preloader icon

Apex Trader Funding (ATF) - News

My friend invited me to a concert at Carnegie Hall. After I agreed, he said, ‘What would be nice is if you took me to dinner.’ Is this normal?

‘I have invited him to the theater in the past and did not expect him to buy me dinner’ Dear Quentin,

I have a good friend whom I like very much. He is one of those people I feel very comfortable around, as if I have known him for years. It’s hard to make friends in New York. People have so little time for friendship after work, the gym, kickboxing classes, therapy, checking their stock portfolio and, frankly, plotting their next move to climb up the corporate ladder. I grew up in the Midwest, so I expected people to have more time to develop friendships. This friend has put in the effort, meaning we meet once a week for dinner for about one and a half hours.

He called me this morning to invite me to a concert at Carnegie Hall. I am not a big classical-music buff (I usually fall asleep at operas) but I said I would go and would try to develop a taste for classical music. It beats sitting at home or sitting through all of those advertisements at the cinema. He said, “Great, I look forward to seeing you.” But before we hung up the phone, he added, “What would be nice is if you took me to dinner.” It was 8 a.m.  — early to call anyone, but my point is that I was tired — so I said, “Sure!”

However, I was shocked and did not know what to say. I have invited him to the theater in the past and did not expect him to buy me dinner. In fact, the last time I brought him to the theater, I also brought another friend and ended up bringing that other friend for dinner! I didn’t mind, as I see it as “what goes around, comes around,” in a good way. I try not to keep an accounting of who is inviting whom, and assume that it all works out square and even in the wash. But now I’m faced with an evening with this friend where I feel obliged, or forced, to buy him dinner. 

It takes the good out of the gesture if you have been instructed to take out your credit card. What would you do? Is this normal behavior?

Friend In Need

Related: ‘I felt humiliated’: She slipped the waiter her credit card on her way to the restroom. Is it emasculating for a woman to pay for dinner on a first date?

Dear Friend,

What would be nice — to use your friend’s phrase — is if he had worded his question differently: “Would you like to see this concert at Carnegie Hall? I’ll get the tickets, and you can get dinner.” It’s not the most polished way of proffering an invitation, but at least it establishes the conditions up front. You wouldn’t like to accept a free ticket from a stranger on the street who then pointed at a nearby restaurant and added, “Now you have to buy me dinner!” Taking him to dinner seems fair, but being asked to do so after you accepted his theater invitation is a rug pull.

There is another, unspoken issue here. The invitation seems pointed, and if it seems pointed, it probably is pointed. You have your own social contract, which may be less transactional on the surface but may not work as consistently, leaving room for a missed dinner invitation here and a missed theater invitation there. That can leave people who have a different mode of behavior with a bee in their bonnet — “I paid the last time we went to Carnegie Hall, and he didn’t even buy me dinner!” — even if you feel like you returned the favor in other ways.