7 Tips for Determining Who Pays on a Date

Do people even go on dates anymore? It may be a dying tradition, but they still happen. And while they may be cheap, they ain’t never free. So who pays on a date?

This is the 21st century: the old assumption that the man always coughs up doesn’t fly anymore. There might not even be a man on your date! Better to assume the parties on the date will share all costs — it establishes a sense of egalitarianism in any budding relationship and avoids any weird power dynamics that might result from one person paying and feeling owed something. This should be standard with online dating, where everyone is looking and whoever “officially” does the asking first is fairly arbitrary.

But some people still think it’s nice to “gift” someone a fun time, so consider these 7 rules for determining who pays.

  1. Whoever did the asking can assume they’re paying for the whole date, if they’d like.  Offering to do so is a nice gesture, but it’s not necessary. (And straight ladies, you should be asking as much as you’re being asked out! Remember: 21st century and all that jazz…)
  2. That said, if you’ve been asked out, you should always assume you’ll be going dutch to, yes, instill a sense of egalitarianism in any budding relationship early on…and to avoid disappointment. Bring cash so you don’t end up washing dishes.
  3. When the check comes, the one who was asked out should offer to go halvsies — and they should try to sound like they mean it. If the one asked out really forcefully insists on splitting the bill, the one who did the asking should seriously consider graciously honoring the request as a way to — we’ll say it again — instill a sense of egalitarianism in this budding relationship (after all, that’s probably the intent of the person forcefully insisting on splitting).
  4. If you end up sharing the bill, it’s nice to split it evenly, even if one of you got lobster — think of it as paying for the experience of dining out together. Exact breakdowns are usually for roomies, siblings, and other people with no possibility of eventually getting naked together.
  5. In a battle of the Amexes, you can defer to the one who did the asking (maybe they really want the miles). Though it’s really no longer considered high maintenance to have the server run two cards.
  6. If your date absolutely insists on getting the whole thing, this is your excuse to extend the date. Offer to buy cocktails, coffee or dessert at the bar/cafe across the street, or insist the next date’s on you. If there will be no next date (in large part because they insisted on getting the whole thing despite your protestations), then thank them kindly before you never see them again — no  false promises required.
  7. Though we’d like to believe that everyone knows better by now, we should note that no matter how much your date spends on dinner, you do not owe them a thing in the booty department — not even a kiss.
This post has been updated.



  1. I always wondered about the complexity behind this issue – because it is definitely there – and this lays it out very clearly!

  2. On a heterosexual date in US, if the man splits the check or doesn’t pay at all, that relationship will not go far. May be in a decade or two, when women will be getting paid as much as the men do, things might be different.

  3. I think the first date should always be Dutch. So many first dates just go poorly, I don’t think the burden should fall on any one person. If the guy is more traditional then they are more than welcome to pay for the second date.

  4. And remember that on Rule 1, if you aren’t asking men out as often as men ask you out then this rule just becomes a justification for “the man always gets it”

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