The question: “Should the man pay?” is like a fat, juicy pimple. As soon as it’s popped, it’s a shit show of a mess with no satisfaction. It’s a question where all kinds of people show up and wave their opinion flag whether they’re a chivalrous type, a know-it-all, a feminist, misogynist, traditionalist, or a supposed conscious couple, like us!
We are writing this in response to the many articles out there that give a black and white answer to this question that’s at least 51 shades of gray. We feel disheartened by the lack of guidance towards cultivating inner wisdom. And so here we are - writing something for men and women to consider in order to come to their own answer.
First of all “should the man pay?” is a heteronormative question that does not acknowledge the many couple combinations possible. This might seem nit-picky, but we haven’t yet seen this question posed with the heterosexual context specified. [Especially when a writer self-identifies as “conscious,” we think it’s very important to be mindful of inclusivity]. Just so we’re totally clear, the following article is referring to men and women who date heterosexually.
Please be aware that these are our opinions based on research and experience with clients, so take what works for you and toss the rest.
Should the man pay? Things for women to consider…
- Definitive claims of roles for men and women are conditioning, period. Being specific about sexuality has the added benefit of highlighting the cultural conditioning that is inherent in the question: “In a heterosexual connection, should the man pay?” By specifically naming the context of heterosexuality, it points out how the question doesn’t have such an obvious answer in non-hetero dating scenarios. When we hear definitively “that’s a man’s role” or “that’s a woman’s role,” we become aware of sexism and heteronormativity. When people definitively argue that the man should pay is nature - it only takes looking at someone who doesn’t identify themselves within the gender binary to see that this is obviously not definitive.
- When a person holds a “should” or rule about men or women, this is a possible indicator of cultural conditioning or tradition/values that have been passed on and unconsciously adopted; and we invite a “should” person to be curious: How did I acquire this rule? We imagine most “conscious” people realize it is from conditioning. If the person is super steeped in the conditioning, we can see them arguing that the man should pay rule has to do with masculine/feminine energy, genetics, or evolution. While those viewpoints may have truth to them, does that mean we can’t evolve beyond them? As a conscious being seeking conscious partnership - this is an exactly perfect opportunity to expand consciousness.
- Just because there’s evolutionary biology doesn’t mean there’s no value in questioning our instincts. If you have the man should pay rule because you’re attracted to polarity in your relationships - we think owning it as your personal desire is a more empowered stance rather than making blanket statement rules about men that all women should hold as a standard if they value themselves. We also want to add that we realize that cultural conditioning can reflect biology. So, if you want to tell us that we’re not considering the whole male protector/provider and female caretaker/nurturer thing - we do consider this. But the truth for us is that we live in a much more complex world than just that. When we only operate from our instincts, we don’t expand consciousness. [Evolutionary biology is largely psuedoscience anyways - which does not invalidate it at all in our minds - just sayin’].
- Do I have a fixed definition of what it means to be a man? We invite the man should pay person to ask: Do I automatically rule out men who do not immediately fit this definition? If so - do you also have a fixed definition of what it means to be a woman? Are you submissive, have the American female ideal body, are you sexy, nurturing, clean and tidy, is your wardrobe and makeup put together, do you have decent status in your career but not higher status than the men you date? The point of these questions is: If you’re not meeting all the standards you hold for yourself as a woman, you might be projecting old-fashioned standards on men. SImilarly, if you ARE meeting ALL the old-fashioned standards of being a woman - we would imagine you are somewhat resentful and exhausted. In this case, what would it be like if you gave yourself explicit permission to be you regardless of the ideal mold you have in your head? While it’s certainly possible, it is highly unlikely that you fit every single aspect of the mold. We’ve found in working with clients and in our own relationship - when we are consciously more flexible with ourselves, we open our mind and heart to a whole new world of unconditional love and magic. It is this flexibility that may be a common denominator of all lasting conscious relationships. When we practice being aware of our definitions, we become aware of when we create our own suffering. This awareness is a very empowering place to be because then we have choice!
- Expectations attract expectations. Then there’s the whole law of attraction thing: We attract our mirror. So, if you have strong expectations about men paying and are judgmental when they don’t - you’re probably going to attract men who don’t pay or men who pay but feel resentful about it or maybe even men who are struggling with money in general. Bummer! If a person expects a man to pay, she MAY attract a man who expects sex in return.
- You are using the check-on-the-table moment as a test. If the guy doesn’t offer to pay - it’s an automatic fail OR major points deduction at best. [This is a fine test if you’ve really checked in with your heart about this and are making a conscious decision because then you will attract your mirror as we said before. BUT - If you’ve just adopted the test unconsciously, we invite you to question it because you’re likely to be disappointed when you attract the reflection of a man who tests you.
- Doing the fake look for money when the bill comes. The guy won’t know you’re being fake and will think you’re showing common courtesy, right? Wrong! He probably can tell and either way - this isn’t being real. Is this the foundation for a relationship you want?
- Believing that a person who’s on a tight budget isn’t worthy of love and isn’t worthy of a committed partnership. Really? If you are that woman, that’s your right to want a guy that has his shit together to your standards. Just remember he is probably measuring you to his standards also. In the long run this leads to tension especially when either person has an ebb in their finances. No one has every area of their life completely perfect - including you. Judge whether they’re worth of love or committed partnership based on how you feel when you’re with them, regardless of their wallet.
- Offering to “go dutch” so as to not be obligated for further connection with the person [be it a second date or sex]. This is legit but can be awkward when it comes time for the bill and you both have a fixed idea about who is paying and why. When we make this decision because we want to send a message - where is the empowerment and honest relating in that? We invite you to be clear with words, directly addressing how you feel about the connection [or lack thereof].
- Thinking that requiring or expecting the man to pay increases his perceived value of you or himself. Actually the man might genuinely want to pay but as soon as the woman requires or expects it, he might not really want to anymore. Just imagine for a moment that you’re really turned on by a man and want to have sex with him. But then, imagine that he implies or expects you to have sex with him with a you owe him type of energy. How would that affect your level of turn on? You get the feel of this hopefully. People who unconsciously put more value on themselves or another because of money have a lingering story, likely from childhood. It’s not that this story is bad and you shouldn’t go for someone who has this story. It’s just something you can have awareness for yourself moving forward.
To Read Thoughts that Heterosexual Men to Consider, please read Part 2.
To read step-by-step ideas on how to handle this situation on a day, please read Part 3.