Does the Man Always Have to Pay for the First Date?

  1. I'm very inexperienced with dating. I'm going out tomorrow with a girl I met recently. I plan on paying for everything, but if she offers to pay, should I disagree with her and say that I will pay it? Or should I let her pay for it if she offers?

    I don't think it matters that much, but I want to avoid giving off the wrong signs (whatever they may be).
  2. jcsd
  3. You should not pay. She might think you want to buy her for some favors in return and that is insulting. You should insist on everyone paying for their own from the very beginning.
  4. BobG

    BobG 2,338
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    The person that asked for the date (and probably chose the activity) should pay, regardless of which sex.
  5. Oh, also note that I'm 18.
  6. Generally the male is expected to pay. If she brings up paying she will likely be expecting you to tell her not to worry about it. If she is insistent then acquiesce. This is just from my experience. Women that I have dated and been friends with have rarely expressed a problem with men paying and have frequently expressed issues with men not paying. One of my exes even said that she had in the past brought female friends with her on dates to see if her date would pay for them as well. They got a failing grade if they did not. I had another ex who said that was just ridiculous and she would not expect such a thing from me, then she brought a friend with us on a date and was annoyed when I took issue with having to pay for her friend.

    Any way, things may be different now.
  7. BobG

    BobG 2,338
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    Things aren't necessarily different time-wise. Things are different based on the life goals of the women you date.

    Women that want to be independent and have the career of their own that would provide that independence wouldn't be looking for a man that was subtly suggesting he wanted full control of the relationship by how he handled the finances of dating.

    Women that want to be the stay at home mom will be looking for a man that's willing to take full responsibility for earning the family's money and how he handles the expenses of dating will reflect that. And I take it that while she's not paying for dates, she is inviting the man for home cooked meals.

    Women that are inviting you to pay not only for them, but for their friends as well are probably looking for something a bit more than the man that will assume all responsibility for earning the money. They're looking for someone earning enough money that they see the unexpected additional expense of their date's friends as trivial. They're looking for the man that will provide them the ability to be the "stay at home mom" that has a nanny so she can spend her days at the country club.

    Given that the OP is 18, looking for someone that will dedicate their life to raising his kids might be what he's looking for. Her being financially dependent on him would at least reduce the chances of her later divorcing him and moving away with his kids.

    Or he might prefer a more balanced relationship, hopefully realizing more balanced would reflect more than just the financial relationship. In other words, when one of the kids are sick, has a doctor's/dentist's appointment, or someone has to meet with the principal/teacher, etc, it will sometimes be him that has to call off work.

    Just depends on what a person is looking for (but if he's looking for the third type, the gold-digger type, he'd better check on how well her mom aged over the years).
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  8. Just pay for everything, you'll have yourself a lot of headaches later.
  9. Different girls have different sights on it. I would expect man to pay if he is much richer than I am. But if I still say "I want to pay for myself" - he should allow. If he is poorer and I know it's tough for him to pay and he doesn't allow me to pay for myself - I probably wouldn't like him.
  10. BobG

    BobG 2,338
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    In about 80% of married couple families, both parents work. Presuming dating should be kind of a screening to find someone compatible to raise a family, the old customs that date back to the 60's (when only 35% of married families were dual income families) are obsolete. Dating customs should provide some indication of how the two people plan to live their future life.

    (That also means that fathers more equally share the load of raising the kids nowadays. In the case of divorce, it's no longer a given that the mother gets custody while the father pays child support and visits once in a while.)

    (Strangely, families ability to save has decreased in spite of usually having two incomes. Obviously, part of that is the need for two cars, day care, etc, but having two incomes means families usually feel more confident in spending, since there will still be some income coming in even if one loses their job.)
  11. If I go out with a woman I expect her to pay her own way, or at least make an effort to show that she's willing to. But I'm not looking for a woman to be a housewife. I'd be extremely turned off by a woman who brought her friends on a date and expected me to pay for them too, unless it was clear I'd get to sleep with all of them.

    Anyway, a better choice IMHO is to make your first dates be doing things which cost little to nothing. On my first date with my current girlfriend, we went to a free concert. Second date was a stroll along the river to find a place on the bank to sit down with a 6-pack of beer. Third date we went to a park.

