Independent Woman vs. The Chivalrous Man: Who Should Pay On The First Date?

April 30, 2012  |  

The battle of the sexes has been waged on many fronts but there’s still one frontier that is still in debate: Who should pay on the first date? Depending on who picks up the check at the end of the evening, it’s either going to be emasculating or empowering. At the risk of subscribing to sexist ideals, the man should flex into his wallet and write out that check (or pull out that card). Women are strong enough to bear children and do a wealth of other admirable things, but that strength is often intimidating and it’s not such a bad thing to hang back on the first date and save the Girl Power for another battle.

In this new age of dating, some men are asking women to cover them at the end of the evening or she’s already reaching into her purse without prompting. It’s not necessarily that chivalry is dead, but so many are determined to hold up the banner of equal footing since there’s been so much ado about sneakers and heels being on par; whatever he can do, she can too.  It has almost become a competition and not only have the battle lines been drawn, but they’ve blurred. Some men expect a woman to come out of pocket in some way even if he initiated the first date. In fairness, some women make it clear that they are not beholden to how it used to be and will call the waiter over first to help sort out who ordered what and how much her share of the bill is.

Alas, there’s something to be said about tradition. Whoever asked for the first date should pay for the meal and that’s usually the man. A woman can offer to leave the tip, but she shouldn’t be flattening the crumpled bills in her purse to prove any point. She is not on a date with the rest of society, but an interested man who needs to show his intentions.

More and more women are independent and fully capable of paying their own way, but that mantra doesn’t mean a loss of femininity. Women still want to be courted and not treated like one of the guys who’s pooling their money at the end of a long night out on the town. A guy just might be so impressed that his date wants to throw her coins on the table at evening’s end that he’ll get too comfortable. He just might think his lady’s got it like that and can pay for everything going forward. He just might think she can pay for the concert he wants to go to next month. A guy just might get so comfortable with his woman’s finances that he lets her pay for everything.  It’s a slippery slope that doesn’t even need to get that far.

Just because a woman can pay doesn’t mean she should. A woman can open her own door, but a gallant suitor will show her that he’s got her. It’s the little things that help deepen a connection. As much as the gender gap has closed, there are just some conventions which shouldn’t be done away with. Men can still be gentlemen and women can still let themselves be ladies. It has not gone out of style.

Stephanie Guerilus is a journalist and author. Follow her on Twitter at @qsteph.

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  • Astrid

    This article is so on point. When I met my ex, on our first date (he invited me out), we went to dinner and I had to pay for my half of the bill, which honestly should not be a big deal. The sad part was that he didn’t even offer to take care of the bill. When I paid my half, I should have run away as fast as I could on that day, when I heard him say “I could get use to this”. I did not follow my intuition and after a year and a half of dating this man, I ended up as a co-signer to his 10Grand student loan and a joint credit card bill that he is still paying off(You better believe I shut that credit card down when we broke up). I accept it, I was stupid and naive & in part responsible for staying with this person.  I often look back and want to slap myself 5 times over. HAHAHA, lesson learnt a hard and a brutal one at that. I’m still paying the consequences for that mistake both emotional and finacial.

    • Mr. Save em!!!

      That’s kind of sad. I mean come on you co-signed a 10k loan and opened a joint credit card with that fool.  Yea you were definitely in love and now you’re suffering the consequences. Next time think with LOGIC and NOT EMOTION.  Thank you very much

      • Astrid

        Shoot, I agree. You better believe that won’t happen again. Thank God I did not marry the man, my eyes opened up really wide on our way to get that marriage license…No regrets on that one!

        • Tim

          According to my observation, most women play dumb when they are crazily attracted to a man. Sometimes I wonder how my guy friends get away with a lot from women (vice versa). ATTRACTION (physical attributes) makes people do dumb stuff. So Astrid you aren’t alone.

          • Rah Truth

             “When your heart’s on fire, smoke gets in your eyes….”

  • Knowsy Latina

    I’m a fan of 50-50 simply because I feel that money should be taken out of the equation in figuring it out if you had a true connection with the other person you went on a date with — this way the woman doesn’t feel like she “owes” a guy she didn’t really connect with anything because he paid for a nice dinner, and the man doesn’t feel bitter about having to always pay. At the very least, if he insists on paying, the woman should always offer to leave the tip.

    • DaTalley

      I agree. No one should take the other for granted. This is not eh 1950’s. Timeout for taking advantage of another person just because you can.

  • Rah Truth

    When I’m dating someone, he pays for the first date, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth and so on unless or until I tell him i’d like to treat- whether I initiated the date or not. And, I don’t even kiss on the first date. I have no interest in a man who will sit back and ask or let his woman take care of his bill or ever her own when they’re out together. And, I don’t ever have to tell a man not to expect anything after dinner. I carry myself with respect. They already know. And….it’s never been a problem.

    • DaTalley

      Not cool at all. To each his own.

  • Well me, I’d say the the man wants to pay, let him. Also if the woman wants to pay, let her. If they both want to pay then they should split the bill.

  • Candacey Doris

    If he asked for the first ate, he should pay. If you asked, you pay? What’s hard about that? Split it on the second date. Always leave the tip. Don’t be a diva.

  • how about you both pay for your own meal. I mean I get it times are tough portions are getting smaller and prices are getting bigger. 


    As a man who fortunately has been gainfully employed for many years I have no problem whatsoever in footing the bill. I do it because I want to and it’s my way of showing appreciation towards the lady for spending her valuable time with me. When I was younger I used to have expectations but not anymore because we got to eat and as long as we enjoy each other’s company I’m very cool with that. As far as a lady offering to pay that has yet to happen for me and if she were to offer I would probably refuse because as I stated before me paying the bill is my way of saying thanks for spending time with me.

  • Alana

    When I had my first date with my husband he paid for dinner,I left a nice tip.I consider myself an independent woman but I didn’t consider it a badge of honor that I had to showcase at all times.To me it’s more of a personality trait that becomes transparent in the way you carry yourself.I have no problem with men being chivalrous,to me it’s a way men show their respect and admiration for us as women especially with them not being as vocal and expressive as we are.It’s like the person holding the door open on the elevator when they see you jogging towards it.You shouldn’t expect them to but you should also appreciate it and not take it for granted.Just my two cents!

  • Guest

    Pay for every date. How bout that.

  • F3ral Anarchy

    yes we know we know.  men must still be chivalrous and independent women still must let the man pay. 

  • Ladies, if a man wants to pay, let him do it. However, you can make it clear (sometimes without saying it) that it is not a downpayment on something else. Men are smarter than we think. They can tell when a woman is just with them for a free meal. If you are independent, you don’t have to go out of your way to prove it. Buy my new book Layover by Peaches the Writer on Amazon Kindle.