The question of who should pay on the first date has no real definitive answer—some say it’s outdated to expect men to foot the bill and plenty of people prefer to go dutch. You’d think that as a woman who believes in gender equality would be into splitting the bill but I’m not. I still think the guy should grab the check on the first outing—here’s why:
Two words: wage gap. This is probably the most practical reason for why a guy should pay on the first date. If the fact that women still only make 81¢ for every dollar made by a man isn’t enough to back my argument then I don’t know what is. If a guy insisted on paying for this reason alone, I would think that’s he’s just the coolest for actually caring about the wage gap and would make me like him 10 times more.
If he’s the one who asked me out, he should be the one who pays. If a guy asked me out and picked the restaurant and everything, I would assume in the back of my mind that he’s going to pay for it. It just makes sense, doesn’t it? The same way if I were to take a colleague out for lunch, I would pay because I’m the one “taking them out.” They would be expecting it, and rightfully so.
It makes things less awkward. The whole song and dance of paying for the check can get awkward real fast. The woman will insist on splitting it, but the guy doesn’t know whether she’s just doing it to be nice or because her self-esteem depends on it. One time, a guy I went out with paid the bill while I was in the bathroom. It was perfect. The whole awkwardness of paying for the check was completely avoided and we could continue on our date as if nothing happened.
It’s what grown men do. Grown men don’t put so much importance on money—and by the way, it’s not about spending $100 on a fancy dinner, it’s about buying a $3 chai latte for a really awesome girl. It doesn’t matter how much money he spends, it’s just that the fact that he “took care of it” that’s so mature and attractive.
Most guys like the feeling of providing. Some guys might fight me on this, but the majority of guys I’ve talked to say they like feeling “in charge” and also like being the providers in their relationships. It’s something that’s almost hard-wired into a man’s psyche. Who am I to argue with a biological impulse?
It’s the obvious next step in a date that’s going well. If the date is going amazing and I’m clearly hitting it off with this guy, splitting the bill would feel counter-intuitive. It’s almost like he’s saying, “I like you…but I don’t like you that much.” It just doesn’t make sense considering the way the date has been awesome so far. If he really likes me as much as he says he does, he would let a few dollars go to further prove his point, right?
Online dating has cheapened the dating experience. I doubt we would even be having this conversation before online dating was a thing. Dates have become less special than they used to be. We don’t ask people out because we like them, we ask them out because we think we might be able to like them. Guys who serial date through online apps would never dream of paying for their date because I mean, who the hell is this chick? The first date has a lot lower stakes than it used to, so guys just aren’t willing to really invest.
Women already spend a lot of money to get ready for a date. The amount of time, effort and money it takes for me to get ready for a date is astronomical. I might buy a hot new outfit, get my hair blown out, or have to buy a new set of razors. It all adds up! I would hope that the amount of effort spent on making myself look good would warrant a little payback on the guy’s part.
It shows that he wants to be more than just friends. If he wasn’t explicit that this was a date, I might (as so many women do) assume that we’re meeting up just as friends. These non-dates happen a whole lot more than you’d hope they would. When he pays, I know it’s a date and that he means business.
I wish it wasn’t this way, but men are usually valued for their money and women are valued for our looks. Unfortunately, this is the reality. I’m hoping it will change someday and I believe it will. Still, while it sucks that a man is expected to pay for a date, it’s also expected that women do whatever it takes to be thin and beautiful, and that blows too.
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