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Check, Please, Part 4

by The 4-Way Panel

Dear 4-Way,

I’m a single woman in my late 30s, which means I’ve been dating for about 20 years. Over the past few years or so, I’ve noticed that when men ask me out, they expect me to pay for half of the date. I’m all for offering to chip in on later dates, but I’ve kind of always gone by the rule that for a first date, the asker does the paying. Am I being ridiculously old-fashioned? Does it mean something if they ask me if I want to split the bill with them—perhaps they’ve already decided I’m not worthy of a second date? If I ask a man to have drinks or dinner with me, I expect and intend to pay, though about 75 percent of the time, he won’t let me and he ends up paying. I have girlfriends who are more rigid about this than me; they never offer to pay. Who’s right?—DR

Jody    The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer

Picture this: Two lesbian women are out on a date. Who pays? Or worse, is it a date, or is it just a friend thing? Talk about confusing! Be glad that this is an issue you don’t have to deal with. And yet I find myself offering you the same advice that I would to anyone, regardless of her/his sexual identity. Who is right? Everyone and no one. Just because you have a rule about the first date and who does the paying doesn’t mean that it’s a universal rule, or even a golden one.

You have your standards and that’s fine, but he may have a different approach. So I wouldn’t let my self-worth get caught up in who pays. Would you only pay for the guy if you find that you like him? I hope not. I suppose tradition lends itself to the man paying, but most folks I know only see that world when watching classic movies. Honey, this ain’t Casablanca. And unless you are sitting across the table from Humphrey Bogart’s ghost, let your traditional ideas of who pays be “gone with the wind.” And by the way, next time I'm in your neck of the woods, I would love to take you out for lunch. No, it wouldn’t be a date. And as for who pays, this one is on me.

Check in next week for another Q&A series with The 4-Way.

The 4-Way is published monthly. If you have a question for our 4-Way panel, please send it to them in care of the editor at To read more of The 4-Way columns or to listen to our podcasts, visit The 4-Way now.