This Is Who Should Really Pay on a Date, Experts Say

Dating and relationship experts agree that this is the best way to decide who foots the bill.

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There's one dreaded moment on every date: when the check arrives at the table and the two of you fumble over what happens next. And while the person who is responsible for picking up the check on a first date is often a point of contention, even a few months or years into dating, a couple may still be bickering about who should pay. While money matters are often personal and definitely depend on each couple, experts suggest the default should be having the person who suggested the date pay when the check comes. Read on to find out more, and for other dating tips and tricks, know that studies have found Wearing This Color Instantly Makes You More Attractive.

Switching off who pays based on who suggests a specific date is a healthy way to keep the financial responsibility in a relationship equal while each partner still gets to be treated from time to time. "Whether it is a first date or a couple in a long-term relationship, the person who extended the invitation should be prepared to pay," says dating expert and author Kevin Darné. "Otherwise, it would be very presumptuous to suggest going out and automatically assume the other person is going to pick up the tab."

To set yourself up for financial equality in your relationship, dating and relationship expert Carol Roderick, MEd, PhD, suggests both partners set aside some funds each month for their own date budget. "The amount of money that they each set aside should reflect how the couple handles finances in their relationship overall," suggests Roderick. "For example, if one partner earns significantly more, they may have a greater date budget than their partner."

Couple getting the check at dinner who should pay
Shutterstock

A 2015 study published in SAGE Journals on the finances of dating found that "74 percent of men and 83 percent of women reported that both members of the couple contribute to dating expenses after dating for six months." However, a majority of men and women both said that men pay more of the expenses. Almost two-thirds of the men surveyed felt that women should contribute money to cover dating expenses and 44 percent of men said they would stop dating a woman who never pays. However, 76 percent of men also said they felt guilty accepting money from women.

According to the study's authors, the findings demonstrate "how many people are resisting or conforming to traditional gender norms in one telling aspect of dating that historically was related to males displaying benevolent sexism, dominance, and ability to fulfill breadwinner role during courtship." Of course, a lot has changed in the five years since this study was published, with society starting to move away from the sexist tradition of men always grabbing the check when on a date with a woman, which is often disguised as chivalry.

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While men paying for a date may feel like a kind gesture at the time, it could actually do a couple a disservice down the line. According to Forbes, it's an expectation toward a gender that's ostensibly positive but is actually negative, referred to as benevolent sexism. In this case, the custom could be a detriment to a woman's career and income. Benevolent sexism lowers women's career aspirations, slows their task performance, reduces their drive to obtain equal pay, and impacts their feedback at work, Forbes reports.

Switching off which partner pays the bill based on who suggested the date allows the relationship to remain equal and mitigates any hidden resentment. Plus, as Roderick says, it "allows each partner to treat and be treated." Simply put, she adds, "it keeps things fun." And for more tips on navigating the world of dating, check out This Is the No. 1 Turn-Off for Men, According to a Therapist.

Allie Hogan
Allie Hogan is a Brooklyn based writer currently working on her first novel. Read more
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