Talking about money can be awkward, but few things seem to be as loaded as bringing it up on a first date — beginning with the question of who's picking up the check. In heterosexual relationships, should the guy always pay? And if he does, do you owe him another date — or something else? What happens if you offer to split the bill? Does that mean the relationship is heading for the dreaded friend zone?
Our first caller is a 28-year-old single woman living in Chicago — we're calling her Clarisse — who makes $90,900 a year. She wrote a Money Diary last summer where she chronicled her dating life, which included screening texts from her toxic ex, hooking up with a new guy while keeping up with her FWB (friends with benefits), and complaining about how expensive dating is. But what piqued our interest was a conversation she had with her date, G., about the protocol around who should pick up the bill on dates. They agreed to go 50/50, but commenters were quick to point out that Clarisse let G. pick up the tab more (nothing gets past the MD commenters!). We wanted to hear an update from her on how her love life is going, what it's like to date men who make less than her, and how do you actually handle that first-date awkwardness over who should foot the bill?
One question that's come up again and again when we discuss the topic of who pays on the first day is whether this is a heteronormative issue that only straight couples deal with. Do same-sex couples face the same awkwardness? Or could straight people learn something from the LGBTQ community? Paco and I called up Jacob Tobia, an LGBTQ-rights activist, feminist writer, and author of the forthcoming memoir Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story, to get their perspective. (Note: Jacob goes by the they/their pronouns.) Jacob had us totally cracking up while giving us some of the best advice I've heard in a long time on this age-old conundrum.
You can hear the full episode on iTunes or Spotify or your favorite podcast app. And while you're at it, please subscribe, give us a rating, and leave us a comment if you like the episode! Check out Clarisse's full diary here, read more about Jacob here, and check out our piece on the gender politics of splitting the check here.