Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Cost of Dating

Upon discussing the below series of events with this guy, I decided to put this out there for the world to comment.

The other day I was enjoying Cafe Rio with some co-workers for lunch - neither of those two details are typical.

The group got to talking about their favorite restaurants in Salt Lake.  I quickly realized they were throwing out names of high-end restaurants - $30-$50/plate places.  My turn to contribute to the conversation soon arose.

"Ummm...I've never actually been to any of the better restaurants around here.  I'm perfectly happy with Sweet Tomatoes."

"You mean no one has ever taken you on a date to one of these places?"

"No...I'd feel too guilty!"

"You mean to tell me they say, "Let's go to 'Ruth's Chris,' and you say, 'No, let's go to Chili's?!?"

"No, no one has ever suggested eating at a nice place and I would just feel too guilty!"

"Larissa, you are dating the wrong men."

Everyone laughs.  Hard.

The thing is, truth be told, I've never dated a man who has a higher salary than me and my favorite place to eat really is Sweet Tomatoes.  I don't even know if I've been on a single date with a man with a higher salary.  And I don't even make anything more than your average bear!  Is this normal? Or as freakish as my co-workers made it sound?

I would feel really guilty if a man wanted to fancy schmancy dinnerize me because I don't want them to be pulling from their budget elsewhere or when logic reasons I should pay (although I certainly don't want to set that standard).  But shouldn't I be uber flattered that he is willing to make this huge sacrifice to simply spend time with me?

I do always let them pay and give them that chivalrous opportunity, etc. but I don't think a single occasion has passed that I haven't felt some measure of guilt...but then in return huge measures of gratitude.  I guess I shouldn't be too worried - I've made it this long without a man offering to schmancy dinnerize me.

Men, Ladies - what are your feelings on this?


S.R. Braddy said...

I've never eaten at a restaurant that costs $30-$50 a plate. If that's what women expect from a guy, then I'm not the guy for them.

I don't think I'm cheap. I'm just poor.

Ru said...

Expensive dates are seriously overrated, even if you can afford them. More relaxed restaurants have a better first date atmosphere.

miss kristen said...

With the exception of few seafood places (Joes, REd Lobster, etc) I have NEVER been to an expensive restaurant I have loved. Scott and I went to the New Yorker around this time last year. $80 of mediocre food later we decided our favorite chain restaurants were WAAAY better than the places that take themselves too seriously.

With that being said, I would still like to try the Melting Pot at some point. You game Riss?

Larissa said...

Kristen, You just made me a semi-liar. Every six months SLC has the Dine-o-round where high-end places offer certain pre-set meals for $15-$30. Some friends and I all decided to go nuts and try Melting Pot. Being the GENIUS Ohio farm girl I am, I stuck the metal skewer in the boiling oil to cook my meat and then put the skewer in my mouth. A sizzling sound and big blister on my lip later, my experience ended up being tainted. What I COULD taste was exciting and yummy.

Next time dine-o-round comes, let us save ourselves $40 ($30 for the meal then tax/tip), grab some ladies and try a place. I'm game!

I'm with you and Scott though. I'd rather hit up Five Guys and then a Show and then still have money to spare than spend $80 on a restaurant.

Unless some sugar daddy wants to take me. But I've never met one.

Quinn said...

When you find that right guy and get married, I guaranty you will do a lot more stuff together that doesn't cost money and a lot fewer fancy schmancy dinerizing. I'm a big fan of real world dating--doing things together that you enjoy and are sustainable into a long term relationship.

As Stephen said, I'm not cheap, I'm poor. Or maybe I'm just both cheap and poor. Don't get me wrong, Tiffany and I occasionally go out to a nice dinner, but one of our most enjoyable dates was going to the grocery store salad bar and eating at the little tables in the front of the store. Low stress, low budget, but plenty of time for talking and enjoying each other.

I know couples who spend their entire dating period living like high-rollers (fancy dining, sky diving, boating, trips to exotic locations) and although that sounds like a lot of fun, it doesn't sound anything like the life of any of the married people I know.

I'm not suggesting that guys should take a girl on a date to H&R Block to do taxes together, but I do think that more down to earth dating is better for getting to know each other and doesn't set unrealistic expectations on either person moving forward.

miss kristen said...

Let's! I'm 100% on board for this.

Our favorite is Famous Daves-although there are a few local places that are very good and very reasonably priced (there are perks to working for a food service distributor.)we'll have to go sometime because well, I'm tired of being your show friend. :)

Miss Megan said...

I'm inviting myself to the next Din-o-Round Melting Pot trip. I went two years ago and LOVED it!

I've only been on a handful of expensive-restaurant dates. The last time, my date saw the expression on my face when I saw the prices and said, "Don't worry, I did the research and knew beforehand how much it would be." Another date felt guilty for taking me to an ordinary place like Chili's, but I know that I like the food there, so I didn't mind.

