What's expected when a boy pays for prom date?
Dear Straight Talk: A guy from school asked me to prom and I accepted. He's cute and nice and will make a great prom date, but I have no interest in being his girlfriend. I'm nervous because isn't it implied that you need to give a guy ay least a small sexual favor for a date this expensive? Also, how much do I need to dance with him? Can I dance with other guys? — Brene, Woodland
Katie, 18, Auburn: If a guy treated me to prom and expected favors, he'd have a rude awakening. You don't owe him anything other than buying his boutonniere and dancing with him. If it's clear you're just friends, you can dance with others, but give him the courtesy of asking first — and definitely dance with him the most.
Justin, 25, Redding: I was raised with the "open the door, pay the ticket" code of honor, but a cool chick will offer to pay half if she just wants to be friends. Anything else is taking advantage. Yes, you can dance with other people, but he gets your main attention.
Sarah, 20, Santa Clara: If the guy asks you to prom (versus arranging to go as friends) he usually pays. If you feel uncomfortable with that, offer to pay for dinner. Whether he treats or not, unless it's a "friend date," spend most of your time with him. Don't fast dance with the same other guy more than twice, and only slow dance once with someone else. To exceed this is being totally rude.
Nicole, 22, Grass Valley: The guy pays so that you will dance with him all night. And yes, he probably will want sex afterward — but you control that. If you want to dance with other boys, don't let him buy the ticket. It's disrespectful. If you can't afford it or are uncomfortable going stag, be straight with him about wanting to dance with other boys.
Brie, 20, Santa Barbara: Guys take me out and pay, but I'm very clear with them, thus no strings are attached. Ask your date about dancing with other guys. It's better to be up front.
Christina, 19, Marysville: If he's paying, dancing with other guys isn't polite. I have not personally heard of guys expecting sexual favors, but he may want a good-night kiss. Not that you have to give him one. And if you do, it doesn't mean you have to date him. Let him know you just want to be friends. If he isn't OK with this or starts acting weird, you can always back out.
Colin, 18, Sacramento: Paying for a woman's food, ticket or jewelry means a man is interested romantically. It doesn't mean the woman owes him favors. But you do owe him an honest explanation of your feelings. Stringing him along for the implied promise of sex is unethical, whether it's intentional or not. Women and men shouldn't take advantage of each other.
Dear Brene: I agree that you owe your date authenticity about your feelings and the bulk of your attention. You also owe him a genuine thank you at the end of the night. Goodnight kisses or other favors are never required — and we learned from our column of July 13, 2011, that many girls do not kiss on a first date.
Your date may offer you alcohol or drugs. Don't accept. If you feel you owe him more than what is stated here — or you are stringing him along — please seek healing for low self-esteem or a "poverty" mentality that says you don't deserve to be treated well or that you need to manipulate men to get what you want.
Anyone who has grown up with lack, whether of things or love, tends to feel overly obliged or manipulative when someone treats them to something. And anyone who has grown up with a drug- or alcohol-dependent parent is often unconsciously dependent upon that parent's approval, creating an unhealthy bond called co-dependency.
Between co-dependency and poverty mentality (elements of low self-esteem), women let themselves be used for the price of an expensive date and the hope of love. Men are equally vulnerable in their own way; they get strung along and build walls around their hearts.
This unhealthy system between men and women has been going on probably since the agricultural revolution (when the concept of ownership began) — which is a very long time. Add alcohol or drugs (which are rampant at proms and after proms), and lots of unintended outcomes take place. No wonder Brene is feeling nervous.
To men and women, young and old, who involve themselves in this unhealthy exchange, professional therapy or group work, such as the Landmark Forum, can help you immensely in finding your value. — Lauren
Lauren Forcella co-writes Straight Talk TNT with a panel of 85 teens and young adults. To ask a question or become a panelist, click StraightTalkTNT.com or write to P.O. Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628.