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.


Dear Justin,

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

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

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

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

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

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give flowers to every woman on the first date, and every woman agrees that it’s an over-the-top gesture which has been outdated for thirty years, why are you still fighting it?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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  1. 31
    Becky King

    Personally I expect a rose on the first date–god bless, it become real!!! You know I am a fat woman, seems there is no chance for me to meet my perfect match in the real life, so I turned to online dating. When the first time we met on the part, he give me a rose! it’s so sweet and romantic, I feel I fall in love with him immediately!

  2. 32

    I am reading some of these and thinking… Wow… a guy that brings flowers on the first date? I bet he opens the door for you and pulls out your chair too… That is so horrible. I can understand the reasoning for most people, but I commend men who are tradtional. Many of the men I have been on first dates don’t actually practice any form of chivalry. To me, a first date is generally an opportunity to make a great first impression.

    But Hey, maybe I’m just too tradtional in my thoughts…

  3. 33

    I think it depends on the date and how well you know someone. First date I think flowers are too much. But if you’ve known each other for a while (say from work, school, other) have “hung out” before and are meeting up for the real dinner date for the first time, it could be very sweet!
    I had a guy bring me a large bouquet on what was really our third date but the first time he picked me up at home all properly. There were two bouquets and he said to keep one in my living room and one in my bedroom so I could think of him wherever I was. Very sweet and the cheesiness worked for this date!

    Other sweet things men have done:

  4. 34

    I agree with Evan that the entire gift thing on the first date is overkill and very cliche. There are better, more meaningful ways to show a woman that you appreciate her company during the first date.

    Any guy can pick up a bouquet of flowers from anywhere; local mall, grocery store or a quickie mart on the way to the date. It takes no imagination what so ever. But then again, the typical guy isn’t well versed in showing appreciation for a woman outside of giving gifts.

    Personally I believe that offering a specific complement to a woman during the date, being engaging in conversation and truly listening to what she says and learning about her as a person goes much further than flowers when you first go out with a woman. If the first date goes well and there’s mutual chemistry a ‘thank you’ bouquet and/or a unique note would be more meaningful.


  5. 35

    This comment is in regards to the “nerd in is forties”, who after being told that giving flowers on the first date is not only 30 years out of fashion, but that it also puts women off ,insisting that is still the right thing to do.

    I hate to quote a pop-talk show-psychologist like Dr. Phil, but I believe he boilded this issue down into a single concise and powerful question:

    “Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?

  6. 36

    men get pleasure, mostly, from, food and sex. Women, are pleasured in a long list of ways, even on the first date, and flowers can be cheap, the lady standing at the corner, has inexpensive flowers….

  7. 37

    If it feels right (just a handful times for me), I’ll bring one flower on the first date; those dates always turned into relationships. I bought two exes a single red rose on the first date, and I gave my current girlfriend a lovely pinkish/peach carnation. In my opinion, one flower at the door on the first date is sweet and reveals a hint of a romantic side; a bouquet is overkill and reeks of desperation.

  8. 38

    A gentleman who wants to be remembered will bring flowers. As far as showing mutual interest goes: Wouldn’t going on a date be mutual interest? Realistically I wouldn’t plan a date with someone whom I was not intereseted in.
    Guys who don’t bring flowers or a flower to the first date will never or begrudgingly buy flowers. If there are no flowers as a woman you have to ask yourself precisely how interested he is in you.
    The thing to remember is that you are going to want to call that woman within the next few days of the date. Do you want her looking at the lovely flowers you brought or an empty table, and associating you with the empty table?
    Purely from a marketing perspective you have to understand if you want someone to understand and like your brand you need to get inside their home. The flowers are you inside line. Do you think that companies love giving away beads and things of the sort? No, they do it because the more someone views their brand name the more likely they are to buy the product.
    You are product. Sell yourself. Buy Flowers.

    1. 38.1

      Haha…this sounds like a perfect commercial for florists.  And there’s an interesting logic to it.

  9. 39

    to tinarochester,

    …very well said, thank you, very much…

  10. 40

    I’m not against a single flower on a first date, but anything more than that is simply uncomfortable. I had a first date with a guy I had met online, and he brought TWO DOZEN red roses. I’ve talked to others about that who thought it was a nice gesture, but in my mind it was way over the top. I didn’t for a second think that he expected something out of it, and he was genuinely a nice enough guy, but it just felt so…wrong. It made me uncomfortable, which, of course, did not bode well for the date.

