The REAL Answers to "Who Should Pay?" When Dating

#BATTLEROYALE

People on this site just LOVE to argue about who should pay for dates -- especially first dates. I've gotta say, the sheer level of raw passion surrounding this subject is entertaining to see.

In any case, I've got answers for ya.

First date: NOBODY should pay.

Yep you read that right.

No one should pay for a first date.

Because a first date shouldn't cost anything in the first place.

I mean... This is pretty simple, no?

Just go on a date that doesn't cost money. And is actually INTERESTING.

Do you live in a city with any kind of downtown, or any kind of walkable area? Just walk around and explore stuff.


People-watch.
Gawk at things.
Make fun of people.


Have *gasp* actual conversationβ€”that isn't forced, because there are so many things around you to prompt it.

Flirt.

Tease.

Laugh together.

Play together... and you'll stay together.

If you're the active type... do something active together. Do some sort of outdoor workout, or go on a cool hike.

Still plenty of opportunities for conversation -- but even better, because there won't be "awkward silences" that are pregnant with anticipation for someone, anyone, to just say something. If you're doing something active together, conversation and silence will weave together seamlessly, without awkwardness.

Not only do these kinds of dates cost $0.00... but they're also much more dynamic, much more fun, much less formal, and much less awkward altogether.

Oh, yeah, also... If all goes well, and things get physical?

You won't be weighed down by a whole stomach full of restaurant food, either.

(Really -- does *anyone* wanna go at it after eating an entire restaurant portion? Serious question here...

I speak only for myself, but there are exactly two things I ever want to do after eating in a restaurant, and those are (1) go to the bathroom, and (2) take a nap.)

I mean... seriously, I have never understood the idea of dinner as a first date. Never understood it in my life.


Like, what the...?

What if it doesn't go well -- as many first dates don't? What if there's just no chemistry (which, I'd imagine, is an especially common problem for people who meet online)?


Well... then you're stuck at a table together, awkwardly eating, in awkward quasi-silence... for a long time... with basically zero distractions of any kind.

And even if that kind of date does go well... If the two people aren't great conversationalists, it's still awkward AF.

There's very little in the environment to serve as a conversation starter -- and, let's face it, a restaurant isn't exactly the world's most dynamic or exciting environment, either. So, if there are awkward silences, chances are they'll just grow, and fester, and become more silent and more awkward.

Oh, and, restaurants are expensive, too. What an awful idea.

First dates should be free.

__

But... eventually you'll end up going on dates that cost money. What then?

Later dates: Just go with the flow.

That.

That's the answer everyone has been looking so hard for.

The RIGHT way to go about this is...

...to not make it a big deal.

That's it.

As a couple, you NEED to be able to handle this sort of thing smoothly, naturally, and without drama or passive-aggressive bullshit.

The specific parameters of exactly HOW you handle it are irrelevant. That's going to vary from couple to couple, and from situation to situation.

Some people are more concerned than others with equity, in general. They may just have a strong sense of "fair play" that extends into every little corner of their lives. They may have suffered the indignity of having a previous partner feel entitled to sex just because they'd paid for a few dates -- as though dating were just some drawn-out form of prostitution. Or they may have been taken advantage of, financially, in the past and so they're understandably sensitive about these things. Who knows.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some people are just generous by their very nature. These kinds of people may be deeply hurt if their partner doesn't let them foot the whole bill, at least sometimes -- in the same way most of us would be hurt if someone rejected a gift or a heartfelt compliment.

Last but not least, in some couples one person earns far more than the other, while in others the two people have similar means.

Hopefully, the point here is obvious: One size does not fit all.

But, whatever the agreement is, the most important point is that it shouldn't be a big deal. It should come naturally, as part of the dynamic of a healthy relationship.

If you NEED a "rule" for who pays what and when, then your relationship isn't going to work.

Yep.

Let's face it, people -- This is a pretty trifling little issue, in the big picture. It's something that SHOULD be easily resolved with -- at the most -- a few lines of chitchat, a wave of the hand, and a little mutual understanding.

