Dating etiquette: Who pays for the first date?steemCreated with Sketch.

in life •  2 years ago

Dating couple.jpeg

So, the big question - who pays for first dates? Should it be the guy or the girl or maybe the bill should be split? If the bill is split, should it be 50/50 or should each person pay only for the portion of food they ate? Or maybe the person who initiated the date should pay? I've even heard of complicated bill splits calculated based on earning differences!

No wonder people are nervous about going on dates! It sounds even worse than a job interview - at least you know how you are expected to behave at an interview!

There wasn't as much confusion back in the days when many women were not employed outside of the home - men picked up the tab because they earned wages and women didn't. Paying for dates was a way to show their economic prowess, a kind of reassurance that they had the economic means to care for her and their future family.

However, in an age of aspiring gender equality, it's not so clear any more what the rules are. In fact, some women today are repulsed when a man insists on paying for meals or movie tickets. The rationale - they found this gesture condescending, as if the man didn't think she was able to earn enough for herself and thus needed a man to pay for her bills.

No wonder men are confused! To make matters worse, known as the "wallet fake," some women will politely offer to pay part or all of the bill but secretly expect the man to pay. Men beware - if you accept these false gestures - you run the risk of being labeled cheap! On the other hand, there are women who really mean it when they say they want to pay and would be insulted if you insist on paying.

It seems men nowadays practically need a degree in psychology to navigate the dating game. When a girl offers to pay, does she really mean it? When she's digging around in her purse, is she just stalling for time or is she really looking for her wallet? When she says let's split the bill, is she just being polite and still expect you to pay 100% or is she suggesting a 50/50 split or does she want to split the bill based on how much each person ate?

To help answer these questions, let's look at some data.

A 2017 survey conducted by Money Magazine and SurveyMonkey found that 78% of the men and women surveyed think men should pay on the first date! So men, make sure you have your wallet ready before going on a date!

Should men pay for the first date?.png

The survey also asked men and women how much they expected a first date to cost. Aah, men, make sure you have enough in your wallet - the majority of men said they expected to pay a whopping $50-99 for a first date! The good news is that the majority of women had lower expectations - they expected a first date to cost only half as much, just $25-49.

How much should first date cost.png

In case you can't already tell, I love using data to try to answer questions, so I was delighted to find out that people actually did surveys to try to answer the question of whether men or women were expected to pay the bill. Unfortunately, the Money Magazine survey didn't ask what people thought of splitting bills, so I turned to a 2013 survey by Rosanna Hertz (Wellesley College), David Frederick (Chapman University) and Janet Lever (California State University, Los Angeles) to try to answer that question.

According to the Hertz-Frederick-Lever survey, only 10% of dates expect to split bills 50/50 from the first date, so bill splits are definitely amongst the minority of situations. If you are doing a bill split, it's never poor etiquette to offer to split in such a way so that you pay for a larger or at least fair portion. So if you ate 80% of the food, don't split the bill 50/50 but offer to pay at least 80/20.

Regarding the sincerity of women who offer to pay the bill, the same survey found that while 57% of the women offered to pay, 39% of these women did this as a polite gesture and secretly expected the men to pay. This means that when women offer to pay, in less than half of the cases, this is a "wallet fake," and in a majority of the cases, they really want to help pay.

So there you have it - men, you are mostly still expected to pay for the first date.

In the tricky situation where the woman offers to pay and you're not sure if she really means it, come prepared with a line to let her gently off the hook. Maybe something like: "That's really nice of you to offer, but I asked you out on this date, so please let it be my treat. If you like, we can get some coffee/tea/dessert later." At this point, if the girl still insists on helping pay for the bill, let her. Or she might take you up on your offer and help pay for coffee/tea/dessert. If you end up going for coffee/tea/dessert and you still end up paying the bill, then you know you've got a "wallet fake" on your hands!

