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The New Rules: Who Pays for the First Date?

The New Rules: Who Pays for the First Date?I once met someone unexpectedly at a friend’s party. Surprisingly, we seemed to click and all that fun jazz ensued, so when he suggested that we have sushi at one of the restaurants he usually frequents, I safely presumed it was a date.

The dinner progressed smoothly, and when the check came (nobody really splurged, so it wasn’t super expensive), I did the whole “let me sift through my bag routine.”

Seconds went by, a couple of minutes probably passed, but I did not hear the “oh, don’t worry, I got it” line that I expected him to deliver. It was then when I realized that he was most definitely not going to pay the bill, and I would have to meet him halfway. I hid the embarrassment as best I could, but I couldn’t help but feel weirded out.

Are guys really no longer paying for the first date? Is this a thing?

While I’m all for the feminist movement and equality regarding women’s rights, I secretly shudder when I hear that rhetoric as the reason why chivalry is dead — as if just because it’s 2012 and our society has progressed in terms of gender equality, men no longer have to go the extra mile to take initiative. Paying for the first date is a reflection of the guy’s character; it demonstrates respect, common courtesy, and his ability to be a gentleman.

Dr. Carole Lieberman, interviewed for the Mintlife blog, is adamant about why men should pay on the first date.

“There are certain psychological and biological factors that have created long-standing traditions, and those are the natural ways the sexes should treat each other,” she says. “The man should be the knight, and the woman should be the princess. People say that sounds quaint and old-fashioned, but fairy tales come from the collective unconscious society.”

Lieberman even asserts that when men don’t pay for their date, it speaks to their emotional tendencies as well. “If he pays on the first date that is a good indication he will be generous with his love and attention in a relationship.”

Now of course there are usually two sides to every story. What’s the male perspective on the question of payment? According to a recent survey, only one-third of the men who were polled said they’d pay for that first rendezvous. More than half said “going Dutch on a first date is fair,” and most men said they would ask for a “contribution from their date.”

A spokesperson for the site that conducted the survey reported that results were linked to a financial rationale. “This may sound a little unromantic, but our poll has revealed that, for many, they simply don’t have as much cash as they may once have … and therefore are keen to ensure their spending doesn’t spiral.”

The survey continues to showcase the male point of view, with one in five men saying they’d be glad to pay for parts of the night, “but forking out money for the whole evening is out of the question.” While 5 percent of the men polled said they’d be happy for the woman to take the whole bill, 91 percent (that’s huge!) said they’d even leave a bad date early to save money.

“Increasing financial pressure was cited as the number one reason behind the decision,” the spokesperson noted. However, many of those polled stated that they felt it was unfair, or even a little embarrassing to pay for the date.

So what do you think? Should men still be expected to pay for the first date?

For me it’s symbolic of their character and speaks to romance — hopefully that’s still alive? If expenses are an issue, they certainly don’t have to ask to wine and dine expensively. I’d just hope that if they do ask a girl to go out and about, they’d take that tiny additional step in saving her from the “sifting through the bag routine.”

The New Rules: Who Pays for the First Date?

Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her collection of personal essays, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” can both be found on Amazon. Lauren's latest E-Book, "Never Far Behind," a collection of poetry, is available on Smashwords, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. She loves to be followed on social media, including her Facebook Writing Page,

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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2019). The New Rules: Who Pays for the First Date?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 16 Mar 2019 (Originally: 18 Oct 2012)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 16 Mar 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.