Who should pay for a first date?

Who should pay for a first date?

Dating is tough enough. "Who should pay" only adds more fuel to the fire. Men are forced to balance being chivalrous with equality, unsure how their date might react whether he does or doesn't pay.

Out of the women surveyed, 70% believed that the man should always pay for the first date, 20% felt that the asker should pay. This compared with 63% of men who believed they should pay and 27% who felt that the asker should pay. In my opinion, this is the gray area where chivalry and equality are butting heads. If a woman can take the "equal" approach of asking the guy out, should she continue the equality by also paying?

One other interesting point that came up; a few people viewed the question differently depending on how the couple met. If this was a first meeting (i.e. the couple met on a dating site) they were more likely to suggest that the man should pay. If they had previously met (through friends, in a bar) they were more likely to think that the asker should pay.
In general, people who responded had some very strong beliefs.

Thomas Edwards, Founder of The Professional Wingman feels that "Whoever did the asking should pay." That said, he also commented that if you were asked, you should still offer to pay or split the bill. "Chances are, he or she will refuse your offer - and that's ok. A simple gesture to your purse or wallet will be greatly appreciated."

Nantdr, a self described "single 40-something woman, who started dating in the post 70's women's lib climate" stated that the asker should pay. "It's just plain rude to invite a guest out, and not pick up the tab."

However, not everyone agreed. Most people took a more traditional approach that the man should pay. Melissa Braverman, is a woman who knows a lot about dating. This Spring, Melissa embarked on a Great Dating Blitz, hitting eight cities in as many weeks. Melissa felt that "A man should pay on the first date." She continued with the advice, "It’s not about breaking the bank but coming up with something fun and creative." When asked who typically paid on her dating adventures around the country, her response was "I found most men insisted on paying even when I offered. That's been my experience overall even here in New York too." You can learn more about Melissa through her Single Gal In The City blog (www.singlegalnyc.com).

@sarahstanley felt similarly. "To me, it is a sign of respect, courtesy and character. Appreciation should not be forgotten."

Where Melissa and Sarah leaned towards chivalry and traditional values, some women were a bit more forceful. Kerri's responded "The guy pays - otherwise he's cheap." Annie agreed taking a more psychological approach, "It just lets him be the 'provider' and 'hunter' that nature intended him to be."

One other issue that came up was another "battle of the sexes" type concern. Some women were under the impression that men still believed that they were entitled to something for paying for the first date. My response: Men are entitled to a nice date, and a thank you for paying for the date. Chances are if he's "that kind" of guy, it's better to find that out sooner rather than later. Some women implied that they're willing to go dutch in order to level the playing field and avoid this concern entirely.

Dale Koppel, Ph.D. (www.theintelligentwomansguide.com) chimed in about men showing up early for coffee dates, and buying a coffee for themselves, leaving the woman to buy her own coffee . This would be understandable if the date showed up late, but even then, the first thing out of his mouth should probably be "Can I get you a drink or coffee?" Dale stated that she believes that "these were guys who had been online for a long time and were pretty jaded." She also gleefully noted that when she met her husband three years ago, their first date was dinner, and he "insisted on picking up the tab."

One of my favorite responses came from Laurie Davis, Founder of eFlirtexpert.com. She agreed that the guy should pay, stating that "Even though women are independent, chivalry is not dead!" She continued by reminding women, "After that though, the gal should try to pick up the check next time even if she didn't do the asking. Guys appreciate being pampered too."

This is a good segue to my personal beliefs. Before meeting my wife, I had gone out on almost 400 first dates over 10+ years. I went dutch a few times where I bought the first round of drinks and my date decided to buy us a second round. There were two other times where I went dutch, both were cases where the woman had lied significantly in her dating profile. I paid almost every other time.

On my first date with my wife she offered to split the bill; I said that I appreciated the gesture, but it would be my pleasure to pay. A similar scene ensued on our next two dates. On the third or fourth date though she said that while she appreciated that I kept paying, she was a modern woman who made her own living and would be more than happy to pay. I responded that I'm old fashioned and happy to pay, but if she really wanted to pay she should call me and ask me out on a date. She called the very next day, and did in fact pay for that next date (I did offer to split it, of course, which she declined). The rest, as they say, is history.

A few final points:
- Who pays isn't the biggest issue, but how things are handled.
- Treating your date with respect is foremost. If your date reaches for the check, a genuine offer to split is nice, but should be gracefully declined.
- Don't run to the bathroom right as the check is coming.
- If you aren't prepared to pay, you probably shouldn't ask someone out, whether you end up paying or not.
- Don't say "I'll get it next time." It's making an assumption that could come across as too cocky, since you don't know if there will be another date.
- If things are going really well, instead of offering to pay the tip (assuming the offer to pay was already declined) offer to continue the date instead by treating them to coffee or a drink.
- Finally, though the guy should probably pay, don't take it for granted.

What are your thoughts on the topic?