Who Should Pay for the Date? The Dreaded Dilemma Examined

Who Should Pay for the Date?

One of the joys of being married is not having to worry about the dreaded “who’s going to pick up the tab?” question during a date. Nonetheless, it will always be a hot topic that many have strong opinions on, and this is a personal finance blog for youthful adults after all, so let’s explore. This is a fun topic, and I’d love to get your comments.

A Little History on the Date Paying Issue

Basically the tradition of the male being expected to pick up the tab started way back in the 1920’s when dating became common because few women had high paying jobs or any jobs at all relative to their male counterparts. Nowadays, circumstances have changed, yet the tradition has been carried on by many. But should it?

Paying for the Date: Some Cold Hard Numbers

who should pay on a dateAn older Elle/MSNBC dating survey on paying for dates found that:

  • 66% of men wanted women to chip in after a few dates.
  • 44% of women were bothered by being expected to help chip in.
  • 57% of women offer to pay (including the first date) – 34% were bothered if the man accepts, and 46% were bothered if he refuses.
  • 75% of men felt guilty when they let the woman pay, even if she has a higher income.
  • 66% of women try to keep their income secret from their dates.
  • 80% of men say they end up paying most date expenses.

These findings illustrate a point that many men have known for years – we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Is it any wonder why guys obsess over this dilemma?

What are the Options when the Bill Comes?

I think there’s three solid options, and it’d definitely worth discussing with your significant other once you are committed. It’s not an easy thing to discuss if you’re not or on your first few dates. Obviously all three are going to have a different impact on your finances:

  1. The Man always pays – i think this option is too traditional and somewhat disrespectful in a number of ways to accept as a given (for both sides).
  2. Whomever makes more pays – this the most humanitarian of the options, but some could be easily offended.
  3. Equal duty regardless of pay – if both are earning an ‘honest income’, it is somewhat just. I tend to like this option the best if incomes are similar, but it’s not an easy conversation to have, especially in the first few dates.
  4. I’ll Get this One, you Get the Next One: OK, this one takes a bit of gusto, but if the date is seemingly going well, you could always offer to pay this time and suggest your date gets the next time. You would only want to do this, of course, if you already know you want additional dates with this person (and you think the feeling is mutual).

I can also tell you this, if you’re a guy reading this, avoid the 44% of women that are bothered by being expected to help and the 34% that are bothered by a man accepting their offer to help (yes, I realize this limits your options, but you’ll thank me down the road).

Women, you should probably avoid the guy who wants to pay every time and you should probably be the one to break the ice on the fair pay topic at some point.

What are your thoughts?

What about for LGBTQ Dates?

I must confess that I am no expert here, but my recommendation would be the same as it is for hetero dates – either split the bill or if the date is going great, offer to pick up this tab if your date gets the next.

How Much Should you Spend on the Date?

Determining how much you/your date/or both of you should spend on a date is a completely separate issue. How much you should spend on a first date is particularly tough. You don’t want to appear materialistic or wasteful, yet you don’t want to appear cheap either.

Paying for the Date Discussion:

  • Who should pay for the first date? 3rd date?
  • What should the rules be?
  • Women: are you bothered if your date expects you to help?
  • Men: would you accept if your date offered to pay?
  • Women: would you be mad if he did accept your offer to pay?
  • Gays: what rules do you play by?

Keep the comments kind and friendly!

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