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give flowers to every woman on the first date, and every woman agrees that it’s an over-the-top gesture which has been outdated for thirty years, why are you still fighting it?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.

2
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Comments:

  1. 61
    Todd Suriano

    Hi im 19 and dating someone and just stumbled upon this site. Ive noticed there are not to many younger people commenting, so i wanted to put my two cents in. I think its actually quite sad that women have become so afraid, of something like getting a rose or a bunch of flowers. Last time i checked flowers show that a man is interested in you. Im talking to all the ladies out there when i say this. Stop being such ungreatful pansies…. if a man gets you some flowers on date thank him and get on with the date.

    1. 61.1
      MoGhazy

      Finally some response of reason!

  2. 62
    Nicola

    I’ve had bigger and better things bought for me on a first date (including beautiful flowers) and I think it’s a lovely thing to do on a man’s part.
    What ever happened to love and romance?
    And just remember, guys:
    Fair heart never won fair maiden!
    Buy her nice things.. they don’t have to be expensive.. and she’ll love you for it. I wouldn’t want to go out with an unappreciative woman just like I would not go out with a mean man.
    Just don’t be too nice all the time or else!

  3. 63
    inertia

    Getting flowers for a woman is NEVER a bad idea. It’s a sweet, thoughtful, charming gesture and I hope that you’d have the manners and grace to show thanks, not disdain, when some one gives or does anything for you. I’m in my early 40’s, so I’m dating men in their mid-40’s to early 50’s … and I would say almost half of them have showed up on a first date (always dinner – by THEIR request, not mine) with something, beautiful bouquets, exotic flowers, sometimes chocolates, one guy made a basket of vegetables from his garden, threw in something for my pet as well. I certainly don’t expect anything on these dates, nor do I expect to be taken to dinner on a first date, … but when they show up with something, I really appreciate the thoughtfulness – the fact that they actually had to pre-plan it, and go out and do something? Sweet. That is not the deal breakers with me. What is the deal breaker is being invited for dinner, expensive restaurant of their choice, and accepting me to pay half (which I always offer and am prepared to do so). I had just been restructured so was unemployed and he, well let’s just had two estates and a barn full of race and polo horses. He also tipped very cheaply (which I privately made up for to our excellent waiter). Rudeness, getting drunk on your first dates, vulgarity, … those are the kind of things that should creep you out. Not someone who gives you flowers. (And boys, if you ARE bringing flowers … or anything else, doing it because YOU want to (and you can afford it), because that’s a reflection of who you are … NOT because you’re expecting something in return).

  4. 64
    elli

    Hi everybdy! I am European and I can´t believe my eyes when I read some of the posts like if a guy brings me sth. on a first date I will think he will want sex, etc. What about looking at it from a brighter side, like he wants to show me that he is a caring man, or he wants to make me feel feminine, or he wants me to feel like a princess? I agree with much what is written in this and other threads but IMHO you guys overcomplicate human relationships!

  5. 65
    Fusee

    If the guy has already:
     
    1. Showed interest upon meeting me for the first time
    2. Evaluated my interest properly
    3. Asked me out respectfully
    4. Showed up on time on Date #1
    5. Offered to pay for Date #1,
     
    then this is plenty generosity, manliness, and chivalry for me at this point. No need for extra gifts and sweet touches. Keep them for later!
     
    My boyfriend gave me a red rose on Date #4 just before taking me to a nice dance venue. That was the perfect timing in our budding relationship. I now receive a monthly bouquet of fresh flowers. This is also much appreciated.
     
    On Date #1 this would have been too much too soon. I actually had that happen to me once in the past – although it was a simple bunch of Jasmine flowers taken from a bush and a fresh orange – and I felt uncomfortable. It was somewhat sweet but coming from a virtual stranger, a bit too much for my taste. Do not overdo it.

  6. 66
    Kathleen

    Id be a little freaked out and embarrassed if a guy brought flowers to the first date. Id be wondering where the closest exit was. It would seem too needy
    All I need is his Sexy (hopefully) Self to show up on time and look good.

  7. 67
    Lucy

    I really think it’s time to throw out the rulebook and return to simple common courtesy, Whatever I do on a first date is down to my reading of Debrett’s mainly. I make effort in my conversation and interest in that person, which counts for much more than a gift. Personally I prefer men not to buy me a gift for a date because I do not think it’s necessary (what about women buying men gifts?). At the same time, I wouldn’t begrudge a man who did if his heart was in the right place.

    Whatever your views on this, it is best to assume good faith until proven otherwise. People have different ways of receiving and expressing love and it is really important that we recognise this difference in each other. If a man buys a woman flowers, it doesn’t mean that he’s clingy. It means it is his way of expressing affection. I’ll always appreciate that gesture for what it is, because there are plenty of men who make less of an effort. Still, as others have suggested, it’s best not to pass it off as a huge deal (otherwise it wouldn’t really come from the heart).

