Who has to pay on a date?

FreeImages.com/Christian Ferrari.


I am not going to proceed to give dating advice, but this is one of the issues I wanted to give a comment on. There is (still) a long held (even ancient) belief, concerning dating protocol, that men are supposed to pay on (a first) date(s). It simply is a double standard that in 2017 must be questioned, if not refused. The question of who pays is too gendered and maybe that is the wrong way to think about relationships and dating.

The outlook that a man has to pay is outdated. There is nothing wrong for one party to feel like they have to pay for a date, be it a man or a woman, but, in my opinion, there is something very wrong with the fact that (sometimes) women expect the man to pay for the meal or drinks. Of course, that also works the other around. Expectations, like these, speak of ignorance, rudeness and a sense of false entitlement.

Relationships are teamwork right from the start and those first dates play a crucial part in defining a nature of a relationship. The question of who should pay is not about the money but about showing effort, manners, commitment, (self-)respect and your own character. Relationships should always be rooted in equality and the behavior during first dates will give you the indication of what the other person is like.

Money is a complicated matter as it is, but in relationships, there are also social norms (and even stigmas) attached to it. ‘Who pays’ (unnecessarily) becomes  an issue concerning masculinity and femininity. If a woman pays, is she a ‘feminazi’, ‘strong, independent feminist’ etc. – is a man poor, non-masculine, not educated, rude? If a man pays, is he trying to show off, does he want to ‘buy’ her – does it mean that a woman is (or has to be) submissive, dependent etc.? All of these labels are ill-advised and should be strayed away from. We need to deviate and change these perspectives and re-define the the ideology of who is supposed to pay.

Modern dating requires flexibility and adaptation that traditional and rigid dating norms can’t provide. There are also a lot of different socially acceptable scripts one may follow but they may be just as confusing as much as they are helpful. Placing ourselves in certain stereotypical gender roles overshadows other circumstances like who invited another person on a date, varying incomes, different cultures people are brought up in etc. – that may help to answer who is supposed to pay. A wise piece of advice states that the person who asks another party on a date should pay though it’s not that simple. Do not, still, mainly men approach women to ask them out and how does that impact the financial decisions?

It is entirely up to you to choose what you want to do. Your own principles and values should always be followed first. If you want to pay for a date, that is okay, as long as it is your free choice. Whatever your own notions or ideas about dating, remember two things: you must be comfortable with the decisions you make but with each decision you make – there will be consequences either positive or negative. If it is important to you that a woman has to (at least offer to) pay, then find a partner that does that and vice versa; do not settle for something less than you expect. First dates are all about making a good and positive first impression, but don’t compromise your own values just because you are lonely or want to be liked. You will win so much more by establishing and showing off the real you.

On the other hand, strive to make first dates simple. Avoid adding the complexity of money by not going to expensive places and choose cheap(er) ideas for first dates. In truth, people are rarely interested in each others income (at least at the start) and first dates shouldn’t be (and is not) about money anyway. A warm and positive impression on your date will be much more valuable than the cost of the dinner that you covered.







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