Dating and Dollars
It used to be easy. Men paid and women said thank you. Men also wore hats, and women wore gloves and chiffon scarves. But the rules aren't so clear anymore, and men and women are often confused by the etiquette of dating and money. It's more than who pays and how much. The way you deal with money can reveal who you are and how you feel about the person you are with. Money represents another form of intimacy, and you have to be aware of that. And like that other, more popular form of intimacy -- S-E-X -- you need to know the rules for dating are not the same as those for a bona fide couple.
Don't forget your wallet. In the beginning, unless your date expressly asks to go Dutch (this does not mean wooden shoes and funny hats), assume that you are paying. It may seem old-fashioned, and maybe one day it will change, but at this point that's the rule.
Don't get carried away. Generosity is appealing, but don't overextend yourself. Stay within your comfort zone. If you keep spending beyond your means, she'll assume those are your means, then you'll resent her and she'll have no idea why.
Don't be chauvinist. If your girlfriend wants to take you out, be gracious. Don't insist on paying for cotton candy, tattoos, circus tickets, [insert expenditure here]. You want to be modern but chivalrous.
Don't be cheap. Never, ever itemize the bill. If it matters to you that her tofu fajitas cost two dollars more than your chicken parmesan, you should have stayed home.
Don't stiff the waiter. If you see your date giving the waiter an "I'm sorry" look, you're not tipping enough. A minimum of fifteen percent is standard, and you should factor that in to the price of the evening.
Don't use coupons. Honestly, do you really need that free beverage or complimentary entrée of greater or lesser value?
Single ladies: Is it socially unacceptable to be single?
Love games: Do you need a relationship expert?
I heart you: Online dating and infidelity
Excerpted from PRACTICAL HANDBOOK FOR THE BOYFRIEND: For Every Guy Who Wants to Be One, For Every Girl Who Wants to Build One by Felicity Huffman and Patricia Wolff. Copyright 2007 Velocity, Ltd and Patricia Wolff. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.
Romeo on a Budget
You don't have to be Howard Hughes to take her on a date that will knock her socks off. Most of the time, what you do together is less important than the spirit with which you carry it off. Our friend Shawn, a talented but perennially starving NYC musician, had a slam dunk deal-closer date that consisted of hot dogs off a cart followed by a sunset ride on the Staten Island ferry. They skyline was gorgeous, the idea of sharing a unique view of the city he loved was romantic, and the whole thing set him back $4.95. Sure, it scared off some dates, but the truth is, they wouldn't have stuck around anyway.
Great cheap dates:
Get sweaty. Take her biking, hiking, or walking. If she's so inclined, take her to the batting cage.
Ants in her pants. A picnic may sound corny to you, but it probably won't to her. Find out what she likes to eat and then surprise her with it in a basket.
Cult classic. Host your own private film festival. Share you favourite old movies all night in the coziness of your own bed. Choose wisely, though; not every girl will find the Terminator trilogy as hot as you do.
Keep a light on for her. Have an afternoon rendezvous at Motel 6. Bring quarters to make the bed jiggle. But don't make this a regular thing, or it'll turn sleazy faster than you can say "lousy thread count."
That's amore. Grab a Louis Prima CD, a bottle of wine, and cook Italian at your place. Make sure you get the good stuff. She'll recognize Beefaroni even if she doesn't see the can.
Spa night. Give her a pedicure, including polish. It'll be sexy even if you do a bad job. And you will.
Killing spree. Pretend she's a guy and take her to the video arcade for an evening of annihilation.
Early-bird special. Pretend you're old folks and sit on a bench in the park, then take her to an afternoon movie. No porn unless she suggests it.
Daydream believers. Go window-shopping in the chic section of town. Fantasize about what life will be like when you hit the big time. Stop for overpriced coffee and a slice of pie.
Don't expect something for your money. It's not quid pro quo. Buy her dinner when you want to buy her dinner, not when you want [action].
If she's half the girl we think she is, she'll love the thought you put into these dates and respect you for living within your means. But there's a very important addendum: When your ship comes in, even if it just docks for the weekend, take her out and live a little. Spring for a concert, a show, maybe dinner at the place everyone's talking about. If you've been living in Motel 6, tonight's the night you spring for the Ritz. You'll have a great time, and without having to say much, show her how much you appreciate her willingness to play within your boundaries.
Trust me: Is cheating on the rise?
Love all a-twitter: Web-based flirtation meets reality?
The art of Flirtexting: Step up your dating game
Excerpted from A PRACTICAL HANDBOOK FOR THE BOYFRIEND: For Every Guy Who Wants to Be One, For Every Girl Who Wants to Build One by Felicity Huffman and Patricia Wolff. Copyright 2007 Velocity, Ltd and Patricia Wolff. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.