The Paradigm of Paying

The Scoop: In a world of gender equality, who should really pay on a first date?

Okay, here it goes. In these paragraphs I shall try to answer and/or simplify the dating question that has defined a generation. A question so much pondered that it divides families and friendships alike. This question contains undertones of feminism, classism, and traditionalism. It is the catalyst for failure and success, the antithesis of compatibility. The question: Who pays on a date?

First, a disclaimer. I am a cisgendered white female dating almost exclusively straight cisgendered men. My experiences are based on this dynamic and the social norms associated with it. As of recent, my personal life has transgressed slightly from straight dating; as such, I feel mildly comfortable in saying that the following advice can cross boundaries and apply to many dating experiences. But I am an expert in straight dating dynamics so I will not pretend that I know my advice will apply to non-straight, non-cis dating dynamics.

I’ll make this quick by stating that I have a pretty straight forward answer to this question. It doesn’t matter who pays. Now bear with me here because I know you’ve heard this before. Here is what I do think matters:

First and foremost, no matter how the evening ends up or turns out, a date is a treat — a way to step away from the possible monotony of our daily lives into an exciting new adventure full of possibility and unknown promise. I think it is so important for both parties to view it this way, and do their best to make the experience reflect that respectively. So in regards to payment, it doesn’t matter who does it, just that one person does. And yes of course I mean, someone should pay in that I don’t condone a dine and dash situation, but I also mean that one person should treat the other person. One person should pay for themselves and the other. Splitting a check is not romantic, I don’t care what anyone says.

Splitting a check.png

The conversation over paying is possibly the most difficult part about the whole evening, and money seems to be such an impolite topic to discuss, but believe me, it will feel good to take some initiative. If the topic of payment hasn’t come up yet over dinner, offer to pay and make sure the other person knows you are happy to treat them. More often than not you’ll get a return on this investment in a big way. People love to feel special, and if they are good people, which I hope they are, they will want to make you feel special in return.

Communication is of the utmost importance. Let the conversation flow naturally and don’t put too much pressure on the payment aspect. If someone offers to pay, let them. Take a treat and don’t feel bad about it. You deserve a treat! If you offer to pay and the other person wants to split, try and communicate your treat mentality. Moreover, if you offer to pay do not throw it passive aggressively back at the other person later that night. Paying for a date does not mean that your partner owes you anything in return.

In a world of instant gratification and and an increasing drop off in face-to-face communication, make it a priority to enjoy something simple. The niceties of someone picking up your dinner tab go back to the courtship rituals of yesteryear. If you’re like me, nostalgia is romantic (as long as I get to keep my gender equality, or what there is of it...), and this show of chivalry will go a long way in helping you view your partner as more than just another right swipe.

Take the treat, girl (or boy)!

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Leah Holmes is a feminist, comedian, and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Please reach out, love to love!