The server leaves the check and Rawkstahr goes for her purse. "Don't worry," I say, "I've got it."
"Are you sure?" she asks?
"Yeah, I'm sure."
We didn't exactly splurge on dinner, no steaks, no drinks so the bill isn't exactly awe inspiring. One valentine's day I spent as much on a meal as I had once spent on a used car but that's not the case tonight. I hand over cash and a pretty sizeable tip and we're on our way to the car.
This isn't exactly the norm for us. We've been together nearly two years and it's become our habit to go dutch. We're both college educated, full time, professionals, after all. Our lives have become so intertwined that each of our respective finances affect and concern the other. Concordantly, we have come to share the monetary onus on most dates.
Sometimes, though, I just feel it's my responsibility to pick up the tab, just because. I know there's probably no rational impetus for this. Is this some deep packed bit of social conservatism that I didn't know I had? Is this my obligatory streak of male bravado making itself known? Am I sublimating some urge to have control over the relationship?
Early in a courtship a man is obligated to pay the couple's way as a show of success, to display that he is not impoverished. In many respects, professional and financial wherewithal have supplanted size and violent aggressiveness as the primary indicators of male fitness. As the relationship goes on, or at least as our relationship has gone on, that social burden ceases to be exclusive and the woman is often expected to shoulder some of the cost. I'm sure not every relationship works this way but it seems to be the standard as I've noticed.
So, this begs the question. Given the supposedly egalitarian times in which we live, at what point in a relationship should the financial aspect of that relationship become mutual? Does either partner have a greater responsibility? Is this a vital part of partners' bonding or is it a vestigial habit left over from Victorian styles of socialization? What aspects of a relationship mediate the shared responsibilities?