Who should pay on a first date is a very legit question to ask in the modern dating era.
As we know it, traditional dating etiquette have long been shacked by feminist values so you might think that we must have reached some sort of a new consensus on money matters.
Reality is that money matters in dating still fuel the most heated debates between men and women ( and will probably always do).
There is no right or wrong answer to the question of who should pay on a first date, there is only different points of you, and it is up to you to choose to have the one that you feel the most comfortable with.
To help you gain some clarity, I am going to develop these different points of views and give you my own view on the matter.
The traditional view
The traditional view on who should carry the financial burden in a relationship is no secret. In the context of a first date, men are expected to pay because they are usually the breadwinners.
Not only that, but a man’s ability to pay on a first date is an indicator of his ability to be a provider and thus a suitable genitor, which is something that most of women are looking for in a potential partner, even when these women are financially independent.
The striking consistency of these traditional dynamics with the very serious evolutionary theory make it to me something to seriously consider.
The theory supports that men-women sexual relationships are selective by nature because it is a necessity for the survival and the evolution of human kind.
In other words, biologically, not everyone is worthy of passing on their genes to the next generation, and nature found in self-interest based mating selection a way to insure that this process is taking place.
Women also need to insure their survival and the survival of their offspring by mating with a “strong” male, which mainly translate in the modern world into someone who can financially support a family.
Women are biologically wired to look for clues as to why a particular man qualifies as a mate, and paying on a first date is a one of the first ones.
The feminism view
Feminism usually views men paying on a first date as an act of machism and male domination over women.
Most feminists support the idea of going dutch on dates or even paying for the man to mark the point that they are their male counterpart equal and that they are no longer under any domination by men.
By meeting half way, they feel empowered to choose who they want to date and feel that they are under no obligations towards their date. In other words, they feel in control of their sexual life.
Unfortunately, the idealistic views don’t always match the reality, as recounted by Georgina Lawton in her post “Is it wrong to resent going Dutch on a Tinder date?”, where she is sharing her experience going dutch on a date with a tinder match, yet he still “got uncomfortably touchy-feely on the dance-floor” and “asked me back to his” which she said she “politely declined”. This indicates to me anyway, that men will still want to and try to have sex on a first date regardless of who paid the check.
It is not a gender-related matter
My view on this question is very simple. It is not a gender related question, so my answer is not going to be gender related but rather whoever did the asking.
If it is the man who did the asking, he should be ready to pay and feel okay doing it and there is nothing wrong for the woman to expect to be treated because she is invited. Similarly, if the roles are inverses, it is the woman who should pay.
People forgot in the name of equality that a date is an invitation from one person to another person, regardless of their gender or relationship status. Anything else is not a date and you can call it whatever you want but it is merely hanging out (which is out of the scope of this question).
The act of inviting someone implies that you are covering all expenses related to this invitation because it shows your appreciation for their time and effort when they could have been doing something else.
If I ask to go for a coffee with my boss, it does not matter if he make twice as much as I do or if he is a man, I am still going to pay to show appreciation for his time. This is basic manners.
What about equality?
When you invite friends over to your house for dinner, you do not hand them over an invoice at the end of the dinner because they are your equals and they are paid as much as you or perhaps more, so they should pay their way. I do not see why it should be any different when two people are dating.
Bringing equality to the debate is completely irrelevant to me. Men and women are equal at all times and under all circumstances and making it a rule to go 50/50 on a first date is not a manifestation of gender equality.
So you can be a strong woman who does not need any man to take care of her and can pay her own way but dating is not about showing the other person that you are their equal and that you don’t need them.
Allowing yourself to receive care and generosity is not a sign of weakness and does not undermine your strong woman status.
On the other hand, nothing stops you from showing how strong of a woman you are by inviting him back and covering all expenses. This is something I did many times by the way.
Women do not get away not paying anything
If we compare like for like, women incur more costs before the date than a man who pays on a first date because he initiated it. Women have to buy all the beauty products, treatments and outfits.
What is expected from women?
In my view, if women who were invited are not expected to pay, they still have to be decent to show appreciation for the invitation and its generosity.
A date is not an opportunity to get a free meal. If someone is inviting you and paying for your meal, they should get your full attention and appreciation in return. The free meal is just the context that allows this to take place. It is just for the form and is not the purpose of the meeting.
For that reason, women should be decent and not order anything that they cannot afford themselves otherwise.
Should you do the courtesy reach? I would say that a woman should only offer to pay if she really means it.