The Restaurant Tab: Ladies First?


You find someone new and go on your first date. It goes anywhere between good to amazing...and then the check comes. Who picks up the tab? Why is it that men pay for dates so much more often than women?

On the heels of the United States coming within a hair of electing its first woman as President (information about the US Electoral College) as well as Mila Kunis letter stating that she's done putting up with Hollywood's sexism, an interesting call to a bygone era still exists: the long held tradition that men pick up the tab on dates.

The other day I came across the Boston Globe article, It's 2016. Why are men still paying for women on dates?, which cites a 2013 study that found more than two-fifths of women say that they're bothered if men expect them to help pay. Of particular interest to me was the idea that while a woman might offer to pay for her own meal, that offer often is disingenuous because she expects him to decline and insist that he pick up the tab.

Having money with you and being "prepared to pay", or giving a halfhearted offering of your credit card is not the same as picking up the check.

"The woman may offer to pay for her own meal, but that offer can be disingenuous: Often, she expects him to decline. If he takes her at her word, he’s failed the test."

Now, before anyone starts yelling at me about, "I pay for myself all of the time!", I'm only pointing out what this article, the research study, and (to be honest) a lot of my personal experience has been. My girlfriend, who you may remember from a podcast we did together, and I actually have a really good "I pay and then you pay" relationship, but that isn't always how things work out. I am fully aware that a modern day woman is fully capable of paying for herself - just as she's capable of opening her own door or having to stand while on the subway. However, I have also had other relationships where dinner came and went and that check would sit on the table as long as it took for me to pick it up.

How many women have been through this scenario: The check comes, the man grabs it and pulls out his wallet, and you reach for your wallet and offer your credit card. They man said, "Oh no. I've got this!" and you reply with a smile, "Well, thank you!"

Just imagine if the check came and it just sat there. Or what would happen if he accepted your card and said, "Let's split it"? Is there a part of you that would think less of the guy? I wondered if these women went into any of these dates expecting to pick up the check.

There are a number of blogs and twitter accounts out there where women talk about their experiences on 100 first dates. One of the first things that came to my mind (other than how difficult it would be for a guy to get 100 first dates) was just how expensive that would be for a guy to even attempt. If you imagine that the average first date costs $50, that equals $5,000. That's not chump change. I wondered if these women went into any of these dates expecting that they would pick up the check. See how I said, "expecting?" That's a key difference because when a man goes into a date, he expects to pick up the tab.

Cosmopolitan found that men spend about $80 on a first date, on average. Other sources suggest that the typical person spends between $50–$100 on date night, occurring on average once a month. However, according to Match.com, 58% of women don't even want an expensive date.

I will speak for myself and many other men and admit that on the first date we actually like to pick up the check. It, like opening the door for a lady or giving up your seat on the subway, is the gentlemanly thing to do and a lot of us really like treating a woman like a lady. However, unlike waiting on the check to be picked up, a woman is unlikely to stand in front of a door, waiting for it to be opened for her.

If we jump forward in a relationship beyond those initial courtship type of dates, at what point do you and your significant other start splitting the costs of your relationship? My girlfriend and I sort of go by a general rule of "whomever asked to go do the thing...they pay for it." We've also been on dates where we've split the check down the middle and ones where where the other insisted on paying.

Do the rest of you out there think that this is right? Do you feel like it's a man's obligation to pick up the check? If not, how often do you make the grab the check and insist on paying for it?

Being a guy, I'm not sure how or if women use this term with their friends, but it's called "Alligator arms". It's happens when you and your friends are out on the town and the check comes. One person makes a grab for it, someone else makes a half way effort to reach for it in an effort to make it look like they were going to pay.

What goes through your mind when the server brings the check?

The Boston Globe article includes a Twitter poll where they asked, "Do you think men should still be paying for women on dates?"

women pay on dates

Where do you stand on men paying for dates? Is there a point in a relationship where women should pay half of the time?

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