Who Pays For The First Date?

A few years ago, I went out with a woman three times in a couple of weeks. We had great chemistry, and despite the fact that I was a customer service representative at JDate pulling in barely $30K, I’d paid for everything. First date was $60. Second date was $90. The third date was brunch the morning after the second date. She’d ordered a dozen bagels and then realized she’d forgotten her wallet. No big deal. An innocent mistake. She generously offered to pick up our next date.

She called me at work the following day to tell me of a play that sounded like fun. She said she was busy at work and asked if I could find out if there were tickets available. No problem. I called the theater and learned there were only six left. What’s a guy to do? No big deal, I bought a pair of tickets and figured she’d pick up dinner before we went out.

After our $40 meal, she put down her credit card and went to the bathroom. When she came back, she noticed that I didn’t put in my credit card to pick up or split the check. Upon which she glared at me and said, with a ton of venom and not a shred of irony: “What am I, your sugar mama?!”

Being generous, especially to someone you care about, is an incredible feeling – right up there, I’m told, with having everything paid for by someone else.

Yeah, being a guy isn’t always the most rewarding thing in the world. But what are you gonna do? I’ve stopped wondering about what’s “fair” and have decided to embrace the system I’ve inherited. In this system, a guy pays unquestionably, and if a woman offers to pay, he is supposed to say no. At least on the first few dates. Or as long as she’s being courted. Or maybe always. It depends on the woman. We can never know unless we let down our guard and allow her to pick up a check. And by then, it’s often too late to justify your behavior.

This is a quandary all right and there is no one right answer. Until now. As your friendly neighborhood single dating coach, I’m going to give you the definitive rulebook on how to negotiate this tricky territory, once and for all….

WHAT PEOPLE SAY:

HER: He should WANT to pay for me.

Yes, and, generally, that is the case. Being generous, especially to someone you care about, is an incredible feeling – right up there, I’m told, with having everything paid for by someone else. The one time I forgot my wallet on a date, she gracefully picked up the check and told me not to worry. This was both extremely classy, and extremely appreciated.

HIM: She EXPECTS me to pay for everything.

Yes, and that’s the precedent that was established way before you were born. Don’t fight it, just do it with a smile, ’cause if you don’t, you ain’t getting another date.

HER: He SHOULD pay, especially at the beginning.

This logic is a little dicier. Why should a man pay? Because it’s chivalrous? Consider that chivalry started at a time when men worked and women didn’t. Women, literally, could NOT pay. Thus, men picking up the check sprung out of necessity, not out of kindness. It has since been codified into a gentleman’s code, which is considered in very poor taste to question. I’m not questioning, but see how angry you are that I’m even bringing it up?

HIM: But SHE asked me out.

So what? If etiquette says that you pay for the first date, and she expects you to pay for the first date, and you can afford to pay for the first date, then pay for the damn first date.

HER: It doesn’t matter what he makes. A gentleman always pays. It indicates how he feels about me.

If you offer to split, and he lets you split (or even pick up) the check, he has done absolutely nothing wrong.

If a guy makes a ton of money, I can assure you, it’s his absolute joy and pleasure to spring for every last drink and spa treatment. But there’s a big difference between being cheap and being poor. Cheap means the guy asks the woman to pay for the fish when he ordered the less expensive chicken. Poor means that the guy has trouble making rent if he has to pay for five dates in a month. Put yourself in his position: it’s hard to blame him for wanting to alternate checks.

My solution is, not surprisingly, an equivocation. Let’s all try to understand one another.

Guys, be as generous as possible, not only because she expects you to, but because it’s genuinely rewarding to “be the guy” and make life easier on her.

Women, be sympathetic to the grad student or schoolteacher that doesn’t have the means to be as chivalrous as he’d like. You may not be our sugar mamas, but please don’t take it for granted that we’re your ATM’s, okay?

Postscript: A version of this article was written five years ago. Since that time, I find myself in a much greater position to be generous. I remain sympathetic to men who can’t blindly pick up every single check.

My slightly revised position for who pays on a first date is this:

He grabs the check immediately.

She does the “fake reach.”