  8. 68
    lisalin

    I don’t believe anyone has ever brought me flowers on the first date – but I would like that! But first consider, will I have anyplace to put them right away or will I be dragging them around awkwardly for the evening? Also, a $12 bouquet is more than sufficient for such a sweet gesture. 

  9. 69
    Janet

    Flowers over a drink in a bar would be really nice. Much more resectful, splitting the first dates dinner/ or going dutch would put no pressure on either party. If there would be a second, third…etc date both parties should have no regrets and be well on their way to either a good friendship or more.

  10. 70
    judy

    Flowers on a first date? That’s a very sweet gesture.  But I’d far prefer to receive them on a second or third date.
    Having said that, I once received a bouquet of Spring daffodils (the very small ones) and thought it was kind. 
    It’s old fashioned, yes but old-fashioned doesn’t necessarily mean it’s no longer valid.  I, for one, love it when a man opens the door for me, helps me put on my coat, etc.  These are caring gestures, and it makes a woman feel appreciated.
    And…..if anyone is interested, a woman might just feel more in the mood for sex, if he cares enough about these small caring gestures. 
    If he doesn’t care about my wellbeing, why should I care about his? (Yes, I know I’ll get a few cyber hand grenades for this, but that’s what I think).

  11. 71
    Cliff

    I am a guy. Here’s my take. If a woman can’t appreciate the simple gesture of flowers on the first date, then what’s the point of going further? Guys, do it. Just get simple flowers not a stinking bouquet. If she doesn’t appreciate it, you’ll know right away if she does or not, then onto the next.

    The whole idea of dating is finding someone who appreciates YOU for who you are. If you are the type of guy who likes to give the woman you’re interested in a small gift on the first date, then do it. No point in dating or trying to date a girl who doesn’t get you. That’s a total waste of time for you and her AND your wallet.

    Plenty of fish in the sea fellas.

  12. 72
    hunter

    @71cliff

    …..”plenty of fish in the sea fellas”……..I agree with you, trouble is, I think, most men don’t know how to get to “many” first dates, so they try to make it work with what they got….

  13. 73
    Erik Borgerson

    I’ve known this girl for around 6 years and was going to see her over Summer break. I was going to buy her a single rose to give to her when I see her. I also made a cd for her as well. I wanted to do this because (give her a flower) she’s been through so much this last year and I thought it would put a smile on her face.

  14. 74
    Jenn

    I had a guy bring me gifts on the third date, a date which he planned that involved dinner and a show. I thought it was a bit much that not only had he planned a bit of an elaborate date, but then he gave me Christmas gifts on top of it? And I knew one gift wasn’t even obtained specifically for me – he told me it was a souvenir he’d picked up on a trip to Florida earlier in the year, before we had ever met. Now, if he and I had had a funny conversation about Florida or seashells and it had some significance, it would have made sense. As it was, it was totally out of the blue and I was thinking, “Oh, well thank you for this absolutely tacky basket of shells that I have no use for.” It was a nice gesture, but since he had already planned and paid for such a nice date, the gifts were totally unnecessary. I definitely thought he was trying way too hard and any attraction I may have had up to that point took a huge nosedive. I gave it one more date after that night, but it was too late.

  15. 75
    Jeff

    There can be exceptions.  Once I started texting with someone via an online dating site while I was out of town on vacation.  We connected really well while texting and so I picked her up some earrings (nothing fancy at all) from where I was vacationing and gave them to her on our first date when I got back.  It went over very nicely.  That being said, I generally agree with the author.  It’s all about making her feel good and if a gift when you first meet is uncomfortable, which I think it is for most women, then just don’t.

  16. 76
    Lynn

    The creepiest first date I ever had was with a guy who showed up at my door with a dozen red roses. It just oozed of desperation. Needless to say that was our FIRST and LAST date. It just seemed like the guy was trying to hard. So my answer is leave the flowers, candy and gift at home.

  17. 77
    Ozzy

    After reading many comments on here, I would draw up the following conclusion, and a rather obvious one for those that already knew. Flowers = intimacy and/or closeness. Bringing flowers on a first date, or ANY date demonstrates one thing: commitment. This can be either a good or bad thing depending on the circumstances and how long you’ve known the girl. It’s like some of you said, flowers are welcome on the first date if it’s a guy you’ve known for a while and you’ve had a special connection with; not some dude that you collaborate with on a project or team activity at work. Otherwise, giving flowers to a woman you just met is similar to giving a stranger a free hug: it’s uncomfortable and awkward because there’s no feelings of closeness there. And this is how a lot of people think in our present time, so for those who think giving flowers on a first date is chivalry and a demonstration of being generous, I’m sorry but that IS old fashioned; not saying that it’s bad in itself but thats how people saw this concept decades or even centuries ago. Times changed and now people trust other people less so that is why giving flowers on a first date should be approached with extreme caution.

