Should Men Pay For The First Date?

Who Pays The Bill?

Should men still pay for the first day? Men sure think so.

A new study by Elite Singles is letting us into the minds of single people looking to date and find someone special. The study surveyed 300,000 American adult singles on the lookout for love. And the results found that surprisingly, people’s perspectives on dating aren’t that different from what they used to be a couple of decades ago.

The survey asked men and women for their thoughts on dating norms, practices, and life as a single person. Many of the questions asked specifically about dating etiquettes and thoughts on who should do what during a date. The first question asked was “Who should pay on a first date?”

The answer to the question? Men should pay. At least, according to the men themselves. Straight men assume that they should be the ones to pay. In fact, two-thirds of the male respondents, or 63%, thought so. But because of the change in gender dynamics and stereotypes, women aren’t so sure. Less than half of the women in the study, or 46%, think that paying for the date is the guy’s responsibility.

According to psychologist Zoe Coetzee:

”Traditionally, it was seen as the man’s role to pay for a date. However, in today’s world, gender norms have evolved, and equality has become the standard to aspire to in work, social, political and also dating spheres”.

”Although this shift is taking place, men can still feel socially obligated or want to fulfil the role of the traditional gentleman by paying the bill themselves. On the flip side of the coin, today many women would rather prefer to split the check. These expectations and norms can change from person to person, making it a topic that a couple should negotiate when it comes up.”

Related: Guys Answer: “What’s The Perfect First Date?”

Other Options?

But the study’s data doesn’t just stop there. It also includes information about people’s willingness “to go Dutch.” If you don’t know, the study defined “going Dutch” to means splitting the bill. And for the men and women in the survey, turns out that many are not in favor of the idea.

Not many American men said they’d be down for going Dutch. Meanwhile, 18 percent of American women were open to the idea.

But what about by state? Yes, the data also split up its information amongst the states to see which state was most willing to go Dutch for the bill. Turns out, it's Vermont and Delaware.! 30% of women from Vermont and 10% of Delawarean men would choose to go Dutch on a date.

But what about splitting the check? Well, 7% of men said they would prefer to split the check over anything else.  And many women agreed! Then, women are least likely to want to share the costs in Montana, where only 12% would go Dutch. For men, it's South Dakota, where only 3% are in favor.

More Thoughts

This information backs studies and thoughts going back several years ago.

2010 research by Emmers-Sommer et al. found that several other studies revealed that men are on average expected to pay on dates. But then their study revealed that things may have changed (and haven't at the same time). While more and more people are open to the idea of either party initiating the first date, most men still do it.

The same thing happened with paying for the first date. While many men and women said that they think its fine for either to pay, men are still paying on average. Even worse, women received pushback when they initiated the date, paid for it, and had a followup at their apartment.

As Psychology Today wrote, “Men had higher rape-myth acceptance beliefs as compared to dates the man initiated and paid for, or where either partner initiated the date and they went Dutch.”

As alarming as that may sound, the real problem is in the fact that we have been taught, and still are being taught, that men must pay the meal. It's just wrong to have it done otherwise.

“You will be hard-pressed to find a woman who doesn’t feel at least a hiccup of hesitation if a guy were to let her pay on the first date,” said Kerry Cronin, associate director of the philosophy research organization Lonergan Institute at Boston College, to the Wall Street Journal. “We are all about equality and not wanting to be controlled and not wanting to be expected to have sex. But the reality is that there are these deeply held meanings and values about dating and how we want to be treated.”

Related: Women OK Dating Men Who Are Younger and Earn Less (Study)

So What Then?

The question of who should split the bill is a tough one. But here are some ideas to tackle it.

First dates shouldn't be expensive: Make sure the first date is based on activities and not so much on the price tag.

Don't split the bill on the first date: The point of paying the bill on the first date is to show you care and to show that you can afford to provide for the other. While splitting the bill is a fine idea for friends and couples who've dated already, it isn't the best idea for someone you're just getting to know. The best option is to take turns paying the bill until you're comfortable enough to split.

The person who asks for the date should pay for the date: Another idea is to pay for the date if you're the date initiator/planner. Instead of making dates about masculinity and femininity, daters should make it about the planner and the date. When you ask for a date, you're taking charge. So take charge. Plan the date and pay for it. Then, the other person can take a turn for the next date, or keep on being the planner for as long as you like.

LGBTQ Dating

We have to note that the above data is pretty biased to straight relationships and dating. So many gay men or lesbian women out there might be upset to find the information doesn’t really focus on them.

But we want to bring in the fact that so much of homosexual dating is affected by heterosexual norms. When going out on dates, or in general life, LGBTQ men and women may feel like they have to submit to heteronormative standards. From labels like butch women and lollypop girls to the whole masc dynamic of gay dating and life, there's a lot of straight expectations pushed down on gays.

But just as figuring out this “who pays” issue can be hard for LGBTQ people, it can also be incredibly easy. Those who worry about stereotypes might be scared to consent to fitting masculine or feminine roles in their relationship. Splitting the bill or taking turns paying bills can be an easier task for same-sex couples than straight ones. After all, they have a better claim to doing away with stereotypes and norms concerning planner and datee roles.

Your Thoughts?

What’s your dating life and etiquette like? Do you always pay the bill or do you switch off with your partner? Let us know down in the comments below.

About Devin Jackson Randall 566 Articles
Geek by chance, and an artist by birth. Devin is a journalist and blogger who's always glad to share insights and developments on men's issues. Aside from news stories, he often writes about the roles placed upon men by society, and how both affect the relationships around us. Click on the hyperlinked text to follow him on --> Twitter. Email him at --> [email protected]