The guy goes first. He gets a nice Moleskine notebook and a fancy ballpoint pen. He thanks her. The girl goes next. She opens a small box to find a Swarovski earring and necklace set. She thanks him. They finish lunch, they get the bill at the table, and… he only has ¥2,000 in his wallet. The girl opens her wallet and pulls out ¥10,000 which more than covers the bill, and they leave together, both smiling and holding hands. The end.
This actual date happened right next to me when I was writing another article. I made a note of what happened for two reasons: one, they were both being very vocal about their gifts and their discussion of the bill, and two, because it got me thinking about the economics of dating in Japan.
The lingering debate
Traditionally speaking, “men are supposed to pay for everything” on a date, but in my opinion that’s so far out of touch, it doesn’t even bear thinking about. Things are a lot more expensive nowadays (thanks to the ever-increasing consumption tax!), women can work and earn their own living, and frankly speaking, putting the full financial burden of a relationship only on one partner is just plain wrong.
And it’s not just me who thinks that way. According to a 2015 survey conducted in the US and cited in a Sage Journal research paper on “Who Pays for Dates?”, 64% of men believed that women should contribute to dating expenses, while 40% of women felt annoyed if men refused to accept their contribution to the bill.
In Japan, however, there are still some remnants of this old-fashioned train of thought.
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