Should Men Buy Flowers or Gifts for Women on First Dates?

Do you recommend guys bring flowers or small gifts on the 1st date to present to the woman he’s trying to woo? 

It’s a personal decision of course, but a tough one at that. Some of the pick up artists tell students not to offer to buy a woman a drink in a bar, for a couple reasons (and I agree): First, some women just freeload, take the drink, and walk away (and do this all night to guys). Second, the pick up artists tell students the woman has to EARN the drink first (meaning she has to display that she is sincerely interested in the guy as well). 

By the same token, I’m beginning to wonder if the woman has to earn the flowers/candy (whatever) first before just giving them to her on a first date or in an attempt to get a date with her altogether.  Meaning, if the first date goes well, perhaps the better time to spend hard earned cash on flowers or candy is on the 2nd date. 

After all, many a schmuck (myself included) has bought flowers for a woman, either having them delivered to her office BEFORE the guy even asks her out, or brings them on the 1st date, only to not have the hoped for romance go anywhere, and then feel like a loser for blowing $50 on flowers on top of the dinner. 

Any advice on this?  Thanks.

Justin

Dear Justin,

Years ago, I gave a speech following a book signing for I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book. Afterwards, a nerd in his early forties approached me, agitated. He was hung up on the flowers question as well.

“I don’t understand,” he bellowed, “It’s good manners to give flowers on a first date. My father courted my mother that way. I don’t see what’s wrong with it.”

“It’s just a little too much,” I replied, diplomatically. “It’s a nice gesture…once you’re already in a relationship. But as a tool for wooing a woman, it can come off as a little cheesy.”

“Since when has chivalry become cheesy?” the man said, even more agitated. “I’m trying to demonstrate that I’m a thoughtful, generous man, and she’s judging me negatively for it? I don’t understand that kind of thinking.”

And he didn’t. Like most people on most issues, he was hard-wired to believe one thing, and was resistant to the possibility that he was wrong.

“Even if I agree with you in principle, sir,” I chimed in, “it doesn’t really matter. If you give flowers to every woman on the first date, and every woman agrees that it’s an over-the-top gesture which has been outdated for thirty years, why are you still fighting it? Instead of trying to convince womankind that they need to re-evaluate what’s comfortable, why don’t you just change tactics?”

He paused and took a deep breath. He looked me right in the eyes.

“Because I am right. Because there are right ways of doing things and the wrong ways of doing things. And you’re never going to convince me that giving flowers on a first date is wrong. Just ‘cause every woman says that I’m too old-fashioned doesn’t make her right.”

And he stormed out of the book signing, stubbornly clinging to his beliefs, decidedly likely to ruin another first date with another bouquet of roses.

If you’ve read this far, you can probably see the error in this man’s thinking. It’s not that his heart was in the wrong place, or even that he was being illogical. Giving gifts to women IS generous and thoughtful and kind. The problem is that, as a first-date gesture, it’s antiquated and awkward for the woman. Which renders it ineffective. Which means it should be retired. And yet this guy is holding on.

So ask yourself what behaviors or beliefs YOU have that are out of step with reality:

Are you a guy who thinks that women should split the bill?

Are you a woman who thinks that your great date actually meant something?

Are you a guy who thinks that women should write back rejection letters if they’re not interested in you online?

Are you a woman who thinks that a guy should take down his profile once he starts dating you?

If so, you’re just like the flowers guy. Your mindset may be fair, but it’s not working effectively for you.

Understand the way others think instead of trying to convince the world to come around to you, and you’ll have a lot more success in dating.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    christine

    if a guy brought flowers on a first date i would think he expected sex. so i would be uncomfortable on the date.

  2. 2
    Sam

    I’m eager to hear women’s perspectives on getting flowers on a first date. I’d never go all out and get a bouquet, but how about a single rose?

    Are any of you ever attracted to cheesiness?

    1. 2.1
      Kiara

      Why wait for a loved one to die before you give her fresh flowers? Why can’t you make her feel special when she’s still alive?

