The man pays
Paying the bill on a first date is more than just a financial transaction; it is laden with social and psychological implications. Paying the bill can show that a person is willing to invest in the budding relationship, demonstrating care and generosity towards their date. This display of thoughtfulness can leave a positive impression and set the tone for future interactions. Historically, men were expected to pay for dates due to societal norms around gender roles and financial independence. However, as gender equality continues to progress, and the pay gap lessens these traditional expectations have become less rigid and somewhat outdated. It is good to acknowledge that adhering to these norms may reinforce stereotypes. The traditional approach is that the man pays this perspective stems from the idea that men should assume the role of provider and protector in a relationship and while this might seem like the most natural and straightforward approach it is crucial to understand that not all women feel comfortable with this, as it may imply an underlying power imbalance and the idea that you are somehow beholden to your date.
Going Dutch, or splitting the bill equally, has gained popularity as a fair and straightforward method of handling first date expenses. This approach promotes a sense of equality and partnership, allowing both parties to contribute financially to the date. By splitting the bill, each individual demonstrates their investment in the budding relationship, and neither person feels they owe the other, however research has shown that those who went Dutch on a first date were less inclined to see their date for a second time so a little food for thought.
Pay for what you order
A more contemporary approach involves each person paying for what they ordered. This method allows for a sense of fairness and can create a sense of independence and self-sufficiency, as each person contributes to the overall cost of the date. There is the potential awkwardness of calculating exact costs and then what if you shared a starter and how much is a suitable tip! It can become transactional and feel more like a tax return rather than a nice way to round off a date. Unless you ordered a salad and your date ordered everything on the menu, I would keep it as simple as possible and revert to going Dutch.
The planner pays
Another approach to be thrown into the mix in recent times and my personal favourite is that the person who initiated the date should take responsibility for the bill. This is based on the idea that the inviter is essentially the “host” and should cover the costs as a gesture of hospitality. This can be seen as a more equitable and balanced as it shifts the focus from gender roles to individual actions. Bare this in mind when planning a date and make sure you can cover the cost. If you have suggested the first date, then it is always a good idea to also suggest the venue as well. Not only is this the perfect opportunity to show initiative and an ability to plan but this can also save your blushes if you end up somewhere extravagant that your date has suggested wondering how a gold-plated piece of steak costs the same as a weekend away. Remember this is a first date and if all goes well there will be many more so maybe save the more lavish ones for later down the line when you have gotten to know each other better and can truly enjoy the experience.
In today’s ever evolving dating landscape, there is no one-size-fits-all the key is to find an approach that aligns with your values and feels authentic to both parties involved. Keep in mind that your dates background and beliefs may influence their perspective on this issue, so it is essential to approach any conversation with understanding and respect. This is a first date and all going well hopefully the first of many so you don’t want to stumble at the last hurdle by getting into a misunderstanding over the bill so take in to consideration all of the above and if still in doubt take away the cost of the first date and suggest a walk instead!