Should guys be paying on dates? A woman’s perspective

Has feminism messed things up? I am glad I live after the feminist movement. I feel I have way more rights and freedom than I would have had a couple hundred years ago (and any time before that and 150 years after that too, so it seems) but there are definite drawbacks. There are actually really serious ones but I’m no expert on that. Lets talk about something about which I am an expert (along with way too many other people).


I yearn for the days when the place of the guy and girl on a date was clear. The guy picks the girl up. The guy opens doors. The guy, yes, pays.

I wish it was like that because it was much clearer. But, though it’s more complicated now, I must ask myself if that really was better.

I have heard in the past, and I believe it’s true, that dating is very different from marriage. Meaning, we might think that a guy should act a certain way while dating because that is part of proper dating etiquette, but some of those things don’t matter at all in making a good marriage so we might be focusing on the wrong things.

Basically, for those of us dating for marriage, we need to figure out (if possible) what actions and character traits are important to pay attention to and which don’t matter.

Also, a certain character trait might express itself one way during dating and another way during marriage. For example, someone told me that the guy she married didn’t want to take her out a lot. He preferred cheaper dates. Only after marriage, of course, she learned how giving he is towards her, his wife. So, in his case, he may have come across as not generous while dating but, in fact, he is, and the girl is, obviously, very happy she was able to see what a good person he is, even if according to general dating beliefs, maybe she should have stopped being with him.

So my question is, is paying on dates an indicator of good marriage material? The question of who should pay on the dates is a really difficult one. For me, personally, it’s difficult because there is no good answer. I feel uncomfortable either way. I happen to believe the guy should pay but there are a few problems with that.

First, if the guy is always going out with girls, not in the gross way, but if he is looking for his soul mate and so dating different girls, it can really add up! Talk about an extra expense.

If the guy is dating the same girl for a while, it also starts feeling weird. When I dated a guy for a while, we got to a point where we’d share expenses and he’d take on extra. So it wasn’t 50-50 but maybe… I dunno, 70-30, something like that. OK, but maybe that made sense because he also had way more income than me. Should income not come into play? Which of course brings up the question, what if the girl is the one making way more? How would it make sense for the guy to pay then?

There is another problem. I feel so uncomfortable every time. Guys, seriously, please know that it’s not easy to watch someone else pay! I think it’s good for the guy to pay but I always feel badly about it, as if I’m mooching off the guy. That is one of the reasons that it’s so important to me when the guy shows that he’s happy to do it. “Yay! I get to pay the bill!” is an example of what I like to hear while the guy is taking out his wallet. OK, kidding. But seriously, along with the hellos and goodbyes of dating, I find this part of the date very awkward. : ) If I really had the feeling that the guy wants to pay and enjoys being able to do that for the girl (aka me), it would almost totally eliminate the awkwardness I feel. The problem is, I don’t know that that is how the guy feels and I’ve experienced the opposite so it’s left its mark on me.

Anyway, putting all those “problems” aside, there is a very basic question that comes up. I have a feeling it’s good for the guy to pay (to a certain extent) but can someone please explain to me in a way that I can understand, why is it really important? I could swear I’ve heard explanations a million times but I still never totally get it.

Or is it good?

Next maybe I should write about opening doors. : )


13 thoughts on “Should guys be paying on dates? A woman’s perspective

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  1. Hi Deena, this topic makes me uncomfortable as well :)
    I think the guy is “supposed” to pay only in “traditional” circumstances, i.e. he is showing to the woman that he is financially stable and can provide for a family.
    Despite feminism and all that, in the majority of marriages, the burden of raising a family still falls on the woman… she will become less financially secure in the process and the guy needs to make up for that.
    Presumably if the couple if dating for marriage then he won’t have to pay for dates for very long (they either get married and then the wife starts cooking for him lol or they break up).

    If the couple is not dating for marriage/family, then they should both pay, or take turns, in my opinion.

    It makes no difference if the woman makes “way more”, because if she is planning on raising children chances are she won’t make as much in the future, at least while the children are young.

    I was watching TV one time and they were discussion this very topic. They said it’s fair for the guy to always pay, because the woman puts in a lot of effort and money into her appearance preparing for a date (facials, makeup, clothes, shoes… all that really adds up, even if the woman is generally frugal!) basically they were saying there are a lot of hidden (not up front) costs for women associated with dating. I don’t know if that applies to all couples but then I hear guys are more “visual” hehe not sure.

    In the end though I still feel very uncomfortable if the guy pays! let me know if you find a solution :)

    1. Jenny, thanks for your thoughts. Isn’t it funny how complex this whole topic can become? As for finding solutions, hate to break it to you but I’m not sure I’ll find a solution any time soon.

      I think, though, that one thing that is important is to try to make some kind of decision and not feel bad about it. If you feel like the guy should pay, then when you let him pay, don’t feel so bad about it. Ha, I wish. I still can’t help but be so conscious of it and wonder if it’s the right thing.

  2. I don’t think its THAT complex.

    Its a bit like solving a proof, there are no mathimatical constants/numbers only varibles of change and degrees to those variables.. its like watching a flower grow, its impossible!! That is without speeding it up..

    So lets speed this up a bit..

