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Who should pay on the first date?


I was out to dinner with a friend the other night and at the table next to me was a man and women on a first date. I always find the dynamics of first dates fascinating and it was so hard not to watch them as if I was at the movies.

For the most part I succeeded in not eavesdropping, but when their check came, I couldn’t help myself. I was curious how paying for the meal would go down. There was a time when a man wouldn’t even think of asking his date to pay for her own meal. Times have changed and the rules have changed too. We just don’t always know what they are anymore.

The check sat between them for a while. Eventually, there was a lull in the conversation. The man then reached for the check, the woman reached for her purse, and since he didn’t wave her off, they both ended up throwing down their credit cards and splitting the bill 50/50.  To my surprise, I found myself judging the guy a little. And then I judged myself for judging him. After all, I have no idea the circumstances that lead to the first date – it is totally possible that she invited him.

Every single woman I know has a job, pays her own bills and is very capable of picking up the check. Though I am a firm believer that when two people are dating, they should share the expense of eating out – be it splitting the check or, as I like to do, taking turns who pays – something in me is old fashioned enough to believe that on the first date, especially if he is the one that did the asking, the man should pay. Am I wrong? In this day and age, is the expectation that the man should pay for dinner on the first date totally outdated?

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6 Responses to “Who should pay on the first date?”

  1. April 25, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I expect myself to pay and that’s where it ends…but if a woman is able and never offer’s, that to me is the same as a guy-It shows disrespect and lack of generosity and that person probably wouldn’t hold my interest. I think that trait will show up in other aspects of their personality-only seeing the world as how it benefits them. How’s that for over analyzing? :) lol

  2. Claudia Maittlen-Harris April 25, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    I agree with you – and well, we over analyze everything so we’d never judge on that! ha ha

  3. April 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Unless he’s attempting to make sure there isn’t a second date (a divisive and effective method) the man should always pay on the first date. But if he’s been a perfect, albeit awkward, gentleman, and the girl still has no intention of seeing him again, she should insist on paying her half. If he’s a dick, she should get drunk on expensive wine, then order the lobster and three deserts to take home to her roommates. These are my thoughts.

    • Megan Gray April 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm

      A very thoughtful, concise and reasonable system, Mr. Kitchen. I love it. If only everyone adhered to this, dating would be so much easier. Claudia, I have to say, it looks like the men coming to our site are total keepers!

  4. Elisabeth Fitzgerald April 26, 2011 at 12:02 am

    This may sound old fashioned, but he should totally pay. The woman will reach for her wallet and the man will say “Oh, no, let me.” And she’ll let him. It’s a dance that we all know by heart. Sorry, gentlemen. For what it’s worth, I think that the woman should pay for the second date, or at least split it.

  5. Anna Keizer May 8, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I agree that the guy should pay on the first date if he did the asking; either way, I’ll offer, but would be mildly annoyed if he actually took me up on it. Same thing with opening doors – of course I can do it myself, but it’s just nice when he makes the gesture.

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