  11. 41

    Okay, I’m a baby boomer. And quite frankly, I’m sick and tired of tight fisted men who won’t spent money on a first date, I even had to pay for a soft drink on one first meeting. He was the one with a job, I’m a non-workaholic entrepreneur. I grew up on the flowers and candy etiquette, and unless its a ploy, I think its a wonderful gesture. And I really don’t get some of the anti-woman, pro-buddies web sites either. I don’t think I’m a relic, just a baby boomer. I still believe in the different strokes for different folks sentiment….What’s one person’s cheesy can be another person’s romantic gesture. Too much stinginess or a lack of romantic gestures can be a deal breaker, the two together can really put an end to a relationship…Just MHO, anyway…Call me a hopeless romantic, but there still are a bunch of us out here who appreciate things like flowers, candy or or thoughtful getures…

  12. 42
    Jessica L.

    Like many things, this has a kind and degree element to it. Not the kind of flowers or how many necessarily, though I do agree with all of you who have mentioned that an entire bouquet would be uncomfortable and overkill in/for the majority of first date situations.

    Particularly as JimmyE (thanks!) stated when you are going on a first date in public. What to do with them the whole night and it draws attention to you – the woman with the flowers – not only do you not want them to die, spill their water or get mangled, but then you have to also contend with people thinking that the two of you are experiencing a special occasion. The more flowers or grander the gesture, the more true that is.

    I meant kind of gift (if one at all), the timing of it and the degree to which you really know the person before they bestow such. And too, there is the degree of how personal it is or isn’t.

    Usually more is less at first even though you want to show you are genuine. What you say and how you act is more important than what you get for the other person or even what you get from them.

    I’d say in at least half of the cases where I have been presented with gifts, they were often on a first date or very early and they put pressure on you.

    You certainly don’t want to make the man (or woman if she gives or makes you something) feel bad, nor do you want to be ungrateful, but you usually don’t know the other person’s feelings well enough – or your own – to be able to just react naturally without worrying about expectations or hope on his or her part.

    If you have more of an established, personal relationship beforehand – say very specific emails and calls where you feel you have really gotten to know one another, then I’d say take it on an individual basis – to gift or not to gift AND WHEN. Then the what closely follows. Of course, the WHY is maybe the most important of them all.

    In two instances, I have received gifts on first dates (although one was a gift he tried to buy, more on that momentarily) where they were of very specific to both me, and as it turns out, the guy as well. One was a guy whom I had gotten pretty close to in email and calls and I think he felt the same. He showed up on his motorcycle with a beautiful gardening book. He said he knew that flowers would spoil and I wouldn’t have any place to put them anyway. I believe he already had this book, as he loved gardening and plants, but that is ok. I’d rather he not have gone to a lot of extra trouble and expense anyway, but it meant something to me in that he thought about it and did some original and meaningful to/for me.

    The other instance was another deeper connection before the date. We had talked about a book called “The Sick Caesars” – about the various Caesars in Ancient Rome and the diseases they all had and how they did or did not affect their rule, their personalities, and history at large.

    He tried very hard to find a copy for me to give me on the first date. I didn’t know that. Unbeknownst to him, I had done the same thing. Tried to find it for him – was near Father’s Day and they were selling out like crazy. I found the last copy at a Barnes and Noble near my house. Several other stores in the area were already sold out. He said on that date, I tried to find that book for you, but there were none left. To which I was then able to reply, “I know, I got the last one – for you.”

    Definitely a case of mutual gifting there. Turned out to be a fabulous first date at the High Museum and certainly one I remember fondly, though it didn’t end up having longer lasting relationship potential. It did lead to some canoodling in the car, so I can’t help but wonder if that would have happened if we hadn’t been on the same wavelength about the book and feeling fairly close prior to the date.

    I do know that in other cases where I wasn’t sure how I felt and was worried the guy maybe liked me more, flowers tended to tip me more into the Uh-Oh Zone and made me worry.

    Agree with those of you who suggest waiting until a second or third date with signs that a gift would be welcome and sincerely appreciated though in no way EXPECTED.

