Who Pays For The First Date?

By Brandi Savitt – August 15, 2011

Is It Ever Okay for the Guy NOT to Pay?

This past weekend I went on a first date with a handsome but quiet Italian attorney, while my friend Amy had a first rendezvous with a cute and witty web designer she met online.  During our ‘date debrief’ on Sunday, we sipped our tea and chuckled over the awkward moments from the night before.  I told Amy how my guy ordered a delicious bottle of Italian wine but struggled to talk about anything but work.  And then she told me that when the check came at the end of her date and she offered to pay her share, the guy happily took her cash just before asking her when he could see her again!  Say what?!

In the moment, Amy felt fine about splitting the bill.  As a career woman who has traveled the world by herself, it didn’t intellectually make sense that Web Guy should have to foot the entire bill for their date.  It is 2011 after all.  But the more she thought about it – and the more honest she was with herself- she admitted it was a total turnoff.

Let the People Talk

After comparing my stereotypical date with a true gentleman to Amy’s more modern day meet and greet, I set out to talk to as many people as I could this morning to get their opinion on who they thought should pay for the first date in this day and age.  To my surprise, 10 out of 10 (both men & women between the ages of 23-40) said the guy should always pay on the first date – even if the woman asks them out!

It seems although we live in a post feminist world where stay-at-home dads are a.o.k with their wives bringing home the bacon, the New Yorkers I talked to ALL felt that when it comes to dating, tradition rules.  The guy pays on the first date, or there shouldn’t be another…

Money & Mating Rituals

While it seems totally archaic to say out loud, could these 10 educated professionals living in this giant modern city all have it backwards?  So, I asked them WHY.  Why does the guy feel the need to pay?  What does it mean to the women if the guy doesn’t pay?  Is the nature of courtship solely based on tradition?  Or is the man’s need to woo, and the woman’s need to be wooed, something more rooted in biology?  And while my brief Fab & Fru Q&A session was certainly not ground-breaking science, it did show that when it comes to dating -money does matter- at least in the moment…

What the Ladies Said…

Although it was hard for some of them to articulate at first, and a few of the ladies seemed embarrassed to admit it, the bottom line was that they all felt disrespected by a man not picking up the tab on the first date.   Most of the women said they always offer to pay, but they are put off when a guy accepts their polite gesture.  At the end of the day, society still dictates that the man pays for the first date. It’s a customary mating gesture, and tradition counts when it comes to love and trust.  The consensus:  a guy who doesn’t pay sends a negative message, and none of these ladies would likely go out with him again.

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4 Responses to “Who Pays For The First Date?”

  1. Franny says:

    I consider myself a modern, independent woman, but I definitely prefer when the man pays on the first date. I know I’ll pay for a second date (if there is one). Paying for me shows courtesy, respect and some good ol’ fashioned manners.

  2. Joannie says:

    The women of today rarely admit that they believe the guy should pay on the first date, but they do believe it. I have no respect for a man that lets a women pay on the first date. It definitely is a matter of respect and this is one woman that would not date a cheap guy.

  3. Lisa says:

    Amen, Franny. I couldn’t agree more – I, too, appreciate a traditional gentleman – and to me that means one who pays on the first date!

  4. dodv says:

    This is one of many things wrong with the world nowadays – all the hypocrisy. Women are all for equality unless it’s coming out of their own purse. And here’s a tip for Amy and any other woman: if you don’t want to pay the bill, then you shouldn’t be offering. Men think sensibly and straightforward. Our brains aren’t programmed to interpret your preposterous logic and reasoning. Making an offer and then getting ticked when it’s accepted may make sense or seem justified in your twisted mind, but any sane person would think you’re just crazy.

    To answer the article’s question, whoever wants to pay, or whoever is more financially endowed, should pay. The idea that the man should be the great provider is a stale tradition that needs to go the way of the dodo bird. I’ve never heard any argument as to why the guy should have to pay that extends beyond “because he’s a male,” which is flawed and ridiculous “logic” at best. Following a practice for the sake of tradition is stupid and pointless when the tradition has no real sense behind it.

    If anyone can enlighten me as to how letting the woman pay makes a guy cheap, disrespectful, rude, selfish, scum, undateable, or (insert your favorite derogatory adjective here), and if you can do it WITHOUT using absurdities like “because he’s a man” or “because it’s tradition,” then I’d be delighted to see what you have to say.

Any Thoughts?