Who Should Pay on the First Date?

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Not so many years ago, the question as to who should pay on the first date was obvious, as tradition dictated that the man would treat the woman on a first date, as well as on subsequent days. But things aren’t quite that simple anymore, as it’s not a given that the man will pay on a first date. So nowadays, what exactly is the proper protocol on a first date? Who should pay?

Well, in a perfect world, this would be something that the two people going on a date will have talked about before the time comes when they have to pay, because then you run the risk of starring at one another awkwardly, and that can be embarrassing for both parties. But if the two people haven’t discussed this beforehand, then the man should go into the date assuming that he’s going to be paying for the date. For men, even if you hate the tradition, even if you don’t feel like it, even if you don’t understand it, and even if you’re going on a date with a woman who considers herself a feminist, you should still be prepared to pay on a first date. The fact of the matter is that paying is a sign of generosity and respect, two things that you’d like to convey on a first date. Moreover, a man offering to pay on a first date is not necessarily a sign of gender inequality; it’s merely a kind gesture towards someone you like.

Of course, it’s perfectly all right if the women would like to pay, or for the two parties to split the bill, or for the two parties to pay separately. As long as the two people are in agreement on how they’ll pay for things without the situation turning contemptuous, it doesn’t matter what the end result is. The most important thing is that both parties are comfortable with how the situation is negotiated. If a woman is uncomfortable having the man pay for entire bill, then the man shouldn’t insist that he pay for the whole thing. Conversely, if a man isn’t comfortable picking up the whole tab, then a woman shouldn’t be offended by having to pay for herself. If the two people can’t reach an agreement on who should pay without bickering or getting frustrated with one another, then they probably shouldn’t be on a date anyway.

When considering who should pay on a first date, it’s also good to exercise common sense. For instance, if it’s clear that one person pursued the other and initiated the date, the asker should go into the date expecting to pay, or at the very least split the bill evenly, regardless of gender. Both parties should also be sensitive to the financial situation of the other person, and if they know the other person isn’t in a position to pay for the entire date, they shouldn’t expect that person to do so, and either offer to pay or split everything evenly. That’s not the most traditional approach, but in this day in age, sensibility is more important than tradition.

Above all else, don’t take the matter of who pays for a first date too seriously, and don’t stress out too much about it; after all, dates are supposed to be fun, and first dates are stressful enough as it is. Even if you don’t like the tradition of men paying on the first date, it’s not the end of the world to abide by it, and if the two parties continue dating, there will eventually be reciprocation and both parties will end up paying for different things and everything will turn out even in the end. Men should still expect to pay on a first date unless otherwise discussed, but as long as both parties are comfortable, it doesn’t matter who pays, one way or another.

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