Online Dating - First Meeting. Who Pays?
I received this comment on my HUB Online Dating Tips - How to tell if he's for real . The HUB is about dating online, and setting up that first meeting with your web-friend.
Dr. 568 says:
"Excellent article. I have a question for you regarding this. By the way I am a guy in my 40's. On this first meeting you suggest, should I offer to pick up the check? I don't want to come off like a jerk and not pick up the check even if it's just coffee. But on the other hand I don't want to give the wrong impression that this was more of a date than it was. It's technically not even a real date, it's a first meeting. I'm not trying to get out of paying. I always pay on dates unless the lady has said before hand that she wants to treat for some reason, like it is my birthday. I don't want to give the wrong impression by picking up the tab. What should I do?"
Thanks for the comment. This is a really good question.
When a man picks up the tab it is definitely sending a certain signal. Several of my HUBmates have written articles about the etiquette of dating. When I was dating, I expected the guy to pick up the check unless like you said, I communicated before the event that this one was on me.
The fair-play side to that, is that if a lady is on a date and she feels no romantic attraction, she shouldn't let the guy treat. At least she should offer to pay for her meal. It's the same principle as not accepting a drink from a guy in a bar that you aren't interested in.
There are some guys that aren't classic gentlemen. And there are women that are freeloaders. Members of both sexes have screwed this nice tradition up royally.
A real man pays, I agree. But a real lady doesn't accept unless she's interested.
There are other factors, like the "who can afford it" factor. We've all had that first apartment with the big spool for a coffee table and milk crates for a bookshelf. If you're at a point in your life where spending a few extra bucks on a couple coffees is a big deal, you need to really think about these meetings.
Dr568, I agree with you that this isn't technically a date. Since this is a first meeting only, I think it's fair to say the guy isn't expected to pay.
Be wary of the signals you send out with this. If you're the guy and you go on this first meeting and you're all about her, by all means pick up the tab. It's a sign to let her know you kinda dig her.
And if you're the lady on that first meeting, and he offers to pick up the tab, only let him if you're all about him too. If you let him treat, you've let him believe this turned out to be a date. Don't send out that signal unless you mean it.
The opposite is a clear signal too. If you meet and don't feel that romantic attraction after all, you should each pay for your own.
I think there is a larger social etiquette that must be kept in mind. It's a first meeting, so hopefully you've chosen a cafe or a bar or an ice cream place on the boardwalk. Hopefully you're talking about $10 - $20 tops. That kind of money is really not worth a scene, or making someone feel uncomfortable. If you've tried to be clear with your signals about how you felt the meeting went, and the other person isn't being the lady or the gentlemen you had hoped for, well... lesson learned. Just go along and then leave.
If you are at a point in life where $10 - $20 isn't always ok, make sure you don't set up one of these initial meetings unless you can cover the tab if it comes to that. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Dr 568, I think you're question was so good that I'd like to use it to ask the ladies to help out here.
Girls, if you initiate the meeting, maybe you could go ahead and say something like, "Let's meet for a coffee, my treat!"
If that's not your style, then maybe you could just be a little extra conscious of your clarity when the meeting is winding up. Before he reaches for the check, maybe you could indicate something, like by saying, "This was so much fun. I really hope we can do this again soon." OR "Well I can always use another friend. I'm glad we met so we can be friends." Ladies, if you see the guy is a bit confused and trying his best, give him a hand. You could just put your money down,or say - "You pay and I'll leave the tip." Or, "You get this round, I will get the next round." Or something. Anything. Don't let a nice guy suffer.
Guys, I'm sorry if this goes against your smoothness factor, but I see nothing wrong with being honest. If she initiates a meeting, I don't see anything wrong with your saying, "Let's do it after Friday, when I get paid." If you're out there on the first meeting and you really don't know what to do, talk about it. Tell her you'd like to pick up the tab, and ask her how would she feel about that. You may even want to settle this before you go out.
Thanks for the comment Dr. 568. Good luck with your online dating. Keep us posted!
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