Who pays for the date?

Photo Credit: BLUEPRINT AFRIC

By Ebere Mercy

I am going to write like an African girl who understands African gender roles. I am a Nigerian who was born and bred in Nigeria.

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Buhari not being President enough for Nigerians is one national problem.

Who gets to pay for a date between two adults is another national problem.

Most adults in the female folk believe that the XY chromosomes are supposed to foot the date bill no matter what. They say it is an African thing, and since most African men have this ego and patriarchy thing going on with them, it’s only right they pay for everything. Some men are in total agreement with it. Team “I am the MAN, it’s only right I pay.”

There are the men who are of the opinion that since the date is between two adults (adults are supposed to be responsible, you know?), the bill has to be split, after all both parties participated equally in whatever was enjoyed. They say that if women are going to preach independence, they may as well start living the attitude. Some women are part of this flow, and are totally cool with it.

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There are also those who stand on the argument that whoever takes whoever out on the date has to be and must be the one to foot the bill. More like a whoever the date is more important to must be ready to foot the bill thing, irrespective of gender. If the man suggests a hangout or a date to the woman, he pays for everything, transport fare to the place might or might not be inclusive, and vice-versa.

Then there are the ones who say that for the first date, one person pays the bill while the other reciprocates for the second. Not everyone is with this one anyway because “they could take you to an upscale restaurant for the first date, and then you reciprocate with a buka experience for the second.”

There have been many fights, break ups, quarrels between adults because of this issue of who pays on the date, and for the date.

You see why I called it a national problem? If you think it isn’t one yet, I don’t know again.

Well, well, well… I know you are already wondering what I think about all of these? I can’t wait to tell you about it.

This thing. This bill issue thing, is quite simple to handle but because we are Africans (including those who have gone international and the ones who haven’t), we have almost react to same issue with similar attitudes. Something about how we grew up.

In this case, we all agree to the man being the head of the house (at least most of us). Even when we can see clearly that it’s the woman paying all of the bills and trying to keep the family financially afloat, we still say the man is the head of the home. She would even agree to this almost immediately – agree to her husband being the head of the home. That was just an instance of how we view issues. We here are mostly traditional, and since the man is considered the head here, most of us females feel it is only right he pays for the dates also. Most males feel it’s also only right for them to pay for the date, as well as do the chase involved. Here, they were brought up to take on responsibilities, and any man who cannot pay for a date might be seen as incompetent by females and males alike.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, I am writing as a Nigerian who knows how this works.

All of that stated, who pays on a date is a simple thing. For me, it all boils down to MUTUAL AGREEMENT. If I am in a relationship, I can take my man out on a date fully funded by yours truly. It’s really no biggie for me if I have money. You could do same (I expect so), and we could still split bills. No biggie. It’s OUR THING and we don’t care who paid for the last one. I know there are people who think this way too, so I don’t think bills are major problems in real relationships.

It becomes a national issue when it isn’t part of a relationship, especially for two persons who are still in the “let’s meet” stage.

Picture this date in your head: One between a man who is of the orientation that the bill must be split and a woman who is used to fully-funded dates which doesn’t make her purse sweat. Just picture it. That’s all I need you to do.

Okay, I have gone on couple of dates to understand how these things work, so you can call me an authority on “dateships”, lol. I have been on ones fully funded by the other person; ones where we had to split bills and ones that were funded by me.

I know some girls would scream at the last part. Like I said, I am Nigerian and I understand the gender roles here, so I won’t bite you. I love the chase too. I love to be traditional too. I love to be asked out on dates that are fully funded too, only that I’m not built that way psychologically (except it’s a relationship, to be honest). I have had to learn my lessons the right way maybe.

These things could go either ways. I have had to cut off somebody from my life just because he wanted me to take him on a date. I didn’t have a problem with the date part, I mean, if I had money to spare (which I hardly ever have), I could have made it happen or we could have just split bills. My problem with the whole thing was how he kept on saying “Behave like the feminist you preach, take me out na”. Sorry not sorry, but I don’t have respect for this kind of men. I hate when people abuse privilege.

Let me tell you a story that isn’t about me. I only made cameo appearances in it. It anyway explains how much I hate when people abuse privilege.

In those days as a university student, I had a friend who would always come to stay at mine for the weekends. She came to my room for one of these many weekend getaways, and I was only glad for the company because I had had a hard week (Pun fully intended. Don’t mess with me).

That Friday, we were talking about everything when a guy buzzed her and wanted to know if she was free for a casual date. She wanted me to come with her, but nehh, I didn’t feel like a hangout in fifty years (then). Plus, unless you get paid handsomely to be a third-wheeler, nobody likes to be one. Me especially. She asked where they were meeting up, he mentioned. I told her to ask him how the casual date was going to work.

Sorry not sorry but I am a lot into details. I want to always know the set parameters for my dates while we allow the other parts happen by themselves. If you have experienced wicked surprises before, you’d probably understand. Wait until you’ve had your almighty face beat with slay clothes and already waiting for your date at Zenbah, only for him to tell you that he’s in faraway Abuja and had his flight delayed! Me, I’d have known about the Abuja part beforehand, and we’d have to reschedule until you are in Lagos. You can’t keep me waiting and stranded like that. Don’t argue with me please. I love surprises, just not this type.

I have derailed so much. Sigh.

