Who Should Pay On The First Date?

Alright, I’m just going to throw this out there and see what you guys think. When on a first date, who should pay? But, consider this from every angle before chiming in with your thoughts.

Traditionally speaking…

For those of you out there who are traditionalists, the guy should pay for dinner. The concept is pre-historic, dating back to even the caveman days where men provided food and shelter for their woman. Throughout time this process has become more refined, but the basic principle is still the same. Innately speaking, women are drawn to men who can take care of them, financially and otherwise.

Despite the fact that many women are feminists and enjoy their independence, there is still something completely moving to us about a man who pays on the first date. It’s not that we can’t necessarily go Dutch, but if you want a second date, don’t do Dutch on the first. Buck up and pay. At least, that’s what studies are currently showing.

I have a friend who has recently decided to give online dating a try. She’s having a hard time finding anyone she considers worthy of a second date because she’s very traditional and wants a gentleman. In her eyes, a gentleman doesn’t ask to go Dutch on the first date. But, she wars with herself on this because she thinks about the number of people who’ve lost their jobs and the economy at large, and she wonders if perhaps she’s being too hard on these guys. But, in the end, her desire for a gentleman outweighs any concern she has over their financial well-being. That’s a harsh way to put it, I realize, but it’s the truth. She’s not necessarily looking for a rich guy, but at least someone who can spring for the first date.

From the feminist perspective…

There are some women out there who just do not think a man should be the one to pay for everything. These women don’t like their doors held open either. As far as this woman is concerned, she is equal to a man and can pay for her own food and open her own doors.

At any rate, in this case, some women may become offended if a man insists on paying for dinner. He may think he’s doing the right thing, but in reality this type of woman is seething internally because how dare a man think he is better than she is.

I have a friend that tends to run along these lines and it’s always interesting to get friend number one and friend number two together. Their views are so different and neither really understands the other’s point of view. To my feminist friend’s way of thinking, having a guy pay for her meal is rather archaic and only serves to further the divide in gender inequality. Nothing in her thought process runs to the financial aspect either way.

A middle ground…

For most women there is a middle ground, one that falls between the two extremes of my friends above. The middle ground is pretty simple: whoever invites is the one who pays. Most women in this category feel that if a man invites the woman out, he should pay and vice versa. That’s not to say that these women do a whole lot of inviting; however, the option is still out there should they invite someone to dinner.

Personally, I tend to fall into this category. I’m appreciative of a guy who pays for dinner on a first date and find that I’m more attracted to a man who does as opposed to a man who doesn’t…unless I invited him. I’ve never asked a guy out before, so I haven’t really put this theory to the test, but I’ve gone Dutch on the second date and been ok with that. So I don’t think I’m as particular about it as my first friend.

The financial repercussions…

It’s no secret that dating can get expensive. I’d actually go so far as to say relationships in general – whether dating or just friends – can get expensive. But, is it fair for women to let the man shoulder all the financial burden of dating? In many cases, the man is expected to pay for the meal and any other activities for the evening, he is usually expected to pick the woman up and drive her which is a cost in gas, and he definitely scores points with flowers on a first date. That stuff doesn’t come cheap.

Ladies, how do you feel about first dates? Should a man expect to pay? What about subsequent dates…at any point are you ok going Dutch, or just paying for him?

Guys, what’s your take on this? Should women start picking up some of the cost, or at the very least, pay their own way on a date?

Finally, do you guys think a recession will play a role in how we view dating?

25 thoughts on “Who Should Pay On The First Date?”

  1. My wife and I were just talking about this. Our take is that the guy needs to pay for everything to show his generousity, not his superiority. If the guy cannot afford to treat how can he afford a relationship? He needs to focus on making money instead of trying to date. Might sound harsh but it does make sense, does it not?

  2. I don’t think the guy needs to pay for EVERYTHING.

    But the first date, is the golden date. You pay for the entire date.

    And if you can’t afford it, then buy me a coffee as the first date. But PAY. PAY FOR THE FIRST DATE.

    All subsequent dates, pending on unemployment and whatever, we can do dutch or I can treat half the time, but.. please, the first date is the most important.

    I’ve talked about this with BF and I have even blogged about it, and even he agrees that the guy should pay for at least the first date.

    He was really shocked when he heard that some of the guys I went out with, didn’t pay! And they asked! And chose the restaurant! I was left feeling uncomfortable.

    Even asking the girl out has a process :P

  3. I think whoever asked on the initial first date should pay. If you are poor, you can do something like pack a picnic or something equally frugal that can pass as creative.

    I am currently dating someone between jobs at the moment so this is always interesting to figure out, our solution for the moment being that we just don’t really “go out” when we have a date.

