Should YOU Pay on the Date? (Dating Etiquette and an Inner Game Lesson)

Should YOU Pay on the Date?

Should YOU Pay on the Date?

One of the most common topics I get questions about is dating etiquette.  And in particular first date etiquette.  I have heard a lot of chatter about who pays on the date – the man, the woman, or half and half (“going dutch” as it’s called in the US).  For some reason it seems most folks have made this dating etiquette question out to be a problem of epic proportions.  For me it’s always been really easy.  I’ll describe my approach here.  But first let’s look at some of the reasons why guys even ask this question in the first place. 🙂

When guys are asking, “Should I pay on the date?” most of their concerns revolve around being used or being taken advantage of.  It is the rare case that someone’s asking this question because they’re just that cheap.  It’s also the rare case that the 20 bucks or so difference from picking up her end matters that much to him financially.  If money is an issue – and it’s OK if it is at the moment – a cheaper or free date can be chosen instead.  But it’s usually not any one of these things.

The Inner Game of First Date-ing

When I figure out the question behind the question of “Should I pay on the date or not?” it usually comes down to one of the following:

  • “I don’t want to look weak.”
  • “I don’t want a girl to take advantage of me.”
  • “I don’t want to date a gold digger.”
  • “I want her to like me for me and not what I can offer financially.”
  • “Shouldn’t she be able to pay for herself?"

Let’s take these one by one.

Offering to pay for a date does not look weak – IF you are offering because you really want to do it, because you feel like doing it, and not because you want something in return.  But if you were doing it because you really wanted to do it, you wouldn’t be worried about looking weak in the first place…

Not wanting a girl to take advantage of you is reasonable.  After all, no one wants to feel taken advantage of.  But something you have to realize, and ultimately take responsibility for, is that no one can take advantage of you unless you let them.  So don’t let them.

“I don’t want to date a gold digger,” you say?  I don’t blame you.  Girls who seem to be after money are not only annoying as hell to deal with, but their leech-like behavior can seem to drain the very life force from your body.  This is where qualification comes into play.  Ideally you would qualify your girl when you initially meet her, or over the phone, to see if she shares your values.  Once you get her on the date she should have passed your initial base level screens.  If she gets to the date and gold digs it up, that’s pretty much on you at that point.

If you want her to like you for you and not for what you can offer financially, then you should give her the opportunity to like you for you.  This is where demonstrating  your real personality is paramount.  Once you demonstrate who you really are, you’ll be able to tell if she likes you for you… or the contents of your wallet.

And lastly, you might ask, “Shouldn’t she be able to pay for herself?”  Yes, she should, but she’s out on a date WITH YOU.  You’re in the lead (at least, I hope), and you’re creating the experience for her.  So that brings me to my personal policy on paying for the date or not.

To Pay or Not to Pay

To pay or not to pay, that is the question.  (As the Bard rolls over in his grave).  My policy on this is as follows:

If the date is my idea, I’ll pay.  If it’s something we both created, we’ll split it.

Let's examine this in more detail.  If I’ve gone out of my way to craft a very nice, romantic date, I’ll be picking up the check at each of the stops.  This is because I am taking responsibility for what I’m creating.  When I do this I just ask the girl to be available at a certain time, and tell her the style of dress that’s appropriate for the evening.  I’ll even draw it out and make it mysterious and exciting – and she SHOULD be excited.  That is the proper reaction from a girl that’s attracted to you that you’re about to take on a whirlwind date.  My intention, my plan, I pay.

If we’ve come to the conclusion that we’re going to do something together, then we can split the tab.  “Hey let’s get drinks tonight,” implies that we’re all adults here and can split our tabs.  Going for some coffee implies the same.  So does the dinner date – if that’s how you frame it.  “Let’s grab a bit to eat,” is in this frame, while “I’m going to take you out to my favorite restaurant in town,” on the tail-end of a whirlwind romantic date, implies the former frame (and you paying).

The rule of thumb for me is that if it’s my idea, I’ll pay, and if it’s a joint idea, we can both take responsibility for it.  But don’t be a dick either.  If she’s a broke college student and you’ve got ways and means, just pay for it (so long as she’s not ordering the lobster for here and the steak to go).  And if she offers, and she can pay it, you can let her – but I would offer to grab the tab next time.  And if you know there’s not going to be a next time, then don’t let her pay, lest you become like the girls that prompted you to ask me this in the first place 😉

Good luck out there,


P.S.  Dating etiquette and learning how to attract women doesn't have to be a mystery.  Make the move towards getting your dating life handled by joining our mastermind coaching program.

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