    Personally, I don't like the "whomever asks, pays" rule. For one, you would never do that with your friends, and two, even though it sounds like it is trying to be equal, everyone knows that the man does the asking the majority of the time during the courtship phase of the relationship. So it ends up being just that the man pays most of the time.
  12. turbo

    turbo 7,063
    Gold Member

    IMO, there should be no gender-based rule regarding who pays the tab. This goes for same-sex couples (obviously!) and should be the norm for heterosexual couples.

    Think about societal norms. If I invite you over for burgers and beers, I expect to supply everything. If you have very expensive tastes and only drink hard-to-find imported beers, it is reasonable for you to supply those. If I invite you to go to a movie, I expect that I'll be buying your ticket. If you want a $10 tub of popcorn, it would natural for you to step up and pay for that yourself unless I insist on paying for that too. This is guy-to-guy socializing. Does socializing with a female entail some radically different standard, like "the guy pays for everything"? IMO, it shouldn't. If a girl invites you to go to a water park with her and her friends, she should be willing to pay your way. In return, maybe you could buy some snacks or a light lunch. If she makes it clear that the water-park date is Dutch, snacks, etc should be Dutch, too.
  13. lisab

    Staff: Mentor

    Wow, I've never heard of bringing friends along on a date! And to do so, then expect my date to pay their way...that's simply absurd to me.
  14. turbo

    turbo 7,063
    Gold Member

    That's pretty nuts. "Oh Laurie, Mr. X is taking me out to Ruth's Chris Steak House on Friday." "Why don't you come along?" If some woman sprung that kind of trap on me, I'd leave her at home and go enjoy the evening by myself.
  15. BobG

    BobG 2,338
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    Could be worse. She could bring her boyfriend and ask her date to pay for him, too.
  16. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    Keep it simple. Chivalry isn't dead. If you identify with traditional roles in a relationship, then insist on paying. Sneak your card out and tuck it under your leg, when the bill arrives pay it nonchalantly, don't make a big deal out of it; don't even look at the price. You're not trying to show off, you're trying to encourage your date to relax.

    9 times out of 10, she'll offer to split it, but give up quickly and just thank you. When she thanks you, just say something like: "Oh, please, a small price to pay for good company. I'm getting the better deal here, you know." If she presses you, then tell her she can leave the tip. If this comes up, I have a favorite trick which is always good for a laugh.

    You: "Well, okay, how about you pick up the tip?"
    Date: "Yeah, okay! How much should I leave?"
    You: "Hmm, let's see... 20% of $480 is... uh..."
    Date: "What?!"
    You: "Kidding, relax. Just leave a ten."

    Fundamentally, I think it's biological. Women like to feel secure with a man. If you end up arguing or fumbling over how to divide the bill, she's going to feel less relaxed and less secure. Take a stand.
  17. DaveC426913

    DaveC426913 16,338
    Gold Member

    Gender doesn't matter. You're not a guy offering to pay for a girl; you're a person interested in another person and wanting to treat them.


    If she gives you a hard time about it, negotiate. How you negotiate is an opportunity for bonding the relationship.
  18. BobG

    BobG 2,338
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    You should be prepared for the reality of first dates, as well. Sometimes you'll realize very quickly that you made a mistake in asking her out on a date.

    Which leads to plan B for handling the check. If it turns out that you wish you hadn't ever asked her out halfway through the meal, you still salvage something out of the evening. When you see the waiter/waitress bringing the check, excuse yourself to use the restroom. Then sneak out the front door and drive away.

    At least you won't get stuck paying the check on a date you wish you'd never gone on.

    Of course, you did have the caveat that you didn't want to send the wrong sign, so I guess the viability of this option depends on what you meant by that.
  19. FlexGunship

    FlexGunship 727
    Gold Member

    This works best if you picked her up at her house and were responsible for returning her home afterwards.
  20. BobG

    BobG 2,338
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    This is true. Having her ram your MiniCooper broadside with her Ford Expedition would definitely ruin your evening.
  21. In the situation where it actually did happen it wasn't just a date, she was my girlfriend, and she wanted to take her friend out to cheer her up because she was really depressed so she invited her to come out with us. I knew and liked her friend. I was low on cash though and when I mentioned my concern about money, away from her friend, my girlfriend became upset with me.

    Otherwise I have known multiple women to bring friends on dates to meet guys for drinks and that sort of thing. Its like having back-up on hand. In one particular instance her friend was the excuse for being out at the bar as she had a boyfriend and was meeting with another man.
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