Who Should Pay on Dates?

Dating is exhausting.  I don’t really like it at all.  Dating is all about judging, testing, and interviewing the crap out of the other person.  I know that first impressions are important and all, but during the initial phase of dating, it feels almost cut-throat and ruthless.

As a woman, I know most men think that dating is easier for us.  Yes, it seems like all we need to do is look good and show up and we don’t need to do all the gender-sterotyped “courting” activities.  For example, guys do the pursuing and girls just sit and wait.  It can and it can’t be depending on the type of woman you are.  For me, the concept of who should pay or who shouldn’t pay for the date and activities is stressful.  For example, because of who I am (is it because I am a proud feminist?  Or I am a confused feminist?  Or I feel obliged to?) I feel really guilty and bad whenever a guy pays for things.  I feel like I am obligated (or should) pay for something too.  Even if I was interested in the person, I would still pay.  Yes, they say that when you are NOT interested in a guy women usually pay because they feel that they don’t want to “owe” the guy.

How many dates should occur before people start splitting the dates more evenly?  Does it matter how much each other makes?  For example, if the guy made more than the girl (e.g. she is a starving student and in school) should the guy pay more often?

Fake Reach for Wallet

who should pay on datesDo men feel annoyed when a girl doesn’t at least pull the “fake reach” for the wallet?  Do they get annoyed when a girl pulls a “fake reach” but then doesn’t follow through with actually paying for the bill?

I suppose these answers depend on the individual.  Probably some guys get annoyed if the girl doesn’t ever bother to pay, and some guys feel that it is a ‘mans’ job to pay for things.  Gender stereotypes, as much as they are annoying and we wish that they were obliterated, are still present.

That being said, many guys allow the girl to do the fake reach, go through with the fake reach, and pay for dinner or the date even though the guy did the asking.  Guys just don’t think about the subtle nuances like this and they don’t think much of it.  However, many girls end up feeling annoyed that the guy let them do this and they secretly think “I can’t believe you just let me pay for dinner even if you asked me out and planned this date.  You cheapo.”

I know, I know.  I am sounding very UNFEMINIST right now.  I hate dating.

Going Dutch is a Bad Idea

All I know is that going dutch (where each person pays for their share or they split the dinner bill down the middle 50/50) is a bad idea.  Some may disagree with me of course, but to me, it just absolutely kills the romance.  I think this is the case even as the relationship evolves and the initial dating period is over.  Although I am a big proponent of gender equality and gender equity, to me, splitting the bill down the middle doesn’t seem like “love”.  It seems like a tit for tat arrangement and it doesn’t exemplify the concept of love, which is being selfless and considerate of your partner.

Tit for Tat Breeds Resentment?

Another way that dates can be split is the “I pay this time you pay next time” arrangement.  This is probably the best of the options available, where even though the guy probably does the asking, the guy and girl alternate paying for dates and dinners.  This is probably the most equitable and the most “romantic” of the bunch, but I think that if the tit for tat arrangement gets too “tit for tat” then it can breed resentment and become very unromantic.  For example, if one person makes double the amount of the other person and when the bill comes, the person with higher income goes “it’s your turn” the person with lower income (haha i.e. ME) just wants to slap the other person in the face.  I think that essentially, being cheap with love isn’t romantic.  I think that if I was head over heels with someone, I wouldn’t care, but in the initial stages and phases of dating, it is just not kosher to “expect” someone to do something for you.  Know what I mean?

Readers, what do you think?  How do you usually split your dates during the initial dating period?

About

Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

14 Responses to Who Should Pay on Dates?

  1. Patrick says:

    Personally, I think that whoever was the person who initiated the date should be willing to foot the bill. By the third date though, I think it’s appropriate to at least bring up the option of sharing some of the costs.

  2. I haven’t been dating for a few years because I’m in relationship with the same guy and we live toghether. (So maybe I should say “I date with my boyfriend”, does it count?). But when I was dating in the past I used to offer to pay/to share the bill. I don’t remember any super “cheapo” but if I liked that guy and we met after that again, I wanted to pay for the bill like he did before. Now I’m with “this special one”. Ok, he works and earns good money and he wants to pay for the dinner but when we go for a drink after that or a cup of coffee in a different place, I pay. I don’t have regular income now so when he “allows me to pay” it’s not about money to him, he jest knows that I feel better this way. And he has reason to laugh joking and calling me “my little independent feminist” :D I think everything depends on people dating. I guess every situation is different. Enjoy dating! Would love to hear more details how it goes! ;)

  3. Ross Taylor says:

    Maybe I am old fashioned, but my whole life I have always paid for dates; and if I were ever back in the dating game (heaven forbid) I’d do the same again. If it really is a date, then guys, you have a romantic interest in the lady; so why kill the moment with awkwardness about $$?

    And even if you find out you’re not interested, so be it; you still pay.

  4. Bob says:

    When my wife and I went on our first date we split the bill. I guess I lucked out lol.

  5. krantcents says:

    I hate the awkwardness of who should pay for the date. So why not be creative and do things that can impress without being expensive. Picnic on the beach or hilltop. Cook a meal for the other person. If the goal is to spend time with other person, it shouldn’t matter how much you spend or don’t spend. Another though is going to a museum for a date. There are museums in southern California where there is entertainment on night. Free concerts in the park is another. It takes all the pressure off!

  6. I’ll give you my short version: I strongly believe in putting my money where my mouth is and that means paying for dates or splitting. Usually I’d opt to actually pay for the first one, though I haven’t dated since university. Basically, if we (women) want equality, it’s got a price tag in some instances, and one that I am more than happy to pay.

  7. I definitely think men should pay always on the first day, but then having them pay every time afterward also breeds resentment (I think). Guys don’t really like the “I make more than you argument”…trust me, I’ve tried it on my blog ;)

    • chris says:

      You ask someone out, you pay. If you date someone, you are seeing a good bit of each other so it could be discussed. That way you can take the other person’s feelings about it into account. When the other person realizes that you care about how they feel about things like that, it will be a better time had by both. And that’s why you get together in the first place, isn’t it?

  8. mpars says:

    When my bf and I were first dating we were both poor students, though I had a small stipend and he did not. We did very cheap dates the first few times (seing an outdoor show and coffee, dinner at home, walks to explore the (new to us) city. But I remember being very nervous about using a coupon on the 3rd or 4th date (my turn to pay) because I didn’t want him to think I was cheap! Now after 3 1/2 years we laugh about that as we pick a restaurant from the 2-for-1 section of our Entertainment Book coupon book! I guess I lucked out with someone who respects saving money as much as I do! Now that we live together we put our “dates” into our shared expenses like everything else. One person still “pays” at the restaurant and we split it later which is a little more romantic. Same for vacations. One person pays hotel, the other for food, gas etc. It feels like I’m being treated the whole time, but I also know I’ve paid the hotel ahead of time.

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