In our era of strong, independent women, who pays for dinner on a 21st-century first-date?
Have you ever puzzled over who should pay for dinner on a first date?
Back when I was living mostly in the land of 50/50 love, what author David Deida called Stage 2 Intimacy, I wanted my romantic dates to at least pretend they were willing to foot half the dinner bill.
Especially on a first date.
This would clue me into a woman’s independence.
I needed to see a woman reach for her purse as I went for the bill, acting like she had every intention to contribute.
Even if her reaching was awkward and hesitant, as if feigning the act, I still appreciated it. It was her way of saying, “Bryan, I don’t expect you to take care of me. I can take care of myself.”
Oh it just made me swoon!
I don’t have to take care of this woman? Be still, my 2nd Stage heart!
I may have let a woman or two (or more) pay on the first date. Perhaps if she had asked me out first, or if she insisted twice. If there was a second date, I silently hoped she’d grab the bill and say, “I got it!”
I’d let her, too, and feel good about doing so.
Evolving Out of Oppressive Stage 1 Love
In a Stage 2 Relationship (there are three stages), I fully want a woman who can take care of herself, who doesn’t need me any more than I need her. We can exchange love and resources on equal terms as complete, whole individuals who would be just fine without each other.
That’s bliss to those evolving out of the oppressive Stage 1 love.
Stage 1 lovers gets dinner out of obligation, a sense of duty, and often manipulation. They usually expect something significant in return. Whether they’re offering dinner, money, sex or simply an hour of their time, this person only gives to get.
When a Stage 1 lover doesn’t get, they do not give.
If you’re out to dinner with someone who loves this way, you’ll likely feel the weight of their expectation for you to do your part.
When a man compliments a woman but gets upset when she doesn’t offer the appreciation he wants in return, he’s offering Stage 1 love.
A Stage 2 lover, treats you as an equal.
They might open the door for you or massage your shoulders for a minute, but they’re meeting you on equal ground. They want their shoulders massaged, too, for an equal amount of time.
They also might NOT open the door for you if it would inconvenience them. After all, they’re not responsible for you. They don’t want you to expect anything from them, and they won’t expect anything from you, either – or at least they’ll try their best not to.
A couple in Stage 2 offers love cautiously to each other, often checking in for agreement along the way.
I lived in Stage 2 for most of my life.
I thought that’s where the magic was. I was wrong. Loving this way eventually made my most significant relationships unsatisfying at best, and horrific at worst.
Because we gave cautiously to the relationship and determined to maintain our independence, we were never able to fully surrender in love to each other.
We split every bill … metaphorically speaking.
We played love safe.
Modern western culture idolizes safe Stage 2 loving.
Eons of oppressive Stage 1 love has created a world in which women’s freedoms are repressed and men resent being manipulated by those repressed women.
Stage 2 love mostly satisfies on superficial levels. No one takes the risks required to love from the most profound depths.
But let’s get back to that first-date dinner.
What Happens When You’re Dining With a Stage 3 Companion?
A man loving from Stage 3 will enthusiastically pay the bill when he has the means to pay, and he’ll expect nothing in return, not even a “thank you.”
Paying is his gift, to himself.
It’s an authentic expression of his capacity to love freely, which feels awesome to him. No matter how his date receives it, he enjoys giving it.
He might still appreciate her offer to pay.
A Stage 3 man also wants a woman who can take care of herself. He doesn’t want a dependent partner looking for a meal ticket.
However, this man is delighted by an independent woman who is actually strong enough to relax and let him take care of her.
She has nothing to prove, for she’s a Stage 3 woman. She loves giving her authentic gifts, too, and a part of her gift is fully receiving her partner’s masculine love.
Nowadays, I feel alive when I pay for a date.
I even get great pleasure feeling my resolve strengthen as I wave off her purse reach with a casual, “No … I got this.”
The other day, I treated a woman to lunch who surely makes a lot more money than me; it was delightful!
As I confidently told her to stop reaching for her purse, she immediately gifted me with her bright radiant smile. Her body visibly relaxed, too, and I felt great knowing that my unconditional offer allowed her to be more comfortable in her body.
I helped her feel cherished and cared for, and I felt powerful.
In that moment of giving my gift freely without expecting anything in return, I received so much.
Can you see a rule here about who should pay?
I hope not … because there is no rule! (trick question, ladies and gentleman)
We are evolving towards a liberated future for humankind; there is no place for the rules of our repressive past.
I always have the resources to pay.
What if a man who gives his love freely has finances tighter than his comfort level?
Why shouldn’t he accept his date’s offer to contribute?
Might it even be appropriate that she pay the bill?
A lovely female friend of mine in Los Angeles often paid for meals with a Dutch boyfriend she loved deeply. His work visa was expired and he hadn’t found work in months. He was so financially poor he had to ride the city bus for an hour to visit her a few miles away.
But he showed up for her. He loved her deeply by offering his strong, steady masculine presence. He took care of her in other ways that didn’t require money, which allowed her to relax in his presence. He returned to Holland after a few months so he could work. She followed him soon after.
Today, they’re thriving together.
There is no fixed rule about who should pay.
If it fills a woman with genuine joy to see her partner smile and relax as she steps up and says, “I got this!” then she should pay if she has the means. Because that’s her gift to herself.
Either way, if you’re a woman, it’s perfectly appropriate to offer to contribute when the bill arrives.
Just watch closely what happens next.
For you’re about to discover what kind of lover you’re dining with, and what kind of lover you are, too.
What’s your experience? Please share in the comments!
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Also Read from Bryan:
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