Lunchtime poll – dating and dinner
August 4th, 2010
12:15 PM ET
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A friend of ours dated a woman he started referring to as "Alligator Arms." They'd go out to fabulous meals, drinking and laughing and playing footsie under the table and generally having a lovely time.

Then the check would come. According to him, she'd suddenly duck out to the ladies' room or - at this point in the story, he'd draw his elbows next to his ribcage and make sad, flailing gestures - slightly lean toward her purse, but somehow not be able to reach it, assuming he'd swoop in.

He always did, and he actually wouldn't have let her pay if she'd offered, as he made approximately fifty beeellliiiiooon times more money than she did, but always hoped she'd offer.

Share your dating and paying war stories in the comments below and we'll share our favorites in an upcoming post.

Previously - Dating and dining: The food of love

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Filed under: Bite • Buzz • Culture • Dating • Lunch Out Loud


soundoff (344 Responses)
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    April 10, 2013 at 12:20 am | Reply
  2. Narikom

    Hack again?!

    March 16, 2011 at 11:46 am | Reply
  3. enrowlber

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    December 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Reply
  4. lisa r

    @valarie, well said!!

    October 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  5. infawlilmLiew

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    September 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Reply
  6. Tiffini S.

    A guy asked me out once. We had a lovely meal, and I was getting ready to play the "At least let me leave the tip" game. The bill sat awkwardly between us for the space of a ten minute conversation, before he finally said "Hey! Can you pay the bill? I'm sitting on my wallet! HA!" Then I said, "But you asked me out." And he said "Um, yeah, I know, but money is a little tight this week, so if you could, seriously, get this one, I'd be thrilled to pay for the next date." Honestly, if he'd said that up front and not tried to come off with a lame joke, I would have been fine with it. Everyone has money troubles now and then, though I doubt I'd be asking people out for meals if I did. So, he drove me back to my apartment, and had the NERVE to grab my knee and say "I'd really love to come upstairs and I think you'd love it, too." To which I replied, "Oh, I'd love to, but I'm sitting on my vagina." There was even another phone call after that, which I ignored for the sake of both of our dignities. Sheesh, what a choad.

    August 11, 2010 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  7. Reykjavik

    I always split the check down the middle with my partner...maybe it is a Scandinavian thing.

    Even after being together many years, when the bill comes we each pay half. I'm there to spend time with him and enjoy an evening out...not pilfer a free meal. He is my equal, as his equal I can be expected to contribute towards our food/entertainment.

    The expectation that the man is to pay for the woman's food is a relic of times past, when women did not work or have money of their own.

    August 10, 2010 at 11:18 am | Reply
  8. Cam

    As someone who was raised by a femenist mother I will always offer to pay for the check, or atleast split it. To be honest, however, the guy should pay. I wouldn't judge you if you didn't pay, but it just seems like the right thing to do on the first date. After dating for a while I have no problem paying. Dates/dinner can become expensive. But no matter what, you should always offer.

    August 6, 2010 at 10:46 am | Reply
  9. dajackg

    I'm happy to pay for a first date – as long as I'm reasonably sure there'll be a second. If she's a lousy date, I won't go out of my way to earn points by buying her dinner. If it's a good date, I'll gladly pay. If it's very important to her that she pays for something, I'll say "you can pay for the next one if you'd like."

    August 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Reply
  10. Amy

    Of course this is just my opinion, but I think a man should pay but a woman should offer. A woman certainly shouldn't act like she's entitled to it but that being said, I don't think I'd want to date a man who didn't pay for the first date.

    It has nothing to do with the money, it's more about the gentlemanly gesture. I, like many other women, work full time and can absolutely afford to pay for dinner but I would like to date someone who is chivalrous and I think that's one to way to tell a man's mentality (that and opening doors, pushing in your chair, standing when you approach the table etc... )
    After a few dates, things should be split more equally and that should be up to the woman to insist to pay sometimes.

    There's a lot to be said for men who still maintain that level of respect and chivalry for a woman- and I think there are still plenty of those men out there!

    August 5, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Reply
    • JJ

      Don't you that see your opinion "...but I think a man should pay.." reveals your own sense of entitlement?

      August 6, 2010 at 1:56 am | Reply
  11. Serious

    Men always paid before because men make more money and were in charge, and it was a way to keep a woman in her place. Now that they can vote and are equal let them pay for their meal. Have you ever filled out the employment form that asks if you male or female, I hope you understand they get extra points for being female especially in goverment jobs. LETS BE FAIR LET THEM PAY!

    August 5, 2010 at 11:23 am | Reply
  12. Tom

    I will always pay for the first date. If at a later date she wants to split or pay the full thing then that is fine with me, but at least the first one is on me.

