Who should pay on the first date?

God forbid you expect the girl to

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The typical date: pretty much everyone’s been on one. The amiable bachelor wooing a potential lover over a candlelit dinner. Perhaps Valentines Day is the most famous for this, the introducer of the age-old table for two that is almost cheesy now that it’s so cliché.

Turtle Bay is a personal favourite.

Turtle Bay: Always a winner.

The romantic meal, simple and sweet, is changing. You fellas, who have always been (or seemed) automatically responsible for footing the bill, are now in the midst of a society of females who battle for gender-neutral treatment.

The question is, whether the man can still be chivalrous if he doesn’t ‘step up’ and offer. But if those among us in same-sex relationships can treat one another to chivalry or otherwise courteous behaviour, why do we straight people continue clinging on to these genderised roles?

Of course, there is something beguiling and romantic about tradition. The amiable male sweeping you off your feet and showering you with affection in the form of chocolate fondue and buy you sparkly things that make you feel like his princess. But is this institutionalised gender roles, or is this really romance?

Each one of us has our own opinion on who should pay or say what at the end of a date, leaving much opportunity for misunderstanding and awkwardness. One chap might be offended by a woman wanting to undermine his act of chivalry, the next might be miffed if his date doesn’t offer to cough up her fair share. But for some reason, god-forbid if the woman is expected to pay, the male will in the most case, never get a second date.

Can this dilemma be solved by downgrading to an affordable restaurant? Is this a question of compatible values or the wealth of the individual?


As long as there’s food it’ll be a good date

First of all, if the significant other you are romancing is not any more well off than yourself, it makes sense to split the bill but one party may wish to take the whole fee to show how much they value you. Yet if one partner is significantly less well off than the other, then ladies surely we must throw gender expectations to the wayside and let the higher paid or more privileged other (even if that is yourself) stump up the bill.

Yet still 90 per cent* of women admit to taking offence if a date doesn’t at least offer to pay.

Third Year Economics student, Lottie, reflects the wide opinion that “He should offer first, then I’d suggest splitting the bill”.

While splitting the bill is fair in the most case, why do we still want that offering. Is it a test of how much they want to impress us? Value us? *Yes. This one is worth the thirty-four quid.*

Treat her to a Piña Colada, or better still, a Cosmo.

Treat her to a Piña Colada and then get caught in the rain

Offering to pay, even if just for the cocktail beforehand, is just an act of chivalry that endears any girl because it reveals a snippet of generosity. So yes, the many girls that want you to offer but won’t let you pay it whole are just after that kind of gallantry that her Dad would approve of.

And if you’re a guy who would be insulted by a girl offering a free drink, don’t be. Take that Raspberry Rum Reggae with gratitude, no ones trying to undermine you.

Also, if you really are skint, or this girl’s just ordered everything for about £20 each on the menu (plus dessert), bite the bullet and suggest you go halves. If you’ve been treating her right, she’ll respect you for being honest. You shouldn’t have to offer to pay the whole hog if it’s not fair, or she’s just taking the biscuit.

Besides if she’s the kind of lass that expects you to buy everything for her, well, at least you found out now rather than a Tiffany ring and Mulberry bag investment into the relationship.


Or you could be super romantic and thrifty and just get two spoons

Chivalry these days could just be a discussion about her French bulldog or her post-grad aspirations, heck go wild and even pull out her chair. Anythings better than the bum-groping and leach-y behaviour many a girl is subject to on a night out and someone that respects her is the most important.

It works all ways too, a girl can surely be courteous to a guy, or a guy to another guy, girl to girls. Chivalry can get a bad rep for enforcing harmful gender roles but what’s the harm in us all just being a bit more attentive and thoughtful to the people we care about. You’ll likely earn way more respect, being honest and generous beats bankrupting yourself on her Caesar salad at Marco Pierre.

A friend of mine shared an alternative to the “who should pay” crisis. If the guy pays for the first date, she is then obliged to pay for the next one. Of course, this works off the assumption that there will be a second date. A modern tactic to ensnaring a boyfriend if I ever did hear one.

For the rest of you, whatever gender you are, offer if you’re feeling generous but there’s no shame in going halves.

*Figure taken from Money.com, 2014.