When are girls expected to start paying for dates? In today’s blog, we’re going to tackle this touchy subject!
So, when are girls expected to start paying for dates? For most heterosexual couples, girls will normally pay after the first few dates. Before then, the man will pay. This isn’t just our opinion, it’s backed up by real data. According to a study by England & Bearak (2013), 12,899 participants said that on a “recent date” the man paid 63% of the time, 19% both paid, 16% said no money was spent and 2% said the woman paid.
But why is this? The answer is chivalry. Chivalry is the practice of cherishing and protecting your partner which is generally expressed by acts such as picking them up for a date, holding the door and paying the bill.
A study by Lamont (2014) found that many women said they valued chivalry as a sign that a man was respectful and caring. Men obviously want to be perceived as chivalrous and win the affections of women – so they gladly pay. As one man in a study by Hertz & Frederick (2015) put it “On the first few dates I usually expect to pay for everything because I think it shows strong dependable commitment…”.
How much a women pays changes depending on the stage of the relationship
i) First dates.
As above, generally speaking, men are expected to pay in full for the first few dates in heterosexual relationships. It’s polite in modern times for women to start to chip in some dollars after those first few dates.
Now, unfortunately, it’s going to get complicated. But don’t worry, we have a solution for you. In the study by Hertz & Frederick, 39% of women wished that men would reject their offers to pay and 40% of women were annoyed when men wouldn’t accept their money. One participant expressed that when a man doesn’t ever let her pay, it makes her feel like someone who is beneath him.
Yet 44% of women in the survey said they were bothered when men expected women to help pay and this notably increases with age (that is, the view was held more strongly with older women than younger women). As one participant put it, “a man who never lets you pay for anything on a date was raised with conventional values, and it makes me feel special or that he thinks I’m worth it.”
So, what’s a man to do for a first date, pay or split? It feels like by paying you’ll annoy just as many as you do by not paying! Pro-tip for men, reject their first offer to pay with ‘hey, this is a date and I’ve love to treat you!’ but if they really insist, acquiesce to the request.
Alternatively, towards the end of the meal, excuse yourself to the restroom and pay on the way. If she wanted you to pay, then she’ll be delighted. If she wanted to pay or split the bill, you can always say ‘I had such a great time I wanted to treat you! But I’d love a second date if you’re offering to shout us? 😊‘.
ii) New Couple.
New couples in 2021 will normally split the cost of dates. This could be 50:50, but there are other ratios too, for example 70:30 or 30:70 which may be selected depending on the income levels of each partner and their values.
50:50 is particularly common in more modern times when relationships are seen as an equal partnership. As a 25-year-old participant in the study by Hertz & Frederick noted “I’m fine with paying for the first few dates. However, if the relationships are supposed to be 50/50, then each partner is expected to invest in the partnership financially.”
Pro tip: Fella’s, you’re generally expected to offer to pay for more than your fair share here – even if she ultimately refuses and pays half or more. I promise you she’s worth it 😉.
iii) Long term relationships.
Long-term couples will normally split both the costs of dates and their other bills after about 6 months, either equally or in line with their individual incomes (for example, if you make 60% of the income, you pay 60% of the dates and bills).
The way we (Lisa & Scott) do this is a little different to the average.
Scott organizes and pays for most of the dates and whilst it’s much more than his ‘fair share’, he’s very okay with this. He takes the view that Lisa is his wife, he loves her and wants to share his resources on things that make her happy. Given that one of her core love languages is Gifts, this tends to work quite well!
Scott’s Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch and Quality Time and he particularly appreciates things in life that can’t be bought with money. So, Lisa will typically focus on dates that are more in line with those themes.
What if she doesn’t pay?
There are several reasons a girl won’t pay even after the first few dates. These include:
i) Money is tight.
This happens to us all from time to time. It could be due to losing a job or having an unexpected bill. She’s probably dropped a few hints your way that dollars are scarce so there’s no need to bring it up in conversation.
The classy thing to do (obviously), is to extend those ‘first few date’ benefits a little longer and give her a break. If for no other reason, you’ll feel good about brightening the day of someone you care about.
ii) She’s used to being paid for on a date.
Now, this doesn’t mean she’s trying to be a ‘gold-digger’ or anything nefarious. Some girls have had relationships for years where they’ve never had to pay and the thought hasn’t even crossed her mind.
You’ll have to decide whether this is a dynamic you’re comfortable with or not.
If you’re not ok with it, bring it up slowly. Start with ‘forgetting’ your wallet when you next grab a coffee and ask if she’d mind getting this one.
It goes without saying that if your date seems more interested in what you can buy, rather than dating you for who you are, it’s time to move on. But we can’t stress enough that such an occurrence is an exceptionally rare circumstance. So don’t get too worried 😊.
Words of caution
We would note that there’s a difference between being chivalrous and downright patronizing or offensive!
For example, let’s consider our (Lisa & Scott’s) relationship. Lisa is a smart & independent woman. She’s not with Scott for his money and our dating routine isn’t an attempt to buy love – it’s simply a way of expressing love in the form of Love Languages and having fun together.
The same goes for your date. Whilst men paying for the first few dates is generally perceived to be chivalrous, it should only be done in the spirit of kindness and generosity – never with the intent to pressure or coerce.
To sum it up
In this blog, we’ve outlined the general conventions for heterosexual couples when it comes to paying for the first few dates. Of course, these are only the conventions and they won’t apply to all couples – so don’t worry if the dynamic in your relationship is different 😊!
We hope this helps and wish you the very best for your date!
Now that you know the conventions of who pays, you just need the perfect date idea. How about something fun in the city? We recently wrote a blog on this very topic and have categorized the ideas by love language, personality type, budget and duration – check it out here!
Lever, J., Frederick, D. & Hertz, R., 2015, Who Pays for Dates? Following Versus Challenging Gender Norms, Accessed at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/2158244015613107
England, P., Bearak, J., 2013, Is there a war of the sexes in college? Gender, meanings, and casual sex, Accessed at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.394.9292&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Lamont, E., 2014, Is there a war of the sexes in college? Gender, meanings, and casual sex, Accessed at https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0891243213503899