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Who Pays On Dates?
Okay, here's a question for all of you. I'm interested in knowing what your personal perceptions are as well as your experiences on the issue of...who pays on dates.

Guys are getting mad that some women are earning big and then sit on their hands and go to the bathroom when the check comes. But, are women really doing so well? Or is it just a few women? And should that even matter?

Is there different first date protocol about paying? If you're of the mind that the guy asks/the guy pays for the first one, when, if ever does the woman start paying?

What about differences in income? How do you manage that or how do you think that should be managed?

And what are your standards of what's right and wrong as far as dating behavior in the wallet department?

And how about worries, by women, that the guy won't think they're interested if they pay? And do some men, even younger men, find it emasculating if a woman scoops up the check on the first date? Or is that a thing of the past?

And if there's anything else you can think of...

...Auntie Advice Goddess needs you!

Posted by aalkon at November 7, 2007 4:18 PM

Comments

I usually let them pay for the first two, and then insist of either paying for the third or making dinner at my house or having "free" tickets to something that I've actually bought ahead of time. The men that I usually date act weird when I go to pay for stuff the first or second date, but they usually don't protest too much if I pick up every third tab or so. If they don't let me, I will plan something that I can provide for, like bringing movies and dinner over to their house. If I know someone doesn't make a lot of money, I'll suggest dates that don't cost a lot. I've never made more money than someone I've dated, so I don't know how I'd handle that. I imagine I would have a lot of "free" tickets and such. Men have such fragile egos sometimes. You can't be too careful.

Posted by: christina at November 7, 2007 1:51 PM

So, you're saying you'd actually be perceived negatively for paying on the first date. I think this is often the case. Can you get into why?

Also, there are complaints that if women have equality, they should pay equally. Why does that or does not work for you (not just Christina, but everybody)?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 7, 2007 1:56 PM

Back when I was out in the field, if the woman didn't at least make a cursory offer to split, she was one and done.

And I would make certain that the date was not an expensive one. Men need to learn the value of the affordable, fun, activity-based date vs. the expensive, meal-based, try to impress date. Good way to screen out inflexible, self-entitled women.

Posted by: snakeman99 at November 7, 2007 1:56 PM

Is that on the first date, Snakeman?

But what of the thinking, by women, that men sometimes find it emasculating if you offer to pay, or think it means you aren't sexually interested in them?

P.S. I think it's a bad idea to have a first date be expensive. I suggest having a drink with somebody. I find it weird and bribery-like to spend big on somebody you don't know.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 7, 2007 2:01 PM

On the first date the guy should pay mainly cause they tend to be the ones asking, with a few caviates.

The women should start paying a few (4th date at most) dates in or at least splitting the bill. Though this gets fuzzy if she's putting out after the first date. If she's putting out she should pay for at least the next date after sex.

If the person arranging the date picks a place the other person can't afford then the person who set up the date needs pay.

Posted by: vlad at November 7, 2007 2:02 PM

Here's a solution:

One the first date, the one who asks pays. If there is to be a second date, the other person must ask and then pay. Kind of like a round-robin, but with two people.

This is nice and simple. It's a quick way to see if there really is any mutual interest. It's also a way to make sure that one party isn't just caging free meals, drinks and movies while trying to 'figure out' if they're interested in the other person.

When money is on the line, people tend to make up their minds faster. So let's be nice and equal about this. (We've heard a lot about equality over the last twenty or thirty years, right? Well, let's put it in into practice!)

My solution is not merely arbitrary. I will give you an example. Say a man asks a woman out. Now, according to the new rules, regardless of whether or not he wants a second date, the woman must ask him out. So perhaps the man will not be as quick to make reservations at Le Cirque. The woman might not be as well off as he is, and he wouldn't want to embarass her by forcing her to bring him to a place that is not as expensive. Henceforth, the man might schedule their date at a moderately priced restaurant, where he will be forced to make real conversation and not rely on trying to wow her by correctly pronouncing the french words off the menu.

Note that the situation can be reversed. Today's urban women on average do make more money than their male counterparts.

As far as arguments in the way of, "Well, on a biological/evolutionary level, women are looking for providers and men are looking for attractive mates and that's the way it's always been, etc," we can dispense with these. They are outmoded, disengenuous, and reek of double standards. Today's women are all about success and power and equality, except when the check comes. Women make as much money as men now and they should bear the financial strain of the mating ritual.

Of course, for those men who insist on being gallant and paying for everything, keep shelling out the cash for entitlement princesses if you want to. No skin off my back.

Posted by: metalman at November 7, 2007 2:02 PM

"Is that on the first date, Snakeman?"

*Absolutely.

"But what of the thinking, by women, that men sometimes find it emasculating if you offer to pay, or think it means you aren't sexually interested in them?"

*Meh. Overthinking. After a couple hours (actually, more like 10 minutes), any man who's being honest with himself knows whether or not his date is interested well before the check arrives.

Posted by: snakeman99 at November 7, 2007 2:16 PM

One the first date, the one who asks pays. If there is to be a second date, the other person must ask and then pay. Kind of like a round-robin, but with two people.

This is unrealistic vis a vis men and women. Men need to show their interest by asking the girl out again. Women are not served by pushing themselves on men. Believe me, I have no fear of asking anybody out, but I wouldn't do it, because it ends badly.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 7, 2007 2:37 PM

My Current Romantic Entanglement and I have a one ounce silver coin that we pass back and forth. The one who does not have the coin pays, and then the coin is passed. Next time, the other pays.

As I recall, our first date consisted of my asking her if she'd like to hear my new old twelve string, and somehow our clothes fell off. Nobody paid for anything that night.

Posted by: Steve Daniels at November 7, 2007 2:44 PM

Hate to burst your bubble, metalman, but while that's a logical solution, dating isn't logical.

