Over the weekend Moxie advised a man who had been milked for a free night out. His story reads like an advertisement for a course in dating logistics.
“Met a girl online and we exchanged a few emails and phone calls and set up the date. Since I recently moved to her area, I suggested we go to a Houlihans or TGIFridays for drinks since I didnt know any other places. Besides, I was familiar with those establishments atmosphere wise and price wise. She then said she preferred a wine bar she frequently goes to instead. I agreed.
We each had 2 glasses of wine (way more expensive than Houlihans or Fridays) and after 2 hours she said she had to leave. The conversation up to that point I thought went very well and there was even some minor shoulder touching when we spoke. SO at that point I knew I enjoyed it more than her. When the bill came, she didnt offer to pay but did say thanks.
When I walked her to her car, I got the cheek kiss and a hug. At that point it was obvious she wasnt interested and we parted. The next day she sends me an email saying I was sweet but not right for each other.
Now the questions. Since she didnt feel anything, should she have stopped after the first glass of wine and maybe had water or soda instead? If she did order the second glass, should she have at least offered to pay when the bill came? This bugs me because she upped the ante on my original suggestion to a more upscale place from Houlihans to that wine bar. Had the same scenario played out in my original offer, it would have cost far less.
I feel like she was in a win-win situation. She gets a potential connection or else a free night at an upscale place. She says she dates frequently and has been on all the dating sites for years (she told me this in person on the date). Sounds to me like she knew exactly what she was doing. Am I being too sensitive about this? At least I found out about a cool new place for any future second or third dates with another girl.”
This case provides a useful roadmap for correcting a number of all-too-typical dating foibles. I’m going to start at the end and work backwards, tracing points at which he could have improved his outcome.
When the bill came. By the time the check came, you had a feeling you enjoyed it more than her. That means the likelihood of a second date or even some escalation on the first date was slim. So you should have asked to split the check, cut your losses and moved on. There’s no sense in making an investment towards future goodwill that you’re never going to collect on. If she protests, remind her that the wine bar was her idea, that she wanted to go there. Should she have offered to pay her share knowing there wasn’t going to be a second encounter? The question contains a false premise – she should have offered to pay her part of the tab regardless.
I can hear the criticism now – “but that’s so rude to ask her to pay! Women don’t like that, it’s not claaaaassy.” OK, so what? A woman who wants to see you again will be popping out of her skin, it’s just not that difficult to tell. If she’s not giving off those signals, then you have nothing to lose except the cost of entertaining a woman who has no interest in seeing you again. I accept a small financial outlay as a skid-greaser towards later dating experiences with a woman (where I expect the investment to even out one way or another). If it’s clear there’s no later experience coming, I’m no longer interested in such generosity.
Guys get into this mindset where they think they’ll dispatch a bad date by ponying up cash just to make it go away. I’ve been there, you just want to get out of there so you get the bill covered as quickly as you can, have an awkward side-hug and go home. But that just perpetuates the modus operandi that it’s the man’s job to sing and dance and the woman’s job to judge the performance.
When she insisted you change the plan. There’s a certain tackiness to being asked out and then requesting that the location be changed to better suit your tastes – trying to upgrade an invitation is a harbinger of flakiness and perpetual dissatisfaction. (If she really used the word “prefer,” that’s pushy and entitled language, as if her desires alone should carry the day.) There’s also a small fitness-test aspect to it, in that you’ll lose points if you fold and she perceives you don’t have any confidence in your original plan. But the bigger issue is that it sets up a frame of reference in which she is in the driver’s seat to insist on being entertained, where she’s dating not to get to know you but to have fun on someone else’s effort, and that’s not a frame in which you are likely to come off as attractive or desireable.
The thing is that you DO need to make the date fun for her, but you need to be inviting her into your life, not acting as her cruise director – so if she insists on dictating the terms of the engagement, you should probably invoke the abundance mentality and back away from the deal entirely. As Moxie said:
I don’t think you gals understand….these guys don’t have to go out with you. They likely have plenty of other options.