      1. 2.1.1
        hunter

        ….really?…on a first date?…

  3. 3
    Collins

    Flowers or gifts on first dates? No way! Any guy who buys such things for a gal he doesn’t even KNOW yet, is putting her on a pedestal & acting as if she’s some object to be purchased. Such behavior invites golddigging on the woman’s part. It takes a gold-GIVER to enable a gold-DIGGER. So don’t do it, guys–you’ll only sow the seeds of your own financial ruin!

  4. 4
    Craig

    This same guy would be the one writing to Evan to complain about how some rude woman he brought flowers for on the first date never returned his calls again. The fact is, such a gesture should be earned through a woman’s clear expression of mutual interest. The same goes for buying women drinks in bars. Why would someone you’ve never spent a minute with yet entitled to anything from you? Maybe that was the way things were done in the 50s, but things are far different now. In the 50s, women didn’t have 5 different men they were dating at the same time from the internet. The game has changed, so the rules have to change too.

    What the writer needs to understand here is that whether he’s right or not is not the issue – it’s what works that is the issue. So the question he needs to ask himself is: does he want to be right – or does he want to get himself a woman and be happy?

  5. 5
    WannaGetMatzoBalled

    I would be seriously weirded out by any gift on a first date. Unless you met online and you traveled far and there is something significant about the object, I think it is strange. It implies an intimacy that isn’t there yet and I would have to wonder if he was off socially or emotionally. Even a rose is strange; it sounds like a guy who would write a profile looking for his “damsel” and “lady love”. It would feel like a little boy giving me a flower from the yard. I’d call it weird, not cheesy.

  6. 6
    Dawn

    The only situation in which first-date flowers (even a single rose) wouldn’t make me terribly uncomfortable is if the man and I knew each other fairly well already in some capacity, maybe after collaborating on a long-term project, or having an established friendship. Even then, it’s tricky, since there really is a fine line between sweet and cheesy.

    Simpler to err on the side of no flowers, I think.

  7. 7
    SueC

    It all depends on the situation and the guy. If its someone I’ve known for awhile, we’ve been friends or been on a sports team together then yes it is very awkward because immediately it changes the character of the relationship instead of letting it change slowly.

    However if the first date is with someone I’ve met online and we’ve talked on the phone a few times I think it’s sweet (NOT cheesy, but then I’m more old fashioned) if he brings me a rose. But guys think ahead … what is she going to do with it during your date? Is she going to have to carry it around all night? That really does present a problem for her.

    Now a small gift that plays into a running joke that the two of you have going would signify that you’re thoughtful, creative and that you’ve been paying attention. That NEVER hurts in my book.

  8. 8
    Mary

    I love getting flowers and appreciate a man that is chivalrous and generous. If we knew each other for a while, but were just starting to date, then the flowers would be welcomed on the first date. Especially, if a man is trying to transition from a strictly platonic friendship to dating me. However, if it was a first date and we didnt know each other well, it would be awkward and I would think it was a routine with all his first dates.

  9. 9
    Cindy

    I have been dating for almost three years and have enjoyed getting flowers on the first date! I look at it as if the guy is making that extra effort to start the date off special! I never viewed it as someone expecting sex or anything else! As with anything, everyone has different expectations/opinions. I honestly think spending $10 or so on a flower or small bouquet is very thoughtful and nice!!

  10. 10
    JimmyE

    There’s also the practical consideration of what you expect your date to do with her $50 bouquet of flowers once they’ve been presented at the start of the date. she doesn’t what to appear ungrateful, so she’s obliged to carry them around the restaraunt, bar and then back to her car at the end of the night.

  11. 11
    Sally

    I guess I’m going against the mainstream here. I think a single rose or a very small bouquet (like daisies) on the first date is romantic and thouhtful. And every man who has done that has certainly gotten a second date with me. In fact, the man I have been dating for nearly two years gave me a single white rose on our first date. Granted, we spent a week or two getting to know each other via email or phone before that first date, so there was some familiarity. So, my vote: a bouquet of roses on the first date, too much. But a single rose? A winner.

