So... who pays? I found that there were some very different thoughts about this. So different, in fact that it borders on a distinct cultural shift between the younger and older generations.
My view on dates is that the man ALWAYS pays. No exceptions. Ever. It is absolutely unthinkable that there be any situation that the woman would pay for the date.
The younger view was that the first date would be paid for by whomever did the asking out. Subsequent dates would be "dutch" or both would pay their own way. The exception to this rule was if there was a large economic disparity between the two people and the expense of the date's location. The more expensive the date, the more the it was assumed that the man would pay, or if the man made a great deal more than the woman, then he would always pay.
I found the new view to be emasculating. I would expect that my view comes from the traditional notion that the man paying for the date shows the woman his ability to take care of her financially. If both parties are paying, how can I demonstrate that I can provide for the woman? One of the primary purposes of dating is removed from the social construct.
DrinksWhen I go out for drinks, with friends not in a date situation, I expect that we will pay for rounds of drinks. I buy the first, you buy the second, he buys the third, so on and so forth. If food is ordered, even if it is communal, it is paid for by the orderer.
Their thought is that everything is divided up between all parties at the end of the session, or separate checks are to be made out for everyone.
I can see why this view is popular, with computerized POS systems it is easy for the wait staff to create separate checks, and it is fair that everyone pays for what they consumed. But... part of the fun of going out for drinks is buying and receiving drinks from your friends. If I just pay for my drinks, again, the social construct of gift giving is not exchanged. Sure it is fair, but it is the same as if we were strangers in the bar. Not friends sharing time and libations.
Dinner With Select Group
This is where things got a little heated. My view on dinner with a select group of friends normally just two or three couples, is if I have invited you, I pay the bill. Dinner is my gift to you for sharing your company. If you insist on paying your way, I find it to be an insult, and I will likely never ask you to dinner again, and I will be reluctant to accept a dinner invitation from you.If you invite me out I expect to pay my own way, however if you say that you will pay, I will give you a perfunctory "Are you sure?" Then accept the gift of food and drink from you.
The other view was insistent that everyone pay their own way. It seemed too much like showing off if one person paid for everyone.
I have very difficult time coming to grips with this view. I invited you out. I asked for your company. I pay. I don't see the other view that this is showing off. It is a gift of food and drink. Not me showing off. I invited you out for the very reason that you share my good fortune.
It is the same if you have invited me. I share in your good fortune, accept the gift, and am simply happy to have you as a friend.
Dinner With a Large Group
This was the only time that we all agreed. Having dinner with a large group of people at a restaurant, that is not some sort of formal event where the restaurant is not catering the event, think pre-nump meal, it is convenient and acceptable for everyone to get separate checks and pay their own way. It is too expensive, and excessively difficult to deal with splitting the check up at the table. Better to simply announce separate checks and use technology to figure it out. The large group is not the intimate gathering as the select group, the social construct is a party of communal gathering, not an exclusive event.
I am obviously a dinosaur. The traditions are changing, and I must change with them. However, I will still attempt to pay in select groups. I will still feel offended if I am not allowed to. I will still attempt to pay for rounds of drinks. I will still feel left out if I am not allowed to, or if a round is not bought for me. I no longer date so I don't think I will have that issue in the future. But if I did, I would NEVER let the woman pay. There is only so far you can go...