Is buying drinks just buying conversation?

Posted at 4:54 PM Dec 07, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

Last night at my karaoke local, my friend Susan and I fell afoul of The Dude Who Will Not Take No For An Answer When He Offers To Buy You A Drink. I didn't want a drink from the guy, because I'd already seen him talk Susan's right ear off and, after she escaped his yammering clutches, I could tell he was honing in on one or both of my ears. Before I knew it, however, I had another High Life in hand.

That bubbly beer made me feel obligated to sit and listen to his inane schpiel (he claimed to be a comedian though he had never actually done comedy but his friends said was hilarious) for upwards of 5 minutes. Once I figured I'd put in my time, I made my way to the bathroom while Susan scooped up our purses and coats on the pretense of moving to seats with a better view of the stage. Still, I wanted that 5 minutes back.

How long is a lady obligated to talk to a person who has bought her a drink? Or is she obligated to talk at all?

Unless someone's buying shots of liquid gold, I generally think the idea that a drink bought is some kind of serious financial investment in response to which the buyee is obligated to have a conversation is rather stupid. And yet, I can't help but feel like an asshole for simply walking away with a tasty beverage in hand, even if "thanks" has been said. But do men really want gals to stand around talking to them purely because they bought them a Bud Light?

This is, of course, related to the whole expectation-of-sexytime in conjunction with niceness-of-seafood-dinner issue. Doing (what you consider to be) an incredibly generous thing for someone--with little or no warning, or against their express wishes--does not and should not ensure that they owe you anything back. (Memo to Nice Guys (tm).) I figure talking long enough to determine interest--whether that takes a half-second or 30 minutes--is just about all anyone owes the drink buyer.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?


Rick Stone said:

You've got to be kidding your own damned beer or next time you might wake up in dude's double wide trailer with every orifice feeling like it was reamed with a brillo pad...this is America.

Andrea said:

Well, that's the creepiest comment we've gotten in a long time.

simba said:

Nothing in life is for free. If talking for five minutes is too much (and I think 5 minutes as an "obligation" is hardly demeaning or burdensome) don't accept the drink. The idea that the drink is borderline charity with no strings attached is naive. And if you're drinking High Life, well no wonder he wanted to get to know you, Champagne of Beers with good reason!

Jon said:

Why is the social standard for men to buy women drinks? And if a woman does buy a man a drink, do the same rules qualify? Would a woman generally insist on buying the guy the drink?

Boo, gender rules!

Working_Rachel said:

Maybe I don't go out enough, but I've never had a drink forced on me. And if I did, I probably wouldn't drink it, figuring the overly pushy guy may have found some way to slip a roofie in there.

Gotta agree with the comments above--just don't take the thing if you don't want to talk to the guy.

BorgQueen said:

I admit I have taken drinks in the past, in my wilder, singler, (broker) days. I am not overly proud of it either. I think if a guy is genuinely being nice and wants to strike up a conversation, and if you are interested in at least finding out what he is all about then it is a pretty easy way to do it. But if you aren't interested, then it is fine to just say no and if he persists, walk away, no one should "expect" anything.

But I have been in situations like what it sounds like happened to you, where you feel a little trapped in accepting and guilty for taking the drink afterwards. It happens but I don't think it is something to kick yourself over, especially the day after. Sometimes it is just a weird occurence. Good thing to always make sure you see the drink being opened/poured in front of you though.

Kevin said:

I feel like buying a girl a drink doesn't obligate you to anything. That said, if I bought a girl a drink and she wasn't interested in at least talking for a little while, I'd feel pretty pissed off. I think it's a courtesy thing, and if you're not interested in talking to the guy, don't accept the drink. Then the problem is just politely telling off a creeper, but that's the problem anyway isn't it?

Steve said:

You are not obligated to take the beer, but if you do, I figure you owe the guy a "thank you." and that's about it. Really, it's a question of rudeness. If you say no to an offer of a beer, and the guy persists, then he is being rude and your refusal is allowed to match said rudeness until the guy gets the hint.

Personally, I was always told never to accept the first no, always to follow up with an "Are you sure" or something similar, but that's for offers of drinks or dancing. I am not endorsing the Amy Dickinson school of thought which seems to be "you are in a bar, so I'm allowed to do whatever I want to you."

Kiala said:

A nice thank you and a blow job should suffice.


A sincere thank you and walking away is all that is necessary.

Anonymous said:

You're under no obligation to turn up a free drink. The man's well aware of the financial gamble being merely a door-buster akin to Walmart putting out the cheap big screen TVs to get you inside their marketing sphere of influence.

But feeling guilt shows you're still human so keep a few principles in mind:

Clearly decline without any mixed signals. The guy may honestly believe you're uncomfortable accepting a free drink being post-suffrage. In some cultures you have to initially refuse a gift even if you really want the offering, so you're just being worldly.

After continuing to emphatically refuse with Mr Dense then enjoy parting a fool from his money in good conscious, so long as you held firm and didn't come off as flirty rather than serious or confrontational, an error in judgment too many women make.

But ladies, pay it forward, buy a drink for the guy you're interested in next time.

Robyn Robotron said:

Usually, when guys offer to buy me drinks I give them my own speil, something along the lines or, "are you into charity, because the pleasure of doing something kind for someone else is the only pleasure you'll get out of me". Whatever I say, it boils down to "I'll drink your drink, but I'm not having sex with you". I'm just careful with my messages to the point of extreme bluntless. But, I'll at least talk to the guy for a little while.

However, in your situation, the guy discounted the word (or concept) "no", which is an indicator that the guy is a persusive predator. Let me guess, he probably said something about you being "too good to accept a drink" or something to that effect as well. That's "stereotyping", another tool of the psersuasive predator. I'm sure you guys have all read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker, so you probably already know this. However, if you haven't, I urge every woman reading this to pick up a copy, it will change your life. If you don't have the chance to get it, just remember this, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE NICE TO EVERYONE, ESPECIALLY MEN WHO ARE MAKING YOU UNCOMFORTABLE. If someone is foisting an unwanted drink on you, leave the damn thing there and walk away. You don't owe this guy anything if you don't want to give it and that includes conversation.

Edie said:

When we go out, my husband is always buying drinks for our friend. I don't think she ought to accept them ALL the time. Is she hoping (or him) for more???

© 2014 Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy