Have Times Changed? Who Should Pay For A Date?

who should pay for date nightToday’s post is a blast from the past from Cat Alford.

Last week, we had such a good debate about who should pay for a wedding that I thought “Who Should Pay For A Date?” would be an equally relevant topic to chat about.

I admit; I didn’t have a lot of dating experience when I met my husband.

He likes to say he swept me off my feet (leading me to never date anyone else), and he was really the first very serious relationship I ever had.

Before him, I went to high school dances with other boys, and they always paid for my meal.

However, that’s definitely a special occasion, and their moms probably made sure they paid for me (or else!)

Dating an adult is different though and so a new set of rules might apply. Of course, based on my very limited experience, all I know is that my husband did pay for my meals when we first started dating, but as we got to know each other better, we split checks.

Reasons Why He Should Pay

Here are a few situations, which I think would merit a man paying for the date:

  1. He extended the invitation.
  2. He wants to show he has good, old-fashioned manners.
  3. He wants to show he can take care of his date.
  4. He enjoys treating someone else.
  5. His mom would kill him if she found out he didn’t pay.

Reasons Why She Should Pay

Here are a few situations where a woman might want to pay:

  1. She extended the invitation.
  2. She wants to show that she is independent.
  3. She wants to contribute to the relationship.
  4. She is showing him one of her favorite restaurants, and the date was her idea.
  5. She knows the date would be a stretch for him financially and she wants to help out.

Reasons Why They Should Split The Bill

Lastly, here are some reasons where a couple on a date might want to split the bill:

  1. They want to show that they both care about each other’s well being.
  2. They want to establish a strong, equal partnership.
  3. They aren’t concerned with “traditional” manners and prefer a more modern approach to dating.
  4. They both make good incomes, and so there is no reason why one should pay for the entire meal.

Of course, I’m sure there are many other reasons why people would insist on the man paying for a date or insist that couples split a bill. If that’s the case, I’d love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.

Like I said; I don’t have an extensive dating history, and I’m interested to see how other couples navigated the tricky battlefield of dating in the 21st century.

**Lance’s Two Cents** I don’t have a ton of experience here either! I was lucky and didn’t have to date a lot to find the right person. I think the first couple of date’s the guy should pay, unless the woman was the one who asked the guy out in which case I think splitting the check might be an option.

Other than that, after a few dates I don’t see why people couldn’t talk about it if things are going well. Chances are it would come up after a few dates I would think.

What do you think? Who should pay for a date? Do the circumstances matter, or should there be a strict rule that is followed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I have a feeling this could be a fun discussion.

Photo by: oliviavaughn Text added by: Lance Cothern

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About Catherine Alford

Catherine Alford is a personal finance freelance writer who received a B.A. from The College of William and Mary and an M.A. from Virginia Tech. She enjoys sharing her adventures on her blog, www.BudgetBlonde.com.


  1. With women wanting to be on more equal footing as men, it would make sense for the bill to be split. Maybe each person pays for their own meal. You shouldn’t make your determination as to whether you like someone based on the meal purchase anyway. Set it aside and talk about what really matters.

  2. I think whoever invited the other person on the date should pay. But I don’t really know. Just like you two, I haven’t dated in a long time!

  3. Literally posted on this same topic today! I typically insist on paying for my share. I’m a “modern” woman. I don’t want to feel that I owe anybody anything. My independence is important to me and I think that’s reflected in my attitude towards the whole “paying” debacle.

  4. I generally say that the man should pay, especially for the first few dates. I know it’s on the old fashioned side, but it was always how I viewed it. That said, I have been out of the game for so long that I wouldn’t know how to approach it today. I paid when my wife and I started dating and once we became serious we’d split the bill and things like that.

  5. As a lady who doesn’t to be too reliant on guys, I have a mentality that I shouldn’t always let the guy pay. Splitting the bill is what I prefer or we can take turns. I think it’s quite a healthy practice. The guys may be full of pride, but the ladies can be equally egoistic these days!

  6. This is so interesting to me. I just got divorced after 8yrs. Prior to marriage I dated a bit, the guys always paid and insisted on paying. After dating a while if we actually became boyfriend/girlfriend we split the bill.

    I have only ever dated older men, so maybe that changes things. I offer to pay or am prepared to pay but have never been allowed to pay and I like that. I am happy to have it that way. Even with recent dating since my divorce, men always paid.

  7. I have been out of the dating scene for more than 45 years, but it seems that everything depends on timing. If it is the first few dates, the male should pay. After that, I think the woman should make gestures should as preparing a meal or taking the man on a picnic. If the purpose of the date is to be together, these gestures help facilitate it.

  8. No matter who asked whom, the men should always pay for the first few dates. Then according to their agreement, then can then later split the bill or allow the woman to pay.

  9. I’ve always paid for the first few dates. After that I think you can get to a point where it becomes OK for the woman to pay every now and then.

  10. I’ve only had two serious relationships, and both were similar: the guy wanted to pay the first few times, and then accepted my offer to split the bill once things were more serious. I remember on my first date with my ex, I insisted I pay my share, but he wouldn’t let me and he made a joke about it so that it was kind of cute.
    With my boyfriend, I actually asked him to the movies, but I think he felt embarrassed about it and made it up to me by buying the tickets :). We rarely ever eat out anymore, but when we do we split the bill, and that goes for pretty much any joint purchases we make. I do the baking and cooking, and he cleans up. Teamwork!

  11. It has been a really, really long time since I’ve been on a date with someone who isn’t my wife. But if I was in the dating pool again, I think I would just assume that I was going to pay. Not because of something dumb like I’m expecting action or because I’m being the alpha. I would pay because I feel like that’s the right thing to do. I asked you on the date because I like you, so therefore I will handle the finances.

  12. I think whoever asked for the date should pay. If it’s my idea, I’ll pay, if he asks me out first, he should pay. I’m in “dating mode” right now, and I do want to show that I’m independent and not just looking for a free meal, but I also think it’s a courtesy to pay if you did the asking.

    And the same rules apply for planning the date. For the love of god, if you asked me out, don’t make me plan the date! Give me a few options to choose from if you’re worried I won’t like whatever you have planned, but don’t play the “You pick, I want you to have fun.” No. Just no.

  13. I definitely think the guy should pay, at least for the first few dates. I think if you became a serious couple then it’s fine to start splitting and whatnot, but early on it should definitely be the guy.

  14. Haven’t dated in a few years thankfully, but when I was dating I always offered to pay for my meal. I wouldn’t want my date to think I was going out with him for a free meal. That being said I’ve never actually had a date accept my offer to pay for my own meal.

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