Money and Dating

I recently had a conversation with a friend (a girl) about money and dating. We are both single and have both been on dates with a handful of people recently. It got me thinking about gender roles and dating and money.

First Date

My opinion: Guy pays for everything

Her opinion: Guy pays for everything

I would say that this is going to be a fairly standard answer across the board unless you are an uber feminist or broke guy. I fully believe that the guy needs to step up and pay for every cost in the first date.

Ladies, if he does not offer to pay for everything, he is either a deadbeat or not that into you. Either way, he is not worth date number two if he can’t man up and pay the bill.

Second Date

My opinion: Guy usually pays for everything, might allow girl to pay for desert

Her opinion: Guy pays for everything

We are getting into gray area on the second date. A girl should not come across as a user, so she should not suggest an expensive date and expect it all to be paid. I never do expensive second dates, so I am always happy to pick up the tab.

If we go for ice cream (or something similar) after dinner, I always offer to pay. If she insists, I will let her take the tab as long as I paid for dinner first.

Third Date

My opinion: Guy usually pays, splitting parts or her paying for small part acceptable

Her opinion: Girl can pay, but probably should not be asked to

I will never ask a girl to pay on a date. That is something I picked up from my Grandpa, a real southern gentleman. If she insists at this point, however, I am not going to put up a big fight. At the third date you are reaching “relationship” level and the guy can’t be expected to pay for everything forever.

Beyond The Third Date

My opinion: Guy pays more than half of the time, but alternating paying for meals and activities is fine

Her opinion: Split costs to keep things fair

Once you are “dating” someone or in an official relationship, it is normal for a couple to split the costs. In my last relationship, I usually paid for dinner or anything expensive (I had a better job) and she paid for cheaper dinners or lunches.

The key is finding a balance where you are both comfortable. If the guy is always paying, the girl could feel cheap or the guy could feel resentful. If the girl pays more, a guy could feel like less of a man for it. It is important to have a money talk early on to see how you both stand on paying for dates and activities together. Bad money communication could lead to a quick breakup and end a relationship that had great potential.

Your Thoughts?

How do you deal with paying while dating? If you are married, what worked for you early on? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Image by taqumi.

29 thoughts on “Money and Dating”

      1. Yes sir! It seems incoherent to me to demand/expect equal treatment in one sphere (i.e., work, etc.) and then demand/expect to be treated differently in another.

  1. I’m married but when I was dating my now-wife, I was working and she was just finishing up college, so I pretty much paid just because I had money and she didn’t.  Before that, though, when I was dating a girl that also worked, we started splitting probably 70-30 me-her paying after we’d established ourselves as a couple.  I agree with your friend, though, that the guy always pays for a longer period than just the first date.

    1. The 70-30 thing makes sense. I was talking to a girl about dating a guy that made about 60% less than her. It made it kind of awkward to have him pay, but he still insisted.

  2. Dating is organic, situational. Second date or not no one would expect to call up say “Hey I saw that The Book of Mormon is playing and thought we could see it” and then expect the other person to pay.  In my experience most people who are dating have known each other and often when dating in college, or during first jobs, who ever has the means pays.

    1. Very good point. I usually make a point to plan early dates, and as the planner I assume I am the payer. If a girl called and asked me to go mini golfing, I wouldn’t object to her paying.

  3. Eric, I think you are right on the mark here.  I think they’re are some natural trade offs.  Like if someone is a season ticket holder or something, then the other person would pick up drinks and snacks for example.  But that is just me.

    1. That is right on for my idea of balance. As the relationship develops, it is important for both to contribute what they can.

  4. Although I may be old fashioned and I admit I have not had a date in 43+ years.  If it is the usual date of going out, it may be awkward.  Change things up by cooking a meal, picnic, or free date.  I find that more acceptable.

  5. This post is very interesting because the concepts are completely foreign to me. I think first dates are the best time to split the bill – you’ve just met, one of you may secretly be ready to run away screaming, and it shouldn’t be a requirement for the guy to pay. What if the girl was the one who did the asking?

    Personally, I am always prepared to pay. I won’t stab someone with a fork or anything, but I like to pay for my share. Or at least take turns. I think it’s a little different in an exclusive relationship, but during the “just dating” phase? Not fair for the guy to have to pay every time.

