A lot of talk in the dating literature centres on the topic of money. Specifically, who pays for that crucial first date?

It’s a captivating topic, and many women have strong opinions on the matter. I’ve met women who refuse to see a man again if he asks her to split the bill, and others who see the offer to pay as an insult to their equality.

Central to the question of who should pay is a semantic difference that is often overlooked.

Here it is: Standards and expectations are not the same thing. Your expectations are your default – what you think should happen. Your standards are what you will and won’t accept.

In other words, your expectations determine how you’ll feel. Your standards determine what you’ll get. This subtle difference succinctly answers the question of who should pay.

1. Always assume you will pay for yourself.

If you’re a woman who expects chivalry, you are probably hating me right now. I’ve had many women respond angrily to the suggestion they should assume a split bill. You might be thinking: “Screw that, there’s nothing wrong with me expecting a man to pay. I’m not accepting anything less!”

If you find yourself responding like this, you’ve made the mistake of thinking your expectations and your standards are the same thing. The first half of that statement is your expectation, the second half is your standard, and they’re not linked.

2. Lowering expectations doesn’t lower standards.

Let’s look at an example and say, for argument’s sake, that one in two men practice chivalry and want to pay for you.

Scenario 1: High expectations, high standards.

Half the time, your date offers to pay. You expected that, so you feel neutral. He met your standards, so you see him again.

Half the time, your date doesn’t pay. You weren’t expecting that, so you end the night pissed off at men and dating. This date didn’t meet your standards, so you don’t see him again.

Scenario 2: Low expectations, high standards.

Half the time, your date offers to pay. You weren’t expecting that, so you feel appreciative. He also met your standards, so you see him again.

Half the time, your date doesn’t pay. You expected that, so you feel neutral and happy to continue dating other people. But this guy didn’t meet your standards, so you don’t see him again.

In both cases, you applied your standards and got the one in two men who practices chivalry. The difference is that with high expectations, you end your dates feeling either neutral or pissed off, while with low expectations, you end your dates feeling either neutral or appreciative. Even if the guy doesn’t pay, you’re excited to get out there and date again.

Expecting every guy to pay as your default is a lose/lose situation. Not only will you walk away frustrated with every guy that doesn’t offer to pay, you’ll start taking for granted the ones that do.

Bottom line? Lowering your expectations does not change the outcome. Chivalrous men will still appreciate your offer and decline. By lowering your expectations and keeping your standards high, you can enjoy a more grateful and appreciative dating experience while still ending up with the kind of man you want.

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