He waves her off and insists on paying.

She thanks him for his generosity.

End of scene.

Presuming the man can safely afford it, this script should play out on every date during the courting phase.

HOWEVER:

You, as a man, can’t get mad if she doesn’t make the offer to split. If you offer to take her out, expect to pay for the whole thing, and be pleasantly surprised if you don’t have to.

You, as a woman, can’t get mad if he accepts your reach. If you offer to split, and he lets you split (or even pick up) the check, he has done absolutely nothing wrong. It’s not a game or a test, unless you treat it like one.

One final, overriding note for men: It doesn’t matter if it’s coffee or dinner, whether you make more or she makes more, whether you asked her out or she asked you out. You can never go wrong by paying.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Ramon Thomas

    I disagree here. Men should not be expected to pay. If we all believe in feminism than we’re equal and that means splitting any bill. Yes it does not seem to do much for attraction but there are ways around it. I really suggest doing things that doesn’t require any money. And avoiding dinner dates at the beginning. They become like interviews. I wrote about it here and also in detail here. Again if money is not supposed to matter and love/chemistry/attraction is all important why stick to an age old tradition if we’re supposedly living in a modern/free/equal world.

  2. 2
    smartcookie

    Evan,
    When does the courting phase end? After 3 months???? Once you have the “we’re exclusive” talk?
    I really enjoy reading your blog and am about to purchase your book.
    Thanks, Jen

  3. 3
    Sarah

    I’m 28, I have a good job, and I am completely willing and happy to pay my own way or take turns paying. In fact, I’m insulted if a guy never allows me to pay. It’s 2007! I want to be an equal in a relationship and if a guy feels a girl should never pay, I wonder what else he thinks I shouldn’t do. He can feel free to lift the heavy things though; I’m 5’1″ and just over 110 pounds so muscles aren’t my strength!

  4. 4
    ABF

    As a woman, I am frequently confused about this “tradition.” I don’t want some guy thinking I’m a mooch or a golddigger but I also want to know if this guy is potentially someone who will be generous and supportive in the future (and I don’t just mean financially but it is the first way a woman can get an inkling about a guy). From my end, the fake reach – comes off as just that – fake. I certainly don’t want come off as insincere. So, I have resolved to be gracious and thank him for his kindness when he pays. As far as when we start to split or when I pick up the tab – it usually takes me only two – four dates before I start to contribute (i.e. he gets dinner, I get the movie tix, He gets tickets to a play, game etc, I get dinner, drinks, snacks at the event) If the relationship goes beyond a few dates and I sense this guy might stick around for more than an easy lay – well, then I’m giving financially as much as he is (to the point each party can pay).
    Sorry for the long winded response! : )

  5. 5
    Andrea

    I agree with Sarah and ABF. My opinion:
    Guy should always offer, especially on the first date, but when a date slaps down cash or a credit card I ask if I can contribute. Most often he won’t take the money, but I have to (and want to) offer. After going out with a guy a couple of times (like ABF’s 2-4 dates) I insist on paying while noting that he got the last dates and if it’s a guy that I’m consistently dating we more or less contribute equally.

    Guys get shafted when it comes to dating. It costs them more than women. This doesn’t seem fair. Furthermore, I’m financially independent and personally independent and I want to exercise that independence.

  6. 6
    Jaya

    I think of it this way:

    Splitting the tab: tacky
    Taking turns: sexy

    And as far as first dates go, I like the idea that whomever made the invitation pays for it. But it’s really classy for the invitee to do a small gesture like bringing flowers, paying for parking, etc.

  7. 7
    Ramon Thomas

    Please under what circumstances does a woman ever invite a man out on a 1st date? In my research almost 0% of the time the time and therefore they never, ever feel obligated or inclined to pay or go Dutch.

  8. 8
    Jared Meyer

    Great blog, great responses. Thank you for sharing everyone. I have a few thoughts I’d like to share, which are based purely on my preferences and priorities:

    (1) Financial Responsibility. Anyone who forgets their wallet or to bring cash may appear to be financially irresponsible and unprepared. If a date were to attempt to grab the check, I’d ask her about her intentions, and make light of the situation. After all, we’re new friends and open communication would be required. “Whatcha doin?,” I’d ask. I’d then ask her why she was interested in either paying or splitting. Would I pay, though? Yes. Would I like that? If I really like her, I’d even give her an AMEX gift card as well as a “thank you” for taking the time to meet with me. I would be grateful.

