Dating: Who Pays?

I’ve finally accepted that it’s a nice gesture for the guy to pay on the first few dates. Depending on how casual the date is, sometimes I’ll pay separately, but I’ll let the guy pay if he really insists. As a fairly independent woman who is financially secure, I’ve had a really hard time letting guys pay for me. It’s not like I can’t afford it myself…

The majority of the guys I’ve dated work in my industry and make a similar income to me, so I’m kind of used to dating people with a similar means to myself at this point. On the other hand, my field is rather male-dominated and so most of the guys I meet aren’t used to dating someone in our industry or who makes as much money as them. I know guys who have paid for their girlfriend to go on vacation with them somewhere because she couldn’t have otherwise afforded it and he wanted to go with her. I would feel super weird if someone paid for me to go on vacation with them when I can perfectly well afford it if it’s something that I want to do.

Where is the line between the occasional dinner and a vacation? That I’m not sure.

Where is the line when you’re in a relationship versus dating?

How is that line different when you both make similar high incomes?

You guys might not believe me, but I’ve been eating out less frequently and cooking more. I’m no longer going out for the occasional brunch by myself, but cooking brunch at home. I saw an $8 price tag on pancakes a few weeks ago for brunch and thought “I could buy several boxes of pancake mix and syrup for that price.” I have some pasta sauce recipes that I make from scratch that even if the ingredients cost $5-8, that’s cheaper than two people having that meal at a restaurant.

This is something that my boyfriend and I are slowly working through. I’m coming around to it being romantic for the guy to pay, but I still feel that at a certain point, it should alternate more. So far, I’ve been paying when we pick up groceries to cook at my place, if we go out in less romantic situations, like lunch on a work day or grabbing food quickly on the way to something else, or if I have a gift certificate for somewhere (I acquired some great ones in the move), and he has been paying on more romantic occasions. I think we’ll be okay on this since we’re good at talking things through. I have a feeling we’ll end up meeting in the middle somewhere :)

Readers, how did you decide who paid while you were/are dating someone?

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17 thoughts on “Dating: Who Pays?

  1. I think if you’re both making the same amount, then it’s reasonable to split everything up or just alternate. My gf makes less than me so I don’t mind paying for the majority of things, I’m sure she would do the same if the roles were reversed :)

    • I’m definitely a fan of splitting everything up and alternating – sometimes it’s easier for one person to pick up food than the other. Sounds like you guys have a good system :)

  2. I always used to let guys pay…but I think things would be different now if I were dating.

    When I met my hubby, he barely had two nickels to rub together so I paid about half the time!!!

    • That’s a pretty good reason to let the woman pay! I’ve dated some guys who just wouldn’t let me pay even though they couldn’t afford to do whatever we wanted to do and I could :/

  3. I generally follow whoever-does-the-asking-does-the-paying.

    I normally expect guys to pick up the tab for the first date, then we split the rest, and I usually treat on the 3rd or 4th date.

    I’m only just starting to be in the position where I sometimes make more than the guys I’m dating (usually it’s only $10,000-$20,000 more so it’s not HUGE but it’s enough to be noticed). It feels a little weird but if it doesn’t bother them, it doesn’t bother me.

    I would probably pay for a boyfriend or spouse to come on vacation if they couldn’t afford it =\

    • It depends on what the date is. Like for a coffee first date, I prefer to pay separately since it’s so casual. But otherwise, I’ll let the guy pay and I often try to offer and then give in when he insists or says “This one is on me” or something like that.

      I think I’ve generally made more money than the guys I’ve dated? It’s like $90k versus $80k or $100k versus $90k, at which point $10k doesn’t make much of a difference in spending ability, just in savings ability.

      This whole dating “system” seems like crazy talk to me, lol.

  4. For starters, as a general rule of social etiquette, the inviter should pay.

    I don’t think there’s a hard-and-fast rule for dates. I think that, as society has become more egalitarian, this should extend to the politics of dates and result in more ‘going Dutch’ or having the woman pay. And yet I’ve always paid for dates.

    But I never bought drinks for women at the bar.

    • I tried to offer “inviter pays” as a solution. His response to that was that I usually want to cook food and he usually wants to go out. We’ll see how it goes as we develop a system for it :)

      I definitely agree that inviter should pay for dates. And I would never take a drink from a guy at a bar who I didn’t already know. Then again, I don’t really go to bars either.

  5. Kyle and I largely alternated paying for dates, or maybe he paid slightly more than half the time, once we were “in a relationship” and not “just dating.” Somehow I think there’s a big difference between paying for meals and paying for a vacation, though. I don’t like the idea of someone I’m not related to, by marriage or blood paying my way for something so big. Anyway it didn’t come up for us because we made the same amount of money and just paid for ourselves for trips. When we were long-distance we alternated who visited whom so the same person wasn’t always paying for gas, that sort of thing.

    • Yeah, I don’t think I would be comfortable with someone else paying for me to go on vacation. I’d probably just not go on vacation…

  6. We alternated paying- for some reason I like that a lot better than splitting. I think Mr. NTF paid the first couple of times but then we alternated. I can’t really remember what we did for vacations but I have to assume we split those!

    Glad things are still going well!

  7. More importantly…. Boyfriend? Yay! :)

    I think I would be OK with either. When I met my husband, we were both broke, but we typically alternated paying… now we have combined $$. What really irritates me is when I hear women describe a new guy they are dating as such: ‘oh, he’s so great! And he NEVER lets me pay for anything!” I know they mean to make the guy sound sweet, but something about women saying this really just irks me.

    • Thanks!! I’m really happy :)

      It weirds me out when women say things like that too :/ Or that the guy buys her STUFF! Guys are always confused when they find out that I am not a big jewelery person and don’t want an engagement ring with a huge diamond. My preference is for a guy who I want to spend time with, who doesn’t drain my energy, and who I can talk to easily. I don’t really care if he can pay for stuff because I’m quite happy making food at home.

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