I Make $40K And My Girlfriend Never Offers To Pay For Anything

My Girlfriend Never Offers To Pay For Anything

Hello Evan. I recently started dating a girl. I really enjoy her company and she enjoys mine. We get along fine, we’re really into each other and we share many commonalities. There’s only one issue – money! I have absolutely no problems taking her out on dates and footing the bill 100% but we’ve been on about 5 dates and we’ve hung out with mutual friends on numerous occasions, but she never even offers to pay – not even a disingenuous offer. I understand that if we are happy, then money is a small price to pay, but I barely finished college and only make $40,000 a year. I cannot afford to spend $200 every weekend. I mean, even when we’re not on dates, she expects me to pay. I don’t know how she got this old fashioned mindset, but it’s really starting to bug me. Personally, I work just as hard as she does for my money and I don’t find it fair but at the same time, I find it too early in the relationship to bring it up. I just don’t want her getting the idea that I’m ok with it or that she can take advantage.


I don’t even expect her to pay half. If we go out to dinner, I’ll pay for the date and the dinner, but the least she could do is pay for our ice cream or maybe buy me a single drink? I want to have that feeling, like if we’re at a bar and my girl comes up to me and asks me what I want. It’s like she has my back. It’s not about the cash- it’s more about being appreciated and not taken advantage of. I do not know how to approach the situation. I know she is going to explode if I bring it up, but how much of this should I take? I am not cheap, but at the same time, I am not made out of money. Does it make me a bad person to be thinking this way? I am somewhat of a liberal, progressive thinker, and her traditional mindset seems backwards to me. Advice? —David

We’ve established that men and women are equal.

Thank you, David, for writing a question that addresses the very hypocrisy of modern-day dating.

We’ve established that men and women are equal.

We’ve established that women are more highly educated and (often) make more money than their male counterparts.

We’ve established that the concept of men paying for dates came from a time when women didn’t work and therefore men HAD to pay.

Which leads this blog to receive comments that read like this:

“In our society, it has always been customary for a man to pay for a woman’s dinner. Men are wired to protect, and take care of a woman. If he doesn’t want to pay for dinner that is a glimpse into his character and/or how he was raised. Any self-respecting woman should steer clear of such a man. It doesn’t matter if she has decided not to see him again before she even picks up her fork. If he is a gentlemen, he will gladly pay and expect nothing in return.”

Anyone who feels that way should go back and read David’s letter.

Stop acting like you’re six-years-old and don’t have a purse with cash and credit cards in it.

This is a liberal, progressive thinker — a good man of modest means — who is trying to do the “right thing” and pick up the check as the anachronistic rules of chivalry still dictate.

He’s not railing against the concept of picking up the tab while he’s courting her — he’s just annoyed that he feels taken for granted. And when a woman never reaches for the check, offers to split, or insists on picking up the tip, the cab, or the coffee afterwards, it can really start to wear on a guy.

I am a man. You are a woman. You are not poor or helpless or dependent.

So stop acting like you’re six-years-old and don’t have a purse with cash and credit cards in it.

Stop acting like he should be thrilled to drain his account in hopes that he might procure a good night kiss.

Stop acting like you’re not really his equal when you want to be treated equally in every other respect.

As I said here, if we can agree it’s in good form for a man to pick up the check while courting you, we should also be able to agree that it’s in good form for a woman to offer to split the check and/or insist on picking up the check while he’s courting you.

If you think it’s rude when men don’t pay, we think it’s rude when you assume we will pay.

It’s basic golden-rule stuff, y’all.

I’m not expecting much dissent on this one, but if you’re brave enough to explain why the original poster David is wrong, cheap, or short-sighted, have at it.

Personally, I think he speaks for just about every man I’ve ever met who got sick of being an ATM.

Here was my breaking point — when some woman intimated that she was my “sugar mama” after I allowed her to split the check on our fourth date.

And you think that women are the only ones who get burned out on dating…




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  1. 41

    I agree that in David’s case… if they do not talk about how to cut costs together.. then he may get to a point of resentment… and then nothing is going to come out that will be productive…
    Is she really going to explode? Or are you afraid to say what you need….thinking you may offend her to the point of being upset with you?
    The longer you wait to talk about what you NEED… the worse it could become… The two of you have played your roles thus far….she may not realize that you want or need anything different unless you express it in a non threatening or non judgmental way…
    In other words… “I’m wondering if we could take turns making dinner or cook together… I think that would be fun…and then we’ll go out nice dinner every couple of weeks or breakfast on Saturdays”….You might even tell you you need to cut back on going out so much and ask for ideas of things you two can do together…. OR whatever you both decide together that works… but engage her in the process of deciding how you will proceed from here…
    Rather than saying something after you work up anger over it… talk about what you NEED now… Not what she is not doing… and see how she responds… If she is a nice person… she’ll roll right into this idea with you… If she just wants to be entertained… you’ll find that out too!

