Ahhhh… the age old question of “who should pay on the first date?” It’s a minefield for the modern dating man. Try and do the gentlemanly thing, and you could end up looking a sexist dinosaur; split the bill, and the only thing you could end up kissing goodbye is the chance of a second date. Indeed, you need to tread carefully.
To get to the bottom of this thorny issue once and for all, we asked 10 women for their opinion on the matter – from a feminist commentator and sociologist to model and porn star.
Wallets at the ready Or not.
“This might sound a little archaic – and men on a shoe string budget won’t be too pleased to hear this – but a man should always pay for dinner and drinks on the first date. You might think that spitting the bill or letting her pay is the behaviour of a modern man, but those ‘modern men’ usually just get friend-zoned, or thought of as cheap. If she insists, pretend to accept, and then somehow (use your creativity) pay the bill when she’s unaware. This is an attractive gesture, and it will leave the girl’s sense of ‘doing the right thing’ intact.”
Kezia Noble, dating coach and expert, author of The Noble Art of Seducing Women
The Journalist: You ask ‘em out, you pay out
“Whomever asks the other out on the date should pay fully. A woman, if accepting that scenario, should go well prepped to pay all bar bills thereafter or, like I did, arrive with a bottle of something lovely in a gift bag, thanking him for a wonderful eve in advance. Eleven years on and we’re still fighting to pay for each other.”
Emma Barnett, BBC broadcaster, journalist, and Sunday Times columnist
The Sex Blogger: Go 50/50 every time
“If someone wants a second date they have to pay their share on the first – and let me pay my share too. When guys try to pay it’s often deeply awkward: I offer to pay half, he insists, I get frustrated because I earn my own damn money and I can spend it how I like – then he continues to insist and I feel patronised. We usually never see each other again. You should always split the bill on a first date. Insisting your date pays implies you don’t want to be there, or your time’s worth more than theirs. Paying for the other person implies that you think very little of yourself – you have to give them something other than charm for them to like you. If you’re worried about money, go somewhere cheap [the pub] or free [a museum]. Leave expensive treats for when you know each other better.”
The Girl on the Net, London-based blogger and writer on all things sex
The Stand-Up Comic: Don’t forget who earns 19.7% more
“Whoever decided on the place should probably pay…that person knows how much it costs and can budget accordingly. If someone suggests the Eiffel Tower restaurant they should stump up for the airfare and meal and pick somewhere less tacky. Or the man should pay because men make 19.7% more than us. As long as paying doesn’t come with any type of ‘expectation’ then I think chivalry is fine. I would always offer to split the bill or pay the whole thing but I shouldn’t because men earn more… Also maybe pay for the condoms as well.”
Tiff Stevenson, comedian, touring the UK with her show Seven until March 2017 –
The Glamour Girl: A man’s gotta spend to impress a girl
“The man should pay, of course. If I had to pay or go halves, that would put me off a man. I would be like, “What?!” There are other things I look out for on a first date too. The man needs table manners, he shouldn’t talk about themselves too much or walk through the door before you – it’s always ladies first – and picking her up before the date up is a definite. No having dinner at his house either… a woman should be taken out and wined and dined properly. And there’s no limit on what can be spent, though that’s up to the man.”
Danielle Mason, actress, model and TV personality
The Academic: Don’t try to buy a woman
“The question of payment on a first [heterosexual] date has its roots in notions of chivalry, which itself is rooted in male economic and social power. Chivalry involves rituals of men treating women with an elaborate regard and politeness, which serves to mask the fact that men dominate the public sphere and have social and economic power over women as a class. Payment on a first date also ties in to notions of ownership. So the whole question is based on a very patriarchal set-up, and has substantial implications within sexual politics! I think that while some men may be fairly progressive about the payment question, culturally men clearly still have difficulty with women doing things equally. I would remind men that women are human beings to be respected, not commodities to be purchased.”
Dr Julia Long, Lecturer in Sociology at Anglia Ruskin University, expert in feminist theory and practice
The Athlete: It’s up to the guy to make a gesture
“The girl should always offer but personally I think the man should pay. Many women earn more than their male partners – and I’m the first person to stand up and say I can do anything a man can do – but it just shows that a man is willing to protect and provide for the women if she were to need it. But I don’t think the man should pay for every date after that. Either split it or the girl should treat the guy sometimes and show him how much he means to her. If I offered to pay for the first date and he just said “OK” without offering, I’m not sure there would be a second date!”
Sarah Davies, weightlifter and Commonwealth Games competitor
The Showbiz Reporter: Pay for the right reasons
“I don’t think either sex should have to pay. Of course, somebody does or the restaurant will be up in arms. But the decision of who is paying to feed both mouths shouldn’t be down to what genitals they have. Equality is what we’re all aiming for, right? That being said, if somebody wants to treat you – lovely! Who doesn’t like being spoiled? But that should be a decision from the heart, not the pants.”
Kelly Jade, showbiz reporter for Fubar Radio and Fresh Meet Channel presenter.
The Feminist Pundit: It shouldn’t matter
“I can’t believe the idea that anyone ‘should’ pay by default, according to some tired idea about gender roles, is actually still a thing in 2016. I guess it rumbles on because of all those dreadful dating books we’ve had [e.g. He’s Just Not That Into You] that encourage an expectation for people to perform according to type. There still seems to be a certain kind of guy out there who doesn’t mind a token gesture to pay that he can instantly turn down, but who becomes downright butt-hurt if his date insists – in the ‘chivalrous’ manner he might adopt himself – on doing something nice for him. Which is not nice at all really!”
Holly Combe – Writer and contributor to contemporary feminism website The F-Word
The Porn Star: Insist on going all the way, fellas
“I think that the girl should always offer to split the bill and the man should insist on paying all of it. Of course, if the date goes badly then the man can happily agree to split the bill, and also split ways.”
Harriett Sugarcookie, adult performer, model, lifestyle blogger