Seriously, Who Should Pay for the First Date?

Seriously, Who Should Pay for the First Date?

Who should pay for a first date? It’s a question that probably sits at the back of your mind every time you go on a first date or one that you ask your friends before you head out to meet the potential love of your life. Should you pay for it? Should they? Or should you both split it? With each option, there always seems to be a whole bunch of hidden rules.

Traditionalists will tell us that a ‘gentleman’ always pays for the first date but as we’ve (thankfully) progressed past that point, it’s now a lot more ambiguous as to who should be the one to whip out their credit card first.

Nowadays, people have a lot more financial freedom than they once did and with that, a lot more women are choosing to split the bill on a date because the concept of needing a man to pay for things is antiquated.

But that’s still very stuck in heterosexual worlds — what about queer relationships?

On paper, splitting the bill seems like the easiest thing to do to avoid any confusion but I always find it so awkward to ask my date to pay for their half if they haven’t offered. The silence and awkwardness of looking at each other when the bill comes are too much to bear so I just offer to pay.

I’ve been on dates where I’ve had to foot the bill (one time it was $150) even though that person was the one to ask me out but I was too awkward to ask to split and he wasn’t saying a single word.

Me after I had to pay $150 on a date. (Image: IMDb)

As someone who has been on many first dates (take from that what you will), I think the person who asked the other on the date should offer to pay first and then they can decide to split or not.

A few months ago, there was a vote on a Bumble Reddit thread about who should pay for the first date. More than 3000 people voted and the results were overwhelming in favour of splitting the bill, with 1600 votes.

Interestingly, the second-highest option (with 760 votes) was that the woman should offer to split, but the man should pay. Another 569 votes went to the man paying in a male/female relationship.

When it came to same-sex coupling, the highest vote was the person who asked for the date should be the one to pay.

There is something about the feeling of having to ‘owe’ that person after they’ve paid always makes me feel a bit icky. If there is a guarantee that there will be a second date with the person then I’ll offer to pay for the next one but if there’s no chance of that happening, splitting seems like the best option to me.

Who should pay for the first date?

Okay but who is paying for the first date? (Image: Getty)

I wanted to do some research of my own, so I asked around to see who people thought should pay for the first date. Here’s what they said.

Split the bill

  • “Even split/pay for what you ordered! Unless someone is absolutely eager to pay, it should go both ways. It sets the tone for future dates (if there are any) and is also a fair way to deal with the cost. It also helps you escape the painful back and forth of ‘you paid last time let me’ that will eventuate if you don’t nip it in the bud immediately.” – Michael
  • “I think you should pay your own way on the first date. As a woman, I feel that too many men feel a sense of entitlement to you and your time when they pay on the first date. It kind of sets up a power dynamic in my eyes, but I know a lot of people don’t agree with this. It makes me feel like I owe them, when I shouldn’t.”  – Lily
  • “Both parties. Either split the bill or person one pays for the first drink and person two pays for the second. This formula helps me pull my weight and not feel any societally ingrained obligations to ‘owe’ my date anything (if you know what I mean).” – Anonymous
  • “I think it should be an even split, that way you don’t owe each other anything if the date doesn’t go well.” – Anonymous
  • “I reckon both people should pay. It’s why I love doing drinks for a first date because you can go round for round and keep it a nice split.” – Ellie
  • “For first dates, go dutch!” – wise anonymous person
  • “Generally happy to split the cost, but when it comes to first dates, if one person earns more (or just earns a fair amount), I think they should at least offer to pay.” – Steph

They should pay

  • “The person who wanted the date. If you wanna play you gotta pay.” – Fraser
  • “I think if you are the person who has asked someone on a date you should be prepared to foot the whole bill. But I do think it’s just common sense to also come prepared to pay for at least your spend of the date if you have been asked.” – Georgia
  • “The person who asked the other on the date should at least offer to pay, and playfully argue once about covering it all. If push back from the date happens a second time, it should be split. But these rules apply for the first date only and whoever got the first shouldn’t pay for the second.” – Asha
  • “The guy — makes the girl feel special and makes the guy feel like he’s put in some effort.” – Raveena

You should pay

  • “I kind of hate this question. I think it’s nice to be paid for and I think generosity is also an extremely admirable trait, but it’s a two-way street. I think you should be always grateful when someone offers to pay for you, but also always be happy to pay too. There are exceptions obviously — if someone has suggested something that’s particularly expensive then I think the onus is on them, but I am also a strong believer in generosity karma. At the end of the day, you’ll get what you give.” – Joss

So what do you think? Who should pay for the first date? Let us know!

If you’re in the mood for some first dates, check out the best dating apps of 2022.

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