    Have a hot date, Kristy? ;^)

  4. Im sorry- I couldn’t even read the whole post…I only read the 1st sentence.

    The GUY/BOY/MAN!!!!!!! ….thats all! :)

  5. I’m with Fabulously Broke. I think he should pay for the first date, but he can pick the venue – so if he is broke he can chose a less expensive location. Then, I am happy to go Dutch or will get the bill sometimes, especially if the gentleman is having financial problems of his own. (Not that dating is a big issue for me right now!)

  6. I’m Dutch, so I’m biased (haha). Plus I’ve never really dated like that or had that big ‘first date’.
    I’ve always either split the bill or discussed the restaurant (and almost automatically the paying-part) before the date. But I get slightly uncomfortable with the guy paying most/all of the time. I suppose I can handle it for a first date if I had too…

    But I’m weird, I also don’t accept drinks from guys in a bar when I’m out on my own (at least, not straight away).

  7. I always pay for the first date, and the second date, and the third date, etc… This trend typically continues until A). It becomes more “official” or B). I dump her free loading a$$.

    There was only one time this wasn’t the case. I dated a girl while I was finishing up college. She was a registered nurse and I… well I was the a part-time cashier at K-Mart. So there was a slight difference in our salaries. We used to go dutch a lot b/c I simply couldn’t afford to take her out. I believe we even went dutch on our first date. I felt like total crap over it, but come on… She was making like 60,000.00 a year and I was pulling in 12,000.00 at best. She was always really cool about it and had a way of making it seem like it wasn’t a big deal.

  8. Yeah, i think guys should pay for 1st date as well – then it’s anyone’s ballgame. The second a girl EXPECTS me to pay for everything is the second i delete her from the ol’ cell phone….guess being married i don’t have to worry about that anymore ;)

  9. heh, not that I’ve been on many dates, but I think guys should at least /try/ to pay on the first date. This gives girls the option to let them, or to pitch in. Personally I prefer the man to pay for at least the first date. It shows that he is considerate. After that we can figure out what works best for us.

    I don’t think men are better than women simply because they pay. I just think it’s a nice thing to do. I’m touched when someone offers to pay or do something for me.

  10. Ok, so the caveman in me first said, “duh, the guy should pay”. Then neanderthal rethink it….

    Today, the old paradigms don’t necessarily apply. Really, the person who set up the date – the one who said, “do you wanna go out Friday night” – should be the one to pay, or at least offer to pay. All things being equal, it makes little sense for either person to ask the other out and then expect the other to pay.

    For me – being somewhat neanderthal and to be safe – on the first date, no matter who asked who out, at least offer to pay. Sincerely. If she asks, “are you sure?”, then the answer is yes. If she insists on splitting the bill or chipping in – let her. The less of an issue this is, the better.

  11. Like Ginger said above: when someone offers to pay or do something for me I am touched. It’s a nice thing to do for someone and makes a GREAT first impression on a first date.

    I recently had a first date where “John” suggested we go to a very nice restaurant in town. We got a bottle of wine, our meals, and shared desert. It was expensive. He paid. We then went to get a night cap and when I tried to pay he wouldn’t let me. I thought it was very chivalrous…so many guys don’t do that anymore. It’s nice to be taken care of every once in a while!

  12. I think the guy should pay. And not just for the first date… for all official “dates”. I don’t think it needs to be expensive, not even a sit down dinner if he can’t afford it. That’s fine. And I would offer to chip in for things along the way, like the tip, popcorn at the movies, dessert, ect.

    But again… for me, the date doesn’t need to be expensive. I don’t need flowers, or fancy places. Sandwiches in the park are perfectly fine… preferred even.

  13. Whoever asks pays in my book – following that we used to take turns. I would never expect a guy to pay just because he’s a guy! Once you’re married on the other hand, it’s a whole other story ;)

  14. I always offer to split the tab on a first date, and I don’t mind paying. I prefer if the guy pays on the first date because it just shows that he’s interested. If a guy lets me pay on the first date, there won’t be a second date.

    I think paying is a way to show your interest…

  15. Wow! Lots of good discussion here, I love it!

    @ Stacking Cash – I agree, though there are those that do not think relationships should be about money. However, I think there is a point where the woman should step up and at least sincerely offer to pay – as a treat to him and to show she’s not freeloading. But, I kind of like the guy to pay on the first date. The big thing with me is imagination. In all honesty, a guy could invite me over for a night of video games and a homemade meal and I’d be good. I don’t like the traditional dinner and a movie date. You gotta be a little more creative then that. So, it doesn’t have to cost money, just has to make me feel like you’re interested in me.

    @ FB – Yeah yeah, keep rubbing it in that you have this awesome BF! ;) Hehehe. I agree with you, though. The guy should definitely pay for the first date, unless the girl asks and specifically says it’s her treat. At least offer to pay!

    @ Nicole – I’m more about the creativity as well. You don’t actually have to spend money on a first date, but if you put a little thought into what we’ll be doing, I’ll accept that as a sign of interest. Honestly, you can pay for the first date all you want, but if it’s the standard dinner and a movie routine, I’m probably not going for a second date. I would prefer someone who actually gave a thought to what we’d do. And no, I don’t have a hot date, just read an interesting study on dating during a recession and thought I’d throw this out there. LOL.

