Dating can be tricky enough, with trying to determine if another person is a suitable match for you for the rest of your life, without taking into account the often uncomfortable topic of who should pay. Even after a seemingly great date, a blunder when the check arrives at the end of the night can absolutely ruin a date for both parties.
Both for men and women, the debate rages on whether the woman should pay to show belief in equality and fairness or if the man should pay to express his generosity and chivalry. However, knowing both sides of the issue can help you know the best choices for yourself and your future.
Prep yourself and your dating life by educating yourself on the standard conventions for dating rules and what signals certain behaviors are sending, whether you or your partner is sending them. Keep the interaction positive, and always be prepared by following this guide to know when and how to pay for your exciting and busy dating life.
Budgeting for Your Dating Life
Before you get out there and begin meeting new people, ideally, find your soul mate, protect your financial interests, and set up an initial budget to guide your dating life. Consider your monthly income, expenditures, and disposable income before setting a monthly or weekly spending limit. Then, you can go out on dates with financial confidence, no matter how well or poorly the date ultimately goes.
If you are unsure of how much you will need to save, don’t worry. Your dating life can be highly adaptable to whatever your wallet needs while still ensuring fun and memorable dates that are a blast for every included party. Finally, knowing how much money you have available to spend can help you to avoid any awkward situations where you feel forced to pretend you have more spending money than you actually have or encourage you to plan for dates that are both interesting and won’t deplete your funds.
First Dates and Who Should Pay
There is nothing more nerve-wracking than the first time you go out with somebody with the specific label of a date. At this point, there are a wide variety of theories out there, so it is important to decide now what practice best suits you and your lifestyle.
The majority rule tends to assert that the male partner should pay, and multiple surveys of thousands of individuals back this. This rule is especially pertinent if the male initiates the first date.
Just remember, these are not rules you absolutely have to follow on every first date, but it is important to acknowledge that how you pay or expect the first date should be paid for may set the tone for the entire relationship.
If you are dreading the question or feel especially anxious about it, the best option is to bring up the topic before the date, over the phone or online, or even the moment the date is set so that there is no ambiguity at the end of the night. And no matter what, always bring enough funds to pay your own way in case, for any reason, you need to go dating.
The general social convention rules that men are mostly expected to pay during the first three months of a relationship, a period that is often termed the honeymoon phase when everything is still very new and exciting.
The theory behind having a man pay at this time is that it allows him to prove his solvency, that he is a capable provider, and even that he understands social conventions of dating, so if these aspects of a man are important to you, then this might be the way to go.
However, during this time, it is also acceptable for a woman to pay for any and all dates that she instigates as well, to show that she is ready and willing to give into a relationship. If a woman never offers to pay for any dates, even her suggestions, then she will find herself sending a signal that she never intends to reciprocate throughout a relationship.
Beyond Three Months
Once three months have passed, the honeymoon stage fades into a relationship that tends to be more stable and comfortable, and this also brings about a slight change in what the paying expectations should be for both parties. However, even at this point, remember that all relationships should be flexible depending on the needs of the participants, so avoid any scorecards of who paid for what and when.
Now is the time to apply the 3:1 ratio rule, which states that at this point, the woman is expected to pay for at least one date out of every four that she goes on. This rule only applies to dates and trips you take together, not other aspects, and remember, it should only be your general rule of thumb, as opposed to your explicit formula.
When it comes time to initiate this cycle of paying, the male party may wish to be slower on the draw to pull out his wallet, which gives the woman the opportunity to offer to pay off her own volition. Of course, like every other aspect of relationships, communication is key, so feel free to discuss these options. Just remember to do so well before the actual date occurs in an equal and comfortable setting.
Cheap or Free Dates
There are plenty of ways to find engaging dates for you and your date that end up either cheap or even free if the money is tight. If meals are your thing, you can skip the five-star restaurants for some fun, interesting, and cheap meals that are enjoyable for you and your date.
Or, you can eschew the whole concept of dinner and a movie for more creative ideas, such as attending a museum or finding an outdoor concert. The best option here is to check out the local paper for any listings of events that are free and open to the public.
Another option is to use internet lists for creative and free date ideas. These ideas can range from repeatable, such as finding a food market that offers plenty of free samples, to a truly memorable experience, like attempting to beat a Guinness World Record.
Pay (Or Don’t) with Confidence During Your Dating Life
When you know your stance and your expectations of who pays in your dating life (and how they compare to social conventions), you can step out on first dates with confidence, ready to handle any situation.