  12. 12
    Gail

    First dates are full of pressure and nerves. Flowers or any other gift would make me feel uncomfortable and add to the pressure and nerves. The best thing to do is try to make the other person as comfortable as possible. At some point in a later date flowers would be a great way to say that you’re interested in more than just friendship.

  13. 13
    Robin

    I think it’s very sweet:) Albeit, I prefer the thought of it, not the money, so I’ve been more touched by the beautiful leaf a former boyfriend once found as he walked to my door, than a huge bouquet of flowers. I don’t think gestures like this should be “earned,” and I believe that they can be given by women as well as men. I wouldn’t expect anything, but would be surprised to receive a big bouquet from someone I didn’t know. If I was about to have a first date with a guy I knew, then it may just make me smile and think more about him:) BTW, that “flower” guy? He sounds as if he might have Asperger’s or similar, to me. I also think that he will end up happiest with a woman who likes flowers on a first date. He doesn’t need to change for the masses; he needs to just find the one woman who is like-minded.

  14. 14
    Camilla

    I think flowers (not roses or anything too spendy) are sweet. But only if part of the plan is to meet at her home. Then it feels a little more like a hostess gift. I bring flowers to friends all the time!

    What’s really creepy to me is when those walking flower vendors prowl restaurants/clubs trying to get guys to buy their lady friends a plastic wrapped rose. So cheezy, and super embarrassing when you’re on a first date with someone!

  15. 15
    Susan

    I wouldn’t feel awkward if a guy brought me some flowers on a first date. I would think it was sweet. Of course, this would be preferable if we were meeting at my home.

    And while I wouldn’t want a gentleman to spend any significant money, a small gift wouldn’t bother me. Everyone who knows me at all knows that I am very bookish. Once a first date brought me a copy of a book he loved. I thought it was a thoughtful gesture.

    My all time favorite, though, was when my date showed up with a small toy for my cat. I’m not a crazy cat lady or anything, but that totally melted my heart. And that sweet gesture cost him less than a buck.

  16. 16
    downtowngal

    I love receiving flowers but would be put off by a guy who gave me a gift or flowers on a first date. It can be kind of creepy, pretentious and makes me think that he’s trying too hard, or that once I show I like him he’ll lose interest.

    After dating for a bit and getting to know each other, gifts & flowers have more meaning.

  17. 17
    Andrea

    I would feel that it was cheesy and creepy, then I’d feel guilty about having those feelings because he meant well, thought it was sweet, and went to the trouble of buying them, and if he bought me flowers it means he likes me.

    But I’d still feel creeped out.

  18. 18
    Shawna

    Don’t be so paranoid! We really don’t want the flowers or the candy and it’s simply because it’s annoying to put flowers in a vase. And we’re probably not going to eat the candy because we’re on diets or we don’t like them. If you’re going to play the kinds of games with us where you want us to “earn” freaking flowers, then you are not worth our time. Can’t we all be a little more sincere?

  19. 19
    a&v

    I’m in the “no flowers/gifts on a first date” camp for all the reasons mentioned above–unless, as others have stated, my date and I have known each other for awhile and the first date is more of a celebration of finally putting two and two together. Otherwise? Flowers seem to me a particular smarmy form of bribery. (But then, I’m a practical and suspicious sort. ;))

  20. 20
    mrs. vee

    My husband brought me a humble bouquet of chrysanthemums when he came to collect me on our first date. I was far too into him to do anything but appreciate the gesture.

    Still, I’d have to say that my all-time favorite first date gift was a bag of broccoli florettes from Trader Joe’s, after I’d complained to the guy that my local store was always out of the stuff.

  21. 21
    Anna

    I’ve had 2 dates bring flowers on our first date. As much as I love flowers, this gesture didn’t change my opinion that we didn’t have enough in common and I didn’t find the guys attractive enough to want to go on a second date.

