In times past, it was the man’s job to invite a woman on a date and then pay for the date, whether it was a meal, a movie, dancing, or mini golf. These days, who asks whom out for a date and who pays has become a thorny and sometimes contentious topic. Is male chivalry still acceptable? Should a woman who describes herself as a feminist always offer to pay for herself? And what obligations are inherent in allowing your date to pay for an entire evening of entertainment?
Dating Rule #1: The Asker Pays
One of the most basic rules of dating is this: the asker pays. The person who invites another on a date has assumed the responsibility of payment. This applies whether it is a man asking out a woman, a woman asking out a man, a man asking a man out, and so on. This is common courtesy. Dates don’t have to be extravagant spending affairs, so if you’re watching your budget, consider some creative but inexpensive ways to have fun (check out our previous posts on outside-the-box dating to get some ideas). Bottom line: if you are in doubt about who pays, assume that if you ask, you pay.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course. First dates generally follow the above rule simply to make things easier and your timeless prone to contention as you get to know each other. Even second or third dates can follow that rule. But when you know someone well or if you are uncertain about what your date will assume he or her is entitled to in paying for the date, negotiation is acceptable.
Negotiating the Rules
There are plenty of reasons for negotiating an exception to the “The Asker Paysâ€ rule. You might feel more comfortable if you pay for yourself for ideological reasons, or because you know your date is short on cash, or because you worry that your date will assume he or she should get special sexual privileges for being the one to shell out the money (and if you’re on a second or third date with such a person, it might be time to expand your dating pool with Mingle2’s free online dating app).
If you are the one being asked out, offering to pay your way is generally acceptable. If you are the one doing the asking with the intention of surprising your date with the information that he or she will be expected to pay his or her own way, you’re pretty much a jerk. You had better be very charming and/or know your potential date very well in order to ask someone out and then ask them to pay for themselves (or both of you).