Dear Fannie,

I'm a 19 year old gay male living in one of those gay meccas in the city. My question I guess is pretty simple. I've just started to date and one thing I can't really figure out is… who pays? I know that with straight folk it's easier because the guy is supposed to pay and all, but with two men? Also, I tend to date older guys. I'm a poor student getting by on loans, is it wrong of me to expect them to pay considering how they have an income?

Miserly in Manhattan

Miserly, welcome to the world of queer dating. You've identified that awkward dance for the wallet that queer people dating often have. We've been ingrained with patriarchal expectations of romance models which include a providing male and a suppliant female. The big problem is that people try and import those relationship structures on queer relationships rather than question the validity of that model. Having one partner repeatedly pay for all of the dating expenses is unfair and unhealthy, straight or not.

You also mention that you date older men. I understand the temptation to use their relative success or income level to be an excuse for expecting them to pay for your date. But if you want your date to take you seriously, then act like his peer… not his child. Stepping up and paying for your half of a meal, or your own movie ticket is a good way to say that you're an adult.

You mention that you are living off of student loans. If you can't afford to go to the five star restaurant you're used to having your date pay for, than don't go to that restaurant. Suggest low cost activities instead, like taking a walk in the park, renting a movie (note: universal code for "let's make out"), or cooking together (a great way to eat well and cheap. Plus the playful dance around the kitchen can be a form of foreplay in of itself).

There's nothing wrong if your higher income date wants to treat you both to a night on the town once in a while. But be sure to live within your own means. If your dating life begins to an escapist project from your own money issues, you face the danger of being in a relationship not only with your boyfriend… but his wallet as well. And I'll tell you this: there are few people out there who want to be dated for their money.

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