Who Should Pay on a First Date?
The age-old question: who should pay on a first date? In this video, I offer several popular opinions, and then I share my own.
Should men pay on a first date, or is this an outdated standard that has to go? Surprisingly, in a recent survey by Money.com, 78% of men AND women believe that men should pay on the first date. In this video, I reveal the three most popular opinions for who pays on a first date, and then I share my own thoughts.
Who Should Pay on a First Date?
#1: The person who asked for the date pays
While this might seem like the most reasonable option, there are some advantages and drawbacks.
Pros: For those who believe heteronormative standards have changed, such as that men should always pay on a first date, this option is simple and it works.
Cons: A potential disadvantage is that there might be an assumption that the person who asked for the date continues to pay for all future dates, which could create an imbalance.
Tip: Figure out what works best for you and the person you’re dating by having a conversation about it down the line. Also, if you’re the one being asked out and the person who initiated the date offers to pay, it’s still a good idea to offer to help with the bill. The person asking you out might insist on paying, but your willingness to help pay for the date shows that you don’t expect them to pay for the costs of the date just because they asked you out.
#2: You split the bill
Pros: Going Dutch or splitting the bill on a first date can feel like the fair thing to do, because no one has to foot the full bill. Another advantage is if you’re willing to split the bill at the beginning of dating, it might indicate that you’re willing to split costs if the relationship develops and gets more serious.
Cons: A poll by Elite Singles found that only 7% believed splitting the bill is a good choice. Going Dutch in dating can indicate that you’re not interested in romance and you’re not really into your date.
Tip: A better route could be taking turns paying. Or, you can pay for dinner while the other person covers the movie tickets, the tip, or the valet parking.
#3: The man pays for every date
Until recently, the man was expected to pick up the tab on a date. But in modern times, dates don’t always conform to this heteronormative, gendered way of courtship and romance. Cultural expectations around dating are shifting.
Pros: When a man pays on dates, a woman feels cared for. He’s investing in getting to know her with his time and his wallet. The most important thing a woman needs in dating is to feel safe, and when he pays the bill, his actions can help her begin to feel like he cares for her. She might feel safer with him.
Cons: When a man always pays, it doesn’t take into account who makes more money. If the woman is better off financially, why would he always pay? Additionally, if he pays every time, it could imply dominance and hierarchy in the relationship, which could be problematic down the road.
Tip: Expecting one person to always pay for a date no matter the circumstances or the dynamic is antiquated. However, letting a man pay at the beginning of courtship can make a woman feel safer and more eager to keep getting to know him.
Always offer to help with the bill, no matter what. Say thank you if a man pays. I don’t believe in the ‘fake purse grab’, where you are about to take out your wallet, but you don’t really want to pay.
I’ve seen too many women offer to pay, and when a man accepts, they’re resentful and don’t want to see him again. So, be honest with yourself about whether you really want to pay or split the bill.
While in the courtship phase of dating, I believe it’s healthy for women to receive a man’s offer to pay. It sets the scene for a man to respect you and invest in getting to know you better. Offer to tip or pay for the candy or popcorn at the movies. Once you’re in a relationship, things become more equal in all ways. You’ll buy him concert tickets, cook him delicious meals, give massages, split the chores, etc.
I’m also an advocate for inexpensive first dates with a minimum investment of time and money. A quick coffee meetup or a walk in the park are great first dates that remove the pressure of deciding who pays.
While it can be challenging to figure out who pays on a date, if things don’t go according to how you thought they would, let it go. Focus on how you felt during the rest of the date, and decide if you want continue to date him. You can always talk about who pays in the future.
If first dates are quick and low investment, you’ll have less to focus on when it comes to payment. And you can always figure out how you want to handle who pays if you continue to date this person.
What are your thoughts on who pays on a first date? Please comment below!
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