  18. 78
    Hans

    I found this page while looking for general ‘etiquette’ for things to bring on a date. Now I’ve read a couple of blogs and I am very surprised by the general concensus. One thing that stands out is the number of women screaming ‘no flowers!!!’ but then melting 5 posts later when a guy admits he once brought his date something the screamer also liked and it was so ‘thoughtful and sweet’. That’s one.The other thing is, if I go on a date with a girl who I’m particularly interested in, I do bring flowers. For example last Tuesday, I brought this wonderful girl a very small bouquet of tiny, multi-colored roses. She absolutely loved the gesture, even if they were just supermarket flowers. I did it because I am somewhat old-fashioned.. Yes I opened the car-door for her, held the door open, paid for dinner and handed her her coat, but that’s not because I expdct sex, but because I want to showmy appreciation for a fine evening with a fine woman, and what’s wrong with that?! 

    I understand, flowers and chocolate is creepy, a big bouquet is too much, but a little $ 5 bouquet? How does that hurt? 

    1. 78.1
      Hans

      I also think that we can apply the Brad-Pitt-rule here.. If Brad Pitt comes to a first date with a simple little bunch of flowers no lady would ever object.

      1. 78.1.1
        hunter

        Hans,
         
        ..I agree…

  19. 79
    Shaun

    Flowers are a symbol of love and affection for significant others,  relatives,  and close friends. Buying flowers may seem like a good gesture but it implicates a feeling that shouldn’t be there yet towards that person and would be really awkward.  You shouldn’t be in love on a first date because chances are you don’t even know her yet unless you have been talking for a while before meeting which is seldom the case.  I think flowers are good after maybe 3-4 dates or the second if the first was that phenomenal

    1. 79.1
      Hans

      Shaun, I totally disagree. Flowers are not strictly reserved for a significant other. You bring flowers for lots of occassions. Dinner at your mother’s, your sister’s new job, a female friend who’s sick, even a guy who suffered a loss. There are countless situations where flowers can do what words can not.

      That being said, if you go on a date there’s at least a mild interest to get to know the other person. You appreciate their intention and thus you bring flowers, as a small gesture. As pointed out before, not many women will freak out over a small bunch of flowers or even a small bouquet.

      By the way! The girl I bought those flowers for; we’re deeply in love and I met her family on Christmas Eve, so there’s to show what a little bunch of flowers can do! 😉 

  20. 80
    Rob

    I am an old school man that opens doors and pulls out chairs and brings flowers. But on the 1st & 2nd maybe even 3rd its just a single flower n never a rose of any color. Maybe a single daisy or a colored carnation. Nothing overbearing. N cecertinley not $50.00. But I do believe it is a nice and thoughtful way to show up. Along with a smile. And open her door. She will and has loved it.. And if it doesn’t work out and was no connection you aren’t out big money its a couple bucks. But maybe it will brighten her day tomorrow!!!

  21. 81
    TooSmart

    Flowers or whatever first gift on a date are too much too soon. Last week I had a date with a guy who brought me chocolates. It made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I would have felt even more uncomfortable if I had seen that the chocolates were in the shape of a heart (only saw it when I opened the box at home after the date).
    Anyway, the date was rather pleasant but I got the feeling that the guy had basically already decided before the date that he wanted a relationship with me and that is exactly the reason why I did not want a second date with him. Too much pressure. I want a guy to get to know me before he decides he wants to be with me.
    Well after I turn down a second date he got really nasty with me and send me some hateful text messages in which he used personal stuff that I had told him during our date. So much for chocolates in the form of a heart. If all went according to plan he was nice. The moment it did not, he got nasty.
    So no, I prefer no presents on the first date. Let the contact and the relationship develop naturally and organically and give presents as an expression of your connection and love.

  22. 82
    Erin

    I think it depends on the situation, iv’e been put in this situation before, the person who I had met for the first time I had been in contact with via text / Email / Skype / Phone for months before hand so we kinda skipped the first-date awkies. I thought it was really sweet, and yes it was a first date. If I had never spoken to the person I would still find it sweet but also slightly off putting.

    But hey if a guy wants to show his sweet side who am I to judge?

