Luxdates First Date Kit
Who Pays On A First Date?
Who pays on a first date is one of those questions that both men and women find tricky to answer.
There is no hard rule, yet there are assumptions which are based on the cultures and narratives we were raised in.
Based on my interviews with hundreds of men and women, I can share the following:
There is a simple answer – for men
Most women enjoy being invited on a first date. So if you want to play it safe, my recommendation is that you offer to pay. If you really want to be on the safe side, simply ask: “May I invite you for this drink/meal?”
That’s the simple answer.
(Hint: women, please say Thank You if a man invites you.)
But wait, there’s more
There is a more complex side to this question and it concerns the women.
As a woman, have you ever wondered why it is that you expect a man to pay on a first date?
It’s considered a chivalrous gesture, chivalrous in the sense that the man demonstrates that he can take care of and nurture the woman. Women often feel that this is a sign of appreciation.
But why – in this day and age – do women feel the need to be invited to something they can easily afford themselves?
Cultural Narratives and Fairytales
This has to do with our history as women and the narratives that have developed over time.
If we think back to our mothers/grandmothers/great-grandmothers generation, very few women had control over their financial destiny.
It was the norm for women not to work, and most women only left their parents homes when they got married, so going from one system of dependency straight into the next one.
Women were not in charge of their financial destiny
Even if women were working and were earning a living, a lot of them didn’t have control over their own money, as it was quite common that the husband controlled the finances.
The cultural norm was that women were not financially independent and relied on men to provide for them.
This cultural norm, this narrative, has translated into an emotional need, the need to feel nurtured and cared for, to feel appreciated.
Isn’t it time that we test this narrative for today’s validity?
In talking to a lot of men, I hear a sense of frustration. As women we strive for equality in all aspects of life, for equal pay, for equal treatment.
Yet, when it comes to who is picking up the tab, we often behave as if we’re coming straight out of the 17th century.
So how about we as women of the 21st century put a stop to this and start changing the narrative?
There’s nothing wrong with offering to split the bill (and mean it!) even if – or ESPECIALLY if you want to see the man again.
Is it different from what you are used to? It certainly is, and it says something about you as a person and can set the tone in a budding relationship of equals.
The Fake Reach
What you should avoid at all costs is what is called “The Fake Reach”.
What’s the fake reach?
It’s women reaching for their purse but in reality waiting for the man to say “I’ll get it”. It’s a manipulative move, very thinly disguised, easily recognizable, and not at all appreciated.
So don’t pretend that you are prepared to pay your share when you are not.
If you think of yourself as a Princess and expect the man to pay for everything, that’s also fine. Most men genuinely enjoy being chivalrous.
Like all tricky questions, this one is best solved by open communication. It takes away a lot of the awkwardness if, as a woman (take the lead! And mean it!) you say in the beginning, “hey, this is our first date and we don’t really know each other – I suggest we split the bill, what do you think?”
You can then enjoy your date without you both having to worry about THAT question. No man will think less of you and it doesn’t destroy and romantic frisson. And you demonstrate that you’re a 21stcentury woman not only in the workplace.
As always, I am looking forward to your comments, so please share your thoughts with me.