I once went on a date with a stingy Ecuadorian who asked that I pay for the drinks that were consumed. He stood tall; his broad shoulders pulled back while he demanded to be treated as he would soon pay for an Italian dinner. My narrow shoulders huffed and puffed. My eyebrows furrowed as I stared him down; his pupils nervously jumping inside his irises. He was trying to avoid eye contact but this Dominicana was prepared to stand on a stool and meet him eye-to-eye. Unfortunately, the stools were occupied by the asses of bar patrons, so I did the next best thing. My thin lips parted and the rage of a thousand Dominicans were put upon this unsuspecting man.
“This is our first date!” I hollered, neck rolling in every direction. “You should wine and dine me, not demand that I pay!” I continued, ready to put my hair up in a doobie y una redesilla so we can fight till the death. The pale Ecuadorian grew whiter. This was the first time he had confronted the strength of the pepa™ at a fine establishment rather than on a street corner. Still, he pretended not to be intimidated by my 5’2” stature or feisty mouth, though his rapid blinking said otherwise. Standing his ground, he said I would pay for something, even if it was just the bartender’s tip. I shook my head violently. We would have a stand off over $5.
As silly as it seemed, I refused to give in, as financial expectations can either make or break relationships. There is a time, however, where a woman can go Dutch and treat the man in her life. But that comes later in the relationship, not on the first date! Convention dictates that a man pays during the first two months of courting. The generous gesture indicates that he is not only capable of paying for a meal but is also willing to do so. On the other hand, if the relationship is solidified in the first two months, women should pay once and a while. That way it is a partnership filled with respect and consideration.
During the third month, the relationship is usually defined (unless you jump right in like my boyfriend and I who were an item at week 3). Month 3 is usually when one decides whether to part ways, commit, or continue dating. That’s when the financial dynamics become…interesting. Though I feel men should continue to assume the role of provider (what can I say, I’m a traditionalist at heart), the financial state of each individual may define who fills this role. If a woman makes a salary of $120,000 a year and her partner makes a salary of $42,000, it is unrealistic that he will pay every time they dine, dance, and travel. It truly is about flexibility and the couple at hand.
So, ultimately, who should pay? I’m sticking to my theory that men should respect the power of the pepa™ and treat a gal to a meal, at least on the first date! Once courtship turns into committment and months together become years, dinners at Italian restaurants will be long gone and you’ll sit at the dinner table with a Domino’s pizza pie instead. In a blink of an eye, overnight stays at 5-star resorts will transform to overnight stays at your in-laws. So, gentlemen, do not become the second coming of my greedy Ecuadorian date. Treat women as if you cherish them when first out with them. It is one of the many ways to keep the wrath of our pepas™ at bay.