MANSWERS: Should he pay for me on a first date?

MANSWERS: Should he pay for me on a first date?

manswers should he pay for the first date

I‘m back on the dating scene after a long while and while I keep meeting nice guys, I’m finding quite a few just won’t pay – for dinner, or to buy me a drink – even after asking me out. More baffling is that the non-payers will tell me in the same breath that they really like me and want to see me again. But I have no desire to after seeing that possibly mean side of their character. I’m no gold digger and have no problem taking turns AT ALL but for a first date and if he’s done the asking should he be taking care of the bill? What do you and the Manswers men think? Disillusioned Dating Gal

Reality Chick says… I’m all for taking turns too, but I think on first dates, whoever asks should pay. I still remember a shocker date I went on (and yes, he asked ME out) during which the guy didn’t put his hand in his pocket once all night. I bought the drinks, movie tickets, popcorn, more drinks… I was worried he even expected me to hand him cash for his cab home! (When he phoned the next day to ask me out again I was truly speechless.) The dating scene has changed a lot, but – rightly or wrongly – I think many women still judge a guy’s character by his generosity on that first date.

Dr Phil says… As a man, my intuitive response to this is yes, he should pay. Sure, gender equality and women’s rights have progressed which is a great thing, but somehow bill paying on a romantic date – especially the first one – should still fall to the guy. It’s part of the wooing process, it shows you give a shit, that you’re willing to splash out on her and that you care more about seeing her next time than you do about penny-pinching. Ultimately, I guess my answer comes from a sense of tradition, and I think some traditions tend to endure for a reason. And if these guys want to see you again they need to man the fuck up and get their wallets out.

Mr M says… My view is that if a guy asks a girl on a date he pays. Basic stuff, but if you’re looking for a gentleman it’s fundamental. If you ask him out, it’d be nice if he at least offered, but probably not a deal breaker. What do I think about the phenomenon of men actively not paying? Could be equality gone crazy with guys starting to think that in some perverse way it shows respect for a woman when they let them pay. If this is the case, then the guy in question is far too calculating and influenced by what he perceives as being politically correct. And it’s not the right way to start a genuine relationship if you’re looking for a guy that knows what he stands for in the world. On the other hand, he could be genuinely tight and either not aware of the impression that he’s giving out, or actually intending to give it. Either way, a guy like this isn’t a person you’d choose to develop a relationship with, so move on.

Old Fashioned Mr E says…Your observation about men not wanting to pay is indeed disturbing, but also, I fear, symptomatic of modern society. Ten years ago, the idea of ‘going dutch’ was less common, and it was not always received with a smile when suggested. Call me old fashioned but I’m with you on this one. Back when I was a young man about town it was the norm to be picking up the bill for dinner and drinks when entertaining a young lady. First dates are about getting to know each other before any relationship is truly formed. And if they’re doing the chasing, they should surely pay the bill or at least offer. By no means should this be seen as a precedent to future dates, but in the early days I personally think it’s still the gentleman’s obligation. P.S. Mrs E never paid a dime when we dated so it does work. 🙂

BB says…Couldn’t agree with you more Disillusioned. I haven’t been on the dating scene for ever but I would have thought the bloke paying on the first date is a given. If they can’t pay on the first date, they don’t get a second chance.

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Freelance journo, blogger, self-appointed advice-giver and co-author of Get Lucky. If you've got a dating or relationship issue, feel free to ask a question. (PS. You can also find me at The Mama Files and Letter To My Ex).


  1. Carly 5 years ago

    I went on a date recently with someone I met online. Having spoken a lot via messages beforehand I knew at the time of our agreeing to meet that he hadn’t been on a date in about 18 months. When we met up for the first date we went up to the bar and chatted about what we’d both like to drink, I had set my sights on a £2.50 soft drink yet when the barman came up to us my date ordered his drink and paid for himself. I then had to catch the barman’s attention again and order my own. I just don’t understand it, especially since he asked me out again afterwards. It just felt really tight and mean, and I’m not adverse to buying a second round and usually always do on first dates, but I just think it was such a sad way to start the date in the first place I can’t bring myself to see him again. Does anyone agree or am I expecting too much?

    Part of the reason I don’t like it is because it feels like keeping tabs- say if he bought the first round and I bought the second but what we ordered the first time cost less than the second I wouldn’t mind, we’re not in a relationship yet so now’s the time to be romantic and positive- not hold every last penny spent against each other.

    I also just wanted to say to Ken I’m sorry if girls are taking you for a ride when it comes to paying for dates. I think it’s more likely that they are genuine dates but for whatever reason they decide not to see you again. I personally would never go out with someone I’ve never met before just for a free night out. If I’m on a date and I feel it might not lead to a second I make sure the general spend has been 50/50.

  2. Ken 5 years ago

    Sadly the modern day of dating is very different to before. With the rise of online dating (particularly dating apps) people are going on more dates than ever before. We also live in a time when women can earn the same (or more!) than men.

    The realities of dating are that unless you (as a guy) ask a girl out on a date you will not get a date. Girls expect the guy to make the first move and ask girls out.

    As a young man in London I find myself going on dates with girls who genuinely expect to pay absolutely nothing. A fair amount do not even say thank you when I pay!

    As much as the traditionalist in me says a guy should pay, I see a lot of girls (particularly in London) taking advantage of this. Sadly, me and many people I know have been led on by girls who were not interested in us in order for them to have a free night on us.

    I am not looking for pity or anything – would just like people to understand dating is very different to before and there are many girls out there who will go on dates for a free night out. (Fortunately not all!)

    My last relationship was with a girl who insisted on splitting the bill on all our dates (including the first) this was amazing and meant paying for meals/drinks/activities was never awqward at all.

  3. NotSoDesperatelyDating 7 years ago

    Dipping my toe into the dating scene again after a very long time, in my experience most guys insist on paying, even if I offer to split the bill. I’ve certainly never felt there’s any expectation of sex and I think most guys would be horrified if their date thought this was such a cynical transaction. (I don’t think I’m being totally naive to think that.) It’s courteous to be the one to pay if you’ve asked someone out.

    If there’s a second date, I always insist on paying. I freely admit to being turned off if there’s an assumption on what’s supposed to be a romantic date that the bill will be split. For me it immediately makes the date very unromantic and I’d feel reluctant to see that person again. This actually happened to me last weekend – the guy who’d asked me out ordered a drink at the bar with only enough change in his hand to pay for his own drink. I immediately offered to pay for the first round because I couldn’t bear the sight of him handing over his two-dollar coins one by one to the bar staff. We then went out to dinner and split the bill, though he paid for a tiny bit more because I didn’t have the correct notes to split the bill. He then proceeded to offer me the opportunity (!) of paying for dessert somewhere else to make up for it. I’ve got to say it left me pretty cold (and this is someone who told me it was the best date he’d been on for so long and has been contacting me ever since in the hope of going out again). He is intelligent and good-looking and a couple of years younger than me, but do I want to see him again? No thanks!

  4. bron 7 years ago

    From a female point of view, I can see a situation where men have been told off for paying on a first date, and some guys do seem to equate paying for the date to an agreement to have sex.
    Personally, and remembering that I haven’t been on a first date for a long time (or any date at all for that matter) if it was a guy I was getting on well with, it would be nice if he paid, but if he was a jackass I would be paying for myself and getting the hell out of there. I wouldn’t like to feel like he’d done me a favour by buying my food.
    The offer should always be made, obligation free, but I don’t think I’d judge a guy negatively if he was honest and told me up front that we were going dutch. Unless he’d invited me to an expensive restaurant (I can dream lol).
    There’s a lot more to a relationship then money.

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