    (2) Competitive Advantage. I have the feeling that many of us forget about the competitive nature of dating in the 21st century. Unlike in the past, the number of people we can meet and date now is abundant. If I meet a woman I’m wild about and don’t remain competitive by showing generousity with regard to my time, money, and heart, I will lose out on courting her. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the business-like nature of dating. If she has two gentleman callers, both of whom are attractive, funny, and smart, and both of whom share wonderful chemsitry with the woman, guess which one she’ll go for most? The one who values generousity, security, and “investing in the best.” Let’s face it, money is not bad at all. It provides freedom and flexibility. Who doesn’t want that?

    (3) Invest in the Best. For many years, I had had a negative attitude towards dating and the investment required. Why do you think that is? Aside from being raised a certain way with regard to money (“it’s hard to make,” “you don’t need to spend it,” “save it just in case,” “is it really necessary?,” etc.), I recently realized that the reason I was against paying for dates was because I was dating women that weren’t right for me. You put me in touch with an awesome woman that I can’t wait to meet and I would GLADLY drop $100 on a date. Present me with a nice woman who’s a time-filling distraction in my attempts to meet a life-long partner, and I will resent both her and the Starbucks at which we meet.

    Perceptions, preferences, and priorities. Which are yours and what are you waiting for? Invest in the Best!

  9. 9
    Lori

    It costs alot of money to date when you are a woman. To prepare, I need to visit the salon (new men do not want to see gray roots), have a manicure or pedicure or both (feet seem to be very interesting these days) and arrange for a sitter. Every first date ends up costing me over $50.00 at least. Follow up dates begin to cost less (hair hasn’t gone gray yet) but if you want to keep seeing the guy, you cannot let up on body maintenance at all. By the time the check comes, it just evens up the financials.
    Guys, beauty costs $$$$$, so have some understanding

  10. 10
    Jadee

    I only started dating again as a divorcee 3 years ago, and I can count on one hand how many times a man has paid for me. Two of which was just a single glass of wine. I have always had to pay my own way and is very tough being a single mom, because I am also having to pay for a sitter.

    Is it some unwritten rule that if you have already been married/divorced that the man doesn’t have to pay? Or does the man think that I am getting child support and should be able to pay for dates? Either way, I am tired of getting screwed around on money.

    For a first date, I would love to be “treated” like a lady. But I also love to be creative and cook at home, do a picnic, etc….I will be glad to make up for the “first date costs” with contributing to future dates.

    I think I need to do what my friends have told me and leave my wallet at home! I just don’t want to ever be stuck out at dinner and then he doesn’t pay…then what?

  11. 11
    Erika Moore

    Okay, okay, nearly everyone has a point here. But why has NO ONE commented on the rude behavior of the “Sugar Mama” shrew? This woman had “forgotten” her wallet (please), OFFERED to pay for a next date (talk about disingenuous), manipulated a low-earning guy into buying theatre tickets, finally offensively making it clear that she had no INTENTION of paying for the next date. Is this really the kind of woman you guys want for a girlfriend (regardless of chemistry)?

    While of course it’s nice to be treated like a princess (and boy oh boy, do we appreciate it!), I always thought that there was sort of a sliding scale: If my date is pulling down the big hedge fund bucks, it’s a pretty simple decision for me not to jump on a check (probably forever, if it comes to that, my reciprocity taking the form of nurturing acts like home-cooked dinners). If I’m sitting across from a starving actor, it just seems MEAN to let him pick up much more than coffee.

    Anyway, it works for me, it’s what I tell my clients, and I’ve been personally blessed in the great men department.

