Let’s talk first date economics. An already awkward attempt at romance can be further complicated when the bill comes around. In the not-so-distant past, the answer to this question was extremely straightforward: on a typical heterosexual date, guys are burdened with payment.
Of course, we live in a society where there are couples of all types and gender pairings of every possibility. But it appears that there’s still a great deal of pressure on men who date women to pick up the tab on the first date, and most statistics back up this seemingly “old school” norm.
Googling whether men should pay on the first date is mind-numbing because the resources on this topic are few. After reading articles on Forbes, CNN, and Bustle, we realized that there is not real clear answer to this quandary. Most articles on the topic tend to be editorialized points of view that outline a few basic schools of thought on the matter.
From what we’ve gathered, most surveys reveal that the expectation of a free ride for women on the first date is a cultural norm that still dominates American life. The numbers are staggering, as a study by Nerdwallet found that “77.4% of people in a relationship believe men should pay the bill on a first date.” On the surface, tradition seems to be winning.
Beyond Nerdwallet, most of the studies we found show an overwhelming majority of people still expect the man to pay. And if the man offers to pay, it’s often likely the woman will accept. Chivalry is very much alive folks.
As our Community Manager pointed out, times have changed, and women should be empowered to offer to pay their part of the bill. In practicality, offering to pay doesn’t actually translate into actual payment, but fumbling with your wallet once your bill comes with the intention to pay is often a powerful message.
This idea either came from people who want a free meal or people who need to offer a free meal to get a date.
The problem with this school of thought is that most of the time, excluding you folks out there crushing the Bumble game, in the hetero marketplace of dating: men ask women women out. So this may just entrench the previous norm more than serve as any kind of change.
We can argue endlessly about who should pay on the first date, but as relationships progress, you should cultivate sustainable and responsible financial behavior with your potential mate.
After a few dates, you should settle into a pattern of cost-sharing in some form. Whether it’s splitting the check, or taking turns paying the bill, pulling your own weight financially is a building block of a strong relationship.
In a perfect world, we’d all go Dutch from the get-go. That’s the pattern that most relationships, regardless of gender, settle into. In the meantime, men paying on the first date is a norm we will have to live with…..if you want that second date.
Cross Posted from GenFKD.org
Founded in 2013 as a financial literacy organization, GenFKD is growing into an organization that’s revolutionizing American higher education. Through skills-based training and student-first reforms, GenFKD is advancing a system of “new education” focused on improving post-graduate outcomes in areas of gainful employment, financial preparedness and entrepreneurial readiness.
David is the Editor of Bold. He's especially passionate about millennial economic empowerment. A former local news reporter, David is originally from the Little Havana area in Miami, and later became a pioneer resident of the Disney-inspired town of Celebration, Florida. David holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.