Dating and Going Dutch

No matter how well a date is going, figuring out who’s going to pay for what is always a little uncomfortable. This is especially true on first dates when two people are still trying to get to know each other and don’t want to make a bad impression.

He’s thinking, “I should just pay, right? If I don’t pay for the whole thing, will she ever want to see me again?” And she’s across the table thinking, “Oh no, the bill. Should I even offer? Does he think I’m just in it for the free food?” Cue awkwardness.

So, what’s the deal? On your next date, should you split the tab or should the guy pick it up? Here are some financial etiquette guidelines about dating and how to figure out if you should go Dutch :

The Guy-Always​-Pays Rule

The truth is, many people– both men and women, still firmly believe that the man should always pay, especially on the first few dates. Is that a little outdated? Sure. But it can also be seen as a nice– and what some would call “gentlemanly”– gesture that exhibits good manners more than any sort of inequality.

The Whoever-Asked-Pays Rule

In modern times, dating has gotten a lot more complicated than it used to be. No longer is it always the case that gentlemen “court” ladies and make all of the first moves. These days, between online dating sites and women who are increasingly making the first move, the lines are a little blurred.

That’s why there’s a modern dating etiquette guideline that says whoever asked the other person out should be the one who pays. Not everyone believes this, but it’s definitely a good rule of thumb to keep in mind– especially if that person bought expensive concert tickets or made reservations at a fancy restaurant.

On Going Dutch

The last money-related dating guideline people may believe in is that, no matter who asked whom, the check should be split. This is especially common for Internet daters who are used to going on blind dates where there’s no telling whether there will be a connection. It’s often seen as the most fair way to handle the bill.

Girls: You Should Always Offer

Most people agree that no matter which of the three camps you fall into (guy pays vs. inviter pays vs. both pay), the girls should always– repeat, always – offer to split. You shouldn’t go on a date expecting a free meal, but instead should look at it as a bonus if the guy tells you not to worry about paying.

So, the next time you’re on a date, do that awkward reach-into-your-purse thing and ask if he’d like you to split the tab. Just don’t fight over the tab if he insists on paying– that gets uncomfortable really fast.

Guys: Be Smooth

If you’re a guy who likes to pay on dates, that’s awesome. Most girls will really appreciate it. However, there are a few ways you can make the payment situation clear before the check lands on the table and turns everything weird.

One thing you can do is simply frame the date in a way that makes it clear. Say, “Can I buy you dinner on Thursday?” Or, during drinks or dinner, excuse yourself to the bathroom and smoothly pass the server or bartender your card then– that way, the bill will have already been paid before it hits the table.

What About Same-Sex Couples?

The payment scenario is often even more uncomfortable for same-sex couples because there isn’t really a traditional rule of thumb to fall back on. In general, LGBTQ couples should try to follow the rule that the inviter is in charge of paying. Again, the invitee should still always offer to split.

When Do the Rules Change?

Even if the guy takes care of the bill on the first or second date, he shouldn’t be expected to pay for everything for the remainder of the relationship. Most couples agree that as you get more comfortable with each other, the bills should be split a little more evenly, if not right down the middle each time.

When to Definitely Go Dutch

If you’re out with a girl or guy who you don’t feel a connection to and have no intention of ever seeing again, good manners dictate that you should split the bill, even if the other person offers to pay for the whole thing. Sticking him or her with the bill is a little like just being in it for a free drink or meal, and that’s not cool.