I had someone ask me yesterday if she should offer to go halves or pay for the whole dinner for a first date. “Who asked who out?” I asked. “He did.”
“And why do you want to pay half or for the whole dinner?”
“Well we’re all equal and I don’t want him thinking I can’t pay my way or that I’m dependent on him.”

Let me be brutally honest: If paying for half or a whole meal is the best you can do to show that you’re an Independent Woman (click your fingers with me now), then I feel worried for you. How the hell can someone be dependent on someone else because they paid for dinner!?!

Paying on dates is a tenuous issue, but as a general rule of thumb, unless for some reason he has already said that you’re going dutch or you asked him out and told him that it was your treat, let him pay on the first date. Most guys will feel at least a little bit funny about you feeling that you have to pay. It’s not because they feel that a woman is any less than them (generally…) but why do we have to turn the first date which has potential romantic opportunity into an ego contest. If he’s offered to take you out, he’s offered to take you out. Some men interpret you feeling like you have to take over and pay as an indicator that you think that they can’t afford to pay for the meal that they invited you on. It can also send the message that you care more about massaging your ego and catering to your need to feel independent than you do about getting to know him and enjoying the date.

On the first dates, debates over who will pay, or letting him pay will leave a dark cloud over the remainder of the evening. It’s difficult to bounce back to light-hearted conversation after tussling over who will pay. You have the second date to exercise your opportunity to pay. Unless you want to send a clear message that you don’t see it going past date #1, graciously accept him paying for dinner, thank him and get on with enjoying your evening.

No matter how much time has passed and how the sexes have evolved, most men just want to be ‘men’ at certain times which means that it’s actually easier to let them have their moment of feeling pleased with themselves for taking you out on the date and paying, than it is to bruise their ego’s.

As an aside though, do remember my other golden rules about paying on dates.

  • Don’t frickin offer to pay if you don’t have any intention of paying, and then bitch about him letting you pay when he accepts your offer.
  • Just because he has paid, it doesn’t mean that you have to snog or shag him. This is not an exchange of goods…
  • Always say thank you but don’t milk it because you’ll come across as patronising.
  • If you do offer to pay and he says no, accept it gracefully and move on. There are bigger battles in life to fight. He will respect you for making the offer, but he won’t respect you for not being able to let it rest.
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