Here’s a real story that happened in Moscow way back, maybe around 2005. I’ve known it from a female source, years later.
Two Western gentlemen, one American, another European, named, say, Bill and Christoph, had decided to invite two Russian girls to a restaurant in Moscow downtown. One of them, Christoph, had plans on one of the girls; the another one, Bill, had showed up just to join his friend for company. Same thing with another Russian girl; she came in only to practice her English, no plans on either of the gentlemen. So it wasn’t exactly a date, at least, for Bill and the second Russian girl. But for Christoph it still was something that looked like a date…
They had a nice chat, ate some food, drank some wine and then it was time for the check. At this point Bill said: “Guys, we had a wonderful evening, now let’s split the check for all of us.”
So they did it.
Then they said goodbye; Bill and Christoph went back to their homes, the girls left the place, too. No afterparty in any way.
Christoph, as we know, has had some plans on one of the girls, the first one, let’s call her Tanya. They’d met a couple of times before and he was showing signs of interest to her.
After the meeting it was all over, he never saw her again. Only had talked on the phone trying to get her on another, separate date but…
From what I know, Christoph had understood his mistake: he knew that on such occasions in Russia men pay and women don’t. Even if it wasn’t a ‘pure’ date, just a company dinner. But he did have some intentions. For him it was a date. Knowing this, he wanted to split the check with Bill only.
Here’s the interesting thing. Bill then told him: “Look, this is not a date for me, I have no plans, we should split it between us four, not us two, this was just nice chat when friends meet.” For some reason Christoph followed him on this.
Well, in Tanya’s eyes he looked like a Scrooge. Girls in Russia don’t like Scrooges. They like it when men look generous, it is not a question of being rich or poor. Neither is it a macho thing. This is, I think, an important part of the Russian etiquette. Something connected with being a chevalier comforting his lady…
Christoph missed his chance.
The outcome – on a date, men in Russia always pay. The girls don’t. They don’t expect to. Otherwise, you’re a Scrooge. Sure, we’re not talking about business meeting or when friends just meet in a bar and the check is split accordingly between all of the people: your gender doesn’t matter here.
Maybe it is not modern by the Western standards, maybe it looks somewhat outdated. But, my dear British and American friends, if you like a beautiful Russian girl, don’t be a Scrooge. On the other hand, don’t pretend to behave like an oligarch: true, some girls here like it but some don’t: it depends, you have to guess it. But never, ever be a Scrooge.
In some ways women have it easier than men. For example, all young boys suffer from testosterone poisoning. It can make you do some really stupid stuff. But as we get older, we discover there is more to life than girls; there’s also food.
I remember one of my dumber moves; I used to go to this club and try my luck. I was never any good with the ladies but suffering from the effects of poison, I had little choice but to try.
One night I started buying this girl drinks and we sat and talked for most of the evening. My Bank conveniently put an ATM (Bankomat) right outside the door. Being young and male, it never occurred to me why my Bank was so generous at the time. They were truly worried about my convenance.
At the end of the evening she graciously thanked me for the pleasant conversation and went on her way. I understood instantly that I was a sucker. I remember that pleasant conversation cost me $120, in 1980s dollars. I was in my early twenties and worked at a radio station, I’m sure that was at least a third of my paycheck.
I would like to report that I was never that stupid again. Really… I would like to say I never did that again. Dammit. OK, in my defense I can’t recall spending everything in my account again. But yeah… the girls knew how to play the game and I was an easy mark.
Today some young couples go dutch. I don’t know how common the practice is but I would guess many young ladies see little point in such a system.
Of course, in the defense of the ladies, having some random guy want to grope you and expecting sex for a drink would be more than a little demeaning. In America there is a saying: Two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because some loser boy is desperate for sex doesn’t make it right to take advantage of him.
So I’m not really sure what the answer is but I do think ladies should pay some too. I also know that there is little incentive for young ladies to offer up their hard earned pay when some man-child is trying to show what a big shot he is.
Should she always pay?
It is very many years since I went on a date, so it’s difficult to remember my attitude at that time; all I do know is that since we became an item, a long time before we tied the knot, Mrs B and I always pooled our resources. It was never you pay, or I’ll pay, we simply shared the costs from the outset.
Were I to start dating now, I think I would retain my very old-fashioned manner of always paying myself, at least until such time as we became a couple. This of course would make me exceedingly unpopular with many modern women, who baulk at the idea that they are shown respect, chivalry even, and treated rather like a fine wine to be purchased, drunk slowly, and cherished.
I still open doors for ladies, and offer them my seat when on a busy train or bus. I offer to drive on a long journey and to carry the heavy shopping. It’s what I was brought up to do. Many women would accuse me of benevolent sexism, and that my actions suggest the women is somehow inferior and they find it all rather demeaning. Sod them.
If I ask you out for a date, then I will foot the bill. If you fancy buying a round of drinks at the end of the evening, fine.
If there’s a second or third date, then I would also pay for dinner and the accompanying wine. I want you to know how I feel about you, and that I want to continue the dating. Once we are established as a couple, then we can share.
I agree you ladies should get equal pay and opportunities, always. But for me, that doesn’t extend to our first few dates. If you don’t like it, tough. But if you don’t mind being treated reverently, as something very special, someone your date just wants to dote on and treasure, then I reckon you would enjoy yourself immensely.
So, for those first few occasion, the lady never pays.