Wednesday, Jan. 22 — Q: I know you’ve discussed how the guy should pay on the first few dates. I’ve been dating a pretty fabulous woman for a month, and I’m dipping into my savings to take her out to the sort of restaurants she’s used to. I earn a decent living in a creative field, but she is in finance and clearly makes far more money than I do. I may have complicated things when, on our third date, she wanted to pick up the check and I wouldn’t let her. Is there a smooth way to let her know that I now need her to throw down some dough?
—Can We Say Awkward?
A: The organ that gets used on the third date isn’t supposed to be the kidney you sold on the black market to pay for dinner.
It’s nice to take a woman out for a special meal from time to time, but the guy who can keep up the weekly wining and dining at restaurants where even the cockroaches speak passable French isn’t the guy you are — and probably isn’t the guy she expects you to be. Women do look for a man to be ambitious and show potential. But typically, a woman who wants a rich guy not only has calculated her date’s net worth (probably pretty successfully) long before the first date but has also trained herself to identify a fake Rolex at 50 paces and read even the subtlest signs about a man’s income like fiscal tea leaves. So, this woman is probably well aware that if you’re “managing a hedge fund,” it’s just a little money you’re putting aside to replace the dead plants on your balcony.
Also, unless a man’s a spy, a woman doesn’t like him to pretend to be somebody he’s not. This isn’t to say you should have some awkward conversation with this woman about how you really do need her to pay for dinner — or hope she gets the idea when she sees you standing by the on-ramp with a cardboard sign, “Spare $264.50, plus tip?” Instead, just take her to places you can pay for painlessly and wait until you’re in a relationship to talk about money. Though women evolved to look for potential partners to show generosity, you can do that in a symbolic way, simply by treating her to something more affordable — maybe a ticket to a museum and fancy ice cream afterward — and by showing generosity of spirit: fairness, kindness, and willingness to do the right thing even when it’s hard. A woman who really likes you will really like you when you’re treating her to the shoe rental at a bowling alley. Plus, you’ll be more fun when you aren’t worrying about money, and she'll be more relaxed when she isn't worrying that you'll have to file for bankruptcy if she adds shrimp to her Caesar salad.
Q: Am I the only one who doesn't like to have music playing during sex? When I'm with a guy, I’m turned on by hearing his breathing and sounds he makes while aroused. If the music’s good, I'll be listening to it rather than paying attention to him or my own arousal. If the music’s bad, I don't want to hear it at all. I’m seeing a new guy, and I'm already worried that he’ll play some annoying pop music when we get intimate. Plus, if he needs music, I’ll think, “Well, am I boring you?”
A: Responding to this question on Reddit, “What is the absolute worst song to play during sex?” Redditor 5secsofpleasure posted, “Hi, I'm Sarah McLachlan, and I'm about to kill your erection.” Though for many people the right music can be a real sex enhancer, there can be tragic accidents, like when a guy doesn’t realize that he got sloppy in pulling together his HSP (Hot Sex Playlist) and the dogs barking “Jingle Bells” play at exactly the wrong moment. Regarding your suspicion that a guy would only put on a soundtrack because he finds sex with you a bore, you’re probably just falling prey to a common cognitive bias — the assumption that other people’s minds work just like our own. You simply need to make your preference known before any clothing goes flying. Maybe start talking about music and casually mention that you don’t understand why some people like to listen to music during sex — such a distraction. The guy will probably nod offhandedly, but in his brain, a tiny stenographer from the sex department will be feverishly taking notes. As for any worries you may have that this will turn a guy off, trust me; there probably isn’t a guy out there who won’t find the musical silence during sex preferable to the sound of you sitting with your arms folded on the couch.
Advice Goddess Radio: Dr. Aaron James on understanding and managing assholes (discussing his book “Assholes: A Theory”).
It’s Amy Alkon’s Advice Goddess Radio — “Nerd your way to a better life!” with the best brains in science solving your love, dating sex, and relationship problems. Listen live every Sunday — http://www.blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon/ — 7-8 p.m. PT, 10-11 p.m. ET, or listen or download at the link, at iTunes, or on Stitcher.