    1. 11.1
      tamara

      I agree, that woman sounds like a ‘b*tch’, in fact I can barely believe the guy’s account of the story is real, because she sounds so horrible. I hope most women would never dream of being so nasty. That poor guy
       

  12. 12
    Judy

    Just throwing in my 2 cents – there are more ways to pay than with money (okay, get your heads out of the gutter). Because of my age (59) and traditions about dating when I was young, I am very uncomfortable paying for a date. However, I’m one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. So I invite my guy for dinners and brunches at my house (groceries cost money, too); house parties given by my friends; volunteer social activities where I have given the contribution. All these ‘dates” don’t cost him anything. So, as I see it, we’re both generous to each other – just in different ways.

  13. 13
    Giyoret

    I posted this on Jewlicious–funny, this also came up in conversation with friends recently:

    Splitting checks? Does not work. If everyone is gainfully employed, it’s just one of those social things that both parties understand. If I split with a guy, I feel like I’m trying to give him the message that I do not want to want to “owe” him anything and that I am buying the option not to be anything to him. C’mon. It’s not a financial transaction; it’s obviously an emotional one. If you approach dating as a good time, then maybe the splitting makes sense, because it’s entertainment. But if someone is looking for an exclusive, committed relationship, to me the money is just a means of investing in that. I’m not talking about wild extravagance here. If we end up getting married, my money and yours gets thrown in together in some fashion anyway, so how much time really is spent with the guy paying?

    I think it demonstrates a willingness not to be petty and keep score. An ex of mine, who had an expense acct. and who was making close to $300k while I was a single mom with a spotty freelance income at the time, would sometimes give me the vibe that I should be paying the check. And I did, like an ass. In 9 months he never bought me a present, or flowers; it was obvious that money had many, many strings attached for him. I did a lot of other things for him and was very supportive. I thought, you know, each person contributes what he/she can and that’s good enough. If we had to limit our going out to what I could afford to reciprocate, we wouldn’t go out to places we were going.

    I think economic stinginess correlates to emotional stinginess (it was in that case). Paying for dates, being polite and romantic gestures are significant because they are unequivocal messages: that the guy likes you, is interested in making you happy . Even if he thinks it’s a silly social constraint, a guy who is not willing to play the game demonstrates that he doesn’t care about the message he gives.

    Who needs that???

  14. 14
    Jen

    There are still girls in the world that think drinks are free at bars, spoiled by the fact that there will always be a sucker guy around to pick up the tab.

    But that bitch was seriously rude. I would’ve shanked her in the throat.

  15. 15
    mrs. vee

    There really isn’t a right answer to this question of who’s to pay. It obviously varies by people’s tastes/preferences/upbringings. If it’s an issue to either person on the date, then there’s an incompatibility right off the bat. It doesn’t bode well for the stuff that actually matters – like… if you’re gonna be compatible in terms of lifestyle, morals & intellect – if you’re getting hung up on this goofy litmus test so early on in the courtship.

    I also can’t help but comment on some of the warped senses of parity I’m seeing exhibited on this topic, even in this thread of comments. Sorry, but one’s trips to the salon for a mani/pedi and Brazilian wax do NOT count as financial contribution to the relationship. First off, it’s an optional step, as I know plenty of women content (or confident enough) in their looks to prepare for a date without professional grooming. And secondly, a lady’s upkeep is a pre-date expense, some thing you should be doing anyway regardless of your dating activity.

    Anyway, simply put, if the petty financial stuff isn’t feeling comfortable to both parties, it’s probably not going to work.

  16. 16
    belledujour

    i hate cheap men, i hate cheap men with ugly looking even more!

    once i was involved with this cheapskate with a man who would buy a bar of chocolate for me (he said) then he halved it!! the same goes for sandwiches, hamburgers etc.. and sometimes he made complain that i never offered to pay (which was of course a hoax)

    one day he told me that he got me a gift, guess what? it was one packet of oil blotting papers made from china! he never gave me anything for my bday, christmas, valentine’s day etc.. while i got him an expensive gucci belt for his bday, a whole set of gucci perfume, after shave, soap etc for valentine’s day

    people consider me as a very good looking girl with great career, great personality and interesting social life, i thought that it would be a waste of time staying with that cheapskate so finally in the end i ditched him!

    well nothing is free in this world, if he would like to go out with me, he should pay and if he’s willing to give me a gift, better give me appropriate ones, becoz those kind of cheap gifts was truly an insult!

