Men Should Pay for the First Date if They Want to See You Again

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



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Jay Souza

I usually make a point in paying half, but I have paid full if the guy had less money than I did.
I really don't mind, and the guy treating me to dinner every now and then is cool. Not always, though.

BeccaLS BeccaLS

I don't know, I think whoever plans the date should pay. If someone asks me out, they pay. If I ask them, I would pay.

I'm big on equality.

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

Please kindly stop lumping all of us Europeans together in one broad category. Europe is MASSIVE, and has many, many different countries and cultures with.

Lindsay Renee Edwards

I dont personally care who pays on someone else's date. but on MY dated (when i was dating, and not with the same man for the last 5years) 
whomever asked for the date, paid for the date. and i always made it very clear when i wanted to pay. "I would like to take you to *instert place* on friday. my treat!"
i agree that if a man just wont let you pay, he is being controlling. even now, my s/o makes sure i have all the money i want, and lets me whip out my card when i suggest we go eat, or see a movie. he knows that i like to feel like i have an equal say, and equal power in our relationship.  

Felly... FellyScarlett

If a guy asks me out, I would expect him to offer to pay. I've never actually been the one to ask a guy out, but if I did I would expect to pay. That just seems fair. On a first date however, I always expect the guy to offer to pay. Doesn't mean I'd make him it's just in my opinion if he doesn't even offer to pay he must not be that interested.

BGarcel BGarcel

I split the bill for the first date always. Whether or not I was asked out or I did the asking because I CHOSE to go out with this man. So it's fair and equal that the bill is split for the first date. I mean, I didnt want to become one of those women who loves it when men spend money on them. I get asked out more often than I do the asking, so if I had a rule that the man pays for the first date if he did the asking, I would become one of those women. If I almost never had to pay for the first date, and assume a guy is disinterested because he did not immediately offer to pay, then my behavior would turn into a habit and the habit would turn into an aspect of my personality.

Also, think about the guy you're on a date with. How does he feel that he always has to pay for dinner just to have the pleasure of female companionship? Its these old fashioned gender roles that have to be tempered for both women and men to feel equal. Not equal in a quantitative sense, but in a qualitative sense.

Mark Sobolewski

I read the article and comments and one thing is quite clear: Women haven't come that far in the past century. They're mostly either irrational, selfish, dependent or a combination of all three. For men, now as then, you choose the prettiest one because if you have an emotional train wreck on your arm, it might as well be the Acela.

Sure, there are some women who are sensible and aren't selfish or game playing (asker pays and then "he does most of the asking" is pretty obvious to men. You aren't fooling anyone who isn't already a fool), you can't count on it. So men just deal with it and look for advantages of their own.

And we have games of our own ladies. We're so good at them that you don't even know they happened.

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