Love Transactions

September 20th, 2010

Dear English Gentleman,

Why is it that men think that just because they bought you dinner, they then get to spend the night in your bed? Where did this idea come from, and how can I explain to them that it doesn’t work that way without them getting all angry and refusing to ask me for a second date?

Sincerely,

First Date Wonder

Dear First Date Wonder,

My thesis is this: not all men live their lives by the sort of exchange based relationship which you describe. So there is hope. But some men certainly appear to do so. By exchange relationship I mean the type of relationship in which favours (for want of a better word) become a type of currency. So, the fact the man bought you dinner gets exchanged for a night spent in your bed. This currency of favours extends across a wide sphere of endeavours, not just those connected with dating and romance. So for example whereas in a non-exchange relationship your friend might give you a lift to the airport, and think nothing further of it, in an exchange-based relationship something will be expected in return. If that something is not forthcoming then this type of relationship normally stops at that point. And if something is forthcoming then the relationship moves along, at least as far as the next exchange interaction.

Now in your case the currency expected in return for him buying you dinner is a night in your bed, and it appears from my experience of such things that nothing else will do. This type of relationship appears to follow an unwritten tariff, and not only is the tariff of what ‘buys’ what and for whom not written down anywhere, it appears to be known to a certain set of people only. For example, I for one have no idea what a dinner should ‘buy’ one since, needless to say, I do not subscribe to this sort of behaviour in any case. The problem is that it’s not clear at the outset at an initial date that you are dealing with someone who subscribes to exchange relationships. It appears that the only clue is when you subsequently hear nothing further from your date when you fail to deliver your part of the unwritten deal. Another problem is that the tariff appears to depend on what stage of a relationship you are in. So for example, I have heard that a girl is expected to kiss the man after the first date. Thence after the second date something more is expected and so on – a sort of sliding scale.

I have no idea as to where this behaviour came from, although it does appear more common place in certain parts of the world than others. I suspect it may have evolved because men have become risk adverse and would rather have some sort of set-piece dating scheme with simplistic rules, involving the exchange of favours, as opposed to simply launching themselves out on a romantic crusade to find the woman of their dreams. Unfortunately it seems to me that – as in any endeavour where spontaneity has been suppressed – such men are likely to end up in a continual never-ending search for happiness. My feeling is that because they have surrendered their romantic self to a third party, viz. the set of exchange rules and tariffs, true romantic bliss cannot be achieved. If I were in your position, I would perhaps consider dating only gentlemen who are free from such such quaint ideas of what capitalism truly represents.

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2 responses to “Love Transactions”

  1. Sarah says:

    You don’t mention the fact that the opposite is often true. I remember when I was younger and frequented bars quite a bit, how often did I see women turn down speaking to a man just because he wouldn’t buy her a drink first.

  2. I totally agree…relationships should not be based on a exchange of favours and i think that’s why most people are unhappy because they are not willing to spend time getting to know someone for who they are.. things get a bit rushy these days… chivalry is fast dying

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