Women who pursue men do not meet with the kind of success that you'd imagine, especially among younger men. I have run up against this again and again. Men see the pursuit and conquest as essential to dating, and tend to devalue women that don't need to be pursued, let alone who chase them. Actually, even if they just want sex, they prefer it to be with a woman who wants to date them than with a woman who doesn't. Acquisition of women is and has long been seen as a competition, and the more valued prize is the one that is more difficult to acheive. As much as we'd like to imagine we've moved beyond this, I really don't think we have. Sure, there are the few that don't follow this long-established pattern, but most do.

I usually make an attempt to reach for my wallet, but most guys wave it off, and if I push, they get irritated. The idea is that they are offering because they want to show me my company is valuable and when I insist on paying, I'm rejecting their generousity. This is related to the social custom of accepting offers of refreshment when you visit someones home. You are really obligated to do so, and people get uncomfortable when you refuse. Basically, it comes down to inticing you into an obligation to the other person. If you accept anothers hospitality or generosity, you are obligated to reciprocate in some way. With men, its pretty clear in what dirextion this obligation leads. This social model is very old and I'm learning about it and others in my anth class. If you reject their gesture, you are saying that you do not wish to be obligated and form a relationship of any kind.

Posted by: christina at November 7, 2007 2:45 PM

Women who pursue men do not meet with the kind of success that you'd imagine, especially among younger men. I have run up against this again and again. Men see the pursuit and conquest as essential to dating, and tend to devalue women that don't need to be pursued, let alone who chase them.

This lens, which I imagine you found via anthropology, is exactly correct.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 7, 2007 2:54 PM

I don't devalue women who don't need to be pursued, I fear them.
My pheromone-based logic system follows its own rules.
AFTER she's let me pursue and conquer her, she can take over (usually expressed in the form of the Reverse Cowgirl).
Sure, once we're officially dating, I let her take me out, buy my martinis, call us a cab and get fresh with me on the way home. But not before!
I will also admit to enjoying the knowing looks of the women and the discomfort and confusion of the men when she sends me flowers the following Monday at the office.

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at November 7, 2007 3:04 PM

(usually expressed in the form of the Reverse Cowgirl)

Heh heh...I'm reminded why my blog is banned by Dell Computer's net nanny!

Of course, I'm much dirtier than any of you -- with the possible exception of Lena!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 7, 2007 3:07 PM

I have no use for any of you.

Here's my final comment: Today's women are greedy entitlement princesses. And the majority of men are outright suckers.

Goodbye foreeeeveeerr!!

Posted by: metalman at November 7, 2007 3:13 PM

"Men see the pursuit and conquest as essential to dating, and tend to devalue women that don't need to be pursued, let alone who chase them."


And -when needs must - you can prettily manipulate the perception of who, exactly, is doing the pursuing.

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at November 7, 2007 3:18 PM

First of all, I suspect you'll be back.

Second, with an attitude like that, you reek resentment. This doesn't bode well for your future, unless your idea of the perfect partner's good qualities are five fingers, a palm, and a wrist.

Some women just look to suck men dry. I've never been that kind of women, nor are women who are my friends. I don't want to get married because, for one thing, I never want to depend financially on anybody but myself. Your relationship can easily start being made based on whether you can give up that big house or not.

That said, while with past boyfriends, we've alternated who pays for dinner, Gregg's 13 years older than I am, and when I went to pay, he about died. So, he pays for me, and it makes him happy, and he knows that while I think it's sweet of him, it's not why I'm still with him.

PS FYI, we had sex BEFORE the first date. The first official date, that is. We first met at the Apple computer store at The Grove and had Orange Crush at the adjacent Farmer's Market for three hours, and only parted company because he had a plane to catch. A week later, he came to take me out to dinner (apparently, he and Elmore spent quite some time figuring out where), but we never left my house. The next morning was when I went to pay (for breakfast).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 7, 2007 3:21 PM

Back when I was dating around, I generally expected the fellow to pay for our first date- if a guy won't pay for the first date, to me it reads that he really doesn't give a shit. That said, I would never want to go somewhere expensive on a first date- it would make me feel uncomfortable. Lunch at a diner is fine by me!

Posted by: MissPinkKate at November 7, 2007 3:28 PM

"Some women just look to suck men dry."

I thought I had found one, and I was in heaven, and then I discovered I had found one, and I was in hell.

Off topic...

Have you folks seen the Ken and Barbie Toy Commercial warning of problems in how we inspect toys?

Posted by: jerry at November 7, 2007 3:32 PM

Ahh, the bitterness is so sexy!

Posted by: christina at November 7, 2007 3:33 PM

With the exception of blind date setups, I've always done the asking. And it's worked out best when I pay for the first 2-3 dates. I usually don't go fancy, but will sometimes spring for an event or some special activity because it spurs conversation. If the woman won't let me pay for the first date, there's no question she's not interested and doesn't want to create a sense of obligation.

After that I always settle into some sort of split based on the ratio of our financial situations. In practice that has always worked out to roughly equal or me paying more. I try not to go out with ugly women and a woman that is both rich and beautiful is likely out of my league.

Posted by: Shawn at November 7, 2007 3:45 PM

1. On a first date, the guy should pay - especially if he asked her out (which will usually be the case). If it is the woman who asked the man out, then maybe she should pay, but I still think the guy should at least offer to pay.

2. If the man and woman start dating regularly, then the two should share the burden - sometimes the woman, sometimes the man. I don't mean that the couple should keep score on who has paid how often. Rather, each one should make a point of offering to pay from time to time.

