Every first date comes to that same awkward point: Is he going to offer to pay? Should she take a stand and put down cash? Does anyone go Dutch anymore?
According to the State of Dating in America report, findings from a survey of more than 2,700 U.S. singles between the ages of 18 and 60 compiled by JDate (authors of this post) and ChristianMingle.com, 78% of single men believe the man should pay on the first date, and 55% of single women agree.
Related: The 5 Biggest Turn-offs
“The more things change, the more things stay the same!” says Rachel Sussman, a New York-based marriage and family therapist and licensed clinical social worker. Sussman partnered with JDate and ChristianMingle to analyze the State of Dating in America’s findings and provide her expert insights.
“In this society, maybe men are brought up being told it’s their responsibility to pay their way, at least on the first date,” Sussman says. “In general, men believe they should be the ones paying, and that’s the message that’s reinforced in media and culture.”
So, is it safe for ladies to relax and presume that the man will always pay for a first date?
“Some women are more comfortable paying their own way,” Sussman says. “If a woman prefers to pay for the first date — or at least her half — that’s her prerogative, and her date should respect that.”
Here are a few tips from dating experts on how to avoid that potentially awkward wallet-grab on the first date:
- Be up front. If the findings of the report are right, a majority of women AND men expect that the man will pay for the first date. If you want to buck the trend, just say so.
- Show gratitude, but don’t feel indebted. Of course, it’s always best to thank whoever foots the bill. But since that person chose to pay, and the other party shouldn’t feel like they owe anything!
- Consider going Dutch! Splitting the bill in half might seem outdated but it allows both parties to feel they contributed.
- If you’re going on first dates frequently — for example, meeting several different people you’ve been chatting with online — consider getting coffee instead of going out to a restaurant. You’ll feel less romantic pressure and will save both parties time and money.