Why you should be paying for the first date

It always surprises me the number of women who still shudder at the idea of paying for a first date. Despite relative progression in gender equality, it would appear that picking up a check, particularly on a first date, remains linked to a man’s character: the more chivalrous you are, the greater your feelings for your partner, the more you are willing to fork out for a date. We don’t still believe this, do we?

A recent survey found that 77 per cent of people in heterosexual relationships, believe the man should pay for the first date. Perhaps surprisingly, this notion is more common among men than women.

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As we continue to labor for the dissolution of sexist and gender-biased practices – why does this one remain so firm? Not only does this antiquated habit persist, women and men are encouraged to perpetuate the ritual.

It comes down to a few basic rules: courtesy, fairness and financial responsibility. Despite an increase in the number of female breadwinners, men still believe it is their duty to pay for their date – and frankly, that’s not fair to either party. If you’re earning more than your partner, you shouldn’t expect to avoid the check just because you have a vagina. Men: don’t consider your wallet an extension of your manhood or a display of your dominance.

However, where the politics of check-paying gets tricky, is when one of your couple can’t afford to splurge on the finer things in life. The lesson: don’t go to a fancy restaurant if you can’t afford it. If your man insists, you’re welcome to go – as long as you make it clear that it’s not within your means. This rule applies to both men and women. If your finances are running low, get creative with your dating ritual and do something free or inexpensive. A date shouldn’t be about impressing your partner with flashy gestures – it should be about getting to know each other, deciding whether or not you like the person enough to pursue them.

A similar rule applies to ordering wine. If you’re sharing a bottle, always consult with your partner before ordering. A friend of mine – a student at the time – once went on a date, where her partner ordered a really expensive bottle of wine. To be fair, she offered to split the bill at the end of the night, only to find that the wine he ordered was way out of her price range. It’s not always easy to speak up on a first date, but it should be considered courteous, that if your choose the bottle to share – without consensus of the people you’re dining with – you should be the one to pay for it. If you’re splitting the bill, pay for the wine separately.

Do you have any rules for paying on a date? Who picks up the check on your dates?