If an "issue" this insignificant is enough to cause ongoing tension in your relationship ... I'd hate to see how you'd weather real financial issues together. Or any real issues, for that matter.

Not a good sign.

You should be able to resolve this quickly and easily. However you resolve it.

Also -- Even if both of you are totally on board with splitting expenses, it's still super tacky to split the bill every time. Getting literally separate checks? Even worse.

Just so ... petty.

Like, really? Why can't you just have one person pay, with an understanding that the other person will get it next time. Or, one person puts it on her/his card, and then the other person just covers some other expenses (a tank of gas, some drinks, some groceries, whatever) accordingly?

If you have to literally split bills every time... this says more than you think about the health of your relationship (and what it says ain't good, either).

In the real world, expenses have a way of popping up, and they have to be paid by someone. VERY rarely will both "someones" be right there on the spot, to pay half apiece. The vast majority of the time, someone just has to cover it -- and then you work it out as a couple later.

So... you should be able to do the same thing with the cost of dates. If you just can't go out without splitting it, then, eventually, you'll need to take a good hard look at whether you have the necessary trust and understanding to sustain a long-term relationship.

The good news: If this IS a problem right now, and you can successfully move past it together -- that says a lot about your ability to handle future issues as a couple.


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What Guys Said 43

  • 3mo

    I've been saying this here (and elsewhere) for YEARS.

    About half of the time, my first dates are virtually zero cost. We'll fly a kite at the park, or we'll go listen to a local band play, or make a picnic, or swim/hot tub, or play a board game. What we're REALLY doing is creating space and time to TALK and get to know each other, and that really doesn't have to cost a lot.

    But I've also had first dates when we've gone bowling, play pool, gone to the shooting range, miniature golf, drove to a beach or the redwoods, etc. Those usually come about because the girl expresses interest in one of those things, and so we'll go do it and have fun - and it's rare that she doesn't pay at least a portion of the bill at her insistence.

    What I virtually NEVER do is the "dinner and a movie" as a first date, because, damn, that's just no imagination at all AND you can't really talk much that way either.

    Plus, as @redeyemindtricks mentioned and as I've said many times, those bigger, more expensive dates will have a LOT more value to the girl - AND she'll be a lot more comfortable - if they happen a ways into the relationship rather than right at the beginning (unless he's a gold-digger, and then, that's also good information to have). See, girls often feel uncomfortable if a guy spends a lot of money on them on the first couple of dates, because they're afraid (often justifiably) that he'll figure that she OWES him something in return - sex and/or a relationship, and most girls don't want to feel obligated or even in danger.

    After you've been dating a while, though, she'll actually APPRECIATE a nice restaurant, or a weekend trip, or whatever, and it will MEAN more to her - so SAVE IT for someone who has proven worthy of the investment, and use your BRAIN instead of your wallet to show her a good time on the early dates. The thing is, MOST women are going to respect and desire you MORE if you do, too.

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    • 3mo

      Those last 2 paragraphs are TOTALLY on point.

      (Assume you meant "unless she's* a gold digger" -- although that was clear enough)

    • 3mo

      Yes, that was a typo... oops!

    • 3mo

      haha no sweat, like I said it was plenty clear from context.

      Quality post, as always.

  • 3mo

    That's a brilliant idea.
    Exploring, why didn't I think of that?

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    • 3mo

      It's super fun. Unless you live in some tiny-ass town, there are *definitely* tons of little hidden treasures right in yr own backyard, so to speak.

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    • 3mo

      Well, the whole point of exploring is that "feeling lost" isn't really a thing... right? I mean, getting lost is kinda the whole point.

    • 3mo

      Lol I guess that could work

  • 3mo

    You got a good point on the first part, that it should be about doing something together. I always prefer dates where we can be active and do stuff we like.

    However, I really can't say dinner dates are necessarily as terrible as you're saying. For people with not a lot of depth inside and a lack of an ability to have something to talk about, it will be awkward for them, yeah. For me I love going out to dinner with anyone, girlfriend or not. You get to sit and talk for a long time long after you've eaten, take pictures, tell jokes and stories, so for me that's not a task or boot camp.

