The Wall street Journal had an interesting piece by Khadeeja Safdar about how paying for first dates has evolved over time due to online dating and changing gender roles. In a nutshell, forget about chivalry. What is chivalry, you ask?
In the old days (not too long ago), when the check arrived women would reach into their purse as though they were going for their wallet—expecting the guy to say, I will get it.” This ritual went on everywhere, and everyone knew what was going on and what was expected from whom. No more. Now men “forget” their wallet,” or ask her to split the check 50-50, with some regularity. Women know that if they do the reach, they may end up footing the whole bill for a meal he happily consumed much of.
Online dating and especially dating apps have led to many more first dates—or really more like encounters. People swipe right, pick a nearby place to meet, and conduct a short interview. What I recommend to clients is to go for coffee, or any quick, easy beverage. No this doesn’t mean drinks as they can be costly. If the brief interview goes well, you can always suggest or agree to dinner—then the check splitting will be an issue. Because so many app “dates” are over fast and don’t result in a second date, this is the way to go.
But what about those who meet online or at a party, bar, through a friend? How should they handle this? Being old school, I think the man should always offer the first time. She should offer to at least leave the tip. If all goes well, she will have plenty of dinners to pick up the check for later on.
Another way this could be decided is that whoever does the asking and picks the venue pays. After all if she asks and picks a very expensive restaurant, should he be expected to foot the bill when he might have chosen something within his budget instead? There is definitely wiggle room for the old-schoolers on that one.
This ritual could also be a good way of measuring your compatibility and even your values. If a woman is looking for an old school guy or someone who is interested in a long term relationship with more clearly defined and traditional roles—this first date ritual will give her a lot of information to help her decide on going for a second date or not. The same is true in reverse for the guy. If he is looking for a career woman who will be a co bread winner, he may want to only consider the women who offer and want to pick up their half, right from the start.
One important caveat here guys. Equality is equality. Don’t expect ANYTHING in return—which you should not regardless. Specifically I mean, even a kiss at the end of the date or an offer to come back to your place or hers needs to be gentle and slow, and if not eagerly responded to, backed away from. If you want an assertive co-partner, expect her to be on all fronts. If you want someone more traditional, you may be the one who is expected to take the lead in many or most areas. Either is fine when it is what you both are looking for.