The dinner is over and the waitress hands you the check. Here comes your awkward moment for the night: who should pay on a date? This is a question we, as matchmakers, receive all the time and, the truth is, there is no set answer. In the dating world, there are all kinds of little etiquette rules. Some are hard and fast rules, while others are ever bending and changing. If you asked this question in the 1950’s, the answer would always have been the same: the man pays for the date. Period. If you asked in the 1990’s, with the rise of the working mother and independent woman movement, the answer may have been more equal. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find a woman pay for the date or at least split it down the middle.

So what is the etiquette when it comes to paying for a date? It seems the answer lies more on the type of date (is it a first date) and the nature of the relationship.

First Date

Though it may seem old fashioned, on a first date it is customary for the man to pay. This rule is set in stone, but if you want to break it, then you risk not getting a second date. The man pays as a way of showing interest and stability. The woman may offer to pay for the tip or contribute in some way, but the honorable man will not accept any offer. It is his treat.

We've had many women tell us time and time again there's no way they'll give a guy a second date if he doesn't at least offer to pay.  To not at least offer, makes men look cheap and not caring of the lady they're supposed to care for.

Ladies- allow the man to pay on the first date if you're interested in seeing him again. He wants to impress you.  However, if you know you won't see him for a second date, then you should offer to at least split the tab and not take advantage of him.

First Three Months

In the first three months together, you are courting and getting to know each other. During this time, the man will pay but it is alright for the woman to at least split the bill, especially if the woman initiated the date. For a woman to show interest in paying shows that she also wants to contribute and that she is independent and confident in her own space. In our world of equality and feminism, it is very empowering for a woman to show her financial security on a date.  Women also will often times cook for the man or he may cook for her.

Long Term Relationships

If you are in a long term relationship and have had “the conversation” as to where your relationship stands, you will begin to notice a pattern of paying on dates. Some men stand by the rule that the man pays for the date, while other men are more open to splitting the bill or sharing costs on occasion. Some women are happy with splitting the bill, while others will not stand for it. There should always be some give and take.

Of course you will want to take into account wealth disparities.  If one person makes significantly more than the other person, you'll want to recognize that with your budget and either not eat out so much or offer to pick up the tab more often if you make more.  I know one relationship where he pays when they go out to eat and she pays for groceries since they live together.

All relationships are built on communication and trust, if you feel like there should be a conversation on splitting the bills, be open to talking to each other. Make sure you do not give, give, give in a relationship. Also, make sure you don’t take, take, take. If the man prefers to pay, repay him by cooking a nice meal on occasion or doing something nice for him during the day. There are so many other ways to be equal that don’t involve splitting a dinner check.

What do you think about who should pay on the date?  What's worked for you and your relationships?  Share it below in the comments.

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