    I really don't have an issue with guys paying for the date. I know a lot of the guys here complain about it, but there is nothing unfair or emasculating to me about a man to pay for my date. It's simply a chivalrous gesture that I think too much time is being wasted on debating.

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    • 3mo

      "For me I love going out to dinner with anyone, girlfriend or not"

      ^^ Then you're probably a much better conversationalist than most. And/or you just don't feel "pressure" on a first date, as much as a lot of other guys might.
      These are good things, of course, but those qualities are more rare than you might think.

      __

      "I really don't have an issue with guys paying for the date"

      ^^ A lot of men don't (and more than a few women don't, either -- although this mentality is obviously more common among men).

      This of course is one of the many possibilities that fall under the whole "do whatever comes naturally, as long as it's not a big deal" thing.
      The only possible snag is if you find yrself out with a woman who feels distinctly uncomfortable at the thought of the man paying for her. (That would be me, for sure) That'd be the reverse of the issue that's normally complained about, but it would still be something that would need to be navigated.

  • 3mo

    The Guy...

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  • 3mo

    Sorry, disagree completely on here.
    My expenses are my expenses, yours are yours.
    No drama, very simple.

    Saying things like "other person will get it next time" is really just hoping in disguise that the one who paid will offer to do so again, and again.
    Or that your "next time" will be when you go out for $5 ice cream as opposed to the $100 dinner that he just paid for you.

    I'm honestly surprised for the amount of praise you got for this, because I think the sentiment you are gravitating towards in the second part is very clear.
    There is no such thing as splitting expenses before you are sharing a house and having kids.
    And saying things like "If you have to literally split bills every time... this says more than you think about the health of your relationship" is just emotional blackmailing.

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    • 3mo

      To put it bluntly, if I met somebody who would suggest that financial policies are a reflection of the health of the relationship.
      They would get dumped on the spot.

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    • 3mo

      hardly "emotional blackmail" lol. If I go out with one or two friends, one of us will just get the whole check -- with the exact same sort of implicit understanding. (If it's a huge group, I might still put the whole thing on my card, but of course THEN people will start chipping in cash for their part.)

      Also, you're funny dude. I've literally never eaten a dinner in my entire life that cost more than $25, and I don't drink alcohol at all ever. So, if anyone would be playing the advantage game for a $100 dinner, it would be the other person, not me. 😂😂😂

    • 3mo

      Let's agree to disagree.
      For the record I don't mind treating people when I want to, but someone who calls me "petty" for literally not paying for their expenses just doesn't belong in my world.

      Because really, that is all it is and I'm surprised you don't see how ridiculous that sounds.

  • 3mo

    Brava! Excellent myTake!

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  • 3mo

    I have always kind of had this idea that if I'm doing the inviting I'll be doing the paying and vice versa. However the dates that cost nothing but time between two parties have always been the best kind.

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    • 3mo

      "However the dates that cost nothing but time between two parties have always been the best kind."
      ^^ Indeed.

  • 3mo

    Free dates are always good ones.

    The way I see it is if you don't want to spoil your partner. You're probably with the wrong person. Couples should fight over wanting to be the one to pay instead of wanting the other person to pay. Man or woman if you don't like to spoil the hell out of your significant other then something is wrong with your relationship.

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    • 3mo

      I agree with the *spirit* of this comment -- basically, in a good relationship, we should naturally be giving of ourselves.

      I don't necessarily agree, however, with the idea that "giving" has to necessarily extend to money.

      First, money is a complex topic that's emotionally fraught for many... and everyone's version of being "giving" is different. Some people view "giving" through the lens of time, emotion and effort, and would view the attitude you're describing here as sort of tacky tbh.

      Second -- and more importantly -- if someone has seen firsthand a case in which "spoiling a partner" HAS ACTUALLY MADE that person spoiled, then, she/he is naturally going to exercise restraint with future partners... no matter how generous her/his nature might be by default.

  • 3mo

    Some of the best dates are free. Hikes, going to the park etc. more fun, less awkward and FREE.