    August 5, 2010 at 10:19 am | Reply
  13. Mike

    The only reason I voted 'the one who asked the other out' is because men USUALLY have to be the one who asks the woman on the date, ergo the man should always pay.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:25 am | Reply
  14. Payment

    Who pays should be discussed beforehand. It's not impolite and not really awkward unless you make it awkward. For instance if the woman asks out the man, she can say, "I'd like to take you to this restaurant I like, on me this time." That'll open the discussion and you can work it out before you get that awkward check moment.

    In general, guys expect to pay the tab, even if they get asked out, but it's never nice to assume. So if you don't discuss it beforehand and if the girl is the one doing the asking, she should be prepared to pay the entire bill and tip. If he chooses to pay or makes a fuss at the time the check comes, that's fine, but it's rude to assume. Likewise, even if she is the one being asked out, she should at least offer to pay, even if it is always rejected.

    All this is negated, of course, if one party is consistently unwilling to pay. If you love each other, or even like each other, you should both want to pay sometimes.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:59 am | Reply
  15. Brandon

    I’m not old enough to be old school, but I raised to always pay. I have dated woman more established in the business world and without a doubt making more money. Although I wouldn’t accept, it is nice when a woman offers. I always thought the whole reasoning behind the guy paying besides it’s the gentlemanly thing to do was because the girl’s family (although not as true today) pays for the wedding.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:49 am | Reply
  16. Serious

    They want equal rights lets give them equal rights! I'll buy mine and she can buy hers, seems equal to me?

    August 5, 2010 at 8:16 am | Reply
    • JJ

      Seems equal to me as well but good luck getting so many women to see it that way. Just read the posts in this thread.

      August 6, 2010 at 1:57 am | Reply
  17. marc

    Man up!!!!!! Learn how to cook and offer to make a home-cooked meal!!!!!! Better be a good one though.......with the right wine too!!!! I don't consider myself to be a 5 star chef, but anything I make on the barbeque has always tasted better than what I get at a restaurant......except if its a really expensive one!!

    August 5, 2010 at 7:41 am | Reply
  18. Miriam

    When my parents were dating, my dad tried to pay for every date. My mother, God bless her unromantic heart, told him he couldn't afford it and paid every other date. She also nixed the flowers he would get her for the same reason.

    August 5, 2010 at 7:19 am | Reply
  19. jakedog

    The chick should pay because the guy eventually winds up paying for everything else.

    August 5, 2010 at 7:18 am | Reply
  20. Melanie

    It is true you know rite away if he is worth going out with...I went on only one date with a lot of guys due to interest. But longes boyfriend was 3 months then I would dump them. I knew we were wasting each others time. I met my husband and we married 4 months later we have now been married for 10 years. wasting time with the wrong one everyone really knows.

    August 5, 2010 at 7:09 am | Reply
  21. Mike

    The man should pay most of the time, the woman should reciprocate, once in awhile, but set it up prior to the date starting, so there's no awkward moment at the end of the night. When my wife, who made much less than me, offered to pay every now and then when we were dating, I liked it, even though it was a cheap date. She did what she could afford. It's the thought that counts.

    August 5, 2010 at 6:06 am | Reply
  22. Onlyours40

    The one who says to the other person should we get the check? For two reasons: either he/she is bored with you or he/she is ready to move to the next facet of the evening...either way you'll benefit either by not seeing the person again or getting a little loving afterwards!

    August 5, 2010 at 5:14 am | Reply
  23. Mr Brightside

    Reality check, women and men know if they are really interested in some in less than 5 min, a lunch or dinner invitation takes much more than that. So women who go to dates, get entertained and have dinners paid for should be either into the guys they accepted an invitation from or pay it down right to the middle. Otherwise, to me they are gold diggers in potential or true ones or think because they have vagina, guys should be taken as suckers (alas, most are).
    Lets hear someone with a straight face say anything to the contrary, to be called a hypocrite.

    August 5, 2010 at 4:02 am | Reply
  24. Taylor

    What about a really bad first date...do you tell people? And I don't mean in a social way that the date is bad.

    August 5, 2010 at 3:51 am | Reply
  25. Deb

    And what is with all the money on looks? i work out, I shave my legs and pits, and trim others, clips my nails, which my girlsfriends always say are french tips, which I don't know what that means, but they are pretty and clean, and smooth. I'm just me, no fake crap, just clean and pretty. I think people try too hard, and for what? Please yourselves first.

    August 5, 2010 at 3:48 am | Reply
  26. George

    If the man always pays for dinner when going out then the girl should reciprocate by inviting the guy over and cooking a nice home cooked meal for him. If she doesn't reciprocate then she's only focused on herself and doesn't care about the guy. If a girl doesn't care about you then you need to kick her to the curb!