She asked him though, and he just texted “Come, I got it covered”. We dressed her up until she was looking as classy casual can get. We got a taxi and I bade her goodbye expecting her that night. She left some minutes after 6pm. I resumed pressing my phone and replying random messages, while she was giving me deets from her end when she could.

Some minutes to 11 pm, she texted me “EBERE, HE WANTS ME TO PAY MY OWN PART OF THE BILL. I AM DEAD!!!”. I wanted to know if that was what they discussed earlier since I saw the “I got it covered” text. She texted almost immediately: “BABE, HE JUST PAID HIS OWN PART OF EVERYTHING WE HAD O. DUDE ISN’T JOKING O. WE ARE STILL DISCUSSING SHA BUT I AM PISSED!”. I asked if she had her vexation money with her, or her ATM card at least. She said she had something but she wasn’t sure about it covering her bill. LOL, STRANDED CITIZEN.

I texted “GOOD FOR YOU! LMAO! MEET ONE OF THE ATTENDANTS AND ASK THEM HOW MANY PLATES YOU’D NEED TO WASH TO COVER YOUR BILL. GOODNIGHT. DON’T FORGET TO SLAY AT YOUR NEW JOB”.

She texted “LMAO, BABE, HE SAID I SHOULD PAY MY BILL O. HE SAID I SHOULD LEARN TO BE INDEPENDENT LIKE THE FEMINISTS AND THAT IF I WASN’T ONE, I SHOULD ASPIRE TO BE ONE”. Now I was pissed. I was actually going to transfer money to her to pay me at a later date but no, this sort of bad behaviour had to be corrected.

I told her to keep discussing with him, that I was going to send a cab to her as soon as I could. It’s not fair you spring wicked surprises on unsuspecting people. How do you make somebody’s daughter leave her house after assuring her that you were going to cover her expenses only for you to tell her about being independent? Did she tell you that she wasn’t independent? Where’s your conscience at? It’s not fair you mess with people that way. Girls! Learn to carry cash with you if you must go on a date. If cash won’t fit properly into you Chanel bag, take your ATM card with you! I advise cash the most. It’s nobody’s fault if you are stranded wherever now. Also, try not to eat more than you can pay for please. You’ve have to trust this person so much to do otherwise. If for nothing, take the cash for yourself. You could be stranded on the road or have to make unwanted expenses. Do you hear me???

Long story cut short, cab came and she left him there. I don’t know if he paid for hers or washed plates, we never followed up. It’s not like she couldn’t have paid her part of the bill to shame him , but abuse of privilege is bad. I have had to pay for a date I didn’t know involved splitting of bill. It was painful but I did it anyway. Why am I saying this? Just so you know that you can also pay for your part of the bill even if you were caught unaware.

Another story: I was at my cousin’s when one of her doctor friends called to ask if we were still up for a hangout (they had apparently discussed it before, and he knew my other cousin and I were in town). My cousin answered him in the affirmative. I mean, we had had a lazy day and were up for a hangout really. We ate well, had our bath and started to dress up by 8pm or so. I was done in ten minutes because I didn’t feel like make up. My other cousin used up her last concealer and foundation because face baking and slay “queenliness”, LOL. After many minutes, the doctor came to pick us from the estate. We went round town trying to find a good spot. We finally did.

P.S. I am laughing hard as I am typing this. I can’t even help myself right now.

The doctor came with his doctor friend, and they chose a spot for us to sit. A spot faraway from the spotlight. Somewhere hidden. My other cousin and I were worried that they probably had wives, but my cousin, the one we came with said they didn’t. So when it came to buying things for the table, problem started. Somehow, my cousin had to pay part of the bill (thank God for the grace to carry money around). The night just didn’t end well as we all couldn’t vibe with their naughty behaviours. To cut this one short, we got home and laughed at them and ourselves. This dude was supposed to pay for everything according to their agreement, so I will call this a wicked surprise that got truncated. End of story.

Obvious fact is that in most parts of the world, it’s mostly the men who asks out on dates. It is our own type of traditional where the man does the chase. Awesome feeling to be honest. At least that is how I feel. There are still women who ask out on dates, and who do the chase, don’t get me wrong. And it’s nothing wrong too. Different strokes for different folks. Just figure out what works for you, and be yourself in all. Don’t pretend to be able to cater for a date you can’t cater for because you are trying to prove a point. Say it on time, and shame the devil.

If you are one of those who believe in the “pay today for the first date while I pay for the second”, always try to understand the next person too. I cannot pretend to work with your upscale restaurant first date experience when my account balance is screaming buka buka . When properly understood, then you wouldn’t feel cheated.

I am traditional to an extent, but that doesn’t mean that I’d go to the movies with you without at least wanting to buy our bags of popcorns and carbonated drinks. It doesn’t. I feel comfortable that way knowing that I contributed. It’s not about not wanting to feel entitled. It’s not that. It’s an Ebere Mercy kind of person. Again, figure out your person.

In all, always ask beforehand about this bill thing except you are in a relationship. In relationships, I mean you understand each other to an extent and there are hardly awkward moments. You can always trust the next person to many extents, if it’s a truthful relationship.

This is definitely a long post.

Now to you, what do you think about this bill issue? Which have you experienced?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post first appeared on EBERE MERCY’S BLOG. CRISPNG was granted permission to repost it

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