Who should pay on the first date?

This age-old question and debate has been going on since the beginning of time.

When Adam met Eve.

When Harry met Sally.

When Rachel met Ross. (they were on a break!)

Who should pay the bill on the first date? Man, woman or split?

Picture this.

Tuxedo Mask* and I met at a restaurant opening and hit it off with a shared love of food. He proceeded to ask for my number and invited me to try out a new high-end restaurant. I accepted the invitation thinking if it smells like a date, looks like a date .. it is a date.

We mostly chatted about HIS challenging job and HIS closet filled with $5,000 Tom Ford suits.  When the bill arrived, I assumed he would pay since he initiated the date AND spent the night bragging about his financial means but instead he said, “let’s split the bill.”

Keep reading to find out what I did. 

When I posed this question on my Facebook, the answers varied from the equalist, the traditionalist, and the penniless:


I’m an equalist. Whomever asks for the first date should pay. 


Man on the first date is customary.

It’s a man’s duty to pay like it’s a woman’s duty to do laundry and clean house. 

As a woman, if the bill comes then I won’t even look at it. Like it doesn’t exist. Make it a non-event until he reaches over to pay. 

A lady should offer, a gentleman will not let her.

be holding hands.jpg


I really don’t think a man should pay by default, even if he asked her out.

The custom of men paying is a very old tradition – first date is about getting to know a total stranger – split the bill!

My friend Helen*, a foxy successful lawyer says, “No matter how much money a woman makes, or what high power position she has, there is always an innate need to be taken care of by a man. It’s one of our basic wants from a man.”  

Traditionally, it was proper etiquette for a man to pay because he was the breadwinner while his wife was taking care of the home and kids.  Nowadays, it’s becoming more common for couples to split the bill as confirmed by the Steve Buscemi server I chatted with at Richmond Station and I trust his opinion since he’s witnessed many first dates.


There isn’t a one-size-fit-all solution or answer. It’s dependent on your values, culture, non-negotiables, and thoughts on traditional gender roles.  Here’s my advice:

Men – pay for the bill if you want to see the woman again. It will do more good than harm. No one is telling you to shell out a dinner at Alo (although that happened to me once and can’t deny it made me swoon). If you are on a budget then invite a woman out for coffee instead of drinks or dinner.

Ladies – if a man offers to pay then just let him, reciprocate with a thanks and offer to treat the next date.  If it’s a deal breaker that a man must pay  the entire bill then at least you know and can move on to finding your ATM suitable match.

As for Tuxedo Mask, I paid my portion of the bill and never accepted a second date with that pompous jerk.  Kindness, consideration and being humbled trumps a wallet warrior in my books.

People have strong opinions about this and I want to know what you think. Who should pay the bill on the first date? Leave a comment below! 

Smooches xo

*names have been changed to protect their identity 


5 thoughts on “Who should pay on the first date?

  1. lzamparo says:

    I’m in the “you ask, you pay” camp! When you end up in a relationship, you don’t necessarily have to split each bill 50/50. When my husband and I were dating, I loved that he covered the tab when we went out and I made sure to always bring something with me when we stayed in – takeout, wine, snacks, a DVD (ugh that makes me feel old! LOL). It’s fun treating each other 🙂


  2. Genevieve says:

    If a man did not insist on covering the bill on the first date, a date that he asked me out on, I would assume his mama did not raise him right, and there would not be a second!
    I would gladly offer to pay for the second outing (especially if I arrange it) or down them he road when we are “together” split bills. But the FIRST date…deal breaker ladies. RUN.


  3. Lil Bear says:

    Men should absolutely pay on the first date and it’d be a deal breaker for me if he didn’t. I’m a traditionalist. I won’t broad brush all the men who don’t pay on the first date as bad, they’re probably not, but it is an indication to me of what I may be signing up for: a man with a fundamentally different belief system. Not paying on a first date means he probably won’t open the door for me, walk curb side on the street, offer his jacket if I’m cold, or let me order first at the table. I need a man who enjoys being a man, not a boy who likes to argue otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pan says:

    A women should know her self worth and not even look at the bill but notice how much he tips on whether or not she accepts the second date. Remember, the second date is up to the women


  5. Sean says:

    Great Article as always…equality rules..equal rights means equal pay if you ask me. You can’t find for one thing and still expect old customs to remain the same. That’s like having your cake and eating it too ( and if it’s on a date that cake might cost you). Real question is as a gay male it makes things a little more complicated. But Dating should be just that..Dating, getting to know someone for who they are not what they earn. You might even make more than him who knows, but should not be a factor. Enjoy and offer to cover your portion ladies and gents it’s just polite.


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