    August 5, 2010 at 3:47 am | Reply
  27. Deb

    If the date is great and two people are loving getting to know each other, it wouldn't make a difference. People that bother about who pays and who don't are the ones who end up lonely and sad.

    August 5, 2010 at 3:45 am | Reply
  28. John Grissom

    Answer to:

    "...Joan
    I have a friend that says because women have to spend so much to look beautiful for a guy, that the guy should pay, especially for the first few dates.
    Haircut/color – $100-$150
    Nails/pedisure – $50
    Outfit – $100-$200
    Makeup – $50
    Waxing – $50
    and so on....
    She has a point....if it was just me, I wouldn't spend as much to look good if just going out with my girlfriends, so there is some validity to this opinion..."

    Do you think men don't try and spend money to look better for the date? and actually, men today do a lot of stuff for the looks too (manicure, pedicure, outfit, haircut/color, massages, etc) The fact that either of them would spend in looking gorgeous (as if were) is their personal choice. So, I still find that women are always to try to make the man to pay as in one unwritten code to get a payback from men. Also, it is a big lie that the man is the one having the most pleasure when on date (or when having sex) with a woman...This is something men have always hammered in the head: since men have more pleasure from sleeping with the woman, then men should pay...yeah! that worked with me when I was younger, now I am experienced, learned and my good will and naivete has been abused by women...I woke up from that. Nowadays, if a woman wants anything with me, she better be ready to share all benefits and costs of the relationship.

    August 5, 2010 at 12:36 am | Reply
    • Bettey

      I wouldn't date a dork that did all that crap that you do. But you're sharing the costs that a woman would do. Issues much?

      August 5, 2010 at 3:54 am | Reply
  29. L

    Regarding above story. Why would money even matter if they went on several dates and he was enjoying being with her? No class and she is better off without him. It is a sad state that chivalry seems to be such an effort in the dating world these days. Advice to women, never settle and yes, you do deserve to be treated several times to lunch/dinner if a man is truly interested in getting to know you and spend quality time with you (not just to hop in the sack by the third date). As the saying goes, it only takes 1. Stick with the true gents, they do exist!

    August 5, 2010 at 12:34 am | Reply
    • John Grissom

      I tell men the same way you say that a woman should not settle for less. Men: do not settle for less! If you find a gold-digger, a dinner-digger, or drink-digger, etc., you already know how she will be the rest of your relationship. Men are not that stupid and naive anymore. Chivalry is dead because a good part of it means women taking advantage of men....

      August 5, 2010 at 12:53 am | Reply
  30. John Grissom

    I used to be the-pay-always but I noticed something that made me change my mind. If a woman wants to date and share time with you why not share the check too? If it is pleasurable for her to be with you and for you to be with her, then it should be a joint effort in every aspect. I am done paying by myself, if I pay, it just show how of an idiot I am. I still can be chivalrous (open the car's door, being polite, being a gentleman) but I do not think that paying the bill is part of chivalry anymore. I have met several women that they expect you to pay because that is for them the point of the date: to have a free drink and/or dinner. I never expect to have sex at the first date because I think that a sex date can be easily found on craigslist or other website. If I want to meet a woman for dating, sex is not the main thing, it is the pleasure of sharing time with a woman that matters. Sex can come later....

    August 5, 2010 at 12:18 am | Reply
  31. thedeadgentleman

    the guy should pay. no question. nothing wrong with splitting it every once in a while but we all know its what women expect because they want a guy who's chivalrous despite claiming how independant they are. i'm not saying i'ma say no if she offers but not on a first date.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Reply
  32. naturalme

    Ordinarily, I would say who asks should pay. BUT if there is a second date, the woman should pay. Everyone wants to feel special but if he insists on paying, she should graciously accept.

    August 4, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Reply
  33. NJgal

    I expect the man to pay the dinner tab. Since I am a gourmet cook, I think it's nice to cook an impressive meal on occasion.

    August 4, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  34. Bill

    If a woman does not occasionally offer to pay for a date, that tells me a lot about her character. I am chivalrous and generous to my dates. But if they do not ever offer to pay for a lunch, or dinner, or even coffee, it turns me off. Just as women like kind and generous men, men too like kind and generous women.

    August 4, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  35. AJ

    I know I'm gonna get some jeers for this but I and I'm sure many would find it interesting to hear the response. Who pays when we're talking about gay people dating?

    August 4, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  36. bostonjim

    The person who asks should be prepared to pay, that's just sensible. That being said, on first dates I almost always pay the tab. Things would have to have gone pretty bad for me not to. Once you start dating, then I think splitting who pays works well, unless one party makes quite a bit more than the other. Generally, I end up paying more times than not, but that's because I still have old-fashioned instincts.