  2. 42

    Re: Evan’s last comment:
    my late husband offered to cover pay my baysitting costs when we were first dating….of course that was over 25 years ago…sigh…

  3. 43

    Isn’t this just basic common sense? The majority of women work outside the home now, especially single women. And the majority of us know how to take care of ourselves financially.  I make good money, but I’ve had relationships with men who made much more than me and who also have had expensive tastes when it came to entertainment, travel, gifts, etc.  In those relationships, I make it a point to talk about  the money issue early on & we’ve  always been able to come to a workable  agreement.   In most cases, it’s totally doable if you’re both  mature and sane and have even an ounce of creativity.  

    If a guy asks me out on a date, it  never fails to thrill me when  the meal is over & without  hestitation, he reaches for the check.  No quibbling, no negotiating, no counting nickels.  To me  it says  he 1) planned ahead before asking me; 2) has social grace; and 3) was happy to  pay for the opportunity of possibly getting to know me better.  I find that flattering and touching.  I’ve had more than my fill of Mr. Casual, “Hey, let’s meet somewhere and eat something, but don’t expect me to pay cuz, hey, it’s 2011 & we’re just chillin’…. but when we’re done eating,  let’s have sex. At your place. And drink your wine or vodka.”  

    I do not expect to be whined and dined on a regular basis, nor would I ever assume that it’s “on him,” unless we’ve discussed it beforehand.  But a little generousity goes a long way.

    As for David,  I could be wrong, but I get the feeling  he’s dating this woman for something other than her great personality (of which he doesn’t say a word). Maybe she’s hot or provides him with  status in some other way, but clearly it’s not working for him.   But the real  clincher is that he’s afraid to broach the subject for fear she’ll explode. Wow.  David, if this flag was any redder, it would ignite.   What she is doing is rude, and if you don’t speak up about it, you’re being her willing doormat.  And nothing is less sexy than that.  

  4. 44

    I would hope that women recognize that men are often expected to do the asking out, choosing of place to go, etc. in the beginning. It should go without saying then that in following the “you asked, you pay” rule, men are going to be paying for the initial dates most of the time.
    Perhaps there are more “cheap men” out there than I thought. I don’t know.
    But if some of you all are then adding this “men need to woo women” bullshit on top of the expectation that we’re asking and paying, it can get pretty expensive fairly fast. Apparently, for some women, if you aren’t forking it out regularly, you aren’t seriously interested.

  5. 45

    This is eye opening… Evan…
    Don’t you think being appreciative.. offering do reciprocate in whatever way you can afford is acceptable as long as it is to both people?
    Are you saying that men in general are going to expect you to pay…or they will not not date you… so get used to it?

  6. 46

    I have heard a few men say they will pay for babysitting costs if they are dating a single mother.
    Not saying it’s the norm across the board, but I have heard this before from multiple sources.
    Most of the single mothers I know though usually aren’t asking men out, so they probably wouldn’t be in a position to have to potentially offer to pay his babysitting costs.
    As for the single dads, I haven’t dated a lot of them, but the ones I did date typically didn’t have their kids during the week, so babysitting often wasn’t an issue. Our relationships never became serious though, so I don’t know if there would have been a need for babysitting services later on.

  7. 47

    equality does not mean symmetry. if they get married, when she is cooking or washing his clothes, she will not tell him, i made my dish and yours, now you must make the dessert. she will not say when she is washing his clothes, i washed the shirts, why don’t you wash the pants? when she has his baby she will not say, i am delivering the baby all by myself, you are so mean and ungrateful! the least he can do is pay the bill. without complaining.

    1. 47.1

      this is irrelevant since his case is in a relationship and not a marrige. even in marrige woman should contribute her part.

  8. 48

    @ nathan #47

    “But if some of you all are then adding this ‘men need to woo women’ bullshit on top of the expectation that we’re asking and paying, it can get pretty expensive fairly fast.” – HAHA.   I might be saying this b/c I am younger (29) and very independent, but while I appreciate men paying for dates, I am actually turned OFF by excessive wooing.   I value financial independence, but actually agree with this statement in relation to David:

    Zann #46:

    “I get the feeling  he’s dating this woman for something other than her great personality … Maybe she’s hot or provides him with  status in some other way”

    Most men that feel they HAVE to pay and are resentful and b/c they think it’s the only way they can hang onto a woman, and aren’t doing it b/c they “believe in chivalry”, are completely unimpressive.   It makes me think they feel they don’t have anything to offer other than $$$ (and what it can buy).