So, now we've discussed first dates. Expectations of subsequent dates are different than expectations of a first date. By then, 64% of men believe women should help foot a portion of the bills and almost half of the men said they would break off a relationship if the woman NEVER offered to pay for anything.

So girls, get your wallets ready too, and more importantly, manage your expectations! It's nice for guys to pay for first dates, but unless you have no financial means, don't always expect him to pay for everything. Even a small gesture can go a long way to help build goodwill. After all, dates are the precursor to a relationship, and you'd like that relationship to be a two-way street, without one person always giving and one person always taking, right? Just imagine if you were going out with your friends - you probably wouldn't expect your friends to pay for everything.

As always, communication is the key. Considering that money is one of the major sources of conflict in relationships, better to start open discussions about money and figure out each other's expectations early on in the relationship.

Final advice - Girls, help the guys out by saying what you mean. If you really want to help pay, then by all means, speak up. But if you expect the man to pay, please just let him pay and don't confuse him with polite offers to pay. And if you are serious about a relationship, be prepared to help pay for at least some of the expenses on dates.

This is just general advice and each couple and each situation is going to be different. But in any situation, I think clear communication and expectation management is going to be helpful.

Lastly, if you want to share your opinion about first date expectations, I found an ongoing survey at SurveyMonkey that you can participate in!

Resteem, upvote, or leave a comment if you liked this article!



Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

This is one of those highly debated questions, @sizzlingmonkeys!

I have to admit that when I was younger, I had a pretty 'black and white' take on this: women want to be equal in all regards (which I'm all for) and have the same opportunities, well then why should they get all the benefits of equality, but keep that same salary that I make in their wallet on dates while I as a man have to spend that same salary to buy dinners and what not for two?

I have come around on that one though. I have learned a lot about what creates attraction between men and women, and one of those things is the man taking the lead, taking initiative. Yes, perhaps it's not necessary financially. But it's what creates attraction. Call me traditional, but I think it's the masculine thing to do, and also sends a message that we're not just hanging out as friends.

As man and woman we are equal and should have equal opportunities in business and life. But that does not mean we are the same. We are not. And we should cultivate that. That's what creates that spark and mutual attraction.

So I'd happily pay for a first date, or even subsequent date.

If that turns into a relationship, of course that will level out. I am not interested in a gold digger (not that I have any gold, lol), who expects me to pay for everything, forever.

Your post reminded me of this Youtube video 'Who Pays on a First Date?'. He points out that it's a real turnoff for men when the woman expects the man to pay, even when they are willing to pay for the date. To quote him, the message a woman conveys with that attitude is: "My time is worth more than yours so you should pay for it. I wonder what paradigm that sets up?"

His suggestion: offer to pay. Most men will still decline and pay the bill, but it makes a world of difference.

I have a male friend who told me he has several female friends that just go on date for the free meal, not because they actually like the guy.

I personally despise that behavior. I'm more than willing to pay for a date, but at least have the courtesy to only show up if you have a genuine interest in getting to know me better.


Agreed - a date is a chance to get to know the other person better, not a ticket to a free meal!

Another way to see if a girl is really interested in a getting to know a guy better is for the guy to invite her to something fun but free, like attending a free street festival/concert, a trip to the local (free) museum, biking in the park, etc. Be creative. If the girl accepts, she is most likely not trying to get something free from the guy, but genuinely wants to get to know him better!


Good one! I actually only like to do dinner on 2nd or 3rd dates. First date it's still very much about figuring each other out, right? So I'd rather just do something more simple, like go for a drinks instead. Or do an activity, like you suggest. I just wouldn't want to get into a situation where you're only having your starter and are already thinking 'How the f do I get out of here?' 😉 .

If you're going on a second date, you know you both had a good enough time on the first date. Then dinner can't really go wrong!


Right, laid back activities are less pressure and financially less costly for both people. Another thing I like about activities is that it provides an easy shared experience that you can talk about. It's also a good way to discover shared interests.

