Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Going Dutch - the thorny issue of the Dutch Treat

Confession: I love all things Dutch. The collective national height, the national mode of transport, the National Day, tulips and the colour orange all hold significance for me.

The British are known for their 'Dutch courage' :-)
'The flying Dutchman' is a great piece by Wagner, apparently.
And everyone knows that a 'Dutch coffeeshop' is anything but :-)

There is so much to celebrate about The Netherlands and the Dutch.
But it I have to say, there is one thing about the Dutch that makes me squirm with unease.

I am sure the tradition of 'going Dutch' being attributed to the Dutch is nothing more than a smear campaign, because of course this phenomenon is not restricted to the Dutch.

However, I know that this practice is actually prevalent there. It really is. It is the way of life.
But, the point of this post is not to diss a whole country. I am just interested in this specific phenomenon with the unfortunate name.

We are all confused about the right etiquette on a date. This is arguably one of the more contentious issues in the SMP.
Charming Disarray describes brilliantly her own thoughts on the issue here.

What I really like about her post is the mention of the different ways in which men and women can 'give'. A man may well pay for the expensive dinner at that Michelin star restaurant, but who is evaluating the cost of the lovely birthday party she hosts in his honour? Or the simple picnic she puts together with all her heart, just for the two of them to enjoy?

Some women are very sensitive on the issue of who pays on the first date for two main reasons:

1. They may simply be principled people and feel that a first date is nothing more than a 'look-see' and should not oblige a man to pay for both parties. Nothing to do with feminism. These women just want to be fair to a man, who, afterall may well get rejected.

In a previous thread, Bellita mentioned the need for women to look at the dating world from the point of view of a man: He could easily spend hundreds of dollars before a woman might so much as kiss him on the cheek. Is this fair on men? Or is this part and parcel of his reality that he should just accept because a woman should not be thought of as a 'commodity' unless she advertises herself as such?
Which brings me uncomfortably close to my topic of choice, 'the bang-to-buck ratio'.
(Thank you Bill :-)

Is 'being fair' in this way by women viewed as a good or a bad thing by men?

These women are probably the very same ones who will choose to decline a treat from a man on a first date if she is about to reject him. Because she can't live with herself if she accepts his treat and then bails on him.
On the other hand, she might pay for herself because she actually likes him and is therefore wanting to show goodwill in the manner described below:

2. Some women may not necessarily be wanting to 'be fair' like the category above, but do so a little  grudgingly seeing how men are being treated by unscrupulous women, and as a result of this, they want to distance themslves from the whole 'golddigger' vibe.

And of course there are women who are true golddiggers and see men purely as walking cash machines and nothing else. She would rather look into his wallet than into his eyes over a romantic dinner.

But, it must be said: This 'golddigger' woman - who is often deried by both men and women alike - is sometimes just what a man appears to want. The woman who will accept his treat and make him feel like a man. The woman who is actually seen as 'feminine' because she is able to accept.
As opposed to her 'feminista' sisters who are so masculinised they want to pay for everything.

Like I said, we are all confused.
The conventional wisdom is that men should at least offer to pay. Because it is symbolic.
Symbolic of what?

Erm, dunno anymore...
Like I said, we are all....

Is there so much bad blood between men and women that even a symbolic gesture is not possible anymore?

Anyhow the focus of this post is actually not on first date confusion.
What happens when two people are established as a couple? Perhaps cohabiting or married.
Perhaps even with children.

What are the financial arrangements? Is a woman expected to still pay her way? Even if her capacity to do so is severely limited by her choice to be a stay-at-home-Mum or variation thereof?

Is there a code of conduct? Should there be a code of conduct? Or are we all content to fumble in the dark?

What do most modern men want in terms of home life and finances?

Because of the current divorce laws, do men want women who will work throughout their married lives, fully aware that this will take something away from their femininity and create exactly the kind of 'masculinised' woman they don't like...or do men want the woman who will be financially dependent on them fully accepting that in the event of a break-up she will have no alternative but to fight for as much financial assistance from him as she can get?

Are men just as afflicted by the notion of 'pie in the sky' as much as women are accused of? Do men even know what they want anymore? Or are they just as confused as women?

This is a perceived message from the modern man:
'I shall provide willingly for you and the kids, but in return, you must never pull that EPL crap on me no matter how badly I treat you.'


'You and I will share financial responsibilities for the household and kids equally, but I still want the right to be seen as 'the king' with all the conqueror's rights that come with it. Even if you have to go to work same as me, don't come home and be all bossy with me. In the home, you: little woman, me: The Big Boss. You Jane, me...forget Tarzan - me blooming King Kong!'

Fair or foul?
A tad facetious or the naked truth?
If we were to rewrite the rules, what would they be?


Grasshopper said...

I do admit that I’ve always felt a bit of rejection when my lady offered to pay half on a date. The more she insisted the more rejected I would feel. Until I read both yours and CD’s thoughts on this I never considered that she might have just been trying to be fair. Thank you both for sharing.

