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Who Pays On Dates?

January 23, 2012
When it comes to paying for dates, the rule is simple: always assume you are going to split the check, and offer to do so. If you wouldn't be willing to pay for your half of the date in order to spend time with a guy, then you shouldn't accept his invitation to go out in the first place. So the first part of keeping the financial side of dates simple is not accepting invitations from guys you aren't interested in.

In most cases, when you offer to pay for yourself, he will refuse. If he doesn't, remember that your assumption was that you were paying for yourself anyway. He is probably just as confused about whether or not he should insist on paying, as you are about whether or not you should offer. Some men think they will offend the woman by offering to pay (by suggesting that she couldn't). Others have probably heard advice saying that they shouldn't so that you won't think he is too interested in you.

When the check arrives or you approach the cashier, always reach for your money. This shouldn't be theatrics or an attempt to induce his offer to pick up the check. Remember, unless he tells you otherwise, assume that you are going to pay for your half and act accordingly. If you get your money out faster than he does or get to the cashier first, ask him "so do you want to just split it?" (i.e. divide it 50-50 rather than itemize). This way he knows you aren't trying to pay for the whole thing. Asking him "can I pay for my half?" before he offers to pay for your half sounds presumptuous because it implies that he was planning to pay for you, when he very well may not have been.

If he refuses your offer to pay for yourself, don't insist. This heightens the confusion for the guy (see above). It also isn't necessary. If he actually wants to split the check he will accept your offer the first time. If he refuses to let you pay, reply with a simple "are you sure?.... thank you" and leave it at that.

If you are short on money and can't afford to pay for yourself (e.g. for an expensive dinner), tell him this when he asks you out. Say something like "I'd really like to but I can't afford to [whatever the date is] right now. Could we go [somewhere else] instead?" (the key is suggesting an alternative). At this point he will probably clarify that he is picking up the check, so all you need to do is politely accept. If he doesn't offer, then you've just avoided an awkward situation in which the time to pay arrives and you don't have enough money to cover your part.

Never offer to pay for the whole date (i.e. pay for him and yourself) until you've been out several times, or received some kind of commitment from him. While it is a generous gesture, it could too easily be interpreted as an attempt to impress. If he sees that you want him badly, he will start to wonder in the back of his mind if he can do better. It might also come off as an assertion of your individuality, which will not impress him. This is something women like in men, not vice versa.

If he pays, make a point to say thank you. While failing to do so probably won't be the only factor in a guy's decision to ask you out again, it can definitely be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Don't fuck up your chances by omitting common courtesy.

In general, stop thinking about dates as formulaic "events" for which Hollywood has defined the normal course and etiquette. A date is nothing other than two people who are attracted to each other spending time together. Neither of you knows the other well enough to be sure that the investment of time and money will be worthwhile, so neither of you owes the other anything - let alone paying for the other.

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