About getting out of a bad date - some girls and maybe guys too come prepared with a friend who can give them an "emergency" call to "remind" them they have an appointment elsewhere! If the date is really going poorly, I guess you can create the "emergency" yourself and back out! Chances are if you're not enjoying the date, the other person is also not having a great time either. In any case, I think it's always polite to thank the other person for taking the time to meet with you, even if the date didn't go too well.


Yes, shared activities are the best: then it can never be a bad date. Even if you don't click, at least you both got to do a cool thing together.

Yeah, unfortunately sometimes you realize pretty quickly that a the date isn't going anywhere. Although an emergency call may do the trick, I personally have more respect for just being honest. If you leave, explain – nicely, of course – why.

For example, I once had a date (just drinks, no dinner. This is a good example of why it's good to only go out for drinks on a first date) that didn't go well. We were 30 minutes in, and we had no click. I was trying to make it more lively, but to no avail. Then she said she had to go, because she had moved from one guesthouse to another that day (this was in SE Asia, I was traveling) and she still needed to get her stuff.

Now maybe this was true, but to me it seemed like a lame excuse to end the date. I mean, she could have easily moved her stuff during the day, knowing that she had a date that evening: what if I was Mr. Right? Haha!

To be honest, I was glad the date was over too. But I would have respected her more if she had just told me straight up that I wasn't her type.

Do you know Master of None? Love that Netflix show! The second season has an episode entirely dedicated to dating, it's hilarious and insightful at the same time. Def check it out if you haven't seen it yet!

Ha, we could talk about this forever, @sizzlinkgmonkeys!


"Fun but free" is always a good idea on a first date. Walking in the park, or around town is nice.

I feel like in the past when I was dating on OK Cupid, some of the girls just wanted to see if they could get a free meal.

I ever had this girl tell me, "Tinder was paying for her daily dinner" hahaha..... O_O

I ran away from that one!!


Wow, that's TERRIBLE! LOL! Glad you found out early on!

Man have ready with lots of money before planning for date!! Nice article.

I think it depends on the person who are you dating with. Personally i don't really care.
If the question is like "I'm a queen and you have to pay for me because i came here" - then she better have some cash to pay for herself lol because i'm out.
But if it's a normal girl, especially when she tries to pay for you both to show some independence.. it's not that bad to pay for her.


I've heard horror stories about both girls and guys skipping the bill by going to the bathroom at just the right moment and then saying they will wait for their date outside. I couldn't believe it when I heard it!


Actually a lot of times when i was coming back from the bathroom. And pulling out my credit card to pay, waitress've told me that everything was already paid! I was like what is wrong with ladies this days?? They even pay for you!
We live in heaven lol!

Time has change. Back in the 80 and 90's, the guys usually pay the for the bills, but since then, it depends. Traditionally, us guy have been condition to pay for the first date, which I'm fine with. But it would be nice if the girl would make an effort to pay.


I think nowadays, the expectations are exactly like what you just said - the guy pays for the first date and the guy and girl share bills for subsequent dates. I think it'd be nice if the first couple of dates can consist of free or cheap activities so neither the guy nor girl needs to worry too much about who's paying for what and can just focus on getting to know each other better!

Congratulations @sizzlingmonkeys! You have completed some achievement on Steemit and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

Award for the number of upvotes received

Click on any badge to view your own Board of Honor on SteemitBoard.
For more information about SteemitBoard, click here

If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

By upvoting this notification, you can help all Steemit users. Learn how here!

I think it depends on the concession of the couple.
It doesn't have to be the male who pays the bill
Nor does the female


Yes, I agree it depends on the situation of each couple - just thought it would be interesting to see find out what the general expectations are.

i also think it is up to the both of them >male and female< there should be an agreement between them

Greaaat :D .. I appriciate it
Thank you for sharing @sizzlingmonkeys
Have a nice day :)