Honestly, I'm a bit picky when it comes to food, and I don't like to try new places just because they're trendy and fancy. I'm happy with the ordinary places.

I don't think it's weird you've never been taken to any fancy places on a date. If you'd never had that conversation, it probably wouldn't have bothered you, either.

Sheldon said...

Maybe your coworkers are placing too much emphasis on the wrong thing.

If a guy has the money and wants to take you, great! But for a lot of us in our late 20's, early 30's...saddled with student debt, car payment, rent, etc, etc...it really isn't a reality. I've been to a couple of fancy places (once on my dime) and while the food was really good, I'd be just as happy with somewhere that doesn't cost $50 a plate. I don't think more money always means a better experience. Some of my best dates have been the cheap of free ones. If I took a date once a week that costs $100+ for us to eat that would be $400 bucks a month...that's my rent payment!

I'd be just as happy going to Chili's, Sweet Tomatoes, or better yet...staying in to cook! You can get in just as much (or better) quality time together if you or I cook with that special someone rather than going to a fancy place.

Granted, it is an experience going somewhere fancy, but it shouldn't be that you are dating the wrong guys because they aren't able to take you (social/media brainwashing???), it should be about finding someone who can put what he has into the relationship...whatever that may be. In the long run that will be more important than whether or not he can take you to Ruth's Chris.

I'll get off my soapbox now :)

Jon said...

I once had a friend tell me I would stay single forever unless I paid $x or more on all meals. I told her she was high maintenance and crazy. I'm ambitious and want to earn a ton of wealth, but I'm always going to live within my means.

I've been to several high end restaurants. If you don't order the right foods, your meal will be no different than what you could find at a family restaurant. You end up overpaying for 90% of the menu.

Janell said...

Never did a high-end restaurant in the dating life regardless of the guy's estimated salary.

Admittedly, I did decide one guy was not for me as our meals were always under $5 (for the both of us) and from one particular location. I appreciated his frugality, but after awhile I started wondering if he didn't know of the 3 other places in the county to feed two people for under $5. It got old.

On the other end, I equally disliked expensive meals if the guy wouldn't let me reciprocate in kind. Yes, I appreciate he's showing off what a good provider he can be, but I like a little more equailty.

I know that now-DH and I have been to several high-end restaurants since we became engaged. Typically it's in honor of an occasion (birthday, anniversary) and in lieu of gifts.

Gingerstar.kw said...

I never went to high-end places until I got engaged. I think it's partially a matter of being in a serious relationship with someone, and partially being financially stable enough to do so.

Unknown said...

95% of the what you are paying for when going to an expensive restaurant is the EXPERIENCE anyways and so if I can get butterflies in my stomach from going to a dumpy diner with a secret for great food, then why am I going to a place that makes my wallet bleed? or his?

I'm not saying it isn't a thrill, I am just saying that it isn't about where you are eating, but who you are with :)

Anonymous said...

I felt so awkward when I went on dates to expensive restaurants that I'd find the cheapest thing on the menu and order it no matter if I was going to like it or not!

I felt this way until I was engaged, that is an appropriate time for a nicer date every now and then, especially since we were making memories that we'd want to keep forever. My husband is a budgeter, we budget $X for dates during the month, and sometimes we decide to spend it all on one date, and sometimes we spend it on 4 or 5 dates. It just depends on what we want to do, but the date money is there budgeted already, so we don't have to feel guilty, and if you want a really nice experience with really yummy food for top dollar, go to Tuscany off of I-215 and 6200 S!

Anonymous said...

PS. If a guy is taking you to a really nice restaurant, keep in mind that he chose it and knows the prices and has probably budgeted accordingly! So don't feel guilty, don't even look at the prices! Just enjoy and feel flattered that he wants to impress you so much!

Tara said...

I think an expensive date is inappropriate for a first or even a second date. If you're actually dating a great guy and he wants to splurge for some special occasion...well then, okay! But if a guy is trying to impress me by spending a lot of money on me right at the beginning before he totally knows me? I'm bolting cuz that guy doesn't know me at all.

But you know--that's just me.

Kristie said...

Karl always took me on nice dates. They were not McDonald's but they also weren't Ruth's Chris. Now that we're married we have been to Ruth's Chris with a $200 gift card, and it was the most amazing steak I've ever had. Despite that's I think it would be a bit much on the first date. It would make me feel uncomfortable too.

Shayla said...

I'd be worried if a guy took me to a pricey place too soon into a relationship. If he's paying a lot for me, is he expecting me to put out?

Larissa said...

I love all the comments. I agree that a nice place every once in awhile is okay when called for, but I also think I'm a bit too logical. I can't rationalize the cost of a $100 dinner when there are SO MANY other things I would enjoy just as much, if not more, with that $100. I do understand that fine dining is the thing some people like to do like ultimate frisbee is a thing I like to do.
And...the guilt...I don't think I could move past the guilt.

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