Posted by: Dennis at November 7, 2007 3:46 PM

I’ve dated a few women who dipped into their pockets to settle the bill and I always appreciated it. I didn’t feel at all emasculated. However, I was already sleeping with these women so that may have had something to do with it. I’d take it as a bad sign if a woman I was with paid the bill (or just her share of it) on our first date. It seems to me that when a woman likes a man she’s usually perfectly happy to let him take care of that first bill. Women I go out with positively glow as I settle the check, and perhaps it’s foolish, but I feel like I am doing my duty when I take care of it. That being said, I would not continue to pay for a woman’s meals if I sensed that there was no possibility of sex at some point.

I understand why a lot of guys resent women who are reluctant to pay their way on dates. I used to be one of them. But after I spent more time reading up on sociobiology and observing the world around me, I concluded that it was a waste of time to complain about this. There’s a huge desire deficit between men and women. We ask women out because we want to have sex with them and we want sex with them way more than they want sex with us. Because of this imbalance, the average guy has to pay one way or another for a woman’s company. It’s just supply and demand.
I long ago decided that the most effective thing to do was focus on improving my financial situation so that I wouldn’t have to worry about paying a woman’s way on a date. After all, I’ve never heard a really successful man complain about this sort of thing.
By the way Amy, I should tell you that I visit your blog quite frequently, often five or more times a week. One of the reasons why I come back so often is that I enjoy and respect your approach to questions you’re unsure of. If you’re uncertain about a certain aspect of male psychology you don’t spout off with meaningless, ill-informed opinion. Instead you read up on studies that have been done, speak with friends, and invite male visitors to your blog to chime in with their opinions. Your writing is a real source of pleasure for me and I encourage you to keep up the good work.

Posted by: Jamie B. at November 7, 2007 3:51 PM

i try to pay for the first date. last time, though, she paid, so we've been trading them. i got annoyed in the same way i do when she makes it to a door before i can open it.

normally i go dutch after the first date. if she doesn't pay anything after 2 dates, she's done.

Posted by: jody at November 7, 2007 4:06 PM

Too often a feeling of obligation comes with the free meal and I would prefer to play on my own dime with (hopefully) great company and then should things turn sour we can both walk away with no resentment- at least financial resentment- or feeling that the receiver owes something still.
For the longest time in my current relationship we each paid our own way and for the most part we still do. Letting him pay is a trust thing with me- I trust him enough to know that he isn't going to get all huffy about how much he shelled out and got no booty in return. At this point if he pays or if I pay the night is a gift to the other and a celebration of what we have together, not another line item on our relationship's income statement with deductions taken for whether or not sexual gratification was attained; I like treating him and he likes treating me. Honestly there is no more fun date than watching scary movies on the floor, making stovetop s'mores and trying our hands at sumo wrestling.

Posted by: Bertha at November 7, 2007 4:18 PM

I'm w/Metalman on this one 100% -- If I ask a guy out, I insist on getting the check. If there are subsequent dates, I put forth the idea of switching back and forth; I paid for the last one, you get this one, etc. Seriously, it shocks me that 90% of the men I've gone out with are stymied by the fact that a woman pipes up that she'd like to split the costs of dating fairly. WTF was that women's lib movement for?

Posted by: Kim at November 7, 2007 4:34 PM

"Some women just look to suck men dry."

You say that like it's a bad thi . . . oh, wait. Maybe you didn't mean it like that.

Never mind.

Posted by: Steve Daniels at November 7, 2007 4:45 PM

I paid, I opened, and still do, doors, pulled out chairs etcetera. I was also very poor, so the places were always big on free stuff, like the all night movies in the dorms, free concerts etcetera. If I saved the money for a concert, then I’d ask someone to go with. I can not ever remember a girl asking to pay, or a girl paying but believe me, there was no large financial out lay. Concert tickets were only $6 for instance.
Of course I have been married for twenty-five years. If something were to happen, God forbid, and I found myself single, then I would pay. Mainly because I have plenty of money these days so it is no big deal. Of some gal wanted to pay, I would find it strange but it wouldn’t affect my opinion of her. I just don’t understand how any of that matters. Gold diggers or high maintenance gals are easy to spot so I wouldn’t ask them out anyway.
If some gal asked me out, I would find that strange also. But if I knew her and wanted to see her then I would accept. Is this actually an issue?

Posted by: rusty wilson at November 7, 2007 4:50 PM

It's been a long time since I dated, but I usually let the guy pay on the first date, drinks or whatever, then next time, I'd pick up the tab. After that, we'd just share. If I wanted to see a concert and could get tickets, I did, and if he wanted to pay me back in cash, or in drinks, or take it out in trade, fine. Same thing for them. When I was with the band, if a guy I was dating showed up at a gig, I'd buy him a drink, thank him for coming, and then he'd buy me one, and on it went. We never saw it as a big deal either way. Still don't. Right now, BF and I take turns still, even though we live together and share all of the bills as well.

Posted by: Flynne at November 7, 2007 5:36 PM

I am completely with Christina.

But bike rides are the best dates! The ones who can keep up with me, I go out with again. ;-)

Shawn, how is Europe???

Posted by: Pirate Jo at November 7, 2007 7:37 PM

Here's my final comment: Today's women are greedy entitlement princesses. And the majority of men are outright suckers.

Wow. That is some serious baggage you are lugging around, pal.

My personal philosophy is that I don't go any place where I can't afford to pay my own way.

I also think that in the early stages of dating, there should be some equality in who pays. If I ask a guy out, I always offer to pay.
If he insists on paying, I will let him. But I do not feel like less of a woman for footing the bill, why should be feel like less of a man for letting me?

As the dating progresses, I don't have a set rule on who pays when. I mean, if I cook him dinner at home, that is me paying. So does that mean I expect him to pay the next time we go out? Not necessarily.

And I agree that activity-based dates like hiking, biking or even playing pool can be so much better than an over-priced meal.