The way I looked at it was – I’ve asked you out – if I thought you were a gold digger I would not have asked you in the first place. You do not have to prove to me that you are not one by offering to pay. Just the fact we are on a date means you’ve passed the gold digger fitness test.

Once established as a couple I did expect my Lady Grasshoppers to step up to the plate and share some of the relationship expenses. I did not have any set rules on this however. If she spontaneously decided she wanted to stop for ice cream and that was not on the day’s original itinerary I thought she should spring for the ice cream. That kind of thing.


Spacetraveller said...

Grasshopper to the rescue!

Thank YOU for your thoughts on this issue.
It is great to have a male view on this.

"my Lady Grasshoppers"
This is such a lovely term of endearment!
Very refined, I have to say :-)

Some women have to contend with 'female canine' as their only term of endearment from their beloved...

Somehow, 'my Lady Grasshopper' sounds so much classier than 'mah b*tch' even if the latter is meant in the best romantic way possible :-)
Ya know?

Still, each to his own...

Anonymous said...


First, thanks for the hat tip.

Second, I think CD's post (which you linked to) is spot-on. Bellita's comment to that post rounded it out.


Charming Disarray said...

Thank you for the link, ST. :)

I like your insights here. It's funny how this seemingly small issue touches on so many others that are much bigger and more confusing. It doesn't seem like it should be so mixed up, but it is.

"The woman who will accept his treat and make him feel like a man. The woman who is actually seen as 'feminine' because she is able to accept."

I have a good friend who says something similar: "The man provides the entertainment and the woman provides the win." She is very happily married!

Glad you liked it, Bill and Grasshopper. I still sometimes feel awkward about letting the guy pay but I try to keep in mind that most guys seem to like it.

Spacetraveller said...

@ CD and Bill,

You're welcome.

It was a very nice post, CD. I for one enjoyed it.

"I still sometimes feel awkward about letting the guy pay but I try to keep in mind that most guys seem to like it."

I shall get this tattooed into my brain :-)

Pure wisdom.

Anonymous said...

I met my future wife in New York City, almost immediately after landing a big fat contract to provide software to a large investment firm. I was not yet flush with funds, but I had saved quite a lot of money to make the business trip. She was completing her doctorate. Believe it or not, we met at a party given by the investment firm, where her soon to be ex-boyfriend had forgotten that he invited both girlfriends to the event. There was a bit of a scene, whereupon my one saving grace was that my rented Armani tux actually fit me well, and I walked up and said, "THERE you are, I've been looking all over for you! We got the contract! We'll have to fly to London and Paris pretty soon, is that going to be ok?"

She literally qualified for an Oscar, giving a little scream and hugging me. She exclaimed, "That's so great, four contracts in three days, this calls for a celebration, let's blow this boring party and get some dinner!"

Noting the scowl that the president of the firm gave me (no, it was one contract, but I told you it was worthy of an Oscar) we swept from the room. She led me to the elevator where I hung back, conscious that I may have just done something bad, and she looked at me quite seriously and asked, "Aren't you going to take me to dinner?" I replied, "Not unless you tell me I'm not in trouble."

She explained that her now-ex boyfriend had told her about the software contract, and that he had recommended against the guy who actually won it, because his was the most expensive presentation. Apparently, the president of the firm had told him that sometimes you have to pay top dollar to get top product and service. She even knew how much the contract payment schedule was... and then told me she went along with it, because I looked so good (I'm quite ugly, by the way) in silk. By this time, the elevator had arrived, so we started down.

She said she knew a place where she could get us in, as she knew the hostess, and we got in a cab. She told the cabbie the address, and off we went... straight to Delmonico's, one of the few places I had heard of, before actually being in New York. We got there, and she swept inside, before I even finished paying the cab. By the time I got there, she had already gotten us a table at one of the best places in a city of eight million people. I still don't know how she did that, seeing as there were people waiting for a table.

Small talk, including learning each others names during dinner, and came the bill, which by convention of the time, was presented to me. I glanced at it, and the shock must have registered, despite my non-Oscar deserving poker face. Pulling out my wallet, I peeled off the last four hundred dollars, silently thanking myself for paying both the hotel and the plane ticket back to California in advance. It was also the first time I heard the line, "Will there be any change, sir?" Suffice to say, the waiter got a tip I had no intention of giving, just because this was NO time to cheap out, not in front of the most intoxicating, smart, funny, beautiful and sexy woman I had ever met.

As we got into the cab, to drop her at home, she whispered, "Have you got enough for the taxi?" I shook my head furiously, and she slipped me two fifty dollar bills on the ride to her apartment. She gave me a kiss before we got out of the cab, and another in front of her door. She said, "I'd LOVE to go to London and Paris with you!" and gave me a card with her name, number and address. She went inside, I floated back to the cab and to the cheap hotel where I was staying.

