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The Physics Behind Accepting a Free Drink

I’m not a $10 hooker. I repeat: I am NOT a $10 hooker!

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I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton who said, and I’m paraphrasing, “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” After all, it’s the third law of motion! I was never very adept at physics (my teacher was this hot 24-year-old, so my 16-year-old self spent most of my class time drooling over him instead of learning about vectors and mass), but this one law stuck with me from high school until now.

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”

The Physics Behind Accepting a Free Drink

Now, like I said, I didn’t have much of an affinity for Physics, but this third law of motion comes into play outside of the classroom, especially at the bar. In the hectic world of the single, working woman, going out for a night on the town with the ladies is a way to release some tension, blow off some steam, and meet some interesting, new people. I live in uptown New York City, which isn’t really the mecca for hot guys and cheap drinks, but my friends and I make the most of what we’ve got (when life gives you lemons, yadda yadda yadda).

Speaking of cheap drinks, the single, working woman knows all too well that unless you live in a college town, the cheapest drink you’re going to see will still set you back at least ten dollars. My friends and I will usually have a couple of cocktails at one of our houses, and then take a cab downtown. Full disclosure, when I go out, I have one weakness, and that’s free drinks!

Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.

The Physics Behind Accepting a Free DrinkI don’t know about you ladies, but I think there’s a common misconception that stipulates if a man buys you a drink, you’re then required by some unspoken law to “repay him.” This is essentially the third law of motion. Someone buys you a drink, and thus you must have a reaction that’s proportionate to that act of having a drink bought for you if you accept that offer. How you choose to repay that perceived debt is up to you, but what annoys me is that there is a debt to be repaid.

This scenario almost creates an unspoken dialogue where men buy women drinks and expect something in return for their “investment,” and I think I speak for most when I say no one likes to owe anyone anything! When I go out, if someone asks to buy me a drink and I don’t already have one, I see no problem with accepting it, but this acceptance has no underlying meaning. My acceptance of this drink doesn’t mean I’m going back to your apartment, you’re going back to my apartment, or anything in between. (After all, I’m not a $10 hooker)! It simply means I didn’t have a drink, and now I do.

Someone buys you a drink, and thus, you must have a reaction that’s “proportionate” to that act of having a drink bought for you if you accept that offer.

The Physics Behind Accepting a Free Drink

Nothing is ever “free”

I try to make the best out of the situation. I try to be an entertaining conversationalist, make witty jokes, and flash a winning smile — but that’s about all a drink warrants. I’d never accept a drink and then shoo the person away as if they didn’t matter. It’s imperative that you treat people, especially strangers, with the same level of respect that you would expect from them! You never know when you could see them again. To quote our wise friend Sir Isaac Newton once more, “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” Though some people can be presumptuous at bars and clubs, that’s no reason to lose your grace.

Have you experienced this phenomenon? Do you accept free drinks when you go out, or prefer to buy your own?

Sarah enlightens us on a daily basis with the newest trends as (and often before) they transpire. She is the consummate globe trotter. Having traveled to over 70 countries, she earns her living writing, blogging and modeling while on the road. In her spare time she gets manicures, suntans on yachts in Greece, shops for even more shoes, and lives in the limelight. She loves photography, elephants, sailboats, bangles and ballet flats.

Reader Discussion: 3 Comments

  1. I personally don’t feel any need to talk to someone (beyond “thanks”) if they buy me a drink. I just walk away or say “Thanks, that was sweet, but you’re not my type.”

  2. Definitely! There are so many misconceptions behind free drinks…women shouldn't have to feel like they "owe" anything just because a guy decided to buy their martini or beer. If a guy wants to buy you a drink, you have every right to say 'thank you" and not feel like you have to return anything 🙂

  3. I completely agree with you. Just because someone buys you a drink doesn't mean anything has to be repaid. It's suppose to a natural kind gesture (most likely isn't). It doesn't mean you have to date him or do anything else! Does anyone else agree?

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