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

man giving sunflowers to a beautiful woman on their first date

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.


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.

Join our conversation (124 Comments).
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  1. 1

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

    1. 1.1

      Seriously? That shallow? If a guy holds a door open, compliments you, or does any other nice gesture he just wants sex? Get out of your head.

  2. 2

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

    Are any of you ever attracted to cheesiness?

    1. 2.1

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

      1. 2.1.1

        ….really?…on a first date?…

      2. 2.1.2


        Of course; and I like to do that…after we get to know one another. A first date, (which in online dating, is more a get-acquainted meeting) is not the time and place for that.

        1. Renee

          I certainty agree with you.   a guy wanted to get me flowers, buy me xmas gifts, get me things on my birthday and we didn’t even go on our first date yet and then we had one date and he still wanted to get things. of course I did not take it because I don’t believe in that.   lets get to  know each other first about a month and a couple of more dates and then we can give and receive.   he was up to something.   he was really doing to much.   I only knew if for like a week.   SMH

    2. 2.2

      when I went on a first date with someone I had seen from a far from HS & college, I wanted to get him a gift for the first date. Since I didn’t know him well, I thought it d be awkward. First date went well.
      on 2nd date he surprised me with 1/2 a dozen of roses.
      It was not at all cheesy. It was a romantic gesture that I loved.
      First date with roses maybe too much. But yes 2nd dates or future dates maybe perfect for roses. (Of course he & I took 3 months before our 2nd date because of our busy schedules which meant we got to know each other better.)
      roses arent cheesy.

    3. 2.3
      Laine Wilson

      First date should be about having fun. No flowers, not even one. Comes across to me as a man without options.

    4. 2.4

      I dont think its cheesy, i think its romantic. I would love flowers on a 1st date, shows he really cares.

    5. 2.5

      Well in all honesty, I think that a bouquet may be a little much. However, a single rose would be so adorable, like I know its kind of cheesy, but its the cute kind of cheesy. So yeah in my opinion I’d think that would be a sweet gesture.

    6. 2.6

      I think a single rose or something very small for the first date is thoughtful. It’s important though to know what the girl likes before going out with her. I usually tell men that I love traditional dating and I welcome that type of dating. If she think’s it is outdated maybe do that on a third date.

      I just went out on a date with a man that brought me a single rose at the door and surprised me with the bouquet in the cat. I loved it and was very happy (this was our second date and I will be going out for a third). 🙂

  3. 3

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

  4. 4

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

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

  5. 5

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

    1. 5.1

      My date made me feel very weird and uncomfortable.   He also said,   You deserve the best and he didn’t even know me but 1 week  .   so he really was trying to run GAME, but I fooled him. he can run  that on someone who falls for it.

  6. 6

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

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

  7. 7

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

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

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

  8. 8

    I love getting flowers and appreciate a man that is chivalrous and generous. If we knew each other for a while, but were just starting to date, then the flowers would be welcomed on the first date. Especially, if a man is trying to transition from a strictly platonic friendship to dating me. However, if it was a first date and we didn’t know each other well, it would be awkward and I would think it was a routine with all his first dates.

  9. 9

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

  10. 10

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

  11. 11

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

  12. 12

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

  13. 13

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

    1. 13.1


  14. 14

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

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

  15. 15

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

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

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

  16. 16

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

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

  17. 17

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

    But I’d still feel creeped out.

  18. 18

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

  19. 19

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

  20. 20
    mrs. vee

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

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

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