When in Doubt, Go Dutch

In the study, 84% of male respondents and 58% of female ones self-reported that men still cover most of the dating expenses well beyond the first date (where the numbers are reportedly even higher), though 75% of men and 83% of women report commonly sharing some dating expenses by the six month mark. Around 57% of women in the study report that they pull out their wallets early in dating to split a bill, but 39% of those women wanted to be told to put their wallets away, and 44% of all the women in the study were “bothered” that men expected them to pay at all.

Interestingly, 64% of male respondents say they believe that women should contribute financially to a relationship, and 44% would end a relationship with a woman who never offered to pay, but 76% of men felt guilty when the women did pay.

When it comes to dating, who pays? According to the Guardian, a study using 17,000 unmarried heterosexual women and men showed that the line of thinking still leans toward men paying for dates (see: this disastrous date we posted last week).

The Guardian story points to broke millennials for the reason why the idea of men paying for dates is still so prevalent. If incomes are stagnant, the job market is still rough, and more young people are moving back in with their parents, writes the Guardian, “Is it any wonder that, from a strictly financial perspective, some women prefer to be taken out to dinner rather than to join someone for it? Or that the men for whom earning money is a struggle prefer (but feel guilty about) a woman who participates in the traditional financial transactions (dinner, drinks, movies, etc.) that still underpin the modern dating environment?”

Is going dutch the way? Do you offer to go dutch, but secretly hope your date pays? Dating, it is complicated.

Photo: Kevin Dooley


20 Comments / Post A Comment

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

In my world, and unless otherwise agreed to, I thought the generally accepted rule was: on the first date, whoever invited pays (though it’s always nice to offer, and one damn well be prepared to pay for whatever you ate/drank/saw).

After that, and in a relationship, I would not be comfortable unless things were roughly dutch – we don’t have to split every cheque, but I pay sometimes, you pay sometimes, and we try to make it even, unless there is a big difference in income and expenses. My current bf and I were talking money recently, and he told me I was very generous because I paid more frequently. And part of that is not wanting to be seen as a mooch or one of “those women” who expects someone to pay for her – I have seen money be power in way too many relationships, and I maybe overreact to any possibility that someone can think I “owe” them. But in this situation it’s largely that I make more money than he does, and I have fewer expenses (i.e. am not a parent).

Caitlin with a C (#3,578)

@swirrlygrrl This exactly. I’m a huge proponent of the “you ask, you pay (and then alternate on dates thereafter where feasible)” rule. Adjust what falls in the brackets based on your income/comfort levels.

At the same time, for your first couple dates, maybe have enough money for whatever you order just in case you are going on a date with someone who prefers some other payment plan. And if you can afford to be generous, be generous and pay more often.

guenna77 (#856)

@swirrlygrrl – agree with all of this. I was taught that the one who does the inviting should always expect to pay. even when I was in HS, my prom dates went to another school or were in another grade so I was the inviter both times. I paid, both times, and had no problem with that. Hope those boys had fun because I sure did!

shannowhamo (#845)

@swirrlygrrl I think it’s more complicated when you are talking about online dating- usually there isn’t someone (in my experience) asking the other person, it’s “let’s meet” as a mutual decision. I’ve pretty much only gone on real dates with people I met online and even the decision to meet a second time always seemed to be more “let’s go out again” and not one of us asking the other.

I always feel compelled to offer to pay but for me it comes down to way being willing to pay means as gesture, I take it to mean “I like you” versus “whoa, friend zone” which is what stricly dutch feels like. It’s not that I think this system is good but as it stands, unless they are some kind of intense new wave feminist man, paying for a date still implies “interested.”

I’m strangely interested in Mike and Logan’s dating situation (not with each other, is there Mike/Logan fan fic out there?)…they’re pretty tight lipped about it. I feel like Mike would offer to pay just because odds are he knowns his finances are in much better order than whatever lady he’s courting!

swirrlygrrl (#2,398)

@shannowhamo Ha! The Mike/Logan fan fic question! I definitely read a conversational post recently where Mike said something about dating and my eyebrows shot up until I realized he wasnt talking about dating Logan.

On the online dating, I haven’t done it (lucky me?), but doesn’t someone have to say “hey, let’s meet up!” first? Maybe I just don’t get it. I have definitely had those awkward things with people where I am not sure it is a date or just friend exploration, and then the bill comes and the server asks if it’s one bill, and I want to die a bit and pull out money and worry about all the (unintentional) signals I could be sending with my actions. Though my go-to line if I like someone and they pay is “Thanks. I’ll get it next time.” I feel like that’s a good signal?

