When my twenty something brother updated his Facebook status recently, I had to stop and take note. The question grabbed my attention, but what held it was the 203 comments in response to the status within a very short period. Surely he was on to something. Curled up sick in bed, I kept on clicking”Load more comments” on my phone so I could start from the very beginning. This was a saga I could not miss.
So what’s the question you wonder?
“Guys, when u out on a date do you mentally add up everything u date ordering to ensure the budget nuh buss?”
When you are out on a date, do you mentally add up everything your date orders to ensure that you do not exceed the budget?
As married people, we are somewhat disconnected from the dating scene. I say somewhat because even though we are hitched, we try to go out on dates. Our dates are quite different from those of a suitor intent on impressing the damsel more than other potential suitors but when I saw Arlon’s post, it took me back. Way back.
It was interesting hearing this question being asked from a man’s perspective as I had grown up on the very firm advice of the women in my family.
I will share some of the wise words my mother, grandmothers, aunts and sister friends taught me:
TIPS FOR WOMEN
- Eat before you leave your house. I don’t believe in eating like a bird in order to impress someone else so that’s not the point. You may well hate the food at the restaurant and wish you had at least something in your stomach. I know my own mother hated the thought of us looking like she didn’t feed us at home.
- Eat before you leave your house. Do not take it for granted that food will be provided and in adequate quantities. Even at events where your hosts are expected to feed you, there may be a shortage of food (usually because some other desperate person took more than the share for one person).
- When you are being treated to a meal by anyone, it could be your parents, family members or very close friends a suitor, whomever, do not order the most expensive thing on the menu. It is is very poor taste to do so at someone’s expense as you cannot be sure what their circumstances are and even if you know them to be very well off, it is still in poor taste to do so.
- The only way you should order the most expensive thing on the menu is if you are explicitly encouraged to do by the person paying the bill. That person could be you.
- Do not use a meal to ascertain if a man will be a good provider or if he is stingy. There are much better ways.
- Walk with your own money. In the Caribbean, we do not play “Dutch” (where the man and woman split the bill) but there are other ways to assert your own independence. The first thing is to politely offer to help the bill (which the gentleman will likely decline) or suggest that he allows you to leave the tip. If you are offended by him in any way, you can cut the meal short, pay for yours and call a taxi home. Never order a meal you cannot pay for.
- If you are dating a man who is not earning as much as you and you wish to dine in a swanky restaurant that he cannot afford, tell him you will pick then next restaurant and it will be your treat. It’s OK to want to dine in a fine restaurant if you have earned your money and want to treat yourself. If a man is not comfortable with you earning more than him, then things could get really messy long term.
- If a man takes you to a restaurant that is not flashy but good and that is what he can afford, do not criticise his choice.
Now, I do know that things have changed a lot and with women becoming more and more independent but we all have a role to play. Here’s what I would say to my brother and my male friends about dating in this age.
TIPS FOR MEN
- If money is an issue, call ahead to find the average cost of a dinner for two with and without drinks. Some restaurants post menus online, you can go through ahead of booking to see what you will be dealing with.
- Even though it may be tempting, do not take all your dates to one restaurant. Bad things can happen.
- Hang your hat where you can reach it. If you see that a lady has very expensive taste and only goes for the material things in life, then food is not the only thing you should be worried about. She could be a successful woman with her own money. You will find out soon enough. I suggest you do so over drinks.
- Be creative. Food dates can run the whole gamut. From a homely home cooked meal to the best ethnic hole in the wall, driving an hour for the best street food, going on a cooking class together, going out for drinks, lunch and then dinner in a reasonably priced restaurant.
- You should not have to be throwing money at a woman in order to impress you and she shouldn’t be trying to spend yours in order to assess you.
- If you are on a tight budget, it is OK to save big dinner dates for birthdays and special occasions. Do other things before dinner dates. Leave that as an expression of serious intent.
- NEVER tell a woman what to order or order for her unless she invites you to do so. You may suggest the things you like or others have raved about.
- Sometimes a bottle of wine and homemade sandwiches in the park say more than an expensive meal.
- If she has very refined tastes and loves to cook, suggest you both go food shopping for the ingredients to cook a meal together and provide nice touches like candles, a great playlist on your iPod/phone and a nice complementary bottle of wine.
- If you need to control the expenditure, go to a restaurant for a set menu with a fixed price like a buffet or a tasting menu. That way you can foresee what the bill may look like.
- Allow the lady to order first. If she orders the Chateaubriand, then suggest you both share it since it is portioned for two. If she just orders something super expensive (and blows your budget), order a soup appetiser for yourself as you will need to get some gas out of your empty stomach because that will be all you will be eating. Along with the bread. So order another basket.
What are your views? We would love to hear from you!