    Granted, that most likely is the case with this particular girl that David is seeing.   Like Zann says, maybe she’s hot!

  9. 49
    Katarina Phang

    Nathan #47, wooing doesn’t mean paying for expensive dates.   Wooing can be free too.   Wooing is showing the woman you’re interested in that she’s worth it, that she is adored.   If you are not willing to do it for a woman, that only means you’re not that into her or she’s not the right woman for you.
    Wooing comes natural for a man who is interested in a woman.   It’s basic human interaction across history.   That’s part of animal’s mating ritual (we’re animals too, though much more evolved than the rest in animal kingdom).   You don’t have to like it but it’s proven to have worked for thousands of years.   It’s printed in our DNA.   Ignore it at your own peril.

  10. 50

    “even when we’re not on dates, she expects me to pay.”  

    How does this happen?
    Do you just run into each other? If she expects something of you when you just run into each other… that is just not right!
    It’s one thing if you offer… or invite her… but just strange for her to expect something of you when you are not really on a date….
    How do you know she expects you to pay for her when you are not on a date? What has she done to let you know this?

  11. 51

    The glass ceiling might exist, but for most middle class people, not so much.    Or you have situations where women make less b/c they are choosing the lower paying options (so primary care vs. surgery).   I just feel that throwing that out there without looking at the myriad of reasons why it is true is a bit irresponsible.   It’s not as if girl lawyer and boy lawyer get hired by a firm and the firm makes  sure tha the women is getting  24% less. It takes a lot to get to that point.  

    I feel as though the stats about women’s earnings vs. men’s don’t necessarily take into account the fact that women negotiate less for salary and raises (so I recently went to a lecture that was talking about how much money “women leave on the table” during their careers), take time off (which is still a choice, and there is no way that you can get a salary bump for time that you were not working, I don’t care what you were doing), and while the gap is narrowing, for a long time women were just entering fields that don’t pay as much as men (so nurse vs. doctor, principal/administrator vs. teacher).  

    But back to this post, I don’t think any of this makes a good argument for why a woman wouldn’t try to shoulder the load as a gesture of good will.   If you are turned off by the guy who lets you pay, dont’ go on date number two, but I’ve seen the spoiled, entitled women who think that a poor man should support them in high style even if it’s hard for him.

    Until the OP chimes in, we won’t know if his fears are justified or not.   But he does need to speak up b/c he won’t magically earn 2-3 times more if   they get married, and his girlfriend should be a bit more thoughtful (even though he should speak up for himself too).  

    I admit, if I’m meeting someone for the first time and he wants to split the bill, I’ll assume I’m not going to hear from him again.   I’ll offer, but if he immediately jumps there or if he accepts first time out, I probably have no interest in seeing him again.     I do feel that in the zeal to avoid being taken advantage of or to minimize their financial investment in dating, some men do make the decision to pay or not pay depending on what they want.   I think that there are also regional differences, b/c i’d agree with A-L and SS that in the south (where I am from but don’t live), you’d be hard pressed to find even a platonic meeting where a man didn’t reach for the check(and yes, some men consider letting people see a woman pay for his meal to be a huge source of shame-I had a male friend tell me as much.   We’d go to dinner, as students, and he’d NEVER let me pay).   Meanwhile, where I currently live, I’d say that chivalry, even in the form of holding open a door for a person who is carrying stuff, is dead, and probably never existed.   There are definitely cultural and regional differences that create the differences.

    And I’d totally be happy to buy drinks, tickets, cook meals, etc. as an alternate way of contributing equally, in addition to offering to split some meals too.

    I can’t believe that people want to argue that they shouldn’t pay b/c of babysitters or whatever.   I think that if you know that your date (male or female) is of limited means, be sensitive to it, because it’s  a bit embarassing to say, “Hey, I’m poor, and $20 is a lot to me right now” but having been a grad student in recent  times, that can be a lot of money and yet there is no good way to point out that you could be blowing your grocery or gas money on a date.   (Thank goodness for graduation!!)

    And after you are comfortably dating someone, like this letter writer is, there is no good reason why they can’t ease up on the spending, or why she wouldn’t offer to do something.

    But then again, it’s not so bad that he will leave her.   I’m sure there is a woman out there who would be more sensitive to his budget.