I will admit I am so happy to be in a good financial position where paynig for the cheque on a bad date doesnt add insult to injury.

saritasara (#2,710)

@swirrlygrrl Exactly! If you’re talking an “early stages of dating” situation, I always offer to pay my share and would never feel offended or like a guy was “cheap” if he accepted that offer.
But that said, when a guy *does* insist on paying, it sort of reassures me that–yes, this is a date.
Whereas, if we end up going dutch, I start to doubt his intentions and wonder if maybe he’s not really interested in me romantically after all, especially if there was nothing else that overtly marked the event as a DATE, like a kiss goodnight or something.

shannowhamo (#845)

@saritasara I have taken this to an absurd level when I went out with a guy from the Internet, we went dutch, there was some canoodling on the first meeting so I thought “okay, we’re on our way!” because I liked him and all that. We continued to hang out but nothing physical ever happened again, not even a hug, and we continued to go dutch and I continued to FUME privately about what was going on while still going out to eat with him like twice a week. Why didn’t I just ask? Who knows?! We’re still friends and we actually did hook up years later and I still haven’t asked him what the deal was. I’m an idiot but I’d rather blame the symblosim of men paying for dates!

shannowhamo (#845)

@swirrlygrrl You’re probably right, someone probably does say “when do you want to meet?” but it usually has been a deal where the guy says “I got this, you get next” and it satisfies my feminist desire to show I’m capable of paying but also allows him to signal insterest through paying that first time.

saritasara (#2,710)

@swirrlygrrl Ack, yes! That’s totally what happened with my last boyfriend too, who I met via OKC. He just Never. Made. A. Move. and it was driving me crazy.
Thank god for one of his female friends who finally stepped in and basically was like “So what’s going on with you and A? He said he hasn’t even kissed you yet and I couldn’t believe it. He is a doofus. But he is interested in you and you are interested in him so get with the kissing.”


Trang (#4,791)

I say go Dutch on the first date, but if one person pays for the other person, that’s a nice gesture. I think both parties paying is symbolic that they’ve both put some effort into the date. I don’t mind paying for my date on a first date, but she should at least *offer* to pay for hers. It’s the *assumption* that I will pay for her that I dislike, especially if it’s clear the date’s not leading anywhere. We don’t have any chemistry but you STILL expect me to pay your bill? :-P

Two or three of the girls I’ve went on dates with were insistent we go Dutch. I expected to pay for them, but they insisted on paying for themselves. One of those led to a semi-relationship, and one didn’t, only because of a mistake I made. So I don’t believe going Dutch is always an indicator of being “friend-zoned.”

It’s just assumed that the man will pay for everything, which is a hangover from a time in which not as many women worked as men, but things have changed.

cmcm (#267)

I kind of don’t like the way it feels to split a bill early on in a relationship – I really prefer a “you get this one, I’ll get the next” approach. Most of my first dates have been to a bar or pub so it works out to roughly even if we just alternate rounds.

Now that I think about it though, I feel like many of the men I’ve dated have really insisted on paying on second or third dates, or actually just a lot of the time… I just feel like this is worth pointing out because it’s not just girls (and I certainly don’t!) who *expect* guys to pay for things.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@cmcm True! I have gone out with a LOT of guys who insist on paying.

lizard (#2,615)

hmm its all situational to me. i tend to date older men and they just automatically expect to pay for most because they would feel weird having a much younger woman buy them dinner. go for it

sunflowernut (#1,638)

I have tried out many of the ways, and this is what I’ve finally settled on:

I usually expect the guy to pay for the first date or two. That being said, I never ask anyone out on a first date, so this does go along with the whoever asks, pays. Though honestly, I like it that way because it signals that we are on a Date/he’s interested in actually Dating me, with a capital D. Sometimes on second dates I like to take turns paying for cheap things (rounds of beer, coffee, ice cream) because that feels like a nice gesture for each of us to make. Once I decide I like him and am willing to go beyond the initial getting to know you date(s), I try to either go 50/50 on bills, or take turns on cheap things.

But really, I hate all that. I wish it was acceptable for everyone to just pay for themselves, unless it’s a special occasion or one partner prefers to pay. But why does that feel so ungenerous?

UrbanGarlic (#4,303)

If she’s prepared and willing to pay her own way, she makes me want to pay the whole bill. If she expects to have her bill paid, maybe we should split it.

Then again, women have a history of paying for the first date with me so what do I know?

wallrock (#1,003)

I generally offer to pay, less out of a sense of old-fashioned traditionalism but more to disguise my poor arithmetic skills.

squishycat (#3,000)

Asker pays, askee offers to cover out of politeness but unless you are at a bar and alternating rounds, an asker who lets the askee cover everything is really dropping the ball. After that you alternate or split evenly, or come to some other kind of agreement (my boyfriend makes a *lot* more money than I do, which meant that prior or moving in together I had to grapple with feeling guilty over him paying most of the time, but it never bothered him, and it was quite true that if we had stuck to my budget, we would have had a lot more evenings sitting on the sofa eating Cheetos and a lot fewer spent at a neat restaurant or museum).

chrysoprase (#4,228)

I feel waaaay more comfortable splitting the bill on dates and always have. I went on a date once where the guy was extremely insistent on paying for every little thing including a gift (?!) and it was a horrible feeling. I’m not rolling in cash but I like paying my own way, and it saves me feeling like I “owe” the guy anything. I’m in a relationship now and we still split, it’s not always exactly 50-50 but we’re both contributing to the bill.

Disclaimer: I grew up in a place where dating wasn’t really the way of doing things so maybe this explains why I’m funny about it.

selenana (#673)

I’m always ready to pay my own bill and would never expect anyone to pay for me. F gendered bullshit. Taking turns/offering to treat each other is nice early on if it’s going somewhere.

gyip (#4,192)

I love buying things for other people .. it reminds me I make money!

I’m OK with the guy paying if he asked me out, but seriously, if I asked you out, let me pay. Let me feel good. Don’t argue with me. I will find it rude.

And if he pays for dinner, I MUST pay for the movie and some ice cream. SOMETHING!

If somebody is paying for everything, I don’t feel pampered … just kind of hedged in.

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