We are winning the long game, boys. I've cut and pasted from the WSJ in case the paywall strikes.
There was a time when Tinesha Zandamela would dig around for her wallet at a first date, anticipating that the guy would insist on paying.
That was before she went out with one who “forgot” his wallet, or the one who requested to split the check 50-50 after eating nearly all the food. Now when the bill arrives, she sits still, not even attempting what some call “the reach.”
“If you reach, you could end up with the entire bill,” said the 23-year-old in Provo, Utah. “No one is going to stop you.”
Love in the time of Tinder is upending an age-old tradition between men and women: that moment when the bill arrives and the woman feints for her wallet—but expects the guy will insist on paying.
The popularity of the dating app and others like it means single people are going on more first dates than ever. Many women say they have stopped doing the reach because they are not only more likely to end up splitting the bill, but also more liable to cover all of it. Now when the check arrives, both people often brace themselves for a gunfighter’s staredown.
On her 18th birthday, Jaclyn Suchta, an account supervisor in Rochester Hills, Mich., found herself on the losing side. She said she was invited to a movie that day, but at the ticket counter, her date looked at her blankly for several uncomfortable moments, until she ponied up cash for both tickets, plus popcorn and sodas.
“It was so awkward,” she said. “Who makes you pay on your birthday?”
Alex Paull, 19, said she recently went on a date with a man she met on Tinder and chose not to reach for the check since he had picked the place and initiated the date.
After the man took her home, he sent her a $20 invoice via the mobile-payment app Venmo for her portion of the meal, she said. The West Virginia University student said she blocked him on Venmo and didn’t pay the bill.
On Grindr, a dating app primarily for gay men, people are often opting for cheaper dates, such as coffee and cocktails, said Byron Norton-Wolf, a 51-year-old in Orlando, Fla.
It is a “good thing” when both people do the reach at the same time, the singing waiter said, though he added age can be a determinant on same-sex dates. “The person who doesn’t reach is usually younger.”
One of his dates, however, circumvented the whole process. Before the check arrived, he went to the restroom and said he would be waiting outside.
The rules aren’t complicated, according to etiquette experts. “If you invite, you pay,” said Diane Gottsman, author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.” “But the reality is that the other person may not know the rules or realize it’s a date.”
Alexz Poole, a 30-year-old lawyer, said that since moving to New York four years ago, she has noticed a gradual change in the way the reach was being received. At first, her dates would typically intervene and pay the bill, she said, but over time she ended up covering more than her fair share.
At a recent drinks meetup, she asked her date if they were planning to order food since they hadn’t specified beforehand. His response: “Don’t you have food at home?”
Thanks to the growing number of online dating services, the economic dynamics of playing the field have changed. According to analysis conducted by Deutsche Bank , paying for two people in New York or San Francisco to go to a movie and have a meal, plus a few beers and taxi rides, comes to about $130. Three of those a week can cost more than $20,000 a year.
Some people say they are embracing what they consider to be a more progressive view on gender roles. “I almost feel like it’s rude not to let them pay,” said Miles Bird, a 27-year-old who works in venture capital in San Francisco. “I’d be falling into stereotypes.”
Mr. Bird said he usually suggests splitting the check before the reach is an option, though he has been forced to pay the entire bill on occasion.
“Not reaching when reaching is expected is a kind of reverse power play,” said Chase Amante, founder of Girls Chase, a website aimed at providing dating advice to men. “Rather than the man asserting power by paying, the woman asserts power by forcing the man to pay.”
A woman who refuses to reach, however, could come off as a “gold digger,” he said. “There’s a certain subset of the population looking for free meals.”
The custom of a man paying on a date is a relic of chivalry that is several centuries outdated and connotes ownership, said Julia Long, a sociology lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University who specializes in feminist theory. “Women are not commodities to be bought.”
Ms. Zandamela, who considers herself a feminist, said that since women still tend to earn less than men, it isn’t unreasonable for guys to cover dinner and a movie. “There’s a huge gender pay gap,” she said. “The least a guy can do is pay for a date that he initiates.”
Some men say they expect to cover the check on a first date, but still hope the woman will reach. “You don’t want to feel like you’re being used,” said Amir Nobakht, a medical doctor in Los Angeles.
He said his guest on a recent date ordered two entrees—pasta to eat at the restaurant and a grilled fish to go. When she went to the bathroom, he asked for separate checks, he said. “I always pay on the first date, but you have to draw the line somewhere.”
The practice of a man paying on a heterosexual date has proved more resistant to change than other gendered norms, said David Frederick, a psychology professor at Chapman University. In a 17,600-person study he published with colleagues in 2015, 39% of the women surveyed said they hoped the man would decline an offer to help pay the bill.
“I never expect them to let me pay, but more often than not, it’s happened,” said Katie Hart, an accounts payable manager in Indianapolis. “They’re like, sure, and, I say, oh, OK, sure.”
The 37-year-old recently went on a date to a downtown restaurant, and the man suggested splitting a burger and fries. When the burger showed up, she said, “he cut it very unevenly, looked at it for a few minutes and then took the bigger side.”
When the check arrived, Ms. Hart said she performed the ritual reach for her credit card, and he agreed to let her pay half without any hesitation. “Even the waitress looked at him, like, are you serious?”