  23. 83
    Joe

    I have recently started talking to a girl. She dated a good friend of mine for years, and he cheated on her. he was inconciderate, never bought her gifts, never took her out, and she was old fashioned in my eyes. A classy woman. So, after not having seen her for 3 years, and after her and my friend being broken up with for 2 years, we came across eachother again. The conversation started off friendly, and she started asking me dating questions. I picked up on this very quickly, and the more we talked, the more blunt she got with her questions about where i was at in life, what i looked for in a girl, ect. Within 2 days of talking, for at least 5-6 hours each day, it seemed like we knew eachother alot better then we ever had. I was singing for her, and within the first week i had sang her 4 different songs. Finnally i stopped beating around the bushes with the questions, and i told her i was interested in her, and asked her if she would be willing to work on that aspect. Of course, the weird part, a 3 way birthday party between myself, her ex boyfriend, and her ex boyfriends cousin was to come up that weekend. He had cheated on her, her boyfriend before him had cheated on her, so i know she can’t be very trusted with guys so far. She asked me if i would tell my friend, and i said i would. i waited for a good moment in the night ( when he got drunk, and started mentioning her from the past) to break the news. immediately he lashed out, saying he would not be my friend if i did that. Next he tried to convince me that we were not right for eachother. Next he tried to convince me how his heart still belonged to her, and he had spent every day for the last 2 years thinking about nothing but her. he had cheated on her, avoided her, ignored her, treated her badly, had never bought her a gift in their time together, and i made it clear to him he did not treat her right, that she did not want to be with him again, and that it is not fair to myself, her, or him for him to not let this go. I told him this chat was over, and he could do as he like, and i would concider his thoughts, but not make my descision off of them. I chose to drop him off at home the next day, and go on my first date with her that night.

    I am conservative in heart. I made it clear from the start i want things to go slow. sex right away is not an option, and i am not easy, but i made it clear its something i look forward to, and i am patient enough to wait until i capture her heart first. So, our first date i went to her house, i bought some steaks for dinner. i bought her a single rose. I did not go all out, but i wanted her to understand that I can be romantic, without asking for anything in return and encouraging her to wait, along with myself. She really liked the thought of me getting her a flower. Already i had sang to her, gave her my soul in the form of my voice, so i feel like a flower was an insignificant thing compared to that, but i understand that flowers and gardening are her passion, and i did it as a simple to show her i respect her, and her thoughts. I did it to show i can be romantic, and classy. We cooked, made jokes, laughed, watched a movie, cuddled up some on the couch. Hopefully i did not send her the wrong signal, or look “cheesy” like you guys are saying now. Because if a flower was cheesy, why would she have been trying to see me for days, after hearing my voice sing to her for the first time. Sometimes it is not all about signs here, and even you experts must understand that. Sometimes, even a single gesture can go a long way, and be remembered forever. Every relationship has the chance to fall at the start, wether it be an early flower, no flowers at all, bad sex, dirty house, stinky feet, or whatever may scare someone away. Ive been scared away by many girls. Especually girls who put out on the first date. While i may have just a bit to much to drink, in those instances while out on a first date, and then i am seduced, i usually spend some days thinking, and make the choice that the woman that puts out on the first date is not the one. So, i appreciate you suggesting flowers is to much, but, try to go small, but still show you can care. a single flower will make her smile, it wont be going over the top, and it will show her that even the little things count.

  24. 84
    Daniel

    Aren’t social conventions inherently subjective? Why the strong claim that others are out of step with reality? Conventions may interact with objective differences in male and female natures, but this does not mean that people who want to give flowers are out of touch with reality. Nor are they entirely out of touch in with social reality in the contemporary period where a diversity of social niches abound. Perhaps they are unable to accept the “reality”/view of popular culture, however, which have changed dramatically in recent decades. Women have an expanded social role in most western cultures since the invention of contraception (what would women’s right amount to before that invention?). Some men and women reject one or multiple of the ideas behind the 3 waves of women’s rights movements in the last century.

    Fortunately for those flower givers, not everyone is socialized to view gifts on a first date as insincere, etc. I wonder if the man mentioned would justify his “outdated” relational convention as being grounded in the nature of males and females. Regardless, social views are apt to change–and not entirely randomly or unconstrained by objective reality, mind you.

    Isn’t it quite possible that in two generations this article will be the one out of touch with popular social views? 

    Interesting comments everyone. 

  25. 85
    Roger

    What if the flowers are not roses? What about tulips, or daisies, or some other general flower in a smaller dose? I would think that roses are for more intimate/longer relationships, but wouldn’t “neutral” flowers still be okay?

  26. 86
    Dalton Betancourt

    I’m going on a first date soon and all I’m gonna do is get her a necklace taker her to the movies maybe spend a few dollars on her at the mall then the second date I’m gonna just go out to dinner or somewhere special then go out for ice cream then on the third date I’m going to get her a giant teddy bear, she loves them.

  27. 87
    MoGhazy

    No man or woman can attack a nice guy like that claiming what they doing is wrong!

    I have a First date tomorrow, I know her since a while but we talked things out and it IS a first date and I’m taking a rose with me.

    Everyone do what they think is right, at some point someone will appreciate their move.

    There is no general rule in life, being offensive/aggressive towards an action of kindness and care is just.. wrong.

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