    @NN, how do you figure that someone with a low income who needs to watch his budget is going to affect your spending?   It sounds like he’s trying to be responsible.   Wouldn’t you rather someone who is trying to live within his means rather than blow his money or worse yet, see your money as his future piggy bank (like I dont’ have to be sensible anymore b/c I bagged a rich one!!)

  12. 52

    Wow, I don’t know what kind of dates other people go on, but Jake and I usually spend twice as much on drinks as we do on food.   Since when is picking up the drinks the cheap part?

  13. 53

    Nicole, you’re points are definitely taken. I agree that there are a lot of circumstances behind the pay differentials. Mostly, I just wanted to point out that some still do exist, given that Evan’s initial post suggests equality of pay.
    Katarina, Angie’s comment at 51 about disliking excessive wooing is something I have found to be more common these days. Thankfully. Because when I see men really laying it on with a woman they are dating or interested in, it just looks like a variation on the high pressure salespeople at car dealerships or appliance stores. I’m all for things like making someone a meal, giving a tactful little gift, or a surprise phone call to show that you care.
    But I think it’s really easy to go overboard, and that backfired like mad a couple of times when I was younger. And now, maybe experience and knowing more about what I want in relationship, makes me skeptical about dating someone who wants too much woo and romance.
    I just hope David talks to her. Because going on like they are won’t bode well for the future.

  14. 54

    I have a few questions:

    Why does David assume his girlfriend will “blow up” if he brings this issue to her attention? That seems like a bigger issue than money, imo.

    Why does he continue to plan expensive dates if this is bothering him?

    Is it really the money that’s bothering him or a lack of appreciation? Does she show her appreciation, and respect for him verbally  and behaviorally?

    What is so difficult with saying, “Hon, I’m watching my budget so this week why don’t we do “x”? Maybe she’ll pipe in and offer up money, or maybe she’ll be happy  to do “x” and he’ll realize she doesn’t require a constant wine and dine.

    I think he’s choosing to  go on expensive dates ($200 a weekend) and then resenting her for it.  Why would she have any idea that there is a problem if he doesn’t  speak up?  As men always say, she doesn’t have ESP.   

  15. 55

    I competely agreed with Garnet’s comments!

    I tend to think that a woman’s thoughts on who pays is probably aligned with the relationship she saw between her parents. If she grew up with parents that split finances, she is probably more comfortable with a man who wants to split finances. If she grew up in a dynamic that the father brought in the bacon, so to speak, she is probably looking to a man that will be able to provide the lifestyle her mother had. Because it’s only natural to be familiar with what you grew up with.

    What I dislike is the argument that since women expect equality in the workplace, then it’s somehow “inequal” for a man to pay in relationship world. What in the world does equality in the workplace have to do with male and female dynamics in mating and dating? If that is the case, then I shouldn’t ever cook for a man again. Being that we are all “equal” and stuff now. Might as well take out ALL the fun and difference of our gender completely since women JUST recently are doing better in the work place. (By the way, women do still make less to the dollar then men do.)

    In my own experiences, if I was going out with an older man, I had a much higher expectation that he should pay then if I was dating someone closer to my own age. But if a man my own age picked up the tab more then not, I was very impressed. Like another poster said, I offer to pay my share but it sure is nice when men treat you like a lady. And whether men like it or not, our culture partially defines treating women like ladies when the man picks up the tab. Further, I have always found it’s the man that are willing to share their resources, so to speak, that are much more giving in general and not stingy. Which bodes well for the future with him. Men that don’t want to share their resources with you probably aren’t all that interested in you or respectful in general. But if a man *wants* to pay, then he clearly thinks your worth the effort to share some of his hard earned cash.

    Now in David’s case, I don’t think his request is unreasonable. He is just looking to not be taken for granted. But he needs to speak to his lady about this and see how she feels about it. If she is put off, then they just were not compatible. He doesn’t need to tell her how much he makes. In fact, instead of going out on inexpensive dates, David could get creative and instead take her out on a picnic or to a Museum on the day they have free admission.

  16. 56

    The fact that David says he is 100% willing to pay for their dates….AND he’s been spending $200 per weekend on those dates…. says to me that he may have led her to believe he had it to spend…and was happy to do so… He did it for some reason…AND continues to do it for some reason….
    Is this a lifestyle he wants to portray but can’t afford? Maybe it’s not a lifestyle she can afford either….but he has been happily wining and dining her… so she is allowing him to…
    We do not know about her…. Maybe she eats peanut butter sandwiches so she can pay school loans… And having a great guy make over her… and invite her to do such fun things is wonderful… And of course he’s been 100% willing to….
    That’s blowing almost $5,000 a year on going out! Why would he spend that kind of money on dating anyway when he only makes $40,000?
    Why is he continuing to ask her to do such costly things? Why is he continuing to spend that kind of money? Why are they not entertaining each other at home and spending less?
    Is this lifestyle they are living beyond either of them?
    We have no clue what their lives are really like…