Posted by: Jill at November 7, 2007 7:59 PM

It's refreshing, and logical, that the ladies on this site seem to be low maintenance (read: fun and flexible), which is very sexy!

Can anyone comment on why men's default response is to pay? It seems hardwired, as if we are proving our ability to bring the dead mammoth back to the cave and skin and roast it (but violating a biological imperative is always fun). Is there more to it than that?

Posted by: DaveG at November 7, 2007 8:10 PM

To clarify about violating imperatives: it's fun in the modern age. It would be interesting to know if ancient people ever thought of bending gender "rules". Seems unlikely, since we only stopped burning witches about 300 years ago.

Posted by: DaveG at November 7, 2007 8:15 PM

I think that the woman should offer to go dutch. If the guy insists on paying then fine. But I don't agree with a woman feeling entitled to a free meal/movie or whatever. If the man espouses old fashioned romantic gestures, and that seems sweet to you then go for it, but don't have an expectation ahead of time.

On my first date with my boyfriend we saw a movie. I immediately tossed a $10 on the counter to prevent him feeling he should pay for us both.

Posted by: jaylyn at November 7, 2007 8:30 PM

Women who pursue men do not meet with the kind of success that you'd imagine, especially among younger men. I have run up against this again and again. Men see the pursuit and conquest as essential to dating, and tend to devalue women that don't need to be pursued, let alone who chase them.



This lens, which I imagine you found via anthropology, is exactly correct.



Amy:
I’m not sure if I agree with you and Christina on this. If I understand the two of you correctly, you think that if a woman asks a man out she lowers her value in his eyes and reduces her chances of finding a fulfilling relationship.

I think what you’ve observed is true, that is, women who tend to take the initiative with men oftentimes fail to form fulfilling relationships. I think it's possible that your analysis is incorrect. I don’t think it’s because a woman’s taking the initiative turns men off or acts to decrease the challenge element. Instead, I think that women who are not that desirable to men and don’t get hit on much, have a greater tendency to be more aggressive with men. Of course, many guys are not content to form lasting relationships with women they are not attracted to. Thus it seems as if it’s their taking the initiative that’s turning men off when it’s really their undesirability to men that’s the determining factor.

Women constantly say that men want a challenge, need a challenge. But I think that’s somewhat overstated. What exactly is a challenge?
Challenge implies uncertainty, for if there’s certainty there is no challenge. But who the heck wants uncertainty in their personal life? Do you want the challenge of coming home to an empty home not sure if there’s a masked killer waiting for you? What if one in every four times you turned on your computer it crashed, erasing all of the information on the hard drive? Would anyone enjoy that sort of challenge? Life, for most of us, is all about reducing the element of uncertainty, not increasing it.

When I hit on a girl I hate not knowing whether or not she’ll reject me. When I move to kiss a woman on her doorstep, I’m unpleasantly anxious about the possibility that she’ll reject me. That kind of challenge I don’t need. From what I understand, most men feel similarly. It would make my day—check that—my year, to have a desirable woman show interest in me. I would not think less of her because of it. What sane man would?

Women often complain about the low quality of the men they are with. They say that the men in their lives are unfaithful to them, distant--discount their feelings. But of course! How else could it be?

If a woman takes the passive role in relationship initiation and waits for men to hit on her, she is increasing her chances of ending up with a man who will not put much stock in how she feels. Why is this? This is simply because a great number of men are absolutely terrified of rejection. There are men fighting now in Iraq who, when stateside, can’t bring themselves to approach an attractive woman on the street. That’s because they care very much (maybe too much) about women’s feelings. Thus of the men who hit on women, a large number of them are going to be the sort who don’t care so much about women’s feelings. Of course it follows that men who are able to fearlessly approach women and form relationships with them are far more likely than other men to leave a trail of broken hearts in their wake.

All in all, I suspect that if a woman wants to increase her chances of finding a suitable mate, she should take the initiative to express her interest in men she likes.

Posted by: Jamie B. at November 7, 2007 8:35 PM

When I did my intensive online search for a nice guy to have sex with (funny how you can't write that in your ad...you tend not to hear from the nicest guys...) I generally split the check at first. Some times not--if I drove further, he could pay. If the guy came to my town, I would pay. But I was really into making it an equal energy return on investment kinda deal. Some guys were genuinely amazed and grateful, some argued. Only one guy won the argument--he said "You are a teacher and I make more money than you can possibly imagine. Let me pay." It was a bizarre staement, made quite matter-of-factly, not bragging or anything like that. I went out with about ten guys I met online, he was one of the first and ended up being the last. It's been four years now, he pretty much pays for everything because he is ridiculously rich. I really had to get used to it, pulling my own weight has always been very important to me. A big thing I liked about him was he responded to my ad and wanted to meet me before I even posted a picture. He liked what I wrote in my profile, if you can believe that. One of the things he liked about me he is really sure I am not with him for his money which apparently can be an issue when you are rich.

Posted by: Tiger Lily at November 7, 2007 8:42 PM

I don't think my analysis is incorrect, because first of all, it's not even my analysis. It's been said many times before. Things you work harder for are more valued. In my social psych class, it's called "justification of effort", which is the tendency to increase your liking for something you have worked hard to attain. The example my textbook used was hazing and a fraternity. A man and his son were members of the same fraternity, but when the man joined, he was hazed pretty severely. His son was not. Guess who felt much more positive about joining the fraternity?

