Dating: Who pays on a first date?

by singlemomseeking on December 8, 2008

Money is such a loaded topic, and too often in my life, money has been attached to emotional strings.

So, on a first date, I always want to divide the bill, fair and square. That’s my way of avoiding any conflict about money, so I hope.

Yet, I’ve talked to some women who say, “Well, if we hit it off, I let him pay.”

And I’ve been with men who insist on paying — and, no, it’s not worth a first date argument to duke it out.

I was recently interviewed in article for — “Amid slump, singles cut dating costs” — about the fact that the slump in the economy is sparking creative ideas for dates.

One 35-year-old man plans museum visits with a first date around “free” days at the museum. (I don’t blame him. Do you?)

More and more singles are “are turning down swanky restaurants for casual rendezvous or even homemade dinners.” Are you among them?

I am.

I told the reporter that instead of going out for fancy dinners, you might go bowling or rolling skating, or head to a free outdoor concert. (If you live in California!)

Until recently, I loved hiking on a date. (Not a first date for safety reasons, although a second date is fine.)

“Besides the chocolate, fruit and water she and her date split on their three-hour hike, the only other price she paid was getting poison oak.”

Your turn:

On a first date, who pays?

Do you discuss who’ll pay beforehand?

Do you find yourself suggesting “free” dates instead of fancy dinners and drinks?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous NJ May 10, 2010 at 9:46 am

I almost always pay for the first date because it’s something I would want a guy to do for my sister, but I plan pretty carefully so the date doesn’t turn out to be expensive. I find Asian places are good places to find sub-$10 entrees and yet not be perceived as cheap. I also don’t order drinks on a first date.

What I don’t do on a first date is travel all the way to see her. There aren’t many, but there are some women who expect you to travel all the way out to see them. If a girl expects me to spend 1 or even 2 hours in transit just for a ???? hour first date I don’t arrange a date at all. I believe that first dates should be at mutually convenient locations.


Anna December 18, 2008 at 11:07 am

Bad date story: I met a guy online and we agreed to go to dinner. He asked me where I would like to go and I suggested a nice medium-priced place. The date did not go well, no oomph! When the check came he slid it across the table towards me. I said “oh sure we will split the bill”. He then said “oh but you chose the restaurant” and did not reach for his wallet. I slid the check back across the table towards him, stood up, grabbed my coat and purse and left him sitting there. I was the first one to the door. Frankly he deserved it. I didn’t even get the chance to do the “reach”!!! A true story….I kid you not.


walt December 13, 2008 at 8:54 pm

I always pay on the first date, but I like to see “the reach.” If we go through two dates and she still has not offered to pay for anything, there won’t likely be a third date. It’s not an issue of affordability, it’s an issue of attitude. There are women who have a strong sense of fairness and women who have an entitled mentality (and some of each seem to have posted here). Since I have a choice, why would want to date anyone but the former?


Lance December 12, 2008 at 10:41 pm

My first dates are always laid back. Just a couple of drinks, 1-2 hours, we pay for our own stuff or trade rounds. It removes the awkwardness of who pays the bill if it’s a dinner. BTW, don’t be freakin buying dinners on a first date. That’s lame.

Lance´s last blog post…Add Randomness To Your Life To Meet People


Wondermom December 12, 2008 at 9:18 am

I usually offer to split it but I’m also usually happy when he insists on paying. I do ALWAYS thank him though. I’ve been dating the current boyfriend for several months now but I still thank him when he pays every time and when he opens the door for me and other “gentleman” stuff. I’ve never discussed who would pay before a first date. Now that we’re both comfortable in this relationship, we have discussed it a few times. He usually prefers to pay because I’ve usually spent as much on the babysitter as he is on dinner. Sometimes we split it like one of us will pay for dinner and the other dessert/drinks/movie or whatever. Occasionally I like to treat him but since I’m currently unemployed (and paying for a sitter) that doesn’t happen too often these days. I have no problem with free dates…I think a walk in the park is better “quality time” than sitting through a movie.

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