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  • 3mo

    This take is magnificent, @Empatheticlady #loosewithdignity πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  • 3mo

    Finally, someone else who thinks the first date should be free. I'm 16, haven't had a job yet, where the heck am i gonna get the money to pay for dinner? Brilliant free ideas too, great myTake overall!

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  • 3mo

    Although it may sound like I'm disagreeing with you, I'm not.

    Whereas this applies to many, and is useful to many, it doesn't apply to me.

    A) I have never given a rats ass that I have paid for a first date. Ever. Nor have I ever insisted on paying for a first date. This goes back to when I was 14 and didn't have 2 nickels to rub together.
    B) I enjoy dining out. A lot. I can get busy after eating a full meal. As for not having anything to talk about, this had never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever happened to me. Ever. And I doubt it ever will. Even with dates that have had zero chemistry, even BAD chemistry, I have always been able to draw a person out to converse with me (and have on occasion been thanked for doing so).

    But that's just me and this is fine advice to many others.

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    • 3mo

      In other words, you're that rare bird of a conversationalist. Excellent! Will serve you well.

      My whole not being down for gettin' down after a big meal isn't just physical.
      The physical is a sufficient barrier already -- but... dude... remember, I'm a fitness chick who's 6'2" and not even a buck fifty. You can also SEE when I've eaten a big-ass restaurant meal. And that? Is just all kinds of psychological oh-hell-no. (:

      I don't see where you thought I'd detect disagreement... lol

  • 3mo

    yes defiantly, free is best, but i expect if both have the money the check should be split, but if she doesn't have money than i have no problem paying, but only if its on a second date because she can ditch me on the first, and i dont go to fancy restaurants ether, buffets are better.

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  • 3mo

    I wish you were running for president, i'd vote for you in a heartbeat. You are like the smartest most amazing women on this site.

    I salute you ma'am

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  • 3mo

    Finally a sensible take on this subject. Well done!

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  • 3mo

    #Excellent
    Its a coincidence. I think exactly the same.
    I always thought how people kiss or have sex after a date in the restaurant and having full stomach and smelly mouths... LOL
    #RockClimbingDate
    #TrackingDate
    #CampingDate
    #GreatTake
    #AwesomeREDEYEMINDTRICKS

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  • 3mo

    Things I have to look forward to again since I'm back in the dating scene I guess but gives me a few ideas and pointers, but nice take though😊

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  • 3mo

    Where do you come up with this stuff? As in it's really good I think. I saw the movie of the below trailer.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptxW2lhzbVQ

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    • 3mo

      Hah thanks. Basically took a reply I wrote to a question here, and expanded on it (I'm beyond rotten at coming up with topics cold)

    • 3mo

      Same here. At times it's a thing of "ooo... That response give me an idea for a thread (either a "my take" or a question).

  • 3mo

    Either split, the one who did the asking or the one who ordered a $50 steak or something

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  • 3mo

    🙋🏽 I'm all up for fun spontaneous connection driven first dates, especially outdoors one

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  • More from Guys
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What Girls Said 15

  • 3mo

    I love this.

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  • 3mo

    Nice!

    I like this option best. =)

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  • 3mo

    I <3 your first date ideas since they're free but I think this is simple. Go dutch until you're exclusive. Then when you are, whoever's idea the date was pays for it.

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    • 3mo

      This seems the most fair solution.

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    • 3mo

      That's fair.

      How does "dutch" work in yr formulation? Strictly halvesies? Or, according to what each person actually spends?
      (mb these are always close enough to each other that it doesn't matter... the difference just occurs to me because I'm a non-drinker who mostly hangs out with people who drink, so my bill at restaurants is always WAY less than other people's)

    • 3mo

      @redeyemindtricks not 50/50, just only pay for your share.

  • 3mo

    Amazing contribution and excellent logic as always! This is a really different and interesting concept to the whole "who should pay" debate that no one truly thinks about. Over all well done!

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  • 3mo

    Our first two dates were at a party.
    But whenever we dined out he would pay. On picnics I would bring food and drinks/snacks from home.
    After we got married, we put all of the incoming cash in one box, and all of the non-cash in a joint bank account with two credit/debit cards to access that same account. We've never had to argue about money.
    Although sometimes I wish we each had an allowance to spend on stupid stuff and to literally wast, but he says it's ok to do even that from our joint venture. Anyway. Whatever...