Also, a challenge is different from uncertainty. When most men ask out a woman, it's not a random woman walking down the street. He has been in her presence for at least a few minutes, usually longer, and has had the opportunity to observe her, and often can get a feel for if she's receptive to his advance. Same with kisses. A woman isn't a passive mannequin, waiting for her prince to come along; she sends her signals, baits her hooks, and plays the game just as much as a man, but he's not always aware of it. It wasn't coincidence that I reach for the same glass and our hands touch; it's no accident that I've spilled a drop of wine on my lip and had to slowly brush it off. If I like a guy, I make it easy for him to notice me, be attracted to me, and ask me out. There's actually not a lot of passivity about it. The trick is to make him think that he's the one making all the moves, when actually you've set them all up and he just has to follow the dotted lines. Of course, I'm not implying that men are dumb and that none of them see any of this. Some do, some don't. Usually the smart ones just follow the lines anyway.

Posted by: Christina at November 7, 2007 11:38 PM

I was about to say I always pay when I have a meal with anyone but then I just remembered that Crid picked up the tab for dinner last week at The Farmers' Market. And he didn't even try to make me put out or anything. That guy is classy.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at November 8, 2007 12:11 AM

Well, you said in that comment the other day that you weren't into doggy.

Posted by: Crid at November 8, 2007 12:23 AM

Oh, I was just throwing down the gauntlet.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at November 8, 2007 12:33 AM

I have always let the guy pick up the tab for the first date, after all, they did the inviting (actually, I once offered to split it, when the guy didn't go for the bill when it arrived - he thanked me for offering but refused). After that, I usually try to invite them to dinner or a concert or something, and pick up the tab every other date or so -kind of keep track so that it ends up roughly even. However, the guy I am with now always insists on picking up the tab, unless I cook for him (which I occasionally do). I am surprised to admit I actually like and appreciate it. He is by far the most sweet and generous guy I have ever dated and he knows that he has more expendable income than me (I am a single mom), and that I have other expenses involved in going on a date (sitters, etc) and so he uses these reasons (gently stated) to convince me to let him treat. I guess every relationship is different, but I am very happy in this one and don't feel "unequal" to him in any way. In fact, I don't think that I have every been with anyone who respected me more. Go figure?

Posted by: Ana at November 8, 2007 12:58 AM

The very earliest stage of a relationship is difficult, as the two are feeling each other out. After the first couple of dates, though, it seems to me that either partner can (and should) suggest activities.

This can be "let's go to a really expensive restaurant", or "let's take a picnic to the pool". I expect the women will tend to the latter, and men to the former, but it depends on the person's personality as well as their finances.

Back to the first couple of dates: it seems to me that the man should expect to pay, especially on the first date. After that, if the woman has a comparable income, it is polite of her to offer to split the tab.

Whether she does or not says something about her. Whether he accepts or not says something about him. They ought to like each other's answers...

Posted by: bradley13 at November 8, 2007 4:18 AM

Amy writes "I find it weird and bribery-like to spend big on somebody you don't know."

I agree. And anyway, I always found a formal date with someone I didn't know well to be about as much fun as a root canal.

Far better to start with simple, short dates - coffee or lunch - to get to know the person. If you don't hit it off, you aren't nailed to the chair for 7 interminable courses. If you do hit it off, there's always the second date, and the third, and...

Posted by: bradley13 at November 8, 2007 4:23 AM

Is it any wonder that the dating scene is so confusing when there is so much discussion over something as simple as paying the check?

Posted by: Rodger at November 8, 2007 4:50 AM

My boyfriend of two years picked up the tab on the first date - B.C. basketball game; Chinese food... it wasn't too pricey so I didn't feel bad. I DID take out my wallet and tried to pay for the tickets, but thought it nice of him to insist he paid (he said "no, it's on me, I asked you out").

We switch on and off - I pay for the cheaper things b/c he's older and makes significantly more than I do. I like treating him on dates b/c he makes me happy and he deserves a nice meal on my dime.

I don't plan on giving up my last name, so I should plan on pulling out the wallet - just to be consistent about this equality thing, right snakeman? :-}

Posted by: Gretchen at November 8, 2007 5:43 AM

"It wasn't coincidence that I reach for the same glass and our hands touch; it's no accident that I've spilled a drop of wine on my lip and had to slowly brush it off." If you like geeks I can only assume you like older geeks. These things are subtle not overt as you claim them to be. I have never seen these signs before in fact I missed signs MUCH more overt than this, she spilled water on her skirt at my place and I turned around to let her dry it. The powers that be, mother nature or that bastid Murphy are having fun at my expense over this. Now when I'm out particularly on a business trip or in my element (tech) I see all the subtle signs with no problem, shit I know I missed before. Which is the ultimate of funnies since I have been happily married for 3 years.

Rodger can't agree with you more.

Posted by: vlad at November 8, 2007 5:50 AM

Guys,

If you’re following “The Code”, on the first and second date nothing is too expensive. Buy ‘em everything in sight and maybe even bring some flowers. After the second date, you immediately become a pauper.

When questioned about the turn of events, ask ‘em if they believe in the here after. What ever they respond you then say, “then you know what I’m here after.”

Posted by: Roger at November 8, 2007 6:08 AM

In tango, Man leads.

On first date, Man pays.

Don't screw with the rules of the Universe.

Posted by: Fianza at November 8, 2007 6:56 AM

Wowser -- am I ever glad I never had to tread this minefield! Purely theoretically, I'd say a first date should definitely be dutch. The next 2 or 3 should probably be dutch too. After that, you're officially a couple, and you can either continue splitting restaurant/theatre costs, alternate, or, if there's a very wide income disparity, play treats. I can't really understand why so many of you want to connect this with sex. That's a completely different game, s'far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at November 8, 2007 7:05 AM

" I do not feel like less of a woman for footing the bill, why should be feel like less of a man for letting me?"

