Who Should Pay On A Date?
Paying on a date used to be a simple matter—the man did it, of course. But we don’t live in those unequal times anymore, and these days a lot of people are doing it differently. Should you pay on a date or split the bill? Here’s our advice to Matthew on his first date.
Matthew from Rockford, IL writes:
“I’m asking out a girl from school this week, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to say yes. This is my first date with my first girl ever though, and I don’t know if I should pay for it or not? A lot of my friends split their bills with their dates, but some of my friends pay for all their dates. It seems to me that the world has changed a lot since … well, since my parents were dating, so I don’t know what the social convention is. Do I pay or not?”
Social convention has changed a lot—for multiple reasons. Back in the day, the reason that men paid for the date wasn’t just to be chivalrous—it was because women had a harder time getting jobs which paid well, and usually were looking for financial stability from a man as a result. So paying for the date demonstrated to the woman that you were financially solvent and capable of taking care of her.
Clearly that doesn’t apply anymore! Nonetheless, outdated notions die slowly, and some women still expect men to pay for dates. That’s probably not behavior you want to tolerate over the long term, however—not with our modern society. It would be totally unfair to you. With that in mind, if you don’t want to split bills, another rule of thumb you can go by is simply that whoever asks should pay for the date. Since you’re asking out the girl, that means you should pay. Doing so is a sign of respect and good faith—if she was the one asking you out, she should consider paying; if she does ask you out in the future, you might suggest (casually) that she pick up the tab. Also, if you offer to pay for a meal and the girl offers to pay the other half, let her. She is showing you a sign of respect and equality, and it’s one you should accept with gratitude.
Splitting the bill may take you longer to sort out when you leave restaurants, but it does have the benefit of being absolutely clear and simple. When you go out with friends you usually split the bill because it doesn’t create any feelings of unfairness or indebtedness. Everyone knows where everyone stands, and that’s that. Why not consider the same system later on in your relationship, if you continue to go out with the girl? Pick up the first bill though since you’re the one who asked—and it doesn’t hurt to show that you’re a gentleman. Just don’t let it turn into a situation where you’re the one who is always paying—it doesn’t work that way anymore.