Who’s footing the bill this Valentine’s Day?

Photo by Nancy Urchak.

Photo by Nancy Urchak.

Alyssa Morlacci

Click here to read about the best and worst Valentine’s Day stories.

Candy hearts, cheesy cards and stuffed bears are flying off the store shelves, but whether it’s men’s or women’s wallets taking the bigger hit is up for debate.

Suzanne Holt, director of the women’s studies program, said some couples divide the costs on Valentine’s Day, while others stick to tradition.

“For some people, it would mean nothing that you split the bill,” Holt said. “For other people, it would really mean, like, the death of the old way.”

Mackenzie Wallace, junior fashion merchandising major, suspects her boyfriend, Jimmy Hontz, has planned dinner and a movie for Valentine’s Day. Wallace and Hontz keep to the traditional paying route.

“He’ll pay,” Wallace said. “It took a while to get used to because I’m really independent, so I didn’t like it at first. But he always insists, so I’ve gotten used to it.”

Holt said she remembers a date on which she attempted to pay her half of the bill as a college freshman in the 1970s.

“He was insisting on paying the bill and I had this value for splitting the bill and I insisted,” Holt said. “He was really angry. He was like, ‘I’ve never met anyone like you before.’”

Holt said the issue of who pays for whom has to do with the interpretation of masculine and feminine roles.

“I just think that we have deep emotional commitments to models of masculinity and femininity, manhood and womanhood, that make all change[s] to that basic dynamic very difficult.”

Since then, Holt said, cost-sharing meals have become more accepted on dates.

“We may have difficulty locating equality in the workplace or in business or in any other arrangement,” Holt said. “(But) I think in couples, the idea of equality has had some serious impact.”

Cody Pratt, junior chemistry major, said he almost always pays the bill when he and girlfriend Paige Vargo, senior integrated life sciences major, go out to eat.

On a regular date, Pratt said he and Vargo would steal each other’s credit cards in order to prevent the other from paying. However, on Valentine’s Day, Pratt said he is determined to pay.

“I would still find a way to pay, whether I would have to take her credit card,” he said. “Actually, I’ve done that before.”

Nicole Pajestka, sophomore fashion merchandising major, said she won’t fight to pay after dinner and expects her boyfriend, Brian Marcu, senior finance and accounting major, to cover the bill on Valentine’s Day.

“I think it’s just because we like each other that we do stuff for each other, not because he feels like he has to do it, and not because I feel like I have to do it,” she said.

Jeremy Moss, freshman German major, said he and his date, Bobby Cook, will go to get coffee. Moss said determining who should pay the bill in a gay relationship is tricky.

“I’ll usually pay for my own things,” Moss said. “It’s different when you’re gay, like, usually the guy pays, but we’re both guys.”

Moss said gay men usually pay their own way, but in some cases, the “more dominant figure” in the relationship picks up the tab.

Holt said Valentine’s Day is only a consumer event, and advised students not to stress over its significance. She also sees the intent of the day as an opportunity for perspective.

“Little things like Valentine’s Day provide this wonderful opportunity because people are going to come away from it feeling great, feeling bad, or feeling somewhere in between,” Holt said. “It’s a good measure of where are we, relative to our declarations and values — like equality.”

Contact Alyssa Morlacci at [email protected].