Who Should Pay On the First Date?

Let’s face it, first dates are complicated. There’s a whole set of unspoken rules and procedures to follow, such as what to wear, what to do, and how to act. Hopefully, NASA has a bunch of nerds working on it right now, but until they break these social rules about a first date into complicated math formulas that we can all understand, you’ll just have to go with common sense.

Figuring out who should pay on a first date is one of those aspects that requires a lot of consideration. Whether you figure it out by meditating, reading tarot cards, or speaking with your life coach, deciding who pays on the first date boils down to what you want to communicate to your date.

Keep in mind that the fact of who pays is not the only feature that you need to consider for a first date. There are many other important things to consider, such as if the color of your clothes match the season, the compatibility of you and your date’s respective astrology charts, and whether to choose mint or wintergreen breath fresheners. Such aspects can make or break a first date, just like who should pay.

When Should a Man Pay on the First Date?

Usually, a man paying on the first date is the norm. This dates back to caveman times when a male would display his prowess and ability to provide by killing some furry animal for the woman to cook and eat. A man paying on the first date is exactly the same, but with credit cards.

A man should pay on the first date if he is interested in attracting his date in a sexual manner. It’s all biology, really. Some may claim that humans are far removed from any such silliness, but you’re fooling yourself if you think the biological need to reproduce does not factor into most of our actions and behaviors.

Just like some male birds strut their beautiful feathers, male rams butt heads, and male lions roar loud enough to be heard miles away, a male paying for the date is meant to show that he is a good mate. It’s the modern-day equivalent of showing a potential mate that he can kill food, find a suitable cave, and fight off dinosaurs, from a completely scientific standpoint, anyway.

Men should be careful, however, because paying on the first date can also be interpreted as a play for a my-place-or-yours kind of end to the evening. True, this is the typical end of all the biological rigmarole; the male then walks away and the female raises the offspring.

However, most women these days expect a male to do their fair share of hatching the eggs—that or paying child support—so there are always string attached. A man needs to tread carefully when employing this tactic.

When Should a Woman Pay on the First Date?

However, it is true that the biological factor of a man being the protector and provider is no longer necessary in this day and age. Women today are perfectly capable of killing a wildebeest, making a fire, and securing a safe cave. Women have credit cards too, after all.

Women should pay for the date if they feel like letting a man know that all that chest-beating, me-Tarzan-you-Jane crap just ain’t gonna cut it. In such an instance, a woman is sending one of three clear messages.

The first message is that a man can forget the idea of being owed something because he paid for the date. The second message is that perhaps the woman in question hates biology and doesn’t hold with the notion of men being the sole provider and protector.

The last message that a woman might be sending when she pays for the date is the best one of all. She could be indicating that she is rolling in the dough and quite open to a Sugar-Mama kind of arrangement. Now that’s a win-win!

When Should the Cost of a Date Be Shared?

There is also the option of each person on the date paying his and her own way. The man pays for his own entrée and movie tickets, and the woman does likewise. Then they split the waiter’s tip and the fee for valet parking. So romantic.

There is only one possible instance when this path should be taken. That’s when you don’t know what message you want to send. It is the ultimate way to be noncommittal and thoroughly confused. Your date won’t be able to interpret your feeling at all, and vice versa.

Are you dating? Are you willing to put yourself (and your wallet) out there for your date? Are you having fun? Do you like your date? DO YOU EVEN WANT TO BE THERE AT ALL!?

None of these questions get answered when you split the check. Unfortunately, this is the way it has to be until those NASA nerds figure it all out for us.