Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Winter 2008

Guest Editorial:



I'm uncomfortable letting guys buy me dinner. This doesn't apply, of course, to guys with whom I have an established relationship, and who pays and when has already been worked out. It's only about guys I've just met. I have no problem in general letting people buy me dinner if they want to, but when it's a first date, it sets up expectations. If I'm not going to have sex with him, or even see him again, or if I just haven't decided yet, I'm bothered by letting him pay. If I've already decided that I will have sex with him, even if it's going to be on the next date (first-date sex is almost always a bad idea) then I don't feel so bad. I know, I know, that makes it sound like a transaction, dinner for sex, but it isn't. If I'm planning to have sex with a guy, then I will, whether he buys me something or not. Likewise, if I won't, I won't, no matter what he buys me. But guys, if you spring for a nice dinner, maybe a movie or a show, that's not cheap --

(At least it better not be, or you're really not getting any. Research shows that women are more likely to be impressed by [read: have sex with] men who offer them gifts that are expensive, but are ephemeral or luxury items rather than useful or practical. Like fancy-restaurant dinners and gemstone jewellry. Because this shows both that the man has plenty of resources, and that he's generous, which makes him an attractive mate. This may be hard-wired into our brains, I don't know, but it's true. Even women like myself, totally not impressed by money, if a guy appears to be cheap on a first date, he loses "points". He doesn't have to be rich, but he does have to be generous with what he has, or he looks like a bad choice of mate. For what should be obvious reasons. Women can take care of themselves, but a mate who won't share his resources generously is a bad choice. Whatever a woman may want from a mate or from her life, her brain is transmitting the advice of ten thousand generations of maternal ancestors: "Find a man who can provide for you and your children! Find a strong man who will treat you well, and rich would be good too!" So on a first date we instinctively look for generousity and health and good manners, and if he talks all evening about his health problems, or acts like an ass to the waiters, or is stingy? We're gone. Or we should be gone, anyway. Back to what I was saying.)

-- and be honest, after you lay out that cash, and you've been a right gentleman to boot, and you drop her off at her door, and you don't even get a little kiss, or another date, or even a "call me!", no sign that there will be a next time, don't you feel like she used you to get a free dinner? That's what I imagine guys feel like, and I don't want to leave a guy feeling like I used the vague unspoken promise of sex to get a free meal.

On the other hand, I don't want to insult a guy by suggesting we go Dutch on the first date. Or come across as one of those off-putting prickly women to whom a guy can never say the right thing. I also don't want to wait until the check comes to say that I'll pay my share; that sounds like I was judging him all through the evening and just then decided I wasn't gonna put out, and he'll never know where he went wrong.

Maybe it's my issue. Maybe the real problem is my unwillingness to disappoint anyone, even a near-stranger. Maybe the expectation that I feel exists is really only in my own head. I don't think so, though. I may be taking it way too seriously, but I think it's really there.

Any thoughts? Any wonder I'm single and don't go out much?


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