Money

The Definitive Guide To Who Pays On The First Date

It’s the new year, ya’ll. Gender stereotypes are whack, and the dating world is more confusing than ever. Should I pay because I’m a guy? What if we’re both guys? Should you pay because you earn more than me?

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. It’s a super subjective and dicey topic and you should do whatever it is that feels comfortable. With the exception of having someone pay for all your meals until the end of time – which makes you an actual monster.

If having this inevitable and totally awkward chat at the end of a first date is your idea of nightmare fuel, we’ve got some totally practical and reasonable alternatives and tips for you to implement.

The “I’ll get it this time”

By telling your date you’re happy to pick up the check this time, it implies two things: 1. You’re paying and 2. You reckon this date has gone well enough to warrant a second one.

It’s probably the least awkward way of going about things too. They’ll appreciate the gesture and more than likely the favour will be returned.

Always offer, and be prepared to pay

Even if the person you’re on the date with has already hinted at or straight up told you it’s their treat, it’s still nice to offer. And if you’re offering, always be prepared to follow through and pay.

They might forget their wallet, be unwittingly short on cash or have just simply changed their mind. That last one’s poor form, but stranger things have happened.

Bring cash

Bringing some cash along with you is honestly enough to diffuse almost any awkward money situation. If at any time the two of you decide to split the bill, or wish to pay for your part, this system is fool proof.

Even if you’re hit with an annoying no split bills policy, you’ll still be able to roughly pay your date back your fair share. And it also works if you end up at a cash-only establishment – you may even end up your date’s saviour.

Pay when you order

A lot of places will allow you to pay before you receive your meal, and this can save a whole lot of the awkwardness. This way, you can just pay for yourself or, if you like, offer to pay for theirs.

This way the most awkward part of the first date is out of the way and you can just relaaax.

Offer to pay them back elsewhere

Say you’ve just been to the movies and they’ve shouted, offer to pay for dinner afterwards. Or if you’ve just had dinner, offer to treat them to a few drinks at the bar down the road – you get the gist.

This not only lets you pay the person back, but it’ll also express your interest in them. That is of course if you are interested, if not you can always just bounce having chowed down on your free meal.

Just split it

If it gets to the end of the date, the bill arrives and you both kind of just look at it, staring to the point that the lull in conversation has become a prolonged awkward silence, there’s always an escape route.

“Should we just split it?”

It’s easy, it’s fast, and you can split down the middle or pay for what you ordered – whatever you feel. Even if there’s a pesky no split bills policy you brought cash, remember?

Read the room

We reckon it’s safe to say you should go into any date with enough funds to pay for both parties, whether you intend to or not. But it’s important to get a vibe for how the other person might be feeling.

If the first date has been a total disaster, there’s no chemistry or you’re kind of just over it, you can try and split the bill or you can just offer to pay in a ripping-the-Band-Aid-off kind of fashion. Bite the bullet and get it over as quickly as possible.

Look, paying on a first date is a nice gesture and something you should 100% do if you want. When you care about someone, buying them dinner or treating them to a movie is a sweet thing to do, that’ll be greatly appreciated.

But we get that, especially when the relationship is fresh, getting the bill can be awkward as hell. Do what you feel is right.


Bradley is a writer from regional NSW and he didn’t come here to make friends, he came to win. He tweets infrequently to his 43 followers @bradjohnston_.