By Jen Duchene for YourTango.com.
An article in Time reports that “men would like women to chip in more frequently on dates but are afraid to ask.” I don’t know much about dating, but I am a people-pleasing expert. Staying silent out of fear will not make your wants happen. Interesting times and shifting equations mean the choice to chip in or not on a date is up to you. You decide your own rules.
But with freedom comes the need to speak up. Why wait for the moment the bill hits the table to decide if you are paying? Will you let the man you’re with decide who you should be?
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Chivalry is not dead, but dishonesty should be. Know your values and be willing to stand behind your own beliefs. Do you believe a man should pay for every date? Or do you prefer to share the dating costs and decisions as you get to know one another? There is power in paying.
Every human panic button is pushed in the dating game: self worth, hangups and money issues, to name a few. Toss in food, drink and possible sex, and suddenly the stakes are enormous. In my opinion, dating should be handled like a quest. What do you need to do to have an enjoyable experience? Engaging in practices that empower you and your partner are key to a successful union. If this includes paying your way, embrace it on your terms.
Another helpful question you could ask yourself is what the “end game” in dating is for you. What do you value in a relationship? If your goal is to date a chivalrous man who opens doors and willingly pays, then be very clear with yourself and with your new man. Share your relationship breakers or makers — before the precedent becomes routine and resentments build (on either end). A confident woman is willing to talk money before the check arrives. Yes, there is a risk that your man walks, but if that’s the case, why waste time on the wrong person?
Danger lies in assuming your hints are heard. While it might be embarrassing to admit your earnings are limited, or that you don’t believe in going dutch, saying what is on your mind is the most effective way to get the result you crave. As you practice being direct, you won’t get everything you ask for, but you will increase your confidence and feel empowered by your success.
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If you’re wondering how to create a dating-game plan to get clear about what you want when it comes to paying (or any other dating issue!), here is a 3-step formula to get you started:
1. Visualize it. Imagine you are dating your perfect partner. Visualize what happens, how he treats you and how you treat him. Who is paying and what are you doing? How does it feel when you express your needs? What is important to you? Spend five minutes a day for a month refining your vision and acting as if it has already happened.
2. Write it down. Pay attention to what comes up in your vision. What surprised you? Get as detailed as possible about what you require from your partner. What would be a bonus? State your turn-offs. Your ideal date must be defined clearly in your mind to become a reality. Some ideas to get you thinking: How should your partner treat you? What would make you feel uncomfortable on a date and what would be blissful? How do you feel about paying for dates? When will you talk to him about paying? How will you handle it? How will he?
3. What are you willing to do differently than you are now to ensure the success of dating your ideal mate? Compose a list. For example, when would you pay for a date? Would you tell the truth? Are you willing to wear your heart on your sleeve? If your ideal man showed up and wanted you to go dutch, would you?
There is no right or wrong in the choices you make, as long as they feel good and are respectful to you and your partner. You may have decided you want to go dutch, but then the love of your life shows up and insists on paying for everything. At that moment you must determine whether the principle is worth fighting for, or if it is time to receive with gratitude. You’ll be ready to make that choice if you’ve given it proper thought beforehand.
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If you or someone you know is overwhelmed from saying yes to everyone else and unsure what you want, I am ready to help with expert advice and coaching. Get more tips by downloading my FREE e-book 3 Ways to say No without being Pushy or a Pushover. My goal is to help you create sanctuary and clarity around what you do want, as quickly as possible.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: Navigating A Relationship Landmine: Who Pays The Bill?.