Focus On The Person,
Not The Location, Of Your Date
By Frank Kermit
I have been on Montreal CJAD AM radio as a regular contributor for years now on the Passion radio show with Dr Laurie Betito. In that time I have made a number of statements about my own stance and opinions on dating and relationships based both on my practice and my personal experiences. Some of my comments earn praise, and some others get the introspective discussion, and some get trashed.
There is one bit of advice that I have given out over the years, that seems to have garnered a tremendous amount of backlash, and to be Frank (pun intended), I am actually shocked that of all the advice I dole out, that it is this one nugget that repeatedly gets brought up again and again.
The fact that I think that first dates ideally should be inexpensive and people should pay for their own share, has earned me the wrath of audiences, more than any other topic I have ever talked about, including managing friends-with-benefits, open relationship dating, multi-partner sex, sharing sexual pasts, and sexual fetish lifestyles combined.
I believe that it all started with questions about first dates, what constituted a date, where is an appropriate location for a date, cost of a date and so on. I said something to the effect that any location is fine for a first date and giving a fast food restaurant (McDonalds) as an example. You’d have thought I was endorsing a threat to national government security with the rage it enticed. One woman actually wrote to me privately claiming that, “No one falls in love at McDonalds you Dufus!” (One of the nicer messages I assure you)
When you go out on a date, what is your goal? Are you looking for someone to pay your way to high priced dinners at fancy restaurants, or are you looking to go on a date to find a compatible partner to fulfill some role you desire? If your goal is to just get more “stuff” (meals, gifts, attention) the only people you will attract are the kinds of people that only have “stuff” to give, and will have their own expectations of what should be “owed” to them (The good news is that people who use people regularly end up with people who use people). If your goal is to find a partner to share some aspect of your life, then if you know how to manage dating (which most people do not) the location of the date becomes almost irrelevant. So yes Virginia, you can fall in love anywhere.
So who should pay for a first date? Yes, there is an etiquette that suggests that the person who is doing the inviting should cover the cost of a date. I have found that a high number of women tend to strongly endorse this etiquette. Understandable given the fact that even in a modern society of equality between genders, men are still the primary gender that is expected to ask out women on a date.
Men seem to fall into two distinct categories. There are men who truly respect women as equals and thus expect women to be capable of paying their own share until such a time as the couple moves from casual dating to something more serious (at which point joint expenses have their own rules). Then there are men who believe a man should pay for a first date because either they view themselves as being a gentleman in paying, or more insidious, they still view women as needing to be handled much like children, who could not possibly take care of themselves. Though, most men would not openly admit it because they are not Frank enough (again, pun intended), there are few other areas of life where someone wanting what could be interpreted as special treatment is ever looked upon with the respect of an equal.
If you are heading out on a date, and are more concerned with judging the location of the date, instead of focusing on the person you are dating, your focus is on the wrong element. The WORST thing that could happen to you is that you end up in a serious relationship with someone that used the razzle-dazzle of showcasing during those first few dates just to get you committed, and who turns out is too incompatible for you seven months later. Was the razzle-dazzle worth the lost time of months (could be years) with the wrong person? That is up to you.
One thing I can tell you for an absolute certainty. It certainly was the worst thing that has happened to some older clients of mine that come into my office, because they are shocked by being single (and usually child-free) at an age where they thought they would have already had their own families, and ask me for help to answer their overwhelming question of “Frank, What Happened?”