  17. 17
    trouble

    Just from a female perspective…

    I think guys should look for tip-offs about how women deal with the money issue for insights into their personalities….

    I think every woman should at least OFFER to pay on the first date. I always do. If the guy takes me up on it, fine, but he’s definitely paying the next time. Or, we can split it and go dutch. If a woman hasn’t offered to pay by the third date, she thinks you’re a meal ticket.

    If you are okay with that role, fine. But, I’d personally think long and hard about women who force men into that role of having to pay for everything. I suspect you’ll find they are generally pretty selfish and have feelings of entitlement that are going to be a pain in the ass down the road.

    Just my take on it.

  18. 18
    BeenThruTheWars

    Evan says he dislikes “The Rules.” But “The Rules” are tradition in dating codified. I’m a strict Rules Girl and credit them with helping me find my amazingly wonderful and sweet second husband, who treats me like gold and gets treated that way in return. (I also credit Evan for personally helping me rewrite my online profile, but that’s off topic.) At the time we were dating, I made six times more than my now-husband makes. However, he paid for almost everything the first 2 1/2 months we were dating, about 12 dates, until he asked me to be exclusive. During that time, I bought him a drink and appetizers once in return for helping me set up a spreadsheet; provided the wine (expensive/good stuff) when we had a nightcap at my house before he went home; and paid for valet parking during a date downtown (big city, valet was $15, it was one component of an expensive evening he planned, and he graciously accepted my offer to pick that up). About four of the dates were what I would call expensive (more than $50 out of his pocket for the evening’s food and entertainment). The rest were a movie and a pizza, or dinner at a little neighborhood Mexican joint and a lovely walk afterwards, or $10 lawn tickets to a concert with a picnic, or him having me over and cooking dinner for me, or taking me to a party to meet his friends, etc. etc. Relatively cheap evenings given the big city we live in, but we still had a blast in a casual setting. In short, he provided what he could comfortably afford, I graciously and gracefully received whatever it was he had to offer and thanked him for it and expressed my appreciation through affection (not sex until after we were exclusive) and the pleasure of my company. I was evaluating: “Do I enjoy and appreciate what he has to offer me as a companion and a potential partner?” and he was evaluating me as, “Is this the kind of woman who I can make happy with what I have to offer, do I like how I feel when I can provide these things for her, is she easy to be with?” etc. etc. He did all the calling, all the asking out, and never expected me to pay; he was the man, I was the woman, and that’s how he was brought up to do things, period. He’s old-fashioned and so am I. He loved pursuing me — he told me with something akin to awe on more than one occasion, “You are the first woman it was ever totally my idea to be with and pursue.” All the other women he’d dated threw themselves at him, asked him out, slept with him on the first or second date, and promptly started hinting about moving in with him — which made him promptly head for the hills. None of them acted like a lady and expected him to properly court her. I did, and he responded happily; it gave us a solid foundation to get to know each other, grow to become friends, fall in love and commit — all in the right order. He never felt uncomfortable paying for dates because he never spent more than he could afford. He always picked me up and brought me home, so he was paying for gas and keeping his car immaculate and spending his time driving, too. As some of the women above commented, I spent plenty of dough as well getting as prettified as possible when he came a-courtin’ (manicures, pedicures, hair done, nice clothes, etc.) After we were exclusive, I cooked him dinner sometimes, offered to pick up a tab once in a while, sprang for play tickets (I have a subscription), etc. But he still drove, courted me, and paid for 80% of everything — and he did so gladly, because he was proud to introduce me as “my lady,” then “my fiancee” (after six months of dating) and now “my wife.” Now that we’re married, yes — I pay for 80% of our living expenses, which is as it should be proportionate to our current incomes — however, whenever we have “date night” on Friday night, he pays for everything, opens the car door for me, helps me on with my wrap, etc. He loves doing it and I love being treated that way. If we go to dinner and a play, I pay for the tickets, he gets dinner… now it’s fully reciprocal. But in the early days of courting me, before we were exclusive — no way. That is what was comfortable for us. It might not be comfortable for everyone. But this “Hey, get with it, it’s 2007, the girl can ask a guy out and pay for everything!” stuff… it never worked for him or me. He’s in his mid-30s, by the way, I’m in my mid-40s, so it’s not like we’re ancient relics. I know casual hookups and girls being aggressive and asking guys out has become normalized behavior for those in their teens and twenties, and well… to each his own. But if you ladies (and gents) out there would like another perspective pick up a copy of “All The Rules” and take a peek next time you’re at a bookstore roaming around with your cappuccino. It’s “how things were done” back in the day when men were gentlemen and women were ladies — and today among gentlefolk, still, in my humble opinion. The Rules are great as a starting point for this very worthwhile debate, if nothing else.

