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Here’s What Guys Really Think Of Splitting The Bill At Dinner

flowchart-who-pays-on-a-first-date

Courtesy of TheFrisky.com

 

Aaron Steinberg is my resident “dude” in my new, “Ask A Dude” series. Where all us ladies get to have our questions answered by a super cool guy, who is totally in love with his girlfriend and thinks about relationships all the time (score!).  Check the bottom of the post to ask your own question!

Q: Do you think it’s rude if we don’t offer to pay for at least half of a meal out together?

A: No.  Many of us still believe men should pay for women, and, although I dislike statements involving the word should, I am fine with that idea.  I don’t take issue when a woman doesn’t reach for the bill.  I want to pay; it makes me feel valuable and romantic.

On the other hand, I don’t love the idea that men always provide for women.  I feel excited when I hear about a stay-at-home dad or a woman who makes most of the money in the relationship.  I respect a woman who keeps her own last name, and couples who keep their money separate.

Because people carry such strong and varying opinions on the issue, it’s hard to create a generalized protocol.  To some guys, a girl offering to pay could be totally offensive. Even a guy who believes men and women are equal could have a strong caretaking value and want to pay, whereas another person sharing the same base viewpoint could think, “If we’re equal we should split everything equally.”  You can imagine how much more complicated this becomes when we take into account all the different values of hundreds of millions of people.

I have two answers for how to think about this problem and what to do in practice.  First, if you want a go-to solution for any first date, based on the average of our current culture, simply ask if he’d like to split the bill, and offer that genuinely.  Second, think of this as a higher level question.  How do you want finances structured in your ideal relationship?  Starting from the beginning of any relationship, try to practice your ideal.  If you value the more traditional structure, then let the guy pay.  If you like to divide everything down the middle, split the bill, say you’ll have the next one, or pay yourself and say he can get the next one.  If you want to be the primary monetary resource in the relationship, by all means take the bill yourself and pay.

I don’t see a purpose in skirting around these issues at the beginning, or any other important topics for that matter.  If you wait until later to figure out who wants what, you may end up with a guy who’s constantly trying to pay for everything when that doesn’t make you feel good.  Over time these things can build up and cause problems.  Money issues often tear relationships apart.

When I went on my first dinner date with my girlfriend, she offered to split the bill but I said I wanted to pay; as I said, I like paying for things.  However, when we went out for drinks after dinner she paid for all of it, which I totally appreciated.  This way of doing things has worked throughout the entirety of our relationship.  Neither of us believes it’s the man’s job to pay for everything, and we both feel good when we do something nice for the other, so we decided that sometimes I’ll pay and sometimes she’ll pay and we’ll assume it will all even out.  This works for us because we like to have our own money, she likes to take care of herself, and I don’t really like splitting stuff unless it’s a big ticket item we couldn’t otherwise afford.  We put this right out on the table on our first date and money has rarely been an issue for us.

 

Since Sally and I believe this will be a regular thing, I want to mention now that in all these articles I am talking about heteronormative relationships because that’s what I know and am in.  While I have close friends who are gay or trans or both and I believe in equality for all people, I can only make the most educated guesses of answers for the relationships with which I’m most familiar.  I don’t want to offend anyone with a bunch of unfounded crap.

Have your own question for Aaron? Email them to me at sally@sallyhope.com. 

Aaron F. Steinberg is a life coach specializing in one-on-one poker psychology and romance coaching. He loves both because money and love are such challenging and important topics for most people; they are amazing avenues for spiritual and psychological work. He has a CPCC life coaching certification from the Coaches Training Institute and is a Master’s Candidate in Integral Psychology at John F. Kennedy University. While Aaron has written for various blogs, currently he doesn’t have a website, so if you’re interested in working with him you can contact him at aaronfsteinberg@gmail.com–he’d love to tell you more about what he does and give you a free sample session. He happily lives in Oakland, CA with his girlfriend.

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2 Responses to Here’s What Guys Really Think Of Splitting The Bill At Dinner

  1. Mom says:

    My personal preference is for the man to pay on the first date. I see it as a measure of how interested he is me, and how romantic and chivalrous he is. I realize that is outdated and traditional, but if he asks me out for a real ‘date’ (not, “hey, want to meet for coffee?”), I expect him to act like it is a date. In my own relationship, there is a lot of sharing. I don’t expect my husband to have to pay for everything (although he wants to), or do everything. However, had he asked me to split the bill on our first dinner out, I wouldn’t have liked it at all. In fact, I did have a date like that and I never went out with the guy again.(not just for that reason, of course).

    As to wanting to set the tone for the future relationship…. I’m not sure that is really necessary on the first date. Built into that first encounter is a mating ritual…you know, fluffing out your best feathers, etc. I wouldn’t show up for that date in the sweats and too-big t-shirt I usually wear, and not just because I was trying to create an impressive illusion of who I am. I think it’s just a matter of respect for the event: this is a special night, you interest me, I appreciate your asking to go somewhere special and treating me so nicely. I think there is a degree of commitment in NOT treating it like its just too people who want to eat together. He, by paying, is saying “I want to woo you; I’m very interested; I may not always want to be doing that (paying it all), but you seem to be special to me and I want to show you that. Hey, I might even open the door for you or take your coat or something. She can offer to pay, but by allowing him to do it, is saying: thanks for your interest, I can see you are interested enough to put your money where your mouth is, I can see that you understand romance and wooing and all of that. I may be an independent woman 90% of the time, but this boy/girl ritual is very sweet and I like it.

    • Sallyhope says:

      I am my mother’s daughter after all. :) And I feel exactly the same way. For as unconventional as I am about many things, I’m pretty traditional when it comes to things like this and chivalry. I find it rude if the man doesn’t open the door for me, and I want him to pay on the first date. I think there is a lot of confusion, since the Feminist movement about what it means to be a strong woman. Or that a strong woman can’t still be feminine, or more traditional or old school. AND…I think men got confused by it too. I hear a lot of men say that they don’t want to open the door in fear that they’ll get “what?! You don’t think I can open my own door?!” from their liberated woman.

      Personally…I want my doors opened, my coat taken off, my first date paid, so I can show up radiant and flowing and put on my best heels. When I’m not worrying about controlling the date or who’s going to pay, I can relax into my own best self.

      My two cents. Thanks for yours mom.

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