Should Men Really Be Paying for the First Date?

Should Men Really Be Paying for the First Date?

Who pays for the first date?

I was in a rough streak of first dates that I didn’t enjoy.  No attraction, no chemistry.  Trying to turn around my fortunes, I asked out a woman who had nothing in common with me.  I was desperate to break my bad luck.  So I asked her out for drinks on a Sunday night at 8 p.m.

My Villagers, there are many unwritten rules in dating, and one of them is that Sunday night drink dates are meant to be short.  The underlying theory is that the work week is rapidly approaching and people need to get a good night sleep.

Well, my date didn’t get the hint.  I ordered a margarita, and she ordered a three course dinner (and a margarita).  It was a long dinner, and not in a good way.

When the bill came, she didn’t even fake a move for her wallet.  Truth be told, even if she had, I would have paid the bill.  But I would have appreciated the gesture on a date as forgettable as this one.

Forgetting what actually happened, let’s discuss what should have happened…

Should I have paid?  The date was my idea and it is traditional for men to pay for the first date.

Or, should she have paid?  She was the only one who ate and she didn’t get the hint that the date was supposed to be short.

Or should we have split the bill?  

Let’s discuss….


Let me just give you a little roundup of what other dating experts have to say about who pays for the first date:

Karyn Polewaczyk, on the Boston Globe website, remains “convinced that tradition has its place here, and that guys should pay for first dates.”
Madeline Murphy, at AskMen, says that “paying for things is not just the gentlemanly thing to do, it also indicates that you are responsible, steady and well-established.”

Lauren Suval, at PsychCentral, believes that men paying on the first date is “symbolic of their character and speaks to romance.”

 I believe in gender equality as much as anyone, but the first date isn’t the time to split bills.  Men pay for first dates.  Ladies, it wouldn’t kill you to fake a motion to your purse.  A gentleman won’t take you up on the offer, but the gesture is appreciated.


At Psychology Today, Dr. Jeremy Nicholson looks at the question from an evolutionary psychology standpoint and a social psychology standpoint.  Ultimately, he says that for people wanting a “traditional male-led relationship,” the man is still “expected to make all of the moves, ask for the date, and pay.”  More egalitarian couples should opt for an “equal sharing of payment.”

At the Huffington Post, Alicia Mendenez interviewed Feministe blogger Jill Filopovic, who says, “I think that can create a really unhealthy power dynamic in a relationship if the man is always paying.”

Dating coach Evan Marc Katz wrote a four line scene in which the check comes, the woman fakes for her wallet, the man insists on paying and the woman thanks him for his generosity.  He concludes, “Presuming the man can safely afford it, this script should play out on every date during the courting phase.”

My take is this:  The person who organizes the date should pay for it.  I like my rule of thumb for a few reasons:

  • It is simple
  • It promotes both parties planning dates
  • It allows for the sharing of the financial burden
  • The person with more money can plan and pay for a more expensive date, and the person with less money can plan and pay for a less expensive one
On the whole, though, I like the idea of the man planning more dates than the woman during the courting period.
What do you think?  I’d love to hear your opinion.  Post it in the Comments, below.


One thing I know from experience is that everyone has an opinion on this.  Do you know what your friends think?  Find out!  Share this on your favorite social network and get the conversation going:  Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn StumbleUpon.


  • Men should pay for the first date
  • Women should at least fake a desire to chip in
  • There is no settled rule for who should pay for the next dates, but…
  • I think that the person who plans the date should pay for it
Jeremy Hamburgh
Jeremy Hamburgh
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  1. I absolutely completely agree with you. Unfortunately, the reality of who plans/who pays in the courting stage is usually, always tricky. Two examples:
    1) I once dated a guy who made significantly less money than I make. However, he only eats at kosher restaurants. I don’t care about only eating at kosher restaurants. On one of our dates, this guy insisted on going for dinner at an expensive, kosher sushi restaurant. When the check came I was angry that he insisted on taking me to this expensive, kosher sushi restaurant because I knew he really couldn’t afford our meal. Part of me wanted to let him just pay the bill since he was the one who chose the restaurant, and part of me wanted to do the right thing and just pay for my portion since I felt bad for him. In the end, I offered and ultimately paid for my meal.
    On the other hand:
    2) I once dated a guy who, at time we were dating, was definitely, easily making at least 2 or 3 times what I was making. While we were dating we feel into a pattern of going back and forth in terms of who paid for what, which I thought was fair. However, when he would do things like let me pay for his $25 brunch, which I had no problem paying for but then, not 15 minutes later, only very begrudgingly pay for my $2 bottle of water at a cash-only bodega when I had no cash and was dying of thirst on a hot August day, I definitely felt beyond slighted.

    • M,

      You’ve had some really interesting experiences with paying on dates. You’re a good sport for being willing to open your wallet. Have you had any new experiences to share?



  1. […] you have enough money to cover the date, if […]

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