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    • 3mo

      Well, sounds like it's worked out for you... congratulations on yr marriage!

    • 3mo

      Thanks! I really love your solution to this paying the bill problem, and I'm truly amazed at the way you pay attention to what is going on around you and on GAG.

    • 3mo

      Thank you for the kind words, anonymous sweetheart. <3

  • 3mo

    I've said the exact same thing. you are the only other person i've seen say it though. ESPECIALLY #1, never got the eating for a first date. it's the opposite of what id want to be doing. before during and after.

    great take!!!

    :-)

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    • 3mo

      Right?
      Also, I have the kind of physique where you can literally SEE when I've eaten a big restaurant meal (very tall and very slender -- I literally look noticeably "softer" and dumpier after I eat lots of food at once). Not even kidding, lol...
      Quite apart from the whole feeling-too-full-to-get-frisky thing, that's not exactly conducive to feeling sexy ahahah

      Thanks for the kind words <3

  • 3mo

    I agree!! People make such a big deal out of who should pay it's ridiculous.

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  • 3mo

    I'm sorry but I don't want to go hiking on a first date. I would rather wear a red dress with my favorite pair of red high heel pumps and look dolled up.

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    • 3mo

      I'm more of an "indoor enthusiast" too -- and ahhhh how I love clothes -- so, I'm pretty much with you here. But, trying to cover everyone's bases.

      Red dress huh? Daring...

  • 3mo

    Why does everyone keep talking about this?

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  • 3mo

    I should just refer people to this take when that question's asked again.

    I've always thought the first date should be either free, or low-cost, like coffee, ice cream, drinks, and a nice walk, or checking out a cool festival together, going to a free open air concert, free day at a museum, art exhibit or garden, take a walking tour, go to a farmer's market, picnic at a park, etc.

    And when you do start going on dates that cost money, this is spot on:

    "But, whatever the agreement is, the most important point is that *it shouldn't be a big deal*. It should *come naturally*, as part of the dynamic of a healthy relationship."

    Dates should be about getting to know each other and/or spending time together first and foremost. If you put so much stock into who pays what, and are worrying about that the whole time, or you've got some kind of gender war playing out in your head - rather than making a connection with the person you're on a date with - you're going to have problems.

    Only thing - I wouldn't suggest hiking for a first date, unless you already know each other fairly well. A lot of girls aren't going to be comfortable with that (especially online first dates), but there's plenty of other fun, free/inexpensive dates you can go on that are more in the public eye.

    Good take!

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    • 3mo

      "If you put so much stock into who pays what, and are worrying about that the whole time, or you've got some kind of gender war playing out in your head - rather than making a connection with the person you're on a date with - you're going to have problems."

      ^^ Amen sissy!

      Incidentally, I have same thoughts about how everyone is over-thinking the "dominant" and "submissive" parts of sex, after the whole 50 shades phenomenon. Like... fucking can't even just be fucking anymore, because everyone is obsessed with trying to figure out whether it's "submissive" to eat pussy, or whatever. LOL I was thinking of making that a take, too.

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    • 3mo

      Sweet, thanks.

  • 3mo

    Amen, sista friend. I definitely agree with the thought of just covering each other's meals and then letting the other person pay the next time. I'm even cool with splitting the bill if you really want to be that fair. I have never kept track of who paid what when I've gone to dinner with my boothang.

    "Well, I paid $35.23 this time around, and you only paid $29.50 the last time. You still owe me." That just sounds ridiculous. Sure, someone may end up paying a bit more one time versus the other, but it shouldn't matter if you really care for the person. It all should just about even out in the long run.

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    • 3mo

      Indeed!

      I once went out with my brothers and a few of their friends, and one of the friends and his girlfriend -- it was actually his girlfriend of a few months, not even just some random date -- literally started to freak out when they couldn't split their bill *exactly* according to their *exact* expenses (like, because they didn't have enough small bills, or something).