It’s an asymmetry; the women’s lib movement suggested that men and women were essentially interchangeable and any differences were purely social constructs. Not so much. “The Date” as a concept is an artificial construct; it’s a mini-pageant meant to give the parties a chance to see what it’d be like to be married to the other. Traditionally, when the woman pulled out her “mad money” and settled the bill, it meant date over, you lose, don’t call me again. Obviously, a modern couple with normal intelligence should be able to remake the tradition to suit themselves. If they truly enjoy each other’s company, a minor logistical detail like whose plastic hits the table first shouldn’t be that big a deal. If it is a big deal, how much more of a problem will it be when it comes to bigger questions? And once you have a toothbrush in someone's bathroom, you aren't "dating" in the strict sense anymore.

" Can anyone comment on why men's default response is to pay? It seems hardwired,… Is there more to it than that?"
I don’t think it’s hardwired but I do think it is a tough habit to break. A group of us from the office went out on a Friday night after work, no offices romances or anything, just a friendly bender. We started a tab just to keep things simple. At closing time, the gals from the office all headed off to powder their noses. We guys certainly hadn’t offered to treat anybody but we wound up paying as if it had been assumed all along.
I think there is a general assumption that women’s company is more valuable than men’s and it is an assumption I don’t really disagree with. A group of women going out for a drink together is a sign of “liberation” or “empowerment” while a bunch of guys drinking together without dates is not always seen so positively. Male bonding has its place but I happen to think a mixed gang is more fun (unless the plan is to drink beer and shoot at the cans etc.)

Posted by: martin at November 8, 2007 7:18 AM

Out with friends last night so I've got four opinions to add to your data collection.

Me: Man should pay for first date as he has asked me out. While I might make myself obviously available/interested, if the guy doesn't have the balls/interest to ask me out, I'm moving on. There are conditions. First date cannot be expensive. When the bill comes, I'll offer to cover my half once, but would be disappointed if he jumped on the offer. Finally, if during the course of our date, I learned he was, by stupid decisions, dirt poor, I would try to pick up the tab, and there would be no second date. If the first date is a real success (ie: we click), then going dutch or picking up alternating tabs is appropriate. If the first date wasn’t that great, but not so bad I’m willing to give him a second shot - same rules as the first date. I wouldn’t get to date 3 with a guy I didn’t click with.

My husband: Man pays first date and should do the asking, although he says he wouldn’t feel emasculated if a woman asked him out. (Although I might have something to say about it if he accepted!!) He would continue to pick up tabs, but would cut things off after a few dates if she doesn’t reciprocate in some way on the date planning/preparing/paying. No point wasting time on someone not interested enough to participate in the relationship building.

Single Sis-in-law: Man must ask on first date and additional dates until its established that they are a "couple" at which point either person can plan & pay for activities. Insists on going dutch from day one, although she would allow the man to treat her after a few dates and would alternate with a guy she was seeing regularly. She never wants any confusion about anyone owing anybody anything.

Single Male Friend: Man or woman can ask, and why don’t more women ask him out? He will always pay for the first date. He will continue to pay for dates until she offers to pay 1 &1/2 times on any given date. As in, “Let me pick this up”, “No, that’s OK”, “No, really, let me….”, “OK!”. He (rather foolishly in my opinion) tends to plan rather big first dates. I think this is silly because most of his dates are via internet meetings and he’ll go out with any e-mail/phone personality he likes even if he isn’t attracted to their picture in hopes that he’ll get over his desire for the hip/waist ratio that he digs. He’s been told too often that he’s shallow for this so its taking a lot of work on my part to convince him that he’s not “broken” and that he should only date girls that have BOTH the personality and appearance that gets him hot. That way he isn’t paying for a bunch of big tabs that he’s disappointed about later as he’ll often stop dating them after two dates when he realizes that, “Yeah, he just can’t get over her shape….again!”

Hope that helps with your research!

Posted by: moreta at November 8, 2007 7:39 AM

I'm 24 and maybe I'm new generation or something, but for me its always splitsville. I don't buy people's time. Period. If someone wants to spend time with me, great, but that's what they should be there for. I was never one for fancy first dates (coffee or drinks was fine with me) because since dating is so much of a numbers game it barely even counts as "date" to me.

I always read about these elaborate dates people go on and I laugh. It's about the connection not the location.

I did do things a little differently with my current girlfriend (I didn't need to get to know her - we'd already made out at a party). Shared dinner and split the check. She was a little taken aback when I didn't offer to pay for her (she said she would have split anyway), but like I said, I don't pay for people's time. Either way it worked out fine as we've been dating for 8 months.

Posted by: Flighty at November 8, 2007 7:43 AM

christina is completely right. I've been on many first dates in the last 3 years (around 230). As long as you're just meeting for a drink, and maybe an appetizer, there's not a lot of money involved anyways. The most polite thing to do is make a demure move in the direction of your purse, at which time the guy most of the time will offer to treat. Your move at that point is to smile, and thank him in a very charming way, and then he's happy. If you're too insistent on paying, the guy feels like you're emasculating him. If he says nothing and you pay half, that's fine too, but that generally only happens with the really young guys.

I've learned the hard way that women have to let men chase them, 'be the ball'. They enjoy the uncertainty, and it makes you appear more valuable if they assume other men are chasing you too, which they will assume if you aren't chasing them. It also takes the pressure off them if you leave them alone.

I'm a very fair woman when it comes to my dealings with men, but there are certain things which defy logic, and this is one of them.

Posted by: Chrissy at November 8, 2007 8:21 AM

"I’m unpleasantly anxious about the possibility that she’ll reject me. That kind of challenge I don’t need."

Holy pasty-faced quivering god of timidity, what has happened to American men?!

Posted by: Gog_Magog_Carpet_Reclaimers at November 8, 2007 8:28 AM

They've been emasculated by women who pay for their drinks!

