Dating is all about reading the signs and signals.
It's like breaking a code these days because there is so much propaganda about dating, relationships and men's behavior.
The biggest portion of the code is found at the beginning-in the early stages of dating.
Frankly, since 85% of the relationship material is targeted at women, the majority of those who discuss it and create usage for the material are female.
Instead of talking about what should occur and creating some common ground, too many women have it made up in their minds what should occur and are quick to dismiss a potential suitor if he fails to crack her dating code.
Instead of having good, old fashioned plain talk, some women expect men to be detectives with secret decoder rings.
However, some code words really aren't all that covert.
One female code word that I've heard men discuss a great deal is the word "generous."
Many men have indeed cracked the code in this instance.
Now, the word itself may seem innocent enough, but let's really take a look at what it means.
When a woman says that she wants a man to be generous early on, she is typically referring to the dating process-she wants gifts, and she wants to be courted in a lavish manner, with no participation whatsoever.
In an era where more women are proclaiming their lack of "need" for men, the prevalence of a "generosity" search is curious indeed.
We're not talking about some third world nation where women are denied employment and treated as property. We are talking about so-called "independent women" in the good old U.S. of A, who fought and still fight to be treated as equals with all the rights that men have-except in dating.
Ladies, if you use this word to mean something else, you should probably use another word, because this one is tainted.
As an independent woman, you should have no problem picking up the check once or twice or at least paying your way sometime. Otherwise, stop saying that you are independent, and stop saying you want a good man. What you want is a "sponsor" and your honesty will be appreciated.
As far as finances are concerned, anything above wanting someone to have a stable means of support is unreasonable.
In addition, there are so many other things to be concerned about that have value, that "generosity" should be last on the list, because at the end of the day, when the conversation turns to "generosity," most men are turned off-especially in the early stages of dating.
Being single and dating gets rough enough without all of the confusion of financial expectations. For any rational adult, it makes no sense to expect someone to spend great amounts of money to entertain your grown behind-especially when they don't know you. That's like saying you want all of the fun but none of the responsibility, and it's a poor way to begin a relationship.
It's even difficult sometimes to sit at a bar and exchange conversation without the expectation of drink purchases. Why would any otherwise self-respecting woman want to diminish herself to a common "drink whore?" Be offended, but if you are selling your conversation and/or company for the price of a drink, this is what it amounts to.
There is already enough stress involved in trying to merge two individual personalities, which may be divergent based on religion and education, in addition to gender. Add finance to the mix and it's all bad.
It's just sad to watch beautiful sisters who claim to want a real relationship, start things off with a focus on avoiding financial responsibility, or demanding "sponsorship."
Here's a modern example of the "generosity" search gone awry: One of my friends in Chicago was scheduled to meet a young lady at a local hangout for drinks.
Now prior to this meeting, she made every effort to join any meeting with friends he had and always ordered from the top of the menu's price list. He liked to hang out at clubs in the downtown area and she always wanted to be on the scene, and of course, on his dime. And, each time they were together, she created diversions when it was time to pay, or simply stared at the check, leaving him to pay.
It became obvious that she had specific expectations and when he tried to broach the topic, she avoided the subject.
Once, he asked her to split the check and she claimed to have left her money at home. Outside of her difficulty with paying for her own entertainment, she seemed like a nice young lady and my friend liked her very much.
She arranged to meet him again and he purposely arrived after she did. She had already ordered a few drinks and food. My friend sat down and ordered water. He declined any food, but otherwise, maintained the same kind of conversation as on previous dates. When the check came at the end of the evening, his date slid it across the table in front of him.
Quick-what would YOU do?
Here's what my friend did: He politely slid the check back to her and stated: "I didn't eat or drink anything, so you should go ahead and take care of it." Her reply: "Why would you ask to spend time with me, if you don't want to be generous?"
Ladies, if there is a cost for your time, please make that clear up front. Perhaps some men will simply offer you a flat fee to get right to what they desire. If you are not for sale, you should take the price off of your company.
Now, here's the sad part: When I write pieces like this and give such examples, some sisters say that it's only the circles I run in, but those circles seem to be all across the nation, because not only are my brothers lodging numerous complaints, but many of my honest sisters who pay their own way are aware of the offending behavior as well.
The bottom line is that no matter how you couch it, coming after a man financially is unattractive. Phrase it as "generous," but if you expect to be paid for all the time, then you are practicing a form of prostitution. Don't be surprised or angry if you get some of the same results.
Dating is an expensive venture and difficult to launch properly. My most salient piece of advice to single women is to be unafraid of initiating contact and open to sharing the financial burden of dating.
The dating process should allow two people to get to know each other, ostensibly before making a commitment. A relationship is about partnership and dating should not be any different. In fact, since dating may not turn out to be anything permanent, there should be no substantial financial investment on either part. At the end of something that doesn't work out, both people can walk away undiminished.
So, ladies, please focus on a man's character, not his wallet, and maybe you will find something to have and to hold. When you approach a man keep your eyes on the prize.
And keep your mind off of "generosity."
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology "Notes From The Edge." James' stage play, "Love In A Day," opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running all Summer. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at