Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash
I went back and forth about whether or not I was going to write this. Ultimately, I feel like we devote too much energy to dating and relationship standards when really, all you need to know is that should determine your true wants and needs and then take actions that align with them.
Still, occasionally it can be interesting to examine the standards of others, compare, contrast and even dissect to see what these various standards have to say about our place in society. So with that in mind, I bring you my thoughts on a story I shared on the NSNC Instagram page.
I was at my office, after 5 p.m. still working on finishing up my stories for the day. I wouldn’t say my office environment is known for professionalism in the first place; but as the hours tick by and the sun gets lower and lower in the sky, the conversations get a little louder and a lot more personal.
On this particular evening, two women --likely in their mid to late forties-- were discussing a date one of them had recently attended. I couldn’t hear their entire conversation. I could just tell from their tones that they were upset about something.
Using my highly advanced and honed eavesdropping skills, I was able to determine that the women were incensed because at the end of this dinner date, the man asked the woman in attendance if she could cover the tip for the meal they had just shared.
The woman who did not go on the date, who is married with children, seemed more irritated by the gesture than the woman who was asked to go into her wallet. She kept screaming the word tip over and over again, incredulously. Apparently, this was a huge insult.
Personally, I was a little surprised by their behavior.
Was a man asking for her to cover the tip really that gauche? If he had taken care of the larger portion of the bill by paying for dinner, was it really that outlandish to ask her to also contribute to a meal in which she also partook? I didn’t think so. After all, society has changed. Back in the day, men worked far more readily and gainfully than women did. They were the ones with the money and since society was so unjust in that way, it only makes sense that men should have been the ones picking up the entire bill. Times have changed though. Not only are women working, there are several instances in which women, particularly Black women, make significantly more than our Black male counterparts.
I know there are women who will argue that a man asking you out and not paying for the entire evening speaks to the value he places on you as a woman and the time you’ve allotted to spend with him. And that may very well be the case. This could have been a test to determine if this woman would have a problem contributing financially in the future, which would have been petty and juvenile on his part. Still, in most relationships, ultimately both parties end up contributing financially. Whether it’s splitting the check at dinner, paying the bills, or financing vacations, men don’t pay for everything like they used to.
And while that can be a little annoying for the women who are also still adjusting to the new societal norms, I think it’s good for men and women alike to consider a man's role outside of financial provision.
Still today, far too many men use monetary provision as the sole measure of manhood and what it means to be a good partner. When the truth is, money, while extremely important, has never been the extent of what it takes to make a relationship work. Men got decent jobs, brought home their paychecks and believed that gave them license to either check out or wyle the fuck out in the streets. Their money gave them license to drop the ball emotionally, psychologically, spiritually etc because they weren't taught to strive for anything else. It's the reason so many people had fathers who were physically present but still aloof and unavailable. It's the reason a woman's voice was lost in a relationship. If she wasn't bringing home money, she didn't have a say. Since the beginning of intimate relationships, men have had the money, so they've had the power. And more than a few of them abused it.
And this set up doesn't just hurt women. On several occasions and with several people I’ve seen men who erroneously believed that their identity was tied to their job titles or salary. And when those things were threatened or lost, these men found themselves questioning not only their place in the job market but their entire self-worth.
The dating phase can only show us so much about a person. But instead of over-emphasizing somewhat outdated rules of decorum, I think more than a man’s spending habits, we should be trying to find out what he’ll be able to bring to the table aside from his credit card.