Went home with $20 in my pocket, and a song in my heart. Later, on the way to London, she told me she had almost pulled out her credit card when she realized the bill was over $300, but decided I was a big boy, and could ask for help if I needed it. Then she saw me tip 90 bucks, and decided I couldn't ask for help, so she offered.

The Navy Corpsman

Anonymous said...

Moral of this story is, men, don't be too proud to ask, and women, don't be afraid of telling.

Now that we've been married a few years, even when she says she is paying, she gives me the cash before we get into the restaurant. Call it old fashioned, but we now live where men pay for dinner. As she puts it, she knows she is paying, regardless of who gives out the cash. It's actually soft of funny, since she is the one with the accounting degrees, and she is the one who manages all our finances, with occasional thoughts from me. I was the one to suggest selling the company, after the stock market tanked in 2001/2002. That's about all I've done in 20+ years.

Well, not all I've done... she does have a thing for jewelry, so that's been one of my little pleasures, finding nice things for her, but nothing really super expensive. (Ok, that's not accurate either, but...) Nowadays, you can't get Burmese rubies anymore because of the military rule/dictatorship, so now she gets opals mostly.

But in terms of first date, I think the best course of action is to initially go by who asked whom, and somewhat by which chose the restaurant. Like you said, it's a 'look-see' and there SHOULD be no promise implied or assumed, even in today's no-hangups-society. After reading a goodly amount on the internet in the Manosphere, I realize this isn't always true, but then again, some guys are always on the make, as we used to say. My crowd of friends always thought of the first date as more of fun thing, than a serious fact finding mission or a measuring for wedding cake.

But even if she pulled out the cash and paid for dinner tomorrow, it would not bother me one whit. She's mine, and I'm hers, and the rest of the world can go fish for all we care.

The Navy Corpsman

Spacetraveller said...

@ NC,

What a GREAT story!
Love it - hey, I think this could make a totally cool chick flick for the summer.
Your wife could play herself, given her brilliant acting skills...
And you...maybe George Clooney?
But if you say you are ugly, then maybe George from Seinfeld?


$400 for a first date!
Strewth. I am definitely hanging around the wrong crowd:
Orange juice and the freebie peanuts for yours truly :-)

OK, just kidding...

I love your wife's attitude towards you - you are a 'big boy' =respect for you, but she could see things had gotten out of hand and so she paid for the cab.

So, THIS is the attitude what gets you married LOL.

Spacetraveller is taking notes :-)

Anonymous said...

Eek. No films, no thanks.

The other moral of the story is, find out where you're going, on a date, BEFORE you get the dinner check, and make sure you have enough cash, if you're like me and have already cut up all the credit cards.

It's sort of funny that you said, this is the attitude that gets you married. One of the things we attribute our mutual attraction to, is our combined abilities at communication. Everyone needs to keep secrets now and again, especially when your wife can smell a drop of new ruby in air from 500 yards away. But other than pleasant surprises, we talk about EVERYTHING, openly and calmly. Life is too short to spend it expecting your significant other to divine your wishes on any given subject. Of course, spend 20+ years together, and you'll find that you know his/her wishes better than they do.

50 years ago, men always paid, women were expected to give a little kiss to encourage the man to call them again, at the end of the first date. We see that as hopelessly old fashioned, yet it gave both genders a defined role to play, as well as providing a way to exit the situation gracefully.

I've already said that, should I find myself widowed or alone sometime in the near future, I'd never remarry. I do enjoy the company of women, but in all honesty, I've never been on a date with any woman except my wife in 20+ years. Even the thought of it gives me the itches. I may be on the wrong side of the bell curve, but should I end up living alone, I can promise that I would have no problem with a woman wanting to go Dutch on a date, first date or not. I'd also have no issue with her paying the complete bill, or me paying for it. I guess I'm saying, it's not about the bill, for me, it's about enjoying the company I'm with... and the money merely provides a socially acceptable way for two strangers to get to know each other better.

I also read the bang to buck ratio... EEK again. I again suspect I'm on the strange side of the bell curve, but if the only goal, or the major goal, is to get your date into sex, why not just find a prostitute and admit that it's all about sex?

The Navy Corpsman

Spacetraveller said...

@ NC,

Thanks again for your comments.

"I again suspect I'm on the strange side of the bell curve, but if the only goal, or the major goal, is to get your date into sex, why not just find a prostitute and admit that it's all about sex?"
I think a lot of decent ladies want to hug you now :-)
Ahead of the queue might be CD.
So I'll have to fight her to get to you first :-)

Hey, we are all big girls here... we know the deal. We ourselves are not nuns.
But a little decorum wouldn't go amiss, ya know?
Nothing more offputting to a lady than when a man wants to show her the contents of his pants before she is ready, even if she has already considered the recommendation I allude to in 'In to me see'.
Unless of course she is up for it straightaway...

Whatever happened to 'the build up'?

Call me old fashioned...

Anonymous said...

Did I mention I'm married?


The Navy Corpsman

Spacetraveller said...

@ NC,

Alright, alright, if she insists, your wife can watch as we hug you.

Happy now?