Posted by: Flynne at November 8, 2007 8:50 AM

I don't think I've ever been on a first date where I didn't pay. I've always enjoyed treating women to nice meals, shows, etc., and have never sweated the economics of relationships (but I was raised to be an old-fashioned gentleman in many ways). Over time with most of my relationships, some sort of rough sharing of expenses always develops, but I've never kept track and think it's not a big deal. I'm now married and earn about twice what my wife does. We basically live off of my earnings and save hers. This system works for us.

Posted by: justin case at November 8, 2007 8:53 AM

Gog has it.

So does Chrissy:

I've learned the hard way that women have to let men chase them, 'be the ball'. They enjoy the uncertainty, and it makes you appear more valuable if they assume other men are chasing you too, which they will assume if you aren't chasing them. It also takes the pressure off them if you leave them alone.

Again, I'm somebody who doesn't believe in marriage, in part, because I don't want to make money even a temptation for why I stay in a relationship.

I'm also quick to treat friends.

But, this isn't a question so much of what's "fair" as a question of what works.

Again, if you're my friend, my pleasure to treat you. If you're a guy and we're on a first date, I know better than to pay, but I'm also going to suggest drinks if you suggest dinner. And for me, that'll cost you about $10, with tip. One glass 'o Chard Amy. The original post-Jewish lightweight.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 8, 2007 8:54 AM

Well, I guess I'm strange, but I always liked it when a woman asked me out. I've been married for a pretty long time, so it's kind of ancient history, but back in my dating days, I appreciated being asked. I always thought it showed genuine interest and a willingness to not hide behind those phony gender roles. The pursued/pursuer dichotomy sets up roles and expectations that always serve a relationship badly sooner or later, at least in my experience.

Posted by: robert at November 8, 2007 9:44 AM

I think dutch is for friends. Friends shouldn't date. I, personally, don't even like dutch with friends. I treat, you treat. In my opinion, people who demand dutch are too preoccupied with money and seem cheap to me. They are the types who would let the awesomeness of a concert, etc. be diminished because of cost. I went out with a guy once who, after receiving the bill, asked me if I knew the glass of wine I drank was $8 a glass. We were with a group of his friends who got really quiet after he asked. I felt sorry for him, as I do many pathetic people. After dinner, we went to a bar for drinks and I paid that tab. I had 3 French Connections at $12 each. He ordered a pitcher of Bud Lite. I didn't go out with him again, although I fucked his brains out that night. I figured I should get something for my trouble.

Men I am interested in having a relationship with pay for the first date. I will pay for the next, but am glad if he won't let me. I will absolutely pay for the third. After that, it is I pay, you pay. If the guy makes less money than I do, and I really like him, he can pay every third date. I've been in this situation before, and with this guy, my grass was always cut and my car was always washed. It worked fine, although I focused more on how much fun it was to be together.

I always pay when it involves a guy I just want to fuck, which I make very plain from the beginning.

Oh, and something else. Guys who demand dutch are ugly and boring and have small penises.

Posted by: kg at November 8, 2007 9:50 AM

The pursued/pursuer dichotomy sets up roles and expectations that always serve a relationship badly sooner or later, at least in my experience.

The rules were set up by biology starting 1.8 million years ago.

Furthermore, I find going "dutch" really distasteful. I treat, you treat. We don't divide the check down to the penny and parse who had what.

And I'm pretty much with you, kg on the rhythm of who pays. I'm not looking for a free ride, but there are certain psychological realities at work here, and any man who isn't man enough to ask me out is going to sit home with his hand.

That said, I flirt my ass off to let men know I'd be interested in being asked. More women should. A little something that got lost with feminism.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 8, 2007 10:11 AM

I also thought I'd add that this is a bit of a moot point for the younger crowd since most people 18-20-something don't do the date thing anyway. They "hang out" first in a group and then split off into couples for some more "hanging out" which usually doesn't involve a lot of money anyway.

Posted by: christina at November 8, 2007 10:16 AM

Right. It's like that in France, too. Has been for a long time. Maybe better to get to know somebody in a group first -- see the real them.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 8, 2007 10:17 AM

"When I hit on a girl I hate not knowing whether or not she’ll reject me. When I move to kiss a woman on her doorstep, I’m unpleasantly anxious about the possibility that she’ll reject me. That kind of challenge I don’t need. From what I understand, most men feel similarly."

Not this man. The anticipation of uncharted territory remains the single most charming thing I miss about being single - and the most dangerously tempting.

"I don't plan on giving up my last name, so I should plan on pulling out the wallet - just to be consistent about this equality thing, right snakeman? :-}"

Cheers to G-Money for her consistency. But I've already got the archived record testifying to yoru willingness to give up your last name IF it meant the world to your man. (FYI to your man - said transcripts come at a nominal fee).

"He ordered a pitcher of Bud Lite. I didn't go out with him again, although I fucked his brains out that night."

I'd love to hear his version of this: "I got laid like a race-horse last night - and all it cost me was my own pitcher of Bud!"

Posted by: snakeman99 at November 8, 2007 10:20 AM

I like to pay for myself. I like to pay for myself on dates, with friends or in any other circumstance. I wont seriously push it, but I will insist on paying next time.

Maybe it is a weird freaky control thing. I just prefer to keep all that stuff equal. I never want to be in someone else's debt.


Posted by: Shinobi at November 8, 2007 10:37 AM

Question for everyone: if your date is clearly into you and is perceptibly nervous hoping for reciprocity, is that nervousness a turn-on or turn-off?

20 years ago I briefly pursued a woman I thought of as the Sun Goddess - her physical beauty scared the shit out of me and made me stupid. The experience taught me to try to be less shallow.

Posted by: DaveG at November 8, 2007 11:26 AM

> is that nervousness a turn-on or turn-off?

ON

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at November 8, 2007 11:56 AM

However, I'd add that there's no turn-on quite as effective as enthusiastic consent.

