When it comes to dating, there are a few perennial questions: How long do you date before you are considered exclusive? When do you have sex? And who pays? Not for the sex, I mean. Presumably that particular act isn't being charged for. No, I mean all of the stuff that precedes the sex: The coffee, the drinks, the dinners, the movies. In this country, it's generally accepted that a guy should pay for at least the first date; however, with the economy sucking so bad, and many women making more than guys do these days, is that still a fair rule?

I've always been the type of woman who felt most comfortable splitting the tab -- except on the first date unless I ask the guy out. I like a guy to pay for the first portion of the date, but not necessarily the entire date. For instance: Say we meet for drinks. He pays. Great. But then he wants to go to dinner. He picks the restaurant. If it has reasonable prices, I don't mind if he takes me up on my offer to pay half. If he chooses a super expensive place, then I do mind -- because it was his choice to pick an expensive place, and his choice to go to dinner, and I wasn't quite counting on shelling out $200 for a guy I haven't even decided I want to see again.

You see this gets complex.

Then say the guy wants to move on to dessert somewhere else. Or coffee. Or another drink. Now here is where I will insist on paying. If I've stuck with a guy this long, then I like him. And since he's already picked up part 1 and part 2 of the date, then I want to pick up part 3.

Do you know I actually stopped dating a guy because he insisted on paying for everything -- and insisted on choosing such expensive restaurants that I would have gone bankrupt if he'd let me go dutch? No matter how many times I said that I'd like to pay this time, so let's go to this nice but cheapish place, he'd still insist on hitting the city's most expensive bistro. I felt like I was never going to have any power in the relationship and never be able to make any of the choices, because his tastes were way more expensive than mine -- which meant he'd have to pay all the time. Call it idiocy, but I had a problem with that.

Some guys, however, are the complete opposite. They are cheap to the point where it makes them seem unattractive. Perhaps it's an American thing, but if a dude won't kick in to pay for you once in awhile, you kind of feel like he's just not interested. Take this whopper of an anecdote from a friend of mine.

She went on a date with a European guy. Europeans are generally less concerned about "who pays" than Americans are -- so when the date ended and she offered to pay half and he accepted, she wasn't surprised, nor insulted. But then it turned out that the restaurant didn't take her type of credit card. He said he would cover it -- and she was preparing to offer to pay for date number two when he suddenly made it clear that he would cover it on his credit card -- but she could still kick in her half in cash.

Since she didn't have any on her, he walked her to an ATM machine so she could draw out the cash and hand it to him.

And yes, this dude was bewildered when she didn't want a second date with him.

To be on the safe side, guys should offer to pay if they like the girl and want to see her again. If they don't care about that, then by all means, guys should ask her to pay half. But good luck. Not all women are as quick with the wallet as my friend and I are!

Who pays on your dates?

 

Image via Marinakvillatoro/Flickr