Who Pays On A Date?

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Shorter Version

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How to Determine Who Pays on a Date

As long as people go on dates, there will be uncomfortable and anxious moments when the check arrives after dinner. Both you and your date ponder whether or not to grab it. Should you pay or should your date pay – that is the pressing question. So, what do you do? You smile and stare at each other for a few extremely awkward seconds…not sure what to do.

There has to be a better solution

Well, the truth is, unless you talk about how you are going to pay for the dinner or activity before it starts, you will probably have this awkward moment when the bill comes. Who is it going to be?

It really depends.

According to a recent study, an astounding 63% of young men believe that the “man” should pay on a first date – and 46% of young women agree. But what about your situation? First, look at whose idea it was. If one person suggested an experience, they are likely the person that should be responsible for all of it (including the bill). It would be a bit odd for one person to throw a lavish date and then expect the other to foot the bill, right? You could always go by other measures, like who grabbed the bill first, splitting based on your portion, or switching who pays every other time you go on a date.

Let’s deep dive

Need more help about who pays on a date? Fret no more because this trusty little article is going to give you the ins and outs of who should pay for a date, especially when it’s your first date, so you don’t end up giving each other the “stank eye” at the end. Check out the Actionable Steps below for more information on paying for dates.

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Read the longer version

You can learn more about who pays on a date by reading the following articles, reviewed to be the best by our professionals: Who Pays For a First Date? Why It Matters by Psychology Today, Who Should Ask and Pay for a Date? by Psychology Today, Chivalry In The Age of Equality: Who Pays On a Date? by Today, and Who Pays For Dinner? by The Art of Manliness.


Determine whose idea it was

One kind of vague way to determine who pays for the date is by having the person who suggested the date pay for it. Why should you go with this approach? Because, it just makes sense. Surely your date wouldn’t have asked you out if he or she wasn’t planning to foot the bill, right? Hopefully, the person who suggested the date understands that the other person may not have the funds to foot the bill or even “go Dutch.”
Hey, it happens sometimes…especially when you are a college student or have a low-paying job. You’re young, so what does he or she expect? If you ask someone out on a date for a fancy dinner – be prepared to pay. What does that look like? It looks like researching the menu and having money on you for the two highest-priced items on the menu.
Don’t forget to also include money for an appetizer, sides (if they’re a la carte), wines or alcoholic beverages, and a dessert or two. If your date offers to split the check once it arrives – great! However, if not, you will still need to be prepared to pay. In other words, there will be no washing dishes with the kitchen crew that night. You’ll also impress your date, which is always a good thing. 
If you pay for the first date, maybe your date will pay for the second – that is if there is a second date. However, if you continue to date and you are both low on funds, take turns paying. And, only set-up a date if you have the money to pay for it.


Determine who grabbed the check first

Another way to decide who pays for the bill is to see who grabs the check first. Yep, if you grab the check – it’s yours. It solves the problem. Maybe you’re just curious about how much the total bill is…doesn’t matter – you still grabbed it first, so you should have to pay, right? Moral of the story – don’t grab the check unless you plan to pay for it.
Always carry extra money with you on a date, because you never know what’s going to happen. If you “accidentally” grab the check, you’re probably going to end up being responsible for it.


Go Dutch

What does “going Dutch” even mean? It means you pay for your portion and your date pays for his or hers. Before you finish dinner and the check arrives, ask the waitress or waiter to split the check. This will alert them to put your meals on separate checks. The good thing is you can always “go Dutch” on a date regardless of where you go or what you do.
However, this is a pay approach that needs to be discussed in advance. The worst thing you or date can do is “spring it” on the other person. Why? Because, the other person may not be financially, or mentally prepared, for that matter, to pay for his or her portion of the date. This can lead to hurt feelings and a whole lot of resentment.
It will also most likely be the end of your dating experience with the other person, especially if this is the first date. This isn’t the most romantic approach to deciding who pays for a date. However, if you both agree to it, you can walk away with your bank account still in-tact and no misunderstandings under your belt.

Sometimes, it’s best to “go Dutch” on a date, especially if it is your first date or you’re not sure if you’ll want another one… In these cases, keeping things separate is the best course of action. You don’t want any misunderstandings and you don’t want to feel indebted to the other person, because he or she paid for the date.


Switch up who pays on a date

If you plan to go on many dates with another person, you may want to switch it up. More specifically, you may want to pay one time and have your date pay the next time. Taking turns can be easier on your finances, especially if you tend to date a lot or you have limited funds. The great thing is you both get to be “treated” by the other, and neither of you is forced to “break the bank” to do so.
Don’t take advantage of your date just because you know he or she has money. If the more financially-secure date pays the first time, offer to pay the next time – even if it’s just to get pizza or go to the movies. Even if you have to save up to do it, it’s just the right thing to do.

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About the Author

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Dr. R. Y. Langham

Ph.D. in Family Psychology

Ree has a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy (M.M.F.T.) and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She spent over ten years counseling families, couples, individuals, and children on adjustment issues such as blended families, same-sex couples, dysfunctional family relationships, relationship issues, etc. Now she writes for famous health organizations and is a published author.
Full Bio | LinkedIn

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