    @ Michigan Lady – What do you mean you didn’t read the whole post! Oh! I’m shocked…hehehe. Well, you got the most important part, at least. Thanks for weighing in!

    @ Dawn – And why not? I know you’ve got a lot of your plate, but you’re not dead lady! Go forth and date…it’s fun!

    @ Tanja – LOL. Yes, I agree that you’re strange! It’s nice to have a guy that will pay for your date. I’ve often told my friends that I was born in the wrong century because I like the age of chivalry. I know it’s not as dead as we like to believe these days, but it is hard to find.

    @ Kosmo – I’ve told her, it does no good. She’s not even 26 yet and she’s already freaking out, thinking she won’t ever get married and have kids. I must be getting way over the hill then since I’m 27 and have no current designs on the state of matrimony. Nevertheless, congrats to you and your wife. I like online success stories because I think it’s perfectly fine to meet people online. It’s better then a bar in my opinion, and it’s not really any different then meeting them in the grocery store. Either way, you still have to get to know them.

    @ Kev – I think you should have still offered to pay – even if she insisted that she pay given your difference in salaries. Remember, a date doesn’t have to be expensive for most of us. And it may not have been a big deal per se, but most women would still like you to at least offer.

    @ J. Money – I was gonna say, how many girls you got in your cell phone expecting you to pay and what does the Mrs. think about all this, lol! But, I definitely think there are women who take advantage of guys and they should not expect that he will pay for everything. I offer to pay half every date, even the first. Now, if he takes me up on the offer on the first date, there probably won’t be a second, but still. I don’t expect that the guy will pay for everything.

    @ Ginger – I agree with you…we’re not hardcore feminists! :) But, my friend is a bit of a feminist and she does view it that way. She thinks it’s sort of like buying her…actually, her ideology is a bit more complex then that and I wouldn’t be doing it justice to describe it because I don’t agree, so I’ll leave it. Suffice to say that she doesn’t like to have her dates paid for, she’d rather go dutch.

    @ – NtJS – I think you have the right of it! Just keep doing what you’re doing! LOL. But, safe guards aside, do you feel uncomfortable letting a woman pitch in on the first date? Are you only doing it to procure further dates? Sorry to put you on the spot, but I’m just curious.

    @ mimi – Wow…sounds like you had an awesome time. Hope that works out for you because it is nice.

    @ Ashley – I think most of us are in agreement here for the most part. I sort of expected differing views, at least from the guys perspective, lol. That’s interesting. Someone post anonymously and tell me what you really think!

    @ FruGal – Yes indeed, husbands are another matter entirely. Kosmo, J. Money – I know you two are married…still pay for the dates, or do you go dutch? Or is there such a thing as one paying for the other when your money is comingled?

    @ Saving Diva – Amen!

    @ NtJS – I like that quote…probably going to borrow with integrity!

  16. I remember my first date with my wife. While at dinner we decided to go to a movie. The plan was that I’d pay for the dinner and she’d cover the movie. But the theater didn’t take credit card so I ended up springing for both.

    Matter of fact now that I think about it, I ended up paying for all the dates. :)

  17. So long as further dates are with the Mrs.! But back when I was dating, it was always a struggle to supress the caveman instict.

    Comingled? It’s our money now, and it’s not a matter of who pays, but rather budgeting for date night.

  18. Well, I guess I have been extremely fortunate in dating AND have only had long term relationships (except one recent, and the break up was brought upon by myself) whereas I have only paid for birthday dates. I cook though, so I guess maybe that counts? I don’t know, never really thought about it. Every guy (7 I’m guessing) has always been INSULTED by the notion! If I were a man, I don’t really think I’d be concerned with dating if I were broke. And as women that does well for herself, I suppose it wouldn’t really be an issue….I don’t really know? I don’t think I’d like that though. I don’t drink at dinner and my guys usually do, so I’d be a little mad about that I think. I guess I’m old fashioned….but I LOVE IT!! I’ve paid for a movie or two back when it was hard to get tickets for a particular one, or for a show or two that I knew I probably wanted to see a little more than him….stuff like that. But throwing something on the grill or stove is definitely my way of giving back. But I don’t think I would ever pull out my card in a restaurant in the company of a man. Sorry, guess I’m a jerk…

  19. I respect when women who ID as feminists insist on paying for their own food and entertainment. They actually practice what they preach, and it would be highly hypocritical of them to expect a “man” to pay for a first date in this age of gender equality. Such a person is no more a feminist than a man who expects the woman to be the one to cook and clean because he likes it and she’s the woman. It’s the same thing.

  20. Wow, I love that people are still debating this issue! It just goes to show how important it is to discuss money management issues in a relationship – if your opinions on something as simple as paying for dinner are very different, a mutual compromise is the best solution.

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