In a word: expectations.

I sat down with a friend recently who told me that he always suggests coffee or drinks for a first date, where he and the girl take turns buying rounds rather than him paying so she doesn't feel like she owes him anything.

I was confused. I'm old school and prefer that the guy pick me up and pay for the outing, but when I sat down to reflect on what's really going through my head during a date, I realized that my friend's ideals are sound.

My whole life I've been taught that all guys want is sex. I learned it in church, from family, from friends, and eventually from the guys themselves.

Note: If you're a guy reading this and you're saying, "That's BS, I want more than sex" and you genuinely mean that, then that's great. I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just saying I haven't met you.

Generally, when I go on a date, as I talk and watch the guy listen to me, what I see on his face is "How long do I have to smile and listen to her talk before I can get it in?"

What I'm thinking as I answer his questions and listen to him answer mine is "How long can we talk - How much can I actually get to know about him before he expects to get it in?"

It's sad. I'm only 23 years old and I wouldn't say I have a ton of dating experience, but I've had enough to feel that I cannot allow a guy to buy me dinner without him feeling that paying for a meal entitles him to sex.

I had a guy text me all day every day for 3 straight weeks, and then disappear when he wanted sex and I declined. He got mad. "Why you text me back every day then?!" (The texts were about my day, work, friends, etc. Normal conversation.)

My response: Wow, sounds like texting me has been a lot of work for you. There are millions of people in this world who want to have sex, and I'm sure a number of them would be willing to have it with you. Go find one. Pro Tip: You don't have to work this hard. 

I recently went out for drinks with the girls, and they seemed confused that sex is still important to me. As if the idea of wanting it to be special, wanting a guy to feel like it's a gift that he was hand selected for rather than being on a long list of people he saw naked after a couple of drinks, is foreign or crazy. 

When my potentially seeing a new guy came up, and I was unsure of the first date, the girls asked, "Well, would you sleep with him?" They were shocked by the fact that whether or not I would sleep with the guy did not cross my mind during our first date.

On a first date, I'm thinking things like, is he a good conversationalist? Is he a hard worker? Is he funny? What motivates him? What is he passionate about? Do I want to talk to him again? (And by talk, I actually mean talk.)

The whole idea that women are objects and exist for men's pleasure - while addressed in the feminist movement and people are acknowledging and working to move away from this - still exists. And sadly, we can't just blame the men because there are too many women who treat themselves as objects and use sex to get what they want. 

Now I'm all for empowered women getting what they want. If you're a woman and you just want to have sex and you go pick up a guy in a bar, have a great night, and never see him again, power to you (please be safe). 

There is, however, something wrong with the woman who sleeps with a guy because she feels he expects it, deserves it, needs it, or frankly for ANY reason other than her truly wanting to.

Guys: If you take a girl out, she owes you nothing. If you buy dinner, a movie, concert tickets, sporting event tickets, etc. do it because you want to - not because you think you're going to get some. Because if all you want is to get some, there are women out there who won't ask for dinner first.

Ladies: If a guy takes you out and pays, you owe him nothing. If you feel like he expects something that you don't want to give, let him know and get out. If he cares about you, he'll rise to the occasion, and if not, he'll run, and you dodged a bullet. If him paying makes you uncomfortable, go dutch.

Dating does not have to be this hard - and it shouldn't. The expectations that society has, that your friends have, that your parents have - they mean nothing. 

The only expectations that matter are those of you and the person with whom you choose to date. Establish these up front, and you'll save yourself a headache.

Published by Samantha LaBat