  19. 19
    BeenThruTheWars

    P.S. — for you guys out there who really wanna be cool and impress your date? The absolute best response to my attempting to pick up the check on an early date was from a guy I went out with for a few months about 10 years ago (before I knew about The Rules). He smiled at me (check firmly in hand) and said, “Sweetheart, if you can get to the check before I do — it’s all yours.” Now THAT was a classy move. I will remember that moment fondly as long as I live. (This is the same fellow who, on his dating profile, in response to the question “Do you wish to have children?” answered it with “Only if I meet their mother.”)

  20. 20
    Jaya

    Jared wrote, “You put me in touch with an awesome woman that I can’t wait to meet and I would GLADLY drop $100 on a date. Present me with a nice woman who’s a time-filling distraction in my attempts to meet a life-long partner, and I will resent both her and the Starbucks at which we meet.”

    Great point, and also a reminder how the person doing the inviting has some ability to predict costs by choosing the venue. The first dates when you’re just screening for compatability don’t need to be expensive, long drawn-out affairs.

    I was reading this thread with interest because I just started dating again after a 7 year relationship. Last night, I had my first date with a guy I met online.

    Here’s how we navigated it: He suggested dinner, and asked me where would be a good in my area. I gave him a choice of 2 places: the more upscale restaurant with the nicer ambiance, but also said “and the tacqueria in town is amazing, too.” I felt like that gave him some control over the budget (though I still didn’t know how the bill-splitting thing would go.) When the check arrived, he said, “I’d like to buy you dinner… I want to. It feels like you’re the kind of woman who appreciates that.” Totally. Besides Jared’s point about wanting to feel that the date was a worthwhile investment, I think women need to show guys who pay some appreciation. Acknowledge them for being gallant gentlemen, and they generally love to act that way.

  21. 21
    sheseizereason

    Was belledujour for real? If so, the lady’s a liability for the rest of us gals (and fellas please know she’s just ONE type of female on the dating scene, and a vaguely racist and illiterate one at that). I don’t understand why ‘belle’ even stayed in the relationship long enough to last thru 2 holidays and invest in a Gucci belt if the guy was so repulsively “Chinky” to her.

    I’m the first to admit that finances are a genuine measure of longterm compatibility. A well-earning woman (or man) has the right to limit her dating choices to only those partners who won’t interfere with their financial goals. But with silly stuff like token gifts and who bought the coffee last time? If you’re serious about the guy, and especially if you’re in a lower tax bracket than him, it’s really not fair to judge him on his generosity.

    Bottom line: you can’t fashion your relationship into a perrenial game of tit-for-tat. If you do, then you deserve a guy as shallow as you (which means it’s fair game for him to dump you when someone younger and hotter than you comes along).

    You can have a nurturing relationship where the two of you grow from each other and like being in each other’s company for better or worse. Or you could be in constant “what have you done for me lately” mode, adding up the cash value of his gifts and focusing on what YOU’RE getting out of the deal. You can’t have both.

  22. 22
    Miss Julie

    Obviously there’s a lot of variation on this one, but my feeling as a feminist is “if I asked, I expect to pay.” So if I contact the guy and say “let’s do something” I expect to pick up the tab. If he wants to, that’s very kind of him and will probably let him (depending on what I judge to be the sincerity of the offer), but I wouldn’t be upset if he didn’t offer to pay. Now, if he asks, I expect him to pay, and I wouldn’t be thrilled if I were expected to contribute. After the first couple dates back and forth, this issue seems to iron itself out, but that’s how I start out with a new guy.