  22. 22
    Donna

    I happen to mention bringing along one red rose as part of a sentence in my profile, and I have been amazed at the number of single red roses I have received. I didn’t mean it literally, and wasn’t initially expecting any, but It tells me how many men have really read and understood what I wrote, even if we have no more than one date. Now I always look forward to seeing who is interested enough to bring me that one red rose. I realize that my take on this is somewhat different, but are we so jaded that we cannot accept a a single rose picked up at the grocery store as implying anything other than just interest. After all, he did want to have a date with you.

  23. 23
    Jen From NYC

    No, no and no! Guys we dont want flowers on the first date. We want chemistry, manners, great conversation and sexual tension if the attraction is there. Oh and the hope or mention of a second date. Which I also think, NO FLOWERS. The flowers come when you are dating a few weeks, and lets say the girl invites you over to cook you dinner. The flowes come on special occasions and just because when you are established you are dating.

    I always thought flowers were totally weird and a guy who does not know me, does not need to work that hard to get to know me. I always found all I wanted was a guy who showed interest in me of the first date and bought me a drink. The ones who expected we split the check or you buy one and I buy one….out the door. No way!

    Coming from a semi-Jappy girl who does have big expectation from men, the flowers are not necessary. Did I say that enough times? My boyfriend buys me flowers about once a month which keeps it special but he showers me with love and affection (the right amount) which even on the first date, was enough to keep my interest one and a half years later.

    Let me end by saying, NO FLOWERS. Some of you will continue to do it anyway, and perhaps you will meet a girl who is totally appreciative of it, but most of us think it is creepy and weird.

    I think I answered your question ten times!

    Jen :)

  24. 24
    chiara

    “We want chemistry, manners, great conversation and sexual tension if the attraction is there. Oh and the hope or mention of a second date…”

    If you have all those things on a first date, are you really gonna mind a few posies too?

    Seriously, if you like a guy, flowers on the first date seem flattering. If you don’t like him, they seem creepy.

    Or to put it another way, if you’re not sure how you feel about a guy, but you are definitely bothered by his first-date florals, then maybe you should take that as confirmation that you’re just not that into him.

  25. 25
    Rick

    chiara – you get the prize for the best response. perfectly put.

  26. 26
    Rick

    Jen from NYC –

    You said (over and over) NO FLOWERS, but then you said all you expected was a guy to buy you a drink. Well, what the hell is the difference exactly?

    I guess flowers from a stranger creeps you out, but your favorite drink for free does not?

    I’ll pass on buying you the drink.

  27. 27
    Ava Mazur

    Personally I expect nothing on a first date (with the exception of if the guy is the asker he should offer to pay). I think it really depends on the woman you are giving them too. I find flowers to be traditional and there is nothing wrong with that…I tend to be untraditional. Im very independent, I own my own home and out earn most of the males in my age group. Giving me a bunch of flowers is a red flag to me saying traditional gener roles are important. So my advice, if you are guy that loves to give flowers and spoil your woman do it! Why because thats you, thats what you like to do…and you woulnt be happy with someone who didnt appreciate how you express your good nature.

  28. 28
    hunter

    buying flowers for my first date, second date, third date, is a turn on for me. Many times, I have felt, like, keeping them, because of the chaos, they might create….my date gets them anyway…If she can’t handle it, that is her problem. It is on to the “next.”

  29. 29
    Selena

    I had someone bring me a rose on our first date, but we had actually met 3 times before, so knew each other a little bit. I loved the gesture.

    If someone I had yet to get to know brought me a single rose, or a small bouquet from the grocery store on our first date I’d think it was charming and funny. Anything lavish would have me thinking, Uh Oh, he’s really going to push for sex or commitment right away.

  30. 30
    passerby

    I agree with chiara. If you like the guy, flowers or no flowers don’t matter that much.
    I think one single flower (not necessarily a rose) is nice. A bouquet is not necessary though. Also, it’s annoying when a guy thinks that he somehow needs to be “rewarded” for bringing flowers. If you feel like a nice gesture – go ahead but don’t expect any rewards for it. You’re not a dog.

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