First Date: Who Pays for Dinner?


For many, the symbolism behind who pays is a really big deal!

Lisa’s heart longs to dine at her favorite upscale restaurant. Not wanting to go there with friends or alone she has not been there since her divorce three years ago. Working long hours lately as a corporate executive she is excited about a night on the town. She hopes her special restaurant will be the perfect place for her and her new friend to get to know each other. She suggests they meet there at 8pm next Friday and she will make the reservations since it is hard to get in and they know her.

After having a lovely time ordering everything from wine to dessert the bill arrives. Her heart jumps into her throat. Until that moment she had not given a thought to how they would pay. Her mind races, she had a wonderful time and really likes Fred. Will he be offended if she offers to pay? Can he even afford such a luxury? Why did she not think of this before now?

She tells herself not to panic and leans over and gently says, “This is my treat since it was my idea and you were kind enough to accept my suggestion. Next time we will go to your favorite place and you can treat me.” He smiles and agrees and she feels relieved that it worked out so well. Or did it? She still is not sure how Fred really feels, but for the moment he is smiling and the bill is paid.

Who pays is a really big deal!

For divorced women, who have not dated in a long time, the dating world often feels foreign. Gone are the days that men automatically pay for all the dates, yet this is still a very fine line, especially with a mature crowd. Balance and open communication are the magic keys to make it all work.

Lisa could have prevented the problem from ever arising if she had communicated her desire to visit her favorite restaurant and explained ahead of time that she wanted to treat. This would have given Fred a chance to accept or decline.

Even though the "who pays" conversation might feel awkward with a new date, it sure beats that heart in the throat feeling when the check arrives.

You can plan your dates and talk about who pays easily by keeping your early dates short. Meet for coffee or a walk in the park. Short first dates offer you wonderful opportunity to communicate and make decisions about what is important to both of you.

When both of you put all of your cards on the table, dating is fun and rewarding!