  23. 23
    BeenThruTheWars

    I’ve always been interested in the argument that letting the guy do the asking out, the pursuing, and the paying — at least in the early going — while the woman graciously receives what the man has to offer while evaluating whether to continue seeing him — is somehow incompatible with the goals and ideals of feminism.

    I consider myself a feminist to the extent that I acknowledge with extreme gratitude the sacrifices our foremothers made so that we daughters of the revolution could truly do with our lives whatever we wanted and succeed according to our own gifts and determination; and that I view men’s and women’s worth in the workplace, legal system, and other such venues to be equal and worthy of equitable compensation. (Notice I didn’t say “equal” because our society is closer to a meritocracy than a true democracy.)

    But… when it comes to dating and romance… men are different from women. This is worth repeating: Men are different from women.

    This viewpoint isn’t about sexual politics; it’s about biology and instinct and hundreds of thousands of years of human development. So if a woman is all about ideology, that’s cool — ask guys out, pay for the dates, do the calling and pursuing, lavish him with trips and expensive gifts, and feel great about being “equals.” But then please don’t scratch your heads later and wonder why he stopped calling, or suddenly got REALLY busy at work, or dumped you for someone new (and more mysterious and elusive), or just didn’t seem to be that into you and won’t commit.

    By being the romantic and sexual aggressor, you took his job away. Men are all about what they do/accomplish/conquer. When you usurp their natural role in the romantic scheme of things, they either get lazy and put it in park and happily let you provide everything until you feel sucked dry and totally taken for granted; or else quickly lose interest and seek that challenge that gets their motors humming elsewhere.

    Why? Because men are different from women.

    It just depends on what your goal is, ladies: to feel like you are being ideologically correct, or to be happily married or partnered up with a man who feels like he went out and worked hard and earned himself the catch of all time, and treats you accordingly. To be a success in the workplace requires a completely different set of skills and strategic behaviors than being successful in the search for a compatible life partner. Take it from me, I learned this the hard way (and it only took me 35 years)!

  24. 24
    Susan

    Very interesting discussion. As a modern woman, I have often wondered why men are still expected to pay for all dates. This seems ridiculous now that women are earning salaries too–albeit at 70 cents on the dollar. That said, I think it’s a really classy gesture if a man offers to pay for a first date. Still, I will always offer to contribute. (But, yes, I have to admit it impresses me more if he refuses my offer.) After the first date, I think it’s entirely appropriate to alternate picking up checks casually. (Not keeping fanatical track of who spent what, in other words.) I’d much rather do that than split checks, which is just tacky.

    Oh, and we ladies really should get credit for other contributions we make. When I started dating my ex, many of our first dates were lush picnics which I shopped, paid for, and prepared the food, brought wine, etc. Even though I wasn’t taking him out someplace fancy, there was real expense involved, and more importantly time, consideration, and effort.

    I also agree a bit with the woman who commented on a man’s financial generosity reflecting his emotional generosity. I’m quite poor, and to be perfectly honest I’ve VERY uncomfortable with men spending money on me. So I truly don’t want any big gestures. But little ones really do mean a lot to me. You picking up coffee equals me baking you cookies. We appreciate little gestures; it doesn’t have to be painting the town red.

  25. 25
    Lisa

    If someone resents the cost of dating, perhaps they should think of different types of dates. Some of the best dates I’ve had were simply sitting on the couch watching a movie on cable, talking, going to a party, having friends over for a pot luck. Sure it’s fun to go to a restaurant once in awhile, or a concert, or an event, but is it really necessary to do something that requires a cash outlay just to spend time together?

    I don’t pay for dates. But I also don’t expect to be “treated” to something pricey every time either.