    1. That is surely logical, but in the dating world today if a guy doesn’t pay for the first date, he is going to be seen a cheap or the girl might think he is not interested. If I really like her, I know that I have to pay or risk losing a second date.

  6. We’re not dating but you always pay for my food. I assume that this is because you are so grateful for my company. I will always offer to pay to be polite, but would probably disappointed if a guy let me on the first date. If a guy pays to much though it starts to make me feel uncomfortable, like I owe them something that, when the time comes, I may not want to give up.  That sounded less like I was referring to sex in my head. I’m not.

  7. When we were dating we took turns treating each other. We also split the bill sometimes. I think what worked is never having the same person paying twice. 

  8. Now that we’re married we like to make jokes like, “I’ve got this” and “I paid last time; you take it!”.  Silly yet funny…

    … When we were dating I paid most of the time.  I never asked her to pay, but she would occasionally offer.

      1. No – looking back it was worth it, since we made it to the altar, haha. The cost of doing business? Maybe. I also earned more money from my internship than she did in the summer, so there was a practical aspect to it.

        On the flip side, my college cost more. Still – no resent!


    Well when you get married no matter what you do money goes into a big melting pot.  My wife and I keep separate personal spending accounts, but it’s all the same really.  You just have to trust the other person to do the right thing, which you should be able to do.   It terms of who pays, I usually pay more (we keep it pro-rata for incomes), but I know that if I lost my job she would step up her game and in fill in for me.   I think that is how it is suppose to work when you have a good thing going.

    1. It sounds like you have a good understand now, which is important in any relationship. What did you do before you were married?

  10. I personally don’t think it should matter who pays based on sex. Really, equality is the main thing that I, as a woman, would be looking for – if he expects to have to pay in everything, then I’m not being treated as an equal, even if it works to my advantage. 

    When the boy & I first started dating, he was on disability after a crazy car crash that left him unable to work (in carpentry), and I was working full time, albiet only making $9/hr. We both lived at home, and his disability payments equaled about the same as my take home pay. 

    At first, we didn’t do anything which would require money. Our dates included going to the beach, the park, etc. We were young. But then as it got colder out and we were forced in doors, he would pay for meals and I would help him with gas when I could. Once again, we were really young and silly so this was a faulty system. 

    Now, even though we’ve been together for 4 and a half years, we split everything – rent, phone, etc. 

    1. It makes sense that you would try to save money when you both had low incomes. I expect that once I am in a long term relationship again, we will split things evenly. It makes the most sense in the long run as long as both sides can afford it.

  11. The guy absolutely, positively MUST pay on the first date in my view.

    In most realms, I am a believer in equality across the board. Dating is one area where, as a guy, it’s in your best interest to pay on the first date, no questions asked. Even if you make $40k per year and she makes $200k per year, well – it doesn’t matter that she makes 5 times more than you. She deserves to be taken care of on the date by you, and you as the guy should be prepared to pay for all of it.

    I think that once you get past the 3rd date, and you begin to move into some kind of relationship status, it seems fair to split things.  I mean, if people are treated equally at work, by the law, etc – they should be willing to treat each other equally in a relationship. With more than 50% of college degrees now earned by women, there’s no reason why two people in a steady relationship shouldn’t be willing to split things – all other factors being equal.

    But early on, in the first few dates and especially Date#1 – the guy should be prepared to pay for ALL of it, even if he’s a pauper and she’s a trust fund baby.

    A good way to think of this would be to imagine if you had a son or daughter in a dating situation. How would you want them to be treated?

    1. I totally agree. Interesting perspective bringing in education. These days many women make as much or more than men (depending on profession of course), so the long term is more about finding a good balance that works for the couple. In the beginning though, I am in the camp that chivalry should not be dead.

  12. I also agree with the guy paying on the first date.  Later on it should be equal — either 50/50, or whatever makes sense, but should definitely be fair. In the beginning, it makes more sense for the guy to pay — although, what if the woman is the one chasing the man! Then it might make sense for the woman to pay. 😛

    1. One of my proudest moments was when a girl offered to buy me a drink when I was out a bar on a Saturday night. I took her up on it, of course.

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