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Who Pays on a First Date?

Help to Find Love: Who Pays on a First DateWhether it’s in the line at Starbucks or when the waitress brings the check. At some point you have to decide — who pays for the first date?

The Man Usually Pays
I hate to say it, because it sounds so traditional.  But, most of the time the woman expects and the man assumes he will pay.

What if She Asked Him?
It doesn’t matter.  She might offer to pay.  But, the consensus from the women in my classes was — if he let her pay, she probably wouldn’t go out with him again.  I KNOW — REALLY SEXIST!

How Can a Man Afford to Date?
It’s not really fair if you’re a guy.  Especially in today’s economy!  But, it doesn’t have to be an expensive first date.  In fact it’s better if your first date is something low-key like coffee or lunch.  (See First Date Tips to Leave Them Wanting More)

I have to admit, some of the women at my seminars are willing to pay.  They’re not as young as the grad students in my classes.  Maybe that’s why they’re more understanding.  Or maybe they’ve had to adjust their expectations.

But, regardless, most women prefer for the man to pay.  I think it goes back to the “provider” thing.  It makes a woman feel taken care of.

Avoiding the Awkward Moments
So, how do you navigate the logistics?  Whether it’s buying her coffee or reaching for the check, a simple “I’ve got this” says it all.

And remember, this is just for the first date.  If you continue to see each other, it’s nice for her to start pitching in at some point.

It doesn’t have to be: “Let’s split the bill.  I had the salad.  You had the chicken.”
It can be:  “You got dinner.  How about if I get the movie?”
Or:  “You’ve taken me out several times.  Maybe I could bring a picnic or make you dinner next time?”

It shows that she appreciates his generosity.  And she’s aware that he’s not made of money.

Being a Gracious Guest
And I don’t know if this is still true, but traditionally a woman wouldn’t go for the most expensive item on the menu.  I know it’s old school.  But, she would be sensitive to the fact that she is his guest.  And she would order something in the middle price range.

A First and Last Date Story
I remember a first date where all I ordered was soup.  And the guy still wanted to split the bill.   I wasn’t really having a great time anyway.  But, that really felt bad.  And then he tried to go in for a kiss in the parking lot.  Let’s just say, we didn’t go out again.

Vonda (“Vondie”) Lozano, Ph.D., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Hypnotherapist. She’s been featured in Cosmopolitan, the Wall Street Journal and on KABC Talk Radio. Vondie offers hypnosis, counseling, and workshops in Ventura. Nearby cities include Camarillo, Ojai and Oxnard.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Karolein

    Splitting the check, especially early in a relationship, feels like we’re moving to the “just friends” category. Perhaps a contradiction, but I do generally offer to split the check/bill, and have cash on hand. I would wonder, however, how serious a guy is if he takes me up on it. (These dates are normally just coffee, or lunch/dinner at a $-$$ restaurant.) I’d definitely offer some token of reciprocity after a few dates – e.g., treat to a movie, bring the food for a picnic, or make him dinner.

    • Vondie

      Hi Kari,
      I agree. There’s something about him paying that makes it a date! When I’m talking to women and they say, I went out with so-and-so, but I’m not sure if it was a date or not. I always ask — did he pay? If he did, it’s a date.
      Thanks for your comment!
      Vondie :)
      p.s. we’ll have to have another video chat soon! Haven’t seen you in FOREVER!

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