  26. 26
    Miss Julie

    For me it’s more important that I be true to what I think is right and fairly represents me than it is that I tantalize a guy. My personal brand of feminism tells me that if I initiate contact with a guy, then it is my responsibility to be able to pay for that contact. If this turns a guy off, well, then he and I weren’t going to last for very long anyway. In other words, yes, it is more important to me to be ideologically correct (according to my personal ideology, not some dictate by the media about “Feminism”), than it is for me to have a boyfriend. Fortunately, I have the luxury of having both, at the moment.

  27. 27
    PORTIA

    It took me a long time to come around to this – 17 years of living in the South – but if its a date, the guy pays. Men in this part of the world can get pretty offended if a woman even offers to pay.

    Having said that, as a public interest lawyer, I’m sensitive to how expensive it can get if the guy isn’t living off his trust fund or Google stock. I eat out a lot on my own, so I don’t need to be taken to a restaurant that runs $100 a piece for dinner. The guy should, at least in the beginning, pick the place, so it should be somewhere you can afford. If for some reason I’m picking, I generally go with something on the nicer end of what I could afford if I were paying. And any woman who starts ordering lobster and a bottle of the most expensive wine on the list doesn’t deserve a second date.

    My attempt at reciprocity is that after several dates, I will offer to cook dinner or pickup takeout if that’s appropriate. I also think if the relationship gets to the point where you are traveling together, its good to split. I will offer to pay for the hotel if he pays for food. This seems equitable, but doesn’t embarrass someone who doesn’t like it when a woman pays.

    BTW, I would never think of having a date get expensive theatre tickets unless I knew he could really afford it or he offered. That chick needs to be kicked to the curb.

  28. 28
    JuJu

    Not children (and the related expenses) and being blessed with hair that does not require professional intervention to look stunning, I still have to reiterate the point on the sheer expense of being presentable, for a woman. A man can have three pairs of shoes (sneakers, dress shoes, and sandals) and a single suit (if his job doesn’t require him to wear them) and be content. If I, however, wear some dress to an event where all (or some of) my friends are present, I will not be able to wear it again, as everyone’s already seen it. And should I even mention shoes? Truly, no amount is ever enough!

    I disagree, Mrs. Vee. Yes, indeed I like it better with the Brazilian, for myself, but a lot of expenses are purely dating related (impractical sexy lingerie comes to mind – by the way, I briefly dated a significantly older man of 42 who was astounded to hear that an average bra costs around $45), and I am sure some of the self-maintenance procedures I would not have undergone if it weren’t for their sex appeal value.

    There is also the factor of most men I meet making upwards of $100k a year (it’s just that a disproportionately large number of Russian Jews [who happen to be my target audience] are computer programmers ;), which is incomparably more than what I earn. If on top of all my other expenses I had to pay for going out, I’d be downright broke.

    But then, I don’t mind going out for just coffee or drinks when we first meet, or even an entirely “free” date, like going to a park. I realize that a man who is seeing me for the first time in his life does not owe me anything.

    All the points made above about generosity are indeed valid, just a small note to Jared: of course it’s all about it being “worth it” (and so many of my dates just felt like a waste of make-up), but before you meet someone for the first time, how can you know whether you’ll like her? Just suggest something inexpensive so you don’t feel so resentful afterwards. It is truly her problem if she deems you a cheapskate for doing that.

  29. 29
    JuJu

    Not having children, I meant to say.
    Sorry. :)

  30. 30
    Nick

    There is definitely an answer to this, and I have it for you, I’m officially closing the case. The day women and society wanted equality and started working is the day I started paying for a woman. Why on earth should I pay for someone who has two hands and two feet, and earns their own money? Sorry, but this is NOT the 18th century anymore. Only suckers pay for women. I don’t need to “buy” a woman to get a date. I don’t care what you guys say, this is the way it should be for all, I don’t care how blindly traditional you are. Paying for a woman was done when she didn’t have a job, and she stayed at home ironing my underwear, and taking care of my children all day. You stupid stupid stupid guys who are paying for women. You will only attract gold diggers that way, and women who appreciate you for you’re services not for you. If she really likes you, she doesn’t care about who pays or not! That woman who this guy talked about in the beginning should be put to sleep. Rape isn’t any worse than what she did. Guys stop paying. I never pay for dates, and I get laid plenty.

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