Choice of location. Now, in her post Moxie went off on this guy as “cheap,” and she throws in snarky references to Olive Garden and Dave & Buster’s just to rub it in his face.
I don’t think that’s exactly the point, and quite frankly I find girls are way too hung up on “cheap” as if money grows on trees for the express purpose of being plucked by men and subsequently delivered to women. Especially for today’s economy when frugality should be a personal virtue of everybody (don’t let your desire for women shame you out of watching your dollars).
The point is that the perception of Friday’s and Houlihan’s is of places you go when you are on a budget and don’t have anywhere better to go. (What’s interesting is that they themselves are chain knockoffs of Fern Bars, highly distinctive yuppie hangouts of the 1980’s.) And besides, she’s been there before, not to that particular restaurant but to that kind of generic, anonymous place. It’s unclear if he actually told her he “didn’t know any other places,” but in any case his suggestions communicate a lack of knowledge, imagination, or both. One of the benefits of dating in a new area is that it will (or should) get you acquainted with all sorts of vibey places for dessert, ice cream, and unusual beers or cocktails. Browse Yelp and Urbanspoon, and subscribe to a couple of local food blogs. Admittedly, this gets tough if you’re dating in the suburbs and don’t have a lot of mom-and-pop options or places that cater to young adults. Make it work however you can though, a little uniqueness game goes a long way. You can find a lot of places that are just as inexpensive as a midlevel chain but are much better experiences. Think like a hipster.
Incidentally, you’ll want to read Moxie’s thread for the harsh invective from women (including Moxie herself) about how “cheap” and “clueless” the guy was. OMG, can you believe he tried to take her to a chain restaurant?! This kind of shallow status consciousness is unfortunately typical in large sectors of the dating world. Since we have to assume and plan around this sort of bear trap, no woman should get any first-date presumption of being girlfriend material; every woman you date has to start out on Ladder 2, with an option to move to Ladder 1 if she earns (proves) it.
NO DINNER DATES
This date didn’t involve dinner per se, but this is a good time to talk about them anyway. The bottom line: don’t do them, at least not with women you haven’t slept with yet.
I don’t know when or how “dinner dates” became cultural de rigeuer for early dating, but they are a total non-starter in today’s climate. Early dinner dates involve too much sitting down chatting and not enough action, excessive investment of time and money, too little opportunity for kino escalation and put too much pressure on the opening encounters. It’s probably the most effective way to put your provider foot forward and thus get instantly moved into the Boyfriend Zone or worse yet the Beta Orbiter Zone.
For a man who has broken out of blue-pill betatude, it’s difficult to understand the degree to which other men’s minds are stuck in failing dating patterns to the point they can’t imagine anything else. I was approached by a friend recently who asked how to avoid paying for a woman’s dinner on a date. “Don’t go to dinner on the date,” I replied plainly. He was momentarily astounded – the concept of breaking out of the dinner-date script had not entered his mind.
As an aside, I have long found it interesting to hear women describe themselves as “cheap dates” – the assumption is that it’s the man’s job to wine and dine her, and that she’s somehow doing him a favor by lowering her level of expectations and saving him some money and trouble.
I used to be really heated up about this topic, but I’ve hit a streak lately of dating women who are very low on the dating-entitlement factor, who offer to pay half (not as a shit test) and are more concerned about my company than where I’m taking them. Part of it is me projecting a frame that is not confused with a wine-and-diner, but another part is plain good luck. Either way it’s been very refreshing.
This dude, after telegraphing that he wasn’t on top of his dating game, allowed himself to be bullied into switching the meeting place and then got stuck with the tab for a woman that wasn’t into him. Whether this was all a ruse just so she could get an evening at her chosen wine bar, or if she lost nascent attraction and got what she could on her way out of the arrangement, is unimportant; his moves alone all but determined she wasn’t going to be interested in him by the end of the night. The solution: own the plan, go to a place that is distinctive but where you don’t have to spend a lot of money, and don’t stay in one place too long while the bill climbs and the energy declines.