Emma Watson spoke recently about the awkward moment a man was reluctant to let her pay on a date.
"It was really awkward. It was not going down well. I'm sure he would say he was a feminist but he was just like, ooh, I'm not really sure about this, it's making him feel a bit tetchy."
I don't envy guys when it comes to the dilemma of paying on a date. Women are complex creatures and whilst some would be mortified at the idea of splitting a bill down the middle others take great offence to the suggestion that they would be paid for or 'treated' to coin a less suggestive phrase, believing that, in a modern society when women expect equal rights, a man insisting on paying for a date is both undermining and sexist - damned if they do, damned if they don't.
Myself? I like a man to pay for dinner on a first date - and I'd be disappointed if he didn't. In fact, short of him being a first year university student who I'd taken a sudden shine to, I would go as far as to say it's unlikely I'd see him again if he didn't.
For me it is less about the money - whether it be a few pints in the local or a slap up meal in a Michelin star restaurant - and more about the gesture. It says to me that he is a gentleman, that he values my time and my company.
It is one thing for a man to accept the offer of going dutch after dinner however when a man presumes that the first date bill will be split, (emphasis on first date) it says to me that he is either not that into me and has no intention of seeing me again or that he isn't generous - in spirit as much as in wallet.
Why does everything have to have a negative spin? A man paying on a first date doesn't mean he thinks all women belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, it's just a way of demonstrating he is capable of understanding the social etiquette of dating, that he has manners and is making an effort to impress you - qualities women look for in a man and attributes related more to human nature than equality. We can balance the pay divide or ban cat-calling by passing a law we can't remove manners and the instinctive desire to provide from a man's inherent DNA - and why should we want to?
Thats not to say a woman can't offer - women shouldn't expect it and should at least gesture for their purse. For a woman to not offer is as much a turn off as a guy pulling out a calculator mid-dessert.
Is it any wonder a first date bill is a financial conundrum that we are all in such a spin over.
'But she asked me out!' What are you twelve? You're on a date with a girl you like, it's a round of drinks not a five star cruise to Barbados. Pick the bill up and stop being so cheap.
I've heard men say they didn't want to offend their date by offering to pay. I don't buy that, when it comes to going dutch it's not hard to know if your date's in or not.
Manners and generosity are positive character traits not political statements. I'd be no more insulted by a man insisting on picking up the bill on a first date as I would him opening a door, holding an umbrella or insisting he hailed me a cab home after an evening out.
This doesn't make me the weaker sex or anti-equality, it means I welcome good manners, *ducks for cover* like to be treated like a lady from time to time and want my date to bring charm, manners and generosity to the table not a pocket size calculator.