Scott Farrell comments:
“Who pays for dinner? It’s a simple question that is loaded with a great deal of emotion in the world of dating today. Is a gentleman obligated — even required — to pick up the bill if he’s to be considered “chivalrous”? Or should a woman be allowed — even expected — to pay her fair share in the name of gender equality? In a recent newspaper survey (cited below), a large percentage of women reported that, for them, the “ultimate display of chivalry” is when a man pays for dinner. (See my sidenote comment, below.)
As well-known celebrity John Tesh explains, paying for dinner is not just a social nicety … it is a demonstration of respect and honor. And, as an example of chivalry, such actions must be made graciously — without expectations of any sort of “return favor.” Etiquette experts are mixed on the subject — some think men should always pay, some propose that whoever issues the invitation (man or woman) should pick up the bill — but the fact remains that acts of courtesy and generosity of any sort in today’s world should be applauded.
Sidenote: Perhaps, amid all this talk of who pays for dinner (as well as holding doors and offering coats), we should consider whether this sort of thing deserves to be rated as the “ultimate act of chivalry.” Simply picking up the check for a meal, nice as it is, hardly requires the sort of courage, morals or ethics dictated by the knightly code. Keeping your word … putting honesty before profit … being faithful … helping those in need … These are the sorts of things that should be expected of a man (or woman) who lives by the Code of Chivalry. Paying for dinner is a wonderfully gracious thing to do — upholding the principles of honor and integrity are much more meaningful “ultimate” displays of chivalry. But, such things are harder to pin down in a newspaper survey, of course!”
The Height of Chivalry at the Table
The question has been recently raised on blogs and radio talk shows: Has masculinity been decreasing over the past 20 to 30 years? Do men today have a good grasp on what it means to be a man?
To detect a man’s level of masculinity, one question has withstood the test of time: Who pays for the dinner when you’re out on a date? Since the answer touches on equality between the sexes, the issue raises a red flag for many women.
First, we must determine what’s the significance of a man paying for a woman’s dinner. It’s more than just a financial matter. Many men I’ve interviewed have told me that even if a woman earns a salary three times as much, they will not allow her to pay for dinner.Syndicated radio talk show host Dennis Prager weighed in on this topic on a recent broadcast:
“What it means for the man to pay for dinner — whether it’s a sandwich at Subway or a gourmet meal — is that he’s making a statement concerning his desire to marry someday and provide for a woman.”
When the man pays for the meal, he’s telling his date, “I’m the kind of man who wants to someday take care of the woman I marry and I may as well start in my dating life.”
Despite today’s stress on gender equality, when it comes to a romantic dinner out, according to the Daily Mail, 50 percent of women interviewed don’t expect to pay for dinner when on a date.
When women were asked: “What is the height of chivalry?” 36 percent admitted it is the man picking up the tab. So regardless of this modern world of social networking and internet relationships, old-fashioned values at the dinner table are still in style.
In fact, the same survey in the Daily Mail revealed 50 percent of the women who took part of the poll are “cursory purse grabbers.” They will act as though they want to pay and make a gesture towards their purse when the bill comes, but as soon as the guy makes a move towards his wallet, she’ll put on the brakes and gracefully let him pay … as it should be.
The survey also noted even if a date does not go well, 75 percent of men are still prepared to pay for dinner. I’m glad to hear that. Dating is not a meal earned but a meal to be enjoyed regardless of how the date turns out.
Time Magazine refers to a “fear syndrome in men” when it comes to holding the door or standing up for a woman entering a room. They’re afraid women … might be offended by such courtesies. Many women sidestep the discomfort of a man displaying manners towards her by moving first to hold open their own door or wrestling on their coats before the man has a chance to lend a hand.
Yes, things have truly changed, according to the advice given in a Time Magazine article: If the woman asks the man to go out on a date, then she should pay; if the man asks the woman for a date, then he should pay. Some would disagree and argue that for a guy to expect the woman to pay for dinner is not liberating but wimpy and cheap.
Think of it this way … perhaps the emphasis on equality in this case takes away the opportunity men have to show care for a woman … not because she’s the “weaker sex” but out of respect and honor for her.
It may be a great idea for women to give men back permission to act in a more masculine manner towards them. Yes, that includes paying for dinner, holding open a door, helping her on with her coat, standing up when she enters the room.
One site suggests that if the man pays all the time, then the man will never be on the receiving end. Perhaps that’s the point. Are you going to pay for a woman’s dinner to receive or because you’re a male who knows this is the right thing to do?
About the Author: John Tesh is a well-known TV personality, radio talk show host, celebrated New Age musician, and author of several “mind, body and spirit” books, such as Intelligence for Your Life: Powerful Lessons for Personal Growth. Your can read more of John’s thoughts on relationships, spirituality and masculinity at his JohnTesh.com.