I Insist On Paying For My Dates—Here’s Why

At the end of every date, I always reach for the check. I don’t pay for every meal I go out for with a guy (we usually agree to go dutch), but I do find that picking up the bill can set the tone for the relationship or future dates.

  1. It gives me an ego boost. I work hard for my money and normally adhere to a strict budget, so I’m proud of how I manage my finances. What better way to indulge in that pride than to treat the person I’m having dinner with? Picking up the tab makes me feel like a powerful woman, and often this small ego boost is exactly what I need to be confident around my date.
  2. It sends a message about relationship expectations. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the men and women whose endgame is to be a trophy spouse or a sugar baby, or even those who are looking for a partner to support them as a stay-at-home parent, that’s just not me. I find that picking up the tab is a quick, clear, nonverbal way of letting my date know that I’m not looking for his financial support in any form.
  3. It shows that I’m invested in my partner. We’ve all heard the stories on social media and even our friends: some people are just looking for a free drink or a free meal, and that phone number scribbled on a napkin could easily be fake. Picking up the check is a great way for me to show my partner that I am taking this potential relationship seriously and not simply using him for free meals or to fill my Saturday night.
  4. Men like to feel special too. Even if they may not show it, men enjoy being treated just as much as women do. And in a society where ‘date etiquette’ often puts the onus on men to woo and impress, I find that guys are often pleasantly surprised with gestures such as paying for the meal. It’s another way for me to show my date that I value him and his time.
  5. It removes any sense of entitlement. And now, we come to the less warm-and-fuzzy part of this article. Too often, I have found that men who pay for your meal don’t see the exchange as treating you—they see it as an investment that will repay itself on further dates or in the bedroom. Paying for the meal myself removes any sense that my date is entitled to anything from me, including a walk home, further communication, or a goodnight kiss.
  6. It removes any sense of obligation. On the other hand, paying for a date also removes any sense of obligation that I may feel towards my partner. I’m the kind of person who absolutely hates owing anyone anything, so feeling as if I’m indebted to a potential date is never something that puts me at ease. Paying removes this completely and frees me up to behave however I’d like after the dinner, regardless of monetary expenditure.
  7. You can learn a lot about someone by gauging their reaction. Some men may interpret having their female partner pick up the check as emasculating, or as their partner attempting to show off or exert dominance. While rare, these overreactions raise major red flags for me that may otherwise have gone unnoticed until much later in the relationship.
  8. It makes taking the next steps and further contact easier. Paying for dates makes me less nervous about reaching out to arrange the next date—or to tell him, firmly but politely, that there isn’t going to be one. I don’t feel the need to excessively apologize or explain myself, and I don’t feel any obligation to continue a relationship or remain on speaking terms because he took me out.
  9. It sets me at ease. Knowing that I’m going to pay frees me from worrying about trivial things such as the cost of what I’m ordering, where we go, or what activities we do. Not having to second guess my choices is very freeing and often helps me to be more at ease with my partner. I often find that when I pay for dates, I’m more charismatic, charming, and all-around comfortable in my own skin.
  10. It makes me feel independent and more comfortable treating myself. After all, you’re the best date you’re ever going to have. Footing the bill for others on dates makes me relax more about taking myself out, whether it’s for a nice dinner after a long day, a cool concert no one else can see with me, or a latte in the park. After all, if I’m going to treat others, why not treat myself?
Kate is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where she studied English, Psychology, and how to solve life's problems with a couple friends and a bottle of wine (ok, maybe two bottles). When she's not writing, you can find Kate playing musical instruments badly, or going on hiking and camping trips to enjoy the great outdoors.