    I have a Baking & Pastry Arts degree and love to bake for loved ones, friends, elderly people and that special someone. You wouldn’t believe how many guys write to me and tell me what they want me to make them from the get-go. Not just stating what they like to eat but more of a “You can bake me this…” statement. Some don’t get that this is something that is earned as well : )

    On the flipside, I have been known once or twice to bake cookies (from scratch) too early and it almost always works to my detriment. Though they have always been appreciated. Not quite as bad as giving of yourself physically too soon, but it tends to be emotional over-extention. They will eat the cookies, then RUN! : )

    Most things are appreciated more if we have to earn them and wait for them. And then you know it is really you the guy (or) girl wants to give flowers to or make love to or whatever rather than that they are just in love with the idea of being romantic or in love, etc. Once the object of your affections is much less an object to you than a specific, known entity if that makes sense…

    Balance and timing are huge keys here. Just not always easy to read how the other person really feels and how they are coming along with things versus where you are at. I do believe in reciprocity though and making sure to be thoughtful in any way you can – as long as it doesn’t make someone else uncomfortable or think too much.

    Another thing – you should be giving a gift more for the way it will make the recipient feel, not for how you will feel for giving it. That way, you aren’t disappointed if they don’t react the way you want or hope, and you could be pleasantly surprised if they do. But can’t have a personal agenda or goal trying to meet or will put pressure on the other person, and actually, on yourself too.

    Overall I agree with Evan – but think using judgment on an individual basis – just like you wouldn’t use the same golf club to hit every shot – is key. The letter writer here clearly had an absolute about flower giving and the only absolutes in life that I know of that can be counted on exist in math.

  13. 43
    Jessica L.

    I would add – The way this subject head/question is phrased (and so many others) tells you a great deal about the poster’s mind set and attitude from the get-go. Using the word “SHOULD”. In the great scheme of things, “should” can garner less than the positive results desired. In general, people don’t owe us anything and using the word should or believing that people should do something implies very high expectations that many people don’t share or won’t meet. Even if they agree with you in theory. The believe in should and the rampant usage/prevalence often also leads to a false sense of entitlement (on the part of both men and women)> And it also often makes something a “have-to” rather than a “want to” which is rarely as beneficial as doing something of your own free will because it is how you feel rather than dictated as a mandate by someone else, by culture, society or whatever. In any event, where there is a should there really should (yeah, I know ; ) ), be a caveat following close behind. Would and could are usually the same.

    But if someone does do something for you, being gracious and acknowledging the gesture is the right way to go. If you are lucky, the gesture is genuine and the person will permit you to receive it in your own way rather than in a way they may have preconceived ahead of time.

  14. 44

    Perhaps it’s because I’m older, but a man brought me a single rose once when we first met and I was charmed. I think a single flower is a very sweet gesture. Not necessary, but very sweet.

  15. 45
    Jimmie Lynne

    I’m 27 and I’m not what you would call a girly girl. I’m into computers, video games, sci-fi, and rock concerts, but when a guy buys me flowers, even if it is on the first date, I am ECSTATIC. Yes it’s a little old fashioned, but it’s also really sweet. I have a lot of masculine hobbies and therefor a lot of guy friends. I get so sick of guys who try to “play it cool” and keep it vague to avoid outright rejection. Is it a date? Is it a friendly get together? Is it a guy friend trying to figure out if he can just get in my pants without having to commit? Flowers send a DEFINITE message. “I like you. Please like me too.” Flowers make me feel special and appreciated. I once had a guy special order a dozen roses and have them shipped across county in a refrigerated truck because they were the only florist he could find that watered white roses with food coloring to give them interesting colors. Let me tell you, nothing says, “I know who are and I’m not just interested in your breasts” like a dozen blue roses. (blue is my favorite color) I think I nearly cried with happiness. He and I met online, and this was before we ever met in person. We ended up dating for eighteen months.

  16. 46

    I love receiving flowers but not on the first date. It is very sweet of him but I would feel uncomfortable and pressured especially if I’m not interested in him….I would feel a little guilt for not wanting to go on a second date with him.

  17. 47

    I went to meet a woman, for the first time at a sTarbuck’s coffee shop, with flowers in my hand. I was early for the meeting, sat at a table, set the flowers on the table, and, to my surprise, I had women walk by asking me, what the flowers were about!,,,,,,,,,,I was ready to forget my meeting and go with someone else!……….

  18. 48
    Ah L'amoure

    I received flowers on a first date and thought it was absolutely wonderful! The thought that someone had such a high opinion of me that they went to all that trouble really blew me away. I was impressed.