    The guy does pay, creating a blanket, more emotional then anything else allowing the woman to feel very comforted by her new found friend. This example isn’t valid if the relational link between the two nodes has been true for more then a year. If its on then the two nodes understand and can navigate better between their two opposing structures, each other! After the guy pays the food, its systematic for the alpha node in this situation to volunteer to pay a degree of the system, not the whole system or exchange being done, just a single degree. This gives the bill payer a false on the “mooching” variable, this is important in all exchanges, there can be NO mooching.

    The food is complete, the tip is payed and everything is accounted for. Its movie or going to live theatre time. The Alpha may move to a financially more draining option like live theatre, though the partner may choose a more economic option, “lets go back to my place for a dvd”. In this case the “live theatre” my insist and buy the tickets, the partner obsolved of the responsiblities of financially stipening the event contributes drinks during intermission, because remember there is NO mooching.

    Ever wonder why these relational structures break down.. its because its nature, and we as humans have to rebuild our nets constantly, and sometimes nods don’t have enough ports for other nodes, nature too.

    All in all speeding up the process and not be able to double guess the nodes creates stablity, the moment we mooch, double guess, the relational link is strained if not broken, and in human terms.. it hurts.

  3. So, with no disrespect intended, I believe you have gotten it all wrong. Why exactly is this an issue which everyone keeps talking about. Let’s take a more esoteric look for a moment.
    Why are certain issues constantly talked about, or constantly funny, or constantly awkward, in kind of a universal style, (but only in western cultural references, which in essence is a contradiction in terms)? The answer is that there is no set answer, or even ten set answers. Each situation will depend upon the personalities involved.
    I for one, a guy, would find it simply rude if the girl didn’t pay at least half after a certain time in the relationship. Guys need to be taken care of every now and then as well, and they also need to feel secure in the relationship. When we don’t we get jealous, or pull back emotionally from making a connection. Now we may need this less than girls, as you argue above, but, it is still needed. I don’t think however that paying for a cheque is really all that important. In my case it is simply more of a financial burden and if I have to pay the whole way, then yes dates will be the cheaper kind.
    A girl I once dated however, always wanted to pay per date. What that means is the guy covers one date, then the girl covers the next one. This works really well for a number of reasons.
    1: each person can feel supported by the other thus creating a mutual feeling of trust and reliability in the other persons mind and heart.
    2: it puts the onus of “what to do” on a date in each others court, and not always in the guy’s court. And for one, I can say it is tough to consistently find things which not only are fun for us, so that we can at least enjoy the afternoon if all ends up going wrong, but also fun for the girl and try to impress her.
    3: This allows for the girl to be decisive as well and take control of some aspect of the activity planning half of the time, thus alleviating the guy’s burden and also allowing him to learn something about you and what you like. Something which cannot happen if you simply go out fo coffee cuz the guy couldn’t think of anything better to do.
    4: It begins the element of sharing in the relationship which is, something which we should all be looking for. If girls ever think guys are trying too hard or are uncomfortable, a lot of the aboves can give you clues as to why, and a great way to deal with it, instead of breaking up or turning him down, is to simply to take a bit of responsibility on yourselves.

    As for girls putting money into looking good, you all do that anyway, so don’t take it out on us. And no, you don’t do it for the guys cuz most often we don’t notice anyway, you do it so that other girls can see you all happy and smiley, let’s not forget you want to impress the majority of the population, and the guys are less than half!

  4. Hmm, I just wondered onto this blog, but this happens to be a topic I was thinking about recently.

    I think its important for the guy to pay more often, if not all the time, for several reasons.

    1. Having two people trying to lead can be confusing.

    2. Men and women are different, men may have a more obvious way of giving to a woman, whereas a woman gives back in other ways, a look, a smile, and of course appreciation. Men crave women’s appreciation. And if you know how to appreciate him he will enjoy giving to you. And men also like women who know how to feel comfortable around them and feel comfortable receiving.

    3. If you do things 50%/50% it becomes like a business partnership, meaning he will treat you like an equal and not as a complementary partner he wants to care for and dote on. And I guess that is what a lot of women want. Also, when things are even steven I think it can neutralize the chemistry and polarity of the masculine and feminine.

    4. When you watch how a man reacts to paying, you get a glimpse into his character.

    So, basically, yeah in the beginning I think its nice that he pays and as things get more involved you can both pay but I still think its best if he pays more of the time.

    Thats all folks! ;-)

  5. If a girl does not let me pay at the end of a date then it appears to me she is saying she does not like me and did not consider the event a date. I don’t even like it when a girl makes a ceremonial reach for her purse when the bill comes. I asked you out, let me take you out. And yes, that means pay.

    1. What if she asked you out? Then should she feel the same way if you try to pay – that you aren’t interested and that she asked you out so you should just let her pay? Or is it actually a guy-girl thing and not a “who asked who out” thing?

      1. It is incredibly rare for a woman to ask a guy out. Usually if she wants to date someone she’ll have a mutual friend urge him to ask her out, thus going to the situation I described. In the incredibly rare situation that a girl asks a guy out, then she may be expect to pay for the date.

  6. Interesting post! I lean towards the traditional “guy pays” model — especially on the first date. But I also am a realist. If I make more money than he does, I should start picking up the tab if we are going out repeatedly. That is only fair.

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