Posted by: Stu "El Inglés" Harris at November 8, 2007 11:57 AM

Snakeman,

"I'd love to hear his version of this: 'I got laid like a race-horse last night - and all it cost me was my own pitcher of Bud!'"

Next time he calls, instead of ignoring him as I usually do, I will answer the phone and ask him. And to clarify, he was behind me, his back to the wall and I fucked him till he squealed. And all it cost me was a pitcher of Bud.

Stu,

"However, I'd add that there's no turn-on quite as effective as enthusiastic consent"

Consent? You scare me.


Posted by: kg at November 8, 2007 12:20 PM

Dave,
I think it depends on whether or not I like them. When I met my current boyfriend he was really nervous but I liked it.

However I have been on many dates where guys tried so hard to impress me or were so nervous they forgot to actually be fun and or interesting. And that was a turn off. (Note, don't be so busy telling your date about how awesome you are that you forget to even ask what she does for a living.)

Posted by: Shinobi at November 8, 2007 12:45 PM

My policy has always been to give away sex for free. It's much cheaper that way.

DaveG, it's not shallow to pursue what you're attracted to, but it is wise to not go too far out of your league.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 8, 2007 12:55 PM

Amy,

Do you really think people know if they're out of their league? I am thinking of the movie -Shallow Hall-. I know a lot of people out there like that, and I am always wondering how is it that they don't know. It's just like over-weight people who wear skin tight clothes and will tell you they are FFFFFIIIIINNNNNNEEEEEE! How do they not know that the greasy five inches of flab hanging over their belt is uuuhhhhgggg?

DaveG.,

Were you able to carry on intelligent phone conversation? I can ignore a little nervousness at first, especially if stimulating phone conversation happens; but, being all rambling and shy over and over is a turn-off to me.

Posted by: kg at November 8, 2007 1:07 PM

Men do have a tendency to overestimate a woman's interest -- so showed a study by Martie Haselton and other researchers.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 8, 2007 1:15 PM

kg,

I think the few phone conversations we had were OK, but I was probably trying too hard.

Amy,

Interesting comment about staying in your league. Feeling like you're OOYL may be the best indicator that you actually are, but history brims with people who were rewarded (or paid a steep price, but at least we know who they were) for ignoring boundaries in all facets of life.

Counterpoint: the risk of public or private embarassment from overestimating another's interest SHOULD BE far less than the risk of losing a (mating) opportunity. The risk-taker must decide for his- or herself. I think there is research on this very topic and that if you replace "SHOULD BE" with "IS" you have a perfectly good theory.

As Amy once told an angry LW, a well-made pass is a compliment, not an affront.

Posted by: DaveG at November 8, 2007 1:44 PM

I've always let the guy pay for the first couple dates and then offer to treat. However, I am barely making it at the moment and don't really have the money to pay for dinner even at McDonald's. So, I will offer to make the guy dinner at my place. I will ask him to go get some coffee and talk. If the relationship is more established, like the one I'm in now, I just ask him to come over and watch an old movie or play scrabble.

Posted by: SarahBeth at November 8, 2007 2:03 PM

First date, guy pays. I buy breakfast.

Posted by: nancy at November 8, 2007 8:32 PM

Boyfriend and I fight over who gets to pay the check.

But for what it's worth, he paid for the first date. I would downgrade a guy's relationship potential if he didn't pay for the first date. But I also refuse to be the one who does the asking. (I'm old fashioned that way). It hasn't been an issue in several years though

Posted by: Elle at November 8, 2007 9:39 PM

First date, guy pays. I buy breakfast.

Heh heh...girl after my own heart!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 8, 2007 9:45 PM

Interesting comment about staying in your league. Feeling like you're OOYL may be the best indicator that you actually are, but history brims with people who were rewarded (or paid a steep price, but at least we know who they were) for ignoring boundaries in all facets of life.

Well, there are people who are truly out of their league -- going for somebody who is so above them in objective value that they'll be dumped immediately after the person realizes they were out of their mind to choose them. I do admire those who extend themselves, but it's important to understand the risk and the potential for failure.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at November 8, 2007 9:47 PM

When I was dating, I always planned to pay for the date. If she never offered to pay or reciprocate in some way, it would not work. It was never about the money. It was the sense of entitlement. If her attitude was "I want equality in the workplace, but you pay for everything", I couldn;t stand the attitude.

Posted by: Steamer at November 9, 2007 6:54 AM

I don't know them personally, but I assume Julia Roberts and Danny Moder didn't worry about personal wealth, since hers was probably 100s or 1000s x his. It speaks well of both of them.

Posted by: DaveG at November 9, 2007 9:00 AM

I've always stuck by the tenet that whoever invites, pays. If I ask someone to come out and do something with me, I assume I'll be picking up the tab for both us. If he offers to pay for his half, fine. After seeing someone for a while, I find it's better to alternate so we both come out even and no one feels put upon. Having been in one relationship in which I did most of the paying and another in which he did most of the paying, neither one was comfortable. I don't like feeling like I owe someone, nor do I like feeling like I'm being taken advantage of. That said, by the third date, if a guy doesn't let me pay for my half, I get annoyed.

Posted by: amh18057 at November 9, 2007 10:19 AM

latroctal

Posted by: ouc4tbo at November 9, 2007 12:51 PM

A guy's nervousness is a turn-on, if I am attracted to him too. If I'm NOT attracted to the guy, it kind of makes me uncomfortable because I know he likes me and I don't want a stalker (!).

On my first date with my fuck-buddy of 2 years, he wanted to split the lunch bill when it came (usually bad), then he talked about 'soulmates' (cute but possibly creepy). Since I felt he was of equal hotness to myself (good), tall (good), nice body (good), the good cancelled out the bad, and we proceeded to my place.

Posted by: Chrissy at November 11, 2007 10:19 AM

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