    August 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Reply
  37. GuestColin

    Amazing how women are all about equality until the check hits the table. Regardless, I always make the first gesture to pay.

    August 4, 2010 at 8:08 pm | Reply
    • JJ

      Oh so true. It's called situational feminism. Morphs with the circumstances.

      August 6, 2010 at 1:46 am | Reply
  38. ozmodius612

    Ahh the whole "Chivalry" debate. Sorry ladies, just because a man or men actually call you on your "equality" dogma, doesn't mean he is cheap or ugly or bitter or any other little insult you can throw. He is actually calling your bluff, testing the truth and strength of your ideals. Most of you fold when it's NOT in your best interest to embrace equality. If you want equality, then fairness calls for also giving up all such "perks" as having meals paid for and such. The notion of "whom ever asks then pays" is the right solution. Sexism is ALSO wrong even if you feel, for some reason, you deserve the benefits sexism behavior brings. Understand?

    August 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  39. andy

    Whoever asked out the other person should pay – duh! That's a no-brainer.

    After the first date though I think it's only fair that you both pay – as in I buy him dinner one night, he pays for the show tickets on the next date, so on and so forth.

    Anyone who says that men should pay because it's chivalry or whatever – get with the times! I personally find it very empowering when I ask out a guy and take him out to dinner.

    August 4, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Reply
  40. Joan

    I have a friend that says because women have to spend so much to look beautiful for a guy, that the guy should pay, especially for the first few dates.

    Haircut/color – $100-$150
    Nails/pedisure – $50
    Outfit – $100-$200
    Makeup – $50
    Waxing – $50
    and so on....

    She has a point....if it was just me, I wouldn't spend as much to look good if just going out with my girlfriends, so there is some validity to this opinion.

    August 4, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Reply
    • JJ

      So, because I choose to spend even more money on my car, the woman should be even happier to pay for the first few dates. After all, a good looking ride is important to the success of the relationship. er, right?

      August 4, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Reply
    • dajackg

      And if I, a man, were to suggest that the reason women spend all that money on their appearance is SOLELY for the benefit of men, don't you think that would be a little insulting to women? Don't you think that people who invest in their appearance do so for their OWN benefit and self-image?

      August 5, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  41. Sco

    I think that it should be the one who asks (whether that be man or woman) who should be willing to pay the entire bill, but the one who was asked should at least offer to pay half or her portion. Ultimately, I think, it comes down to respect for the other person. It, basically, is one person saying that they are willing to spend time working a job, they may or may not like, in order to earn enough money to spend their free time with the person across from them and to not, at least, offer to pay, would be disrespectful of the other.

    August 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Reply
    • Sco

      Sorry, should be "their portion", not her portion.

      August 4, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Reply
  42. PeaceandLove

    I am female and the only reason I like to pay (for at least my part) is so I do not have to feel like a burden to the man. I really appreciate men and their willingness to hold doors, pay, etc, but the reason for myself paying is rooted in money issues growing up as a kid. I always and still feel like I am a burden so I eliminate the thing that makes me feel that way. It is sort of a control type of thing where I don't want money to come between our relationship. And if I can afford it, why not? I do believe in female empowerment, etc. because my family is from the east and women there do not have the same opportunities as they do here and so education and self-sufficiency as a woman has always been important to me. If a guy cannot understand that, I do not even bother going on the second date.

    August 4, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Reply
  43. Niki6

    The person that did the asking should pay. Period.

    August 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  44. Francesca

    I always offer to pay for something on the date. Rarely is a date just dinner– you have dinner, drinks, movie, dancing, whatever. I know my guy works hard for his money and he deserves a break, too.

    August 4, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  45. Michael

    If the woman is a true Feminist then she should have no problems paying for the meal. Just as she should have no problem buying her flowers and her own jewelery. On the other hand, if she's going to "put out" after the "date" then the guy should pay.

    August 4, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Reply
  46. dajackg

    It IS possible to keep chivalry alive and still live in modern times, you know. We just have to sacrifice our outdated expectations and figure out solutions together. That means both parties are free to voice their desires. Neither party has the right to expect that the other person knows exactly what they "should" do, and neither party has the right to be judgmental if there's a disagreement. Isn't chivalry supposed to be about truth and respect?

    August 4, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Reply
    • JJ

      As long as expectations are clearly communicated thats fine. Good luck with that, though, with most women.

      August 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  47. Ella

    I'm a woman and I think it's good for the man to pay. It's good manners and a sign that he is a gentleman. Not offering to pay could potentially indicate that he has not learnt other forms of good manners either.

    August 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Reply
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