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Who Should Pay for the Date | Tips for Men and Women

Updated on January 26, 2013

Avoid Awkward Moments With Simple Dating Rules

"A man should always pay for the date." "Men and women should go dutch on a first date." "Why won't a woman ever offer to foot the bill?" Single men and women often have conflicting opinions about who should pay for dates. A few of them have outrageous horror stories about dates who "forgot" their wallets, who tricked them into paying unexpectedly, or who had misrepresented themselves simply to get a free meal.

Understanding current cultural norms and following certain steps will ensure you don't face those uncomfortable moments in your own dating life.

Have you had an awkward moment over who pays for a date?

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Dating Rules Have Changed

Until the 1970s, men normally paid for dates. However, as the feminist movement gained momentum and greater numbers of women entered the labor force, both men and women started questioning whether it was fair or reasonable for the financial burden of dating to fall entirely upon men.

Today, with so many couples getting introduced by online dating sites, another new dynamic has come into play. Without face-to-face interaction before a date, single men and women must rely on the photos and information offered by their would-be date in profiles that are often deceptive to at least some degree. Check out these study results that examined online dating deceptions!

Let's consider what this means to the average guy and gal who are looking for love:

If a man dates just once a week, he can easily spend $400 a month, more than some car payments. To complicate matters further, his online experiences are very different than a woman's. Many of the women he tries to contact don't reply, are rude, or prove to be bots that redirect him to other sites designed to make him pay for access. When he finally hits it off with someone who agrees to a date, she might be terrific. Then again, she may look much different than her photo, and he may feel deceived.

Women, on the other hand, tend to find many opportunities - so much so that they can ignore the ones that don't appeal to them right away. Although I'm average-looking, slightly overweight, and used a current photo, I typically went on 2-3 dates a week while online dating and turned down opportunities to meet others.

It's no wonder some men want to know when women are going to pony up some cash! Nonetheless, many gents still prefer a traditional model and feel uncomfortable with the idea of a woman paying for a date. Both men and women must re-examine their approach to get the best results from their initial dates with an interesting new person.

Paying for a Date: For Men

When you've asked her out:

1. If you insist on paying for your first date, select an activity that is low-cost.

A coffee date costs far less than dinner, but gives you an opportunity to see whether you're interested in a second outing. Free concerts, museum visits, and picnics are also good opportunities to get acquainted before you start investing in an unknown person. (C'mon, you'd research stock before you bought it, wouldn't you?)

2. Be direct about your philosophy.

If you may want her to split the tab, it's acceptable to describe your thoughts. "Because we haven't met in person yet, I'd feel better if we plan to share the bill this time. Is that okay with you?" "I think when people date, they should go dutch until they decide to be a committed couple. What's your opinion about that?" If the date goes well, of course, you can always change your mind, but you've hedged your bet so you aren't required to.

3. Insisting on paying can sometimes be a jerk move.

It's both kind and generous to offer to pay. However, if a woman wants to pay a share and declines your offer to pay more than once, do things her way. Don't be as controlling and dominant as she wants to be! Just cut her loose and move on to next week's date.

4. Set your standards in the beginning.

The first few dates sets a tone for any developing relationship. Because many women are taught to "play hard to get" or to "let a man take the lead," sometimes women don't reciprocate in any way and just let him keep paying for every activity. By the time a man starts feeling resentful, he's between a rock and a hard place. If he says something, he's afraid he'll sound childish or demanding.

Avoid this dilemma by saying, "I'll foot the bill if you'll take care of the tip," or watching to see if she does something nice for you in exchange. No, that doesn't mean she has to sleep with you! It means that a quality woman recognizes that when people are nice to you, you should be nice back. It's a lesson all women should have learned by oh, fifth grade! She may offer to cook a meal, or pay for the next date, or plan an event together. To learn more about what you can reasonably expect, read Rules of Reciprocation.

Paying on a Date: For Women

1. Always be prepared to pay at least half of the bill.

If you've paid your fair share, you won't feel obligated to do things his way when you don't want to. Once you have been on several dates, you'll have a better idea of whether he has good judgment, is trustworthy, and deals honestly with people. Until then, invest in yourself. He'll recognize that you're not simply taking advantage of him and that you expect to take care of yourself, two features that men are very concerned about when it comes to committing.

2. If you invite him, pay for him.

You'd be insulted if a gal pal invited you to lunch and stuck you with the bill. Why should he feel differently?

3. If he proposes an expensive date, agree only if you can afford to pay your share.

Decline politely with a simple, "I'm afraid that's a bit more than I can spend right now. Is there another place we can go?" If he really wants to share those particular plans with you, accept if he agrees to pay the bill, but otherwise, stick to a simple no. Don't be afraid of insulting him by upholding your boundaries. After all, you want a man who respects your boundaries anyway.

4. If he insists on paying, accept gratefully, offer to pay the tip, and reciprocate kindness.

He plunked a hundred bucks down on you for dinner. The least you can do is bake him some cookies or pick up a small gift to show your appreciation.

Dating Rules Everyone Should Know

Dating is a wonderful opportunity to explore another person's values. The first months of dating provide us with a wealth of information about the person we're seeing. As long as we don't ignore vital data that comes our way, we can learn plenty about whether or not our date has good long-term potential.

How we negotiate who pays for dates reveals important facts about the person we're seeing:

  • Does he or she value traditional values or more modern ones?
  • Is he too cautious about spending his money? Not cautious enough?
  • Does she consider his needs?
  • If he insists on paying, is it because he needs to be in control all the time, or is there another reason?
  • If she insists on paying, is it because she has a need for power or is she demonstrating kindness?
  • If she lets him pay, does she reciprocate within the week or does she take him for granted?

Who do YOU think should pay?

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  • jellygator profile image

    jellygator 5 years ago from USA

    Thank you for sharing an alternate viewpoint, Tonja. I've heard people say this, including "life coaches," but I can't agree with it. I think that a woman who believe fixing her hair, nails, and buying new clothes for a first date qualifies as "chipping in" is confusing her personal hygiene with a joint activity (the date). He doesn't care if it's a new dress, or if her nails are done, or if her hair is "just so." He cares that she's clean and attractive, and it doesn't require spending all that to simply be attractive. How would she feel if he showed up without clothing, unshaven and unshowered? Does she feel like he "chipped in" because he dressed and cleaned himself?

    I somewhat agree with the first point, as long as a woman contributes in some way. The bottom line is that a woman who doesn't demonstrate that she is a team player won't be valued as much as someone who is.

  • tonja niemi profile image

    Tonja Niemi 5 years ago from Eagan, MN USA

    Recently I heard a woman speak on dating - she is a life coach. She had some points that I will share: 1. If you invite me, expect to pay the bill. 2. I paid for my nails, hair, new dress (etcetera) to get ready for our date. Your preparation costs were probably $0. I've already chipped in, so you can pay. I will still have spent more than you after the date is done...

  • jellygator profile image

    jellygator 5 years ago from USA

    LOL... That was funny, GD!

  • profile image

    gdating 5 years ago

    It is always the man who should pay , lol....

  • profile image

    Gay Dating 5 years ago

    I think it is always the man who should pay, lol...