What do the panelists think of using coupons on a date? I just got a 40% off coupon to a really nice restaurant. Should I beshitah not use it? (I’m not a cheapskate by nature, but if I find a good sale, a bargain, or a coupon, I definitely take advantage of it.) On the one hand, I feel like why shouldn’t I use it? On the other hand, I don’t want to appear cheap…
So, do I save or do I waive?
First and foremost, I feel compelled to note how truly sorry a state of affairs we find ourselves in that a matter as trivial as the use of coupon on a shidduch date is one which commands dialogue.
Nonetheless, I readily concede that this is the reality we live in, and these are the sorts of things those in shidduchim have to contend with on a regular basis. As such, and appreciating your quandary, let’s flesh out some probable on-date-coupon-use-ramifications.
The first consideration is whether or not there is anything objectively objectionable to using a coupon on a date; and with respect to this point, I feel there is no definite answer.
Of the myriad ways reality can be fragmented and analyzed, one common approach is to examine factual reality versus perceived reality, and it is this approach I would like follow.
Looking at the issue from a dry, factual point of view, there does not appear to be anything distasteful in using a coupon to cover a portion of the cheque. Haggling over menu prices with the waiter, while one’s date sits there awkwardly, is one thing. Handing over a coupon, however, is nothing akin to that.
To slightly reframe the concept of coupons, if one was greeted by the restaurant owner with an honorary complimentary dinner as the establishment’s one millionth customer, would anyone protest against accepting the offer? Presumably not. The only difference being, whether it is the customer or the restaurant initiating the discount.
Furthermore, many marketing professionals postulate that the appeal of promotional items is universal. Rich or poor, people simply enjoy gratuities, under-market-value deals, and even tchotchkes as inconsequential as a free pen.
On the other hand, from a perceived reality standpoint, matters become a little hazier.
If one queried a young woman vis-à-vis her stance on the use of coupons, it is highly unlikely that she would express consternation. Yet, there is no predicting how she might perceive the use of a coupon on a date she is personally in the midst of.
For starters, coupons are not nearly as common-place as they once were, and the mere presentation of one by a bachur on a date, b’zmanainu, might be met with a sideways glance, thereby creating an opening to speculate whether or not this bachur is a little usual.
In this day and age, where being “normal” is virtually sacrosanct, and granted total primacy of rank, and where conforming to the standards of the masses is often deemed the apotheosis of human development, giving one’s date a reason to wonder where exactly they fall on the Normal-O-Meter spectrum is probably best avoided.
Additionally, one’s date may begin to contemplate whether the restaurant choice was made solely due to the coupon – regardless of how lovely an eatery it is – and absent that, perhaps an even nicer selection might have been made. Or, as noted in your question, there is the possibility that one may be seen as not fully valuing the woman they are dating, and thus too frugal to properly wine-and-dine her; evoking the maxim, “penny-wise, pound-foolish.”
People make snap judgements all the time – sometimes consciously, and other times subconsciously – and during the relatively minimal duration of a date, one is not always afforded the time or opportunity to alter those judgements.
The last thing anyone wants when a woman’s parents inquire how the date went, is a response of, “Well, the guy payed for the bill with a coupon. I was not anticipating that!” The substance of the date itself should never have to contend for attention with inane, tangential matters, and to the extent that can be prevented, it should.
In short, regardless of whether or not something is actually wrong, we must factor in the actuality that perception is impactful, and there is no controlling how our actions will be evaluated by another.
The second consideration is how far along in the dating this is transpiring. If it is occurring after a number of dates, subsequent to establishing rapport, and once one has been able to present a substantive impression of oneself, it may be a non-issue entirely, or a miniscule one that can be openly shared and easily couched on the way to the restaurant.
Whereas casually stating, “You know, I happen to have a coupon for an exceptional restaurant, let’s go there tonight”, is probably going to go in one ear and out the other on the way to a fifth date, it remains a rather odd opener for a first date. Acknowledging contextual variances in situations such as these is essential, and mustn’t be overlooked.
Consequently, if this scenario were indeed taking place deeper into the shidduch, I would strongly lean towards asserting that it’s fine to use the coupon. Contrariwise, if we are discussing a much earlier date, given the potential for coupon usage to be perceived untowardly, my lean would be to pocket it for another time.
May the Mamtik megadim, hachas al mamoinam shel Yisroel, see that you find your zivug hagon, b’karov u’bnachas.