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Paying on the First Date

It's your first date with a lady. Should you pay for everything? Should she pitch in for part - maybe her food, or drinks? Should she pay if she invited you out? What if you don't like her, or she doesn't like you, and it's obvious you two are never going to see one another again? What other factors should be taken into consideration? I recently queried the readers of The Don Juan Newsletter for their opinions on Paying on the First Date. This is what they had to say.


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(Female opinion)

Who pays depends on two questions:

(1) Is it a date?

If it's a first date, the man should pay. In an ideal world, the inviter, male or female, should pay. But that's not how it usually works. Unfortunately for some women, if they pay for the first date, some loutish guys think the woman should always pay for everything for the rest of the relationship! Fortunately, after the first date, most modern women will expect to pick up their share of the expenses.

If a man pays, it's a direct signal that he considers the outing a date. If you do not consider it a date, or, by the time the bill comes, do not want another date, saying "Your half comes to....." will send this signal gently, but unmistakably. If you DO want another date, DO NOT expect her to pay the ENTIRE amount, or you will never see her again.


(2) What kind of girl are you asking out?

Women who have careers, are college educated, or are from large cities will most likely have incomes and expect to contribute something to the expenses of the outing. After the first date, they will more likely than not, expect to pay their own way. Paying one's own way is a statement of equality in the relationship, and is very important to this type of woman.

More old-fashioned women may expect you to pay. A woman who expects the man to pay often, or always, is making the statement that she believes in more traditional gender-roles in relationships.

Which type of woman you're dealing with should be easy to ascertain in the first five minutes of conversation. But remember, if you want to impress any woman, pay for that first date, and don't go to McDonald's!


I think the cost of the first date should be split between the guy and woman. I also think the first date should be entirely nonromantic. The first date is a good time to get comfortable with a woman and get her to be comfortable with you.

The venue of the first date should depend, to my mind, on how well you know each other. For instance, if you met your date in an everyday situation where your surroundings left you unable to chat together for more than a few minutes, then I think meeting her somewhere for coffee or drinks is the best thing to do -- coffee or drinks because it's casual and no-pressure, and "meeting her" because picking her up and the two of you driving together to the date is symbolically heavy. 

Picking a woman up for a date presupposes a certain level of interest in both of you -- in you to offer to pick her up, and in her to accept your picking her up -- and it would be awkward to commit to such an interest level in offering to pick her up, and then only go out for coffee or drinks.

On the other hand, if you've talked with your date for a half hour or more in whatever situation, then, I think, the best date would be a casual dinner where you pick her up and where you pay. I think in this situation, one in which you've already talked to your date for a half hour, dinner would be best because you and your date, in talking for more than a half hour, have essentially already gone on a first date. That is to say, I think you would have already accomplished in your initially meeting her and chatting with her for a half hour or more, what you would hope to accomplish in a first date anyway -- getting to know her.

I think whenever dinner is involved, the high interest level that is presupposed requires the man to pay. Because it remains that women want men to provide for them, whatever feminist ideologues might say.

And on the issue of whether to suggest coffee or drinks, I think the sexual-ness of the woman should be the determiner. That is, if the woman is quite sexual and quite experienced in dating and in seeing men, then I think you should suggest drinks, because drinks are more adventurous and sexual and hence exciting and interesting than coffee. 

On the other hand, if the woman is a little more on the chaste side, the suggestion of drinks, I think, could trouble her, perhaps leading her to imagine that you are seeking to only bed her. For this woman I think an hour -- no more! -- spent chatting over coffee would give you the opportunity to ingratiate yourself and show yourself to be a trustworthy and date-able guy. Conversely, I think inviting a rather sexual woman out for coffee could disappoint her and perhaps establish you in her mind as less strong a guy than what she's seeking. This woman would be best to meet for drinks, to my mind.


The most important factor is the man's income level.

In my opinion if he's financially comfortable, the man should always pay for the first date unless the woman gives 2 efforts to try to have some financial involvement. Women still see men as providers/father figures. They want to know that a man cares enough to take care of them. I wouldn't recommend someplace highly expensive for the first date though because at this point it is a risky investment.

I think the man should pay even if he believes he will never date her again simply out of gratitude for the opportunity to learn from her. She took the time out of her life to say "yes" to the first date even if things didn't work out. The only way I would force her to pay her part was if she was a TOTAL Bitch or if she would be insulted if you didn't let her.

If the man is on a tight budget and is spending money taking a risk on love that he would normally spend on groceries, then I would be a little more conservative. If you don't think you'll date her again or if she indicates she would like to pay I would make her pay her part. If you did like her and wanted to see her again, I would do without the groceries...

In General, it has been my experience that a woman almost always wants the man to pay. If she doesn't want to let you pay, it means that she doesn't want to feel obligated to you in any way. If she doesn't want to feel obligated to you, she probably isn't interested in you or has serious baggage.


This is an old sensitive topic that has seen many a man lose a prospective wife, date, etc.

No matter what level of society you hail from, the situation is always the same. IF YOU invite a lady out to dinner, YOU PAY even if she turns out to be a lousy date that you can't wait to get rid off. {She might even inform all her lady friends that you are a big miser who is out to use women} YOU simply treat it as a mistake. 

IF A LADY invites you out, she obviously does not expect you to cough up for the meal etc. HOWEVER our male instincts tell us to make some kind of a contribution to the bill because we want to dominate females in all spheres of life. Most of us men have this typical gentleman attitude whereby we never want a woman to feel that she is being used or abused. 

Personally, if a woman invited me out, I would ensure that I carried my credit card or cash with me. I might let her pay for the food , but I would offer to pay for the drinks.

If she turned out to be a lousy date, I would treat it as another lesson learned from THE UNIVERSITY OF HARD KNOCKS. If the date turns out to be a success, the woman might regard you as a very considerate man and a strong relationship could result from this.


I have thought about this for such a long time... but in the meantime, I can't find it in myself to have the woman pay on the first date...

I believe proper manners are:

Whoever invites whom out is the one that pays.

BUT, even if I do get invited out, I still can't let the woman pay. Is it the way I grew up, believing in this "guy always pays deal?" It's the 2000's and women can and WILL pay (that I do believe), but how can I go about making it so that the woman pays without me looking like a selfish jerk?


Well, guys, I've been using this method for years and it works best for me.

On the first date I'll always pay, no matter if I like her or not. On the next time that I see her I'll gently bring up the topic of equality, you know, equal rights. So I let her know that I really agree with it and I think that who invites, is who should pay or better yet, share the payment!

Go to Paying on the First Date... Page 2

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