      It was soooo most awkward pony. Srsly one of the top 5 most awkward social moments I've ever seen (they were making total fools of themselves in front of about 16 other people -- we were pretty much all doing that "no, I'm totally not staring... OK I'm staring" thing, the same kind of thing you do with really bad car accidents ahah)

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    • 3mo

      Was that meant to be a response to the male anon thread (where I also talked about "next time")?
      If not, search the page for "next time" -- it's pretty uncanny. Great minds think alike, and all that. (:

      I actually had to break a freakin' FIVE so they could "square" their bills! 😂😂😂😂😂 Not even kidding, I had to spot them 4 singles and 4 quarters! Loooool
      These two were... uhm very "colorful". (They met at an AA meeting, to give you an idea...) They were absolutely hilarious to watch together, for all kinds of reasons. I gotta ask my brother if they're still together 😂😂

    • 3mo

      Hahahahaha, no, I was just responding to what you said to me. That is funny, though. xD

  • 3mo

    Great take. 👏👏👏

    I've always wondered who the are these guys taking women to expensive restaurants for a first date. I think it might be an American thing. In the UK the majority of first dates seem to be a couple drinks in a pub.

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    • 3mo

      Compared to all the other countries I've lived in, the US does seem to be the one place where people are averse to doing ONLY drinks as a first date.

      It occasionally happens -- and it's more common now that trendy wine bars and such are a thing -- but, yeah, that's more common in other countries.

      You gotta remember that the US has this weirdly schizo relationship with alcohol. This isn't a place where people learn to drink in moderation (like in, say, Italy, where most people are accustomed to having wine with family meals and suchlike).
      Most people in the US learned to drink by SERIOUSLY binge-drinking -- and basically hiding it (since alcohol enforcement here is WAY more strict than anywhere else in the world). So socially you'll see some differences from the rest of the world.

  • 3mo

    @redeyemindtricks Spoken like a true, mature adult. This is how it's done in the real adult world. ❀️❀️❀️❀️

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    • 3mo

      haha "mature adult"... ya know, sometimes I actually stop and reflect on the idea that I'm responsible for the lives and well-being of my three little human beings, and I kinda freak out a little bit.

      I used to be more worried about failing at motherhood, since I didn't really have any role models (my mother died when I was 2, and all of my living close relatives were male)... until I realized that all of the other new moms were "winging it" just as much as I was ahah

      I actually feel more like a kid now than I did as an actual kid, tbph. I had to grow up pretty fast, since we all had to pitch in to make ends meet -- and, on top of that, I was dealing with manic-depression, and my brothers and I had to bury a couple of our friends. So yeah, sometimes I feel less "mature" than I did when I was fifteen ahha

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    • 3mo

      ahha I wish I had a discount code or something for ya, but, at least you'll be supporting a local LV business (I lived there for a few years, so I feel that extra little bit of stewardship lol).

      Hey, even *I* pay full price for those little fuckers, and I hardly pay full price for *anything* cosmetics wise. (: Def worth it.

    • 3mo

      I lived in Vegas for awhile too years ago. Sure has changed since then.

      Sooo gonna buy some of that shit.

  • 3mo

    Beautiful!! I agree. by the way vanilla dude and I broke up!!! Dating scene... here I come!!

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  • 3mo

    awesome take!!! i agree with almost everything you said. I will say though that I have been on plenty of first dates at a restaurant and they haven't been awkward. when it comes to the paying situation, i do the exact thing you mentioned for the later dates. people get so caught up in their independence that they forget that paying for someone is just a kind gesture that will be reciprocated if its the right person.

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    • 3mo

      "people get so caught up in their independence that they forget that paying for someone is just a kind gesture that will be reciprocated if its the right person."

      ^^ Yeah.

      Although I'd be careful to draw a line between "independence" and... just plain mistrust, or avoidant/antisocial character in general.
      True independence unnecessarily gets a bad rap from people who confuse it with those things. I wrote about that in my opinion here:
      www.girlsaskguys.com/.../q2064143-do-you-find-independence-attractive

    • 3mo

      And thanks for the kind words <3

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