It's 2016. The United States might just get their first female president this year (meanwhile Australia has already had a female Prime Minister), people the world over are advocating to close the pay gap and there are more conversations around gender equality than ever before.
So can it still be expected that men are to pay for the first date? Can a woman be a feminist and believe in such traditions simultaneously, or is that hypocritical?
"I think that just because we are in a modern age, it doesn’t mean we have to lose or compromise traditional standards," Renee Slansky, dating expert for The Dating Directory told The Huffington Post Australia.
"Expecting the man to pay for the first date is still something I stand by, especially if they were the one initiate the date. It isn’t about trying to squeeze his wallet or take advantage of his generosity, but rather it indicates that he values and respects the time and the woman he is with. However after the second or third date, the woman should be contributing and definitely be offering to pay or share the cost," Slansky said.
There are fewer social situations more awkward than when the bill comes at the end of a meal. Time seems to stand still as each party fumbles for their wallet in the who-will-pay dating dance. Though if the man does not sincerely offer to pay, is it an indication that he didn't have a great time? Or, is he just broke from last night's first date?
"It isn’t so much an indication that he didn’t have a great time, but rather the fact that he has not respected their time together, nor does he possess any manners. It also gives a big indication of where his priorities lie and what he values. Whilst I think the man should always pay for the first date, I also think it is polite for the woman to offer to contribute even if she knows he will refuse," Slansky said.
Giving most women the benefit of the doubt, the whole first date caper isn't so much about having cash splashed, but about feeling a bit special -- regardless of how much the meal costs.
"There are many ways men can show that they are being a gentleman without having to splurge on a woman. Opening the car door (or any door for that matter), helping her down the stairs, taking the liberty to order for her (after asking what she wants first), making eye contact, listening, not playing with his phone at the table, these are all basic ways a man can show that he wants to respect the woman he is in company with," Slansky said.
"At the end of the day paying for a meal is an act of chivalry, yes, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he is a gentleman. All his other action and words will indicate this."
First dates in general can be tricky, especially if you've been out of the game a while (say, after a divorce). Slansky believes it's all about keeping it casual (and carrying gum).
"Don’t go too formal on a first date. Pick a venue that is casual and on mutual territory, has a great atmosphere and good lighting. Have a few conversation starters in your head as back up, just to avoid awkward silences. Try to limit your drinks so you can think clearly. Wear something that is comfortable and makes your feel confident, no phones at the table, don’t talk about the ex, and carry chewing gum!"
Oh, and most importantly -- the garlic rule.
"Remember the rules of garlic -- you either both have to eat it or no one eats it (for obvious reasons)."