  17. 57

    Whoo boy. It is so much easier to be a single parent dating other single parents. It is pretty much implied that cash is tight all around, so no one expects a five-star treatment, and, like several people mentioned on this thread, people get pretty creative about organizing fun dates on the cheap. I like it! Seriously, if it takes $200/date for David and his GF to have a good time, then I’d have to wonder if they have as many “commonalities” as he says they do.
    I agree with Katarina, (in fact I agree with every one of Katarina’s comments on this thread), splitting everything 50/50 was something I did when I was married. Came in very handy during our divorce, but, other than that, very unromantic. I think there definitely needs to be some give and take, but it doesn’t have to involve taking out the calculator and dividing everything in half.

  18. 58

    I am totally confused as to what the right answer is on this one.

    I*used* to think that the woman needs to pay half of the bill, or pay for half the dates.   We are true equals, right?

    But the past few years, I have read so much about the woman being the “receiver” in successful love relationships, letting the man lead the relationship, letting the man ask *you* out as oppose to asking him out, letting the man be the first one to say “I love you,” etc.   I have been trying so hard to “cultivate my feminine essence” and focusing on playing a feminine role by letting the man claim his masculine leadership role. And so this issue now has me in a complete quandary as to why a woman would not let a man lead in this instance, i.e. paying for dinner.

    If the man has asked the woman out, I think he should plan on paying on whatever the date entails as the orchestrator of the date.   That said, the woman can always offer, but I honestly don’t get the warm fuzzies when a guy lets you pays half on the first few dates.   In letting the man lead, maybe a woman can offer to host her man for dinner at her home one evening after 4 or 5 dates out.   Then maybe if he asks he to go to the movies and dinner, she can say, “sure I would love to; would you like me to reserve our tickets?”

    All that said, when i”used to” ask men out on dates (years ago now; I would not dream of doing that now), I would be completely prepared to pay the whole bill, knowing that I was the one who initiated the date.   Then I was always grateful when he offered to pay half, or even the whole check.

    So I am still completely confused.

  19. 59
    Katarina Phang

    I have had 9 dates with this one guy in 3 weeks and out of all those dates we only went to a restaurant 3 times (and each was never more than $40 I suspect).   Most of the time we went hiking (twice), doggie play date (once), watching movies/TV, me helping him cleaning the apartment for his new roomie, me cooking, BBQ with his friends on memorial day (he picked up some wines), etc.   Each time we had a great time doing things together.

    I agree with Goldie, it takes two tango.   He has the control of what to do and how much to spend because he’s the one who asks her out so i don’t get why he has to spend $200 each time when he can’t afford it?   Doesn’t he have a backbone to just decide: we’re staying in and eat pizza this time. C’mon he’s the man.   Lead.   She perhaps just wants to take the passive role.

    My date came up with ideas what to do each time.   He takes charge (he knows I like it): he asks me out and is decisive about what we’re going to do.   He never asked, “what do you want to do?”   Of course I can come up with ideas, but his ideas are always good to me so I don’t have to think about that.   If he doesn’t want to spend any money, I’m fine with that (a few times I would have liked having lunch after the hike, for instance but he didn’t ask and instead just dropped me home.)   He’s in charge and he’s not apologetic about it.   That’s very masculine to me.

    I really like that.   It makes me feel womanly. That way i don’t have to worry about paying for dates because I know he won’t force himself doing things he can’t afford.   He’s wise.   And I understand that money is tight all over.   I don’t hold this against him at all.

    Men paying for dates, say, 90% of the time can be done without breaking the bank (and you give back your own feminine ways that don’t kill the romance or emasculate him).   You don’t have to go eat out each time.   Just do it within your budget.   If a woman wants a feminine role, do as my date and I are doing it.   Dating is about getting to know each other and there are many avenues on how to do it most effectively.

  20. 60
    Node ³

    I see women expecting to pick up the whole bill on a first date as a precursor to a negative dating philosophy that I encounter frighteningly often.   I call it “non-participation,” for lack of a better term.   Women who expect me to pay for everything often expect me to plan all dates and initiate all communications.
    The non-participating woman won’t act on her own; she only reacts to the man.   It’s a total turn-off and I declined to continue dating one woman who wouldn’t act independently despite some prodding from me.
    Oh, and just to be clear, I believe non-participating men deserve condemnation as well.   I don’t date men, so I don’t know how common the problem is on that side.

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