When the waiter brings the bill, carefully placing it these days in the middle of the table, many women start slowly opening their purses, waiting for the man to insist on paying. So common is this female feint for the wallet, that it even has a name. It is called “The Reach.” But it is just a gesture. Even in these egalitarian days, by far most women expect the man to pay for the date.
According to several women’s magazines that I have perused, 77% of young women prefer the man to pay. Let me clarify that I do not for a moment believe that this is because these women are short of money or are trying to behave frugally at the expense of their dates. I think they have a far better reason for preferring to be with men who graciously pay for the date. Yet, if this is the case, why do so many women observe this ritual of “The Reach”?
One reason is they don’t want to appear to be gold-diggers cadging a free meal. Another reason is they feel that by at least pretending to offer their share of the bill, they can preserve their feminist credentials. (Anything you can do, I can do better; I can do anything better than you. – Annie Get Your Gun, Irving Berlin, 1946)
Another reason is pride that they earn as much as the man they are with. While, on average, over a lifetime the population of men earn more than the population of women, most of those discrepancies kick in after marriage and children. However, despite their earning power, most women secretly prefer to marry men who make more money than they do. So the question of what to do when the bill comes leaves many women in a dilemma.
So what’s a woman to do? On one hand, she enjoys surrendering her time to a man who happily pays for the date as a token of his appreciation for her company. On the other, she feels slightly uneasy preserving what she suspects might be a relic of primitive gender relations. Fortunately, Biblical insight offers the best solution, but it does come with some small attitude adjustment.
While dating, most women are hoping to meet the right man, “The One”. The problem is that since he is on his best behavior, there are not many character-revealing moments in dating. It used to be helpful to meet his family but nowadays his family might live across the country. How can a woman get to know the character of the man she is seeing?
Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that one can know a man’s character in three ways:
1. How he behaves when he is drunk.
2. How he behaves when he is in grip of an angry temper.
3. How he behaves with money.
Most smart women will immediately drop a man who gets drunk as well as any man who has a nasty temper. That leaves money.
The man who graciously pays for the date reveals several aspects of himself. For one thing, he is probably a kind and generous person. Second, he probably has a few dollars, and that also lets her know a few useful facts. Most importantly, he probably has a job and a job indicates that he can get along with other people. Succeeding in his work also assures her that he is capable of deferring gratification in the interests of current obligations. Making money means learning the privilege that is serving the needs of another human being. And what is marriage but two human beings serving one another? Having some disposable income is also a sign that a man is on the road to becoming an adult. All these things provide far more valuable information than what he tells her over dinner or his observations on the movie they enjoyed together.
Paying for the date is merely the start of a road that leads to a man paying for an engagement ring. And what of the man who proudly informs his fiancée that the ring he has just placed on her finger was one he acquired at a local flea market for a dollar fifty? One might expect her to smile fondly at her beloved and assure him that she thinks of him as both smart and frugal. Yet, anyone who knows anything about how the world REALLY works, knows that most women won’t be happy. Does this mean such women are shallow? Not at all. What it does mean is that most smart women need assurance that the man they choose to spend their lives alongside has money. Not because they love money but because having money tells so much about a man.
The first instance of wooing a woman, albeit by proxy, is when Abraham sends his servant to bring home a wife for his son, Isaac. Upon meeting the girl and identifying her as “The One” he gave her valuable jewelry.
And it came to pass, as the camels finished drinking,
that the man took a golden ear ring of half a shekel weight,
and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold.
Later, upon meeting her family and securing their permission for the match,
And the servant took silver and golden articles and garments,
and he gave them to Rebecca, and he gave delicacies
to her brother and to her mother.
While there is deeper meaning to these gifts, the surface message is important. Showing financial stability says a great deal about a man. Yes, women may reach for the bill, but men, think carefully of how you react and the message you send. Allowing her to pay not only tells her that you are not thinking of her as a potential wife, but it also tells her a lot more about you. The linkage between money and marriage is real and women, though they might have been socialized not to believe this, do still seem to realize it.