I have some questions for “Ken.” According to this story in The Observer, Ken is a 40-something man who is recently divorced after 19 years and he spends $30,000 a year on dating. One assumes this is based on his participation in New York City’s culinary arms-race and what happens in a city where a Jack on the rocks can top $14.
First question, Ken, is there a single interesting bone in your body or just one in your wallet?
Anyone who’s had Uber for transportation or Seamless for food knows how easily one can throw a lot of money away with a few clicks. If Amazon Prime Now can bring me cottage cheese and kettlebells, then shouldn’t another app bring us happiness in bed?
Are you paying for sex or not? Please decide beforehand. No judgments. But if you have some cute idea that you should pay for the company of a woman of “worth” then maybe we’ve figured out why you’re single.
Ken is admittedly returning to the dating game for the first time since the 90s, so it might not have occurred to him that times have changed. The advent of texting, dating apps and, well, a very slight narrowing of the wage gap have changed traditional gender roles in dating. When Ken and his ex met there may have still been a myth of the lone woman hanging on the telephone a la Blondie and waiting for a man to take her out.
And it’s not just “Ken” or “Jared,” who dropped $20k last year, or even “Ryan” who puts his estimate at $5k. That’s still only $100 a week. But realistically? If the date’s going bad, she’s probably in the bathroom Tindering a backup plan. Stop with the outdated notions of dating and let her go on with her life. There is utterly no consequence to calling it quits. Remember, this is Tinder, not Yelp.
Not too long ago I was at a party on Park Avenue. The elevator operator wore white gloves and so did the waiters. From across the room I spotted a familiar face. She was a beauty editor that I had met during my attempt to try dating apps. When the host greeted us I just came out with it, “Did Sam tell you we met on Bumble?”
From beneath her makeup-tutorial-perfect shell I could just barely see her blushing. We all giggled and then the host went back to her story about how at the end of a date she and a beau decided not to see each other again and split the check. “You would never do that, Brendan, right?”
I said then what I’ll say now, “Well…”
I’d like to say it’s because I don’t have a problem calling myself a feminist. Or because when Søta and I started dating she told me that in Norway—where everyone is stupidly attractive—it’s important for men and women to be equals and she always wanted to split everything. Maybe hot Norwegian girls have clouded my judgment. So let’s go over the rules:
A dating-app based first encounter: Are you paying for sex or not? Please decide beforehand. No judgments. But if you have some cute idea that you should pay for the company of a woman of “worth” then maybe we’ve figured out why you’re single.
Meeting for a drink: Buy her a damn drink.
Is this really a hook up? Then freaking go for it. No shame. But if she invites you home with her: You’re paying for the cab.
Going to a show: You pay for this one. If it’s the band you like, the play your dumb friend from theater camp is in or some art show you read about but might suck: You’re paying. Conversely, if she really wants you to see her friend’s play she can pay. And if she does: Buy her a damn drink.
Dinner out: Are you trying to share a meal together, which we all agree is the basis of civility and the most selfless act two people can engage in with their clothes on? Then you can split it. Is this trendy restaurant your bankrupt idea of what people need to do on dates because you were married for 19 years? You pay.
And here’s why: Eating great food with a great person is a great experience. Eating one meal with some a-hole who goes on 50 first dates a year, however, will leave her feeling like she’s on a client dinner with no callback. And furthermore, when you’re actually in a relationship with another human being and your fortunes are tied together and you have your takeout spots and your shared Netflix queue and the winter weather has you couch-bound for months: This is the time to “date” your partner.
This is time time to set aside time, to try new restaurants, to put some dates on the calendar. Because it’s the most civil and selfless thing two people can do with their clothes on.