The age-old dilemma of who should pay for a date is a tricky one; even more so if it’s a first date. The uncomfortable once-the-bill-has-arrived situation arises even when the outing has otherwise run completely smoothly.
Who looks first? Who reaches for their wallet first? Who comes straight out and asks (or tells!) first? STRESS!
I’ve been talking to some friends about it and pondering the options. Here are my findings:
This is the old-fashioned way to do things, supported by the notion that a gentleman should look after his lady and she shouldn’t have to worry about a thing, especially financially.
A male friend commented: “In this age of ‘I’, everyone is something of an opportunist. Some women are particularly frugal and most men want to look good in front of women, so he pays.”
Also, the whole “I insist” scenario is eradicated a lot more quickly if the female is happy to be treated to her meal, or drinks, or theatre ticket. I mean, picture two independent and strong-minded individuals who are both trying very hard to be seen as equals (and therefore both want to pay not only for themselves but for their date, too), sitting at a table, arguing for hours about whose card gets charged… what a nightmare.
With that said, it’s unfortunate that a LOT of people still think that it’s unacceptable for a woman to pay, even just for herself. I’ve been on dates where I’ve insisted on paying half of the bill, only for my date to be given a disapproving look by the waiter. External opinions still seem to be of importance to a lot of guys, and most won’t let me so much as look at my purse for fear of looking ‘inferior’.
Feminism comes into play here – the “if women want equal rights, they’ve got to cough up too” argument might be a basic one, but the idea that women are no longer seen as second-rate humans who need to be looked after by their male partners does suggest we should pay for ourselves at least some of the time.
I really wouldn’t mind paying for some of the dates I go on – especially if I’ve organised it, or made the first move. It’s nice to be treated once in a while and I see no reason why this should be a one-way system.
To avoid not being ‘allowed’ to chip in, you could try to invite your date out for something and pre-booking or paying in advance – it saves him the potential embarrassment and it’s nice not having to think about money whilst you’re enjoying yourselves, anyway.
Seems fair, really. But not if you’re a girl who’s gone out expecting him to pay! Try to save yourself any shocks by carrying enough cash to cover your share, just in case.
This is my personal favourite (and I even do this with friends to make bill-splitting easier). If he’s paid for this date, I make a point of our next one being on me. It keeps things nice and even. I won’t feel like I’m talking advantage and he will (hopefully) still feel gentlemanly!
I’d love to hear what you all think, so leave a comment and let the debate begin.