Very few adults think logically about dating.
This isn’t surprising when you consider that ‘dating’ is made up. There was no such thing as a date until someone somewhere decided to sell something to unassuming single people. In her book, Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating, author Moira Weigel explains, “For the first time in human history, dating made it necessary to buy things in order to get face time with a prospective partner. This remains true today.”
It’s important to distinguish that dating refers to a shared activity between two adults who have not established an exclusive or committed relationship. Dating in marriage, or relationship is much different.
Take for example the Michelin star. The first Michelin Guide was compiled in 1900 by French industrialist Andre Michelin, along with his brother Edouard Michelin. They wanted to create demand for automobiles…and therefore, the tires they manufactured. A genius marketing ploy to encourage patrons to visit restaurants as a way sell tires, not fine cuisine.
And dating is no different. Instead of arguing about who pays for the date, which should always be the man as the way the rules were invented, consider the creation of dating and why you think dates should cost money in the first place.
Relationships amongst the human species is primal. No matter where you place a group of people, in any space and time, they will naturally form a community and within this community there will be a hierarchy. Sex is also primal, it is a natural desire of men and women.
Dating – not so much. Dating is so new in fact, that the word ‘date’ still doesn’t have a real definition.
What does it mean to go on a date? What does it mean to date? Dating experts, sociologists, and Webster’s are still yet to agree on the what a date actually is. But more important than what it means, the critical question about dating is why do we do it? Adults date because movies, literature, and marketers told us to.
Alain De Botton, founder of The School of Life, warns about the fake promise of romantic love. He states: We suffer from certain Romantic ideas (with a capital R) and these ideas, though they seem to be the “friends of love” they are in fact the “enemies” of love, and that most of us, if we’re to able to have long-term relationships (which most of us do actually want) will probably have to be disloyal to many of the emotions and ideas that get us into love in the first place.
He often quips about how much love was found riding trains in the 18th century. Makes you wonder if travel was slow, or if this was the beginning of tourism. The concept of dating was introduced as a cousin of courtship but turned out to be far different.
Courtship vs. Dating
Before dating came into the picture, “courtship” and “calling” were conducted with the express goal of marriage. It was a family affair, as callers meant heirs, property, and happiness. The compatibility of prospective couples was determined by land, status, and wealth. When a man courted a woman, he gained her parents approval to spend time with her, and to get to know her. He walked with her, and did gentlemanlike things for her such as open the carriage door, or lend her his coat. With the intent that they could be suited for marriage, courtship was what followed once compatibility was established.
Dating is now a process in which single men and women determine compatibility. Unfortunately, if you wait until you are on the date to determine if you are compatible with someone, then you have waited too long.
Single men and woman have been conditioned to accept dating as dinner and a movie because some smart marketer created the concept. To argue about who pays for a date, is like arguing the rules of Uno. In a manufactured world, the rules and roles are subject to dispute. Dating is no different. Dating has rules just like any other game where there are winners and losers, or prizes. If you don’t like the rules, don’t do it. But if you insist on dating, then the rule is that men pay.
To argue equality in dating, is to argue against a made up construct that wasn’t created to be equal. It was designed for the person with the most wealth to flaunt their appeal. When it comes to finding love, creating connections, or having sex – money is not required. If you think you need to ‘go on a date’ in order to fall in love, get married, or even get into a relationship then you are a victim of Western conditioning.
How to Get Into a Relationship
1. Decide you want one
2. Finding a willing participant
What love doesn’t include is spending money. Do you believe that you need to sit across of a $40 steak to fall in love? You don’t.
The reason society argues about who should pay for the first date, is the same reason society believes in engagement rings, and white wedding dresses. Just good old fashioned conditioning mixed with some excellent marketing. You can’t blame marketers for doing what they are hired to do.
Love is Taboo
Here is a quick quiz: Why do we date?
A. To fall in love
B. To get married
C. To kill time
Love is your right and nature requires you to have it in some way shape or form. We see the effects of a lack of love. ‘Dating’ is an activity that society has encouraged as a means of falling in love but it’s time to separate the concepts, and ask yourself – why do you date? If you date for any other reason than to find love then you are simply paying the price of admission. You can take control of your own life and realize that love shouldn’t be taboo.
If you are looking for love then you shouldn’t organize dates that costs anything but your time. The world is full of consumers. It’s hard for anyone to go a day without spending money on something. It’s for this reason our imagination escapes us when it comes to spending time with someone else.
Is Netflix and chill a bad thing? Not really but again, if you’re dating for any other reason than to fall in love then you should pay the price the date requires. Just like Uno, the rules differ depending on who you’re playing with.
If you’re a man and you decide to go on a date for any other reason than to find love then there is a cost. That’s because dating is made up, and the rules are – you pay for the date you create. If you don’t want to spend money, then design a date that doesn’t cost money. If you’re afraid the date will be declined then you have ulterior motives. There is nothing wrong with a man telling a woman, “I really want to get to know you and I don’t believe it takes money to do that. Would you like to take a walk with me?”
If this sounds strange to you then just admit that you are not dating for love. Dating is an invention and the rules are so obscure that singles are failing at them miserably because they don’t know them. The fact the you mirror the dates you see in movies and television support the fantasy of how dating was designed to be.
There is a classic Seinfeld scene, where the main character Jerry starts sleeping with his housecleaner. One day she takes the money he usually pays her, but doesn’t clean the apartment, leaving Jerry to wonder, ‘What did I just pay for?’.
The reason who should pay for the date is even in question is because the person who pays doesn’t clearly understand what they are paying for. A man doesn’t need to spend money in order to get to know a woman. But to suggest that men and women should pay equally for dates, is like suggesting all salaries should be equal regardless of skill. Dating was invented to meet the needs of the market, that’s why there is a cost attached.
The Cost of Being Single
Culturally, the state of being unmarried was never meant to last a man or woman very long. The idea that someone would be “dating” past the age of 25 was unconscionable in the 1900s. Just prior to the introduction of online dating, the average American went on just one date a year. The push to extend dating into an activity instead of a means to marriage is a drive for consumers with discretionary income (single people) to spend more. The advertisements of family vacations, minivans, and white picket houses are now replaced with meal delivery, city living, and “friends”.
Today dating has replaced other hobbies and become a pastime in its own right.
Men are paying for the date that they design and if they don’t want to spend money the solution is simple: choose an activity that doesn’t cost money. Or don’t go on the date. Find other ways to get to know women that you’re interested in. In fact, you should make it a rule that the first date you go on, won’t cost money to anyone. Unfortunately, this can only be applied when two people are serious about finding love and not just killing time, going through the motions, or just on the date ‘to see’ if there is any chemistry.
To view dating as mandatory to finding love is foolish. Love is found by getting to know someone, through shared values and standards. Falling in love doesn’t have to come at an expense more than time.
How is it that men and women are scammed of millions of dollars each year by people they have never met? How is it that a man with a fake profile and curious business trip to Africa can sweep a woman off her feet, while other men are crying over a dinner bill. Skill, talent, intention?
The cost of dating is not cash but creativity. If you aren’t willing to design a date that meets your fiduciary criteria then don’t complain.
The idea isn’t to punish men for dating, it’s to bring awareness to men and women that if the debate of who pays is still a debate then you’re dating all wrong. And worse, for the wrong reasons. And worse than that, the wrong people.