The check’s journey from the server’s hand to the table is perhaps the most dreaded moment of any first date, chock-full of fight or flight-type responses in those precious few seconds. Do you offer to pay or sit contentedly in your seat as he fumbles for his credit card?
Even less than a decade ago, it was assumed by both sexes that it is without a doubt the man who covers the bill on the first few dates. But with today’s rapidly evolving social norms and gender equality issues, the answer is less of a clear one. I generally encourage daters to expect a man to pay on the first three dates (if he’s asked you out) but to make sure to offer each time regardless. Here’s why.
Why He Should Pay
A man who automatically pays on a first date (and thwarts your efforts) indicates a number of suitable qualities. Beyond the obvious technical assumption that he’s financially solvent and dependable, it hints at the likelihood that he’s a true gentleman. Sure, not every fella who pays on a first date is a stand-up guy, but one who doesn’t is an automatic red flag.
Furthermore, his willingness to pay shows that he understands social graces and that it’s on him in the early phase to court you. In the very crucial series of initial impressions, a man who pays for your get-togethers is showing, whether subconsciously or not, that he’s not just investing in the dates themselves but also investing in YOU.
Why You Should Offer
All that said, it’s important that on the first few dates you at least offer to pay for yourself. Dating is a mutual experience, and your failure to at least rummage in your purse for your wallet when the check arrives can make you seem entitled or high-maintenance even if you actually are neither of those. This gesture will also show that you too are independent, financially stable, and cognizant of social conventions.
More often than not your date will stop you before you even reach your purse, but that subtle move will go a long way in his mind. That said, on rare occasion he may accept your offer to go dutch. If so, try to understand that he may have his own set of beliefs and expectations. Give him a second chance (if there is chemistry), and on the second date remember to keep your hands on the table confidently.
Having a guideline for who should pay is always helpful, but as is the same with everything in life, most things depend on the person you are sharing the experience with.