We’ve all been there. Having finally gotten the courage to ask our crush out on a date, we find ourselves at the end of a meal with the check placed down in front of us.
If you’re the guy, you might instinctively reach for the check. But hold on there, sir! Get your head out of the twentieth century and all those movies you relied on for your dating prowess. In fact, in any type of relationship, the expectation that one party covers all dating expenses all the time may lead to resentment on both ends…unless such expectations are clarified and agreed to upfront.
So in the modern age of online dating, how can we determine who is responsible for what when it comes to paying for dates? If we discard the long-standing trop that gentlemen pay for the first date, what other indicators might we use instead? Income disparities can play a role but are often an uncomfortable topic to bring up early in the dating process. Likewise, some men have reported fatigue at having to pay for dates that clearly will lead nowhere.
Dating in the Venmo Age
Partly as a result of such discomfort and frustration, a new trend sees men now billing their dates after the fact for their portion of the date, according to a recent article in the New York Post.
That this is even possible is testament to the increasingly popular mobile payments app Venmo, which allows you to transfer funds to anyone you want with a phone number or an email address. It makes the previously arduous task of splitting a restaurant bill among a group of friends easy, and also, apparently, easy to bill a romantic date for his or her share of the fun.
Is a post-date Venmo bill the tacky but modern way of “going Dutch,” or just a contemporary and effective way to keep things equitable? According to experts, the answer may depend as much on how and when it is communicated, or if it is at all.
The Post article notes financial expert Lynnette Khalfani-Cox stating “Communication about money matters is always fraught with misunderstanding and Venmo is a kind of a technological twist to these age-old issues about money and dating.” Khalfani-Cox goes on to position this as a misguided attempt to be modern.
It’s Still About Communication
But with Venmo or not, how does a couple decide on who should pay in the early stages of dating?
Psychology Today’s Dr. Jeremy Nicholson notes these actions shouldn’t be taken lightly as they can set the tone for relationship dynamics going forward. “If you want an equal relationship,” Nicholson states, referring to dynamics that often trouble heteronormative relationships, “it might be best to initially break from the traditional dating script, let the woman ask and pay first, then let the man “get the next one.” This sends the signal clearly for both equality and reciprocity. Power and leadership will be more clearly shared as a result.” Or so one hopes!
Is billing a date by Venmo a trend to worry about? Probably not, but if Dr. Nicholson is correct on actions indicating a role in the relationship, then someone billing you after the fact rather than talking to you upfront about his or her expectations is a pretty strong indicator. They likely aren’t worth the effort.