg Dewar

    You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a nice time. But that also doesn’t mean you have to settle for McDonald’s burgers and a 40 of PBR for a “cheap dinner date” either. There are some nice places around town that aren’t super expensive but are a lot of fun, so you have a nice time without breaking the bank. Also: Happy Hours.

  • generic

    Christine’s larger point is more important than just the toll on the male wallet — it’s the depressive effect on dating in general. If we accept certain premises, everyone loses under the current scenario.

    If we agree that dating is a good thing (the more dates, the better) then our cultural bias toward displaying worth through a dinner check would seem to counterproductive. There would simply be more dates for everyone if there wasn’t a financial barrier to the whole activity.

    But I suppose you could argue the high cost of dating acts as brakes on the male libido. Men are more likely to trivialize the whole activity, more likely to cut to the sex-on-the-third-date trope. A $50 check adds more significance and demonstrates that you’re serious. (Well, more serious, anyway). And if you’re not serious, drinks are fine. Preferable, actually.

  • bloomsm

    Christine, wasn’t suggesting that you should go back to his on a firstie. Just saying I find the exploratory drink a bit too superficial.