  19. 49

    Myself, I like to bring flowers to show that I like the woman. Whether it is on the first date or not, does not matter. Also, I never expect anything in return. Since you can’t make a woman like you, this is just a romantic gesture for me.

    What suprises me, are the responses of women that men expect sex when bringing flowers to a lady. This seems to fall under the category, I am trying to buy sex from you. And this seems to fall under the category of a “nice” man with a hidden agenda.

    Am I one of the few men left that will give a gift to a woman with no expection of anything in return, other than “thank you”.

  20. 50

    I suspect that a lot of the men bringing women flowers are not of my generation. Only one guy has done it for me on a first date, and I thought it was very sweet. I thanked him and had zero expectations that he was going to get anything extra for it beyond that. At the end of the date when he pulled out a pink Care Bear of his car (he’d actually written my name on the bear’s tag, so he’d planned it out), I thought it was way too much and felt uncomfortable. But flowers by themselves? Go for it, if it’s an evening date. If it’s a more casual or daytime affair, a single bloom will have the same heart-melting effect.

  21. 51

    I’ve been looking for suggestions on flowers and have seen that the dialogue surrounds the first date. I’m not comfortable giving flowers on a first date for many of the reasons mentioned here, but what about the second date?

    The conclusion I’m coming to is there isn’t much that can be gained. I would think many women would see it as ‘sweet’ but you run a serious risk of appearing desperate or too much too soon. It seems to me the best approach early on is to just appear genuinely interested while I get to know her too – if it becomes something, maybe flowers are perfect for a 1 month ‘anniversary’ date.

    Any suggestions here?

  22. 52
    Send inexpensive flowers

    Personally, it’s no big deal if a guy gives flowers to the girl on their first date. It’s part of being a gentlemen and showing sincerity to the girl. Just my two cents. 🙂


  23. 53

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


  24. 54

    Except, under a limited set of circumstances, maybe a Trojan.

  25. 55

    While I prefer traditional roles in a m/f relationship, I find flowers on the first date too much – especially, if you only talked to him vis email. I was on the fence as to whether or not my attraction/like a guy and he showed up with flowers on our first meeting. AWKWARD! That made me feel “obligated” to like him when I wasn’t sure. He got mad that I didn’t appreciate his jesture and threw a temper tantrum. After he stomped off, with his flowers, I sat there and just laughed. I think a single “neutral” flower is the only appropriate flower allowed until a couple gets to know each other better.

  26. 56

    If a woman is freaked out by a man getting her a single rose on a 1st date, then she is definitely not worth pursuing any further. What a heavy financial investment a single rose is (maybe $3)!

    Could it be possible that he is thoughtful, gentlemanly and likes her? From my experiences, I’ve had a better chance at a second date with a woman when I’ve given a single rose than not.

    I advise against getting a boutique, though.

  27. 57

    @ Lee 56:

    I don’t think too many guys could afford to get a whole boutique for a woman, ever, let alone on a first date! 😉

  28. 58

    In the internet age, most people do take some time to get to know each other before they meet, usually exchanging quite a few emails and usually they spend quite a bit of time on the phone.  So bringing a gift on a first date is sometimes just a nice thing to do, especially if you seem to hit it off.  I am a woodworker so I don’t spend any money on her just my time and make something out of scraps leftover from other projects.  I wouldn’t do this for everyone I meet.  I could care less if it doesn’t go beyond the first date because there are many more fish in the sea…

  29. 59

    Flowers on a first date is not wrong, nor outdated. The problem is that Evan is too young to understand chivalry and is trying to change society so he doesn’t have to buy people gifts any more. It’s ludicrous. 
    Evan — Sorry, but flowers don’t weird out a woman.

    (I posted this because it was the most ridiculous thing ever. First of all, I’m 39. And my thoughts aren’t about my being cheap – they come from having WOMEN tell me that it’s over-the-top when a guy gives ’em flowers. Maybe you should contact the OP, Donna. Sounds like a match made in cheesy-hell.)

  30. 60

    Since there’s a chance that women will be creeped out by flowers or a gift on a first date then its better not to buy them.  I’ve also come to realize that many people cannot accept unconditional gifts and generosity.  If I give a girl something, its unconditional.  I do it just to be nice and put a smile on her face, and I don’t expect her to like me.  Its like donating to charity, you don’t expect the poor people to pay you back, you just did it to be nice.  If you always assume that other people have ulterior motives when giving, it could be that you may be the kind of person tat is only nice when you want something from someone.

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