Dating Dynamics: When Should You Start Paying For Dates?

27 comments
July 9, 2012 ‐ By Marissa Ellis

If there’s one question that hasn’t been resolved amongst my friends in the many years that we’ve discussed the dynamics of dating, it’s this one: when should you offer to start contributing financially during the courting phase?

A couple of my friends believe that a woman should not chip in until she’s been dating someone for at least two months or are officially a couple. I, on the other hand, believe that a woman should offer to pay for part of the date (not fake offer, but really offer) by the third date. That’s what I believe. But what have I done in the past? I’ve offered even on the first date. If he gets dinner, I offer to buy a round of drinks. (More on that later).

The topic recently came up when my cousin mentioned that the guy she’s been seeing for a few months told her that it would be nice if she offered to pay for things from time to time, since she never offered. She didn’t take offense but didn’t realize it was an issue. Since she’s new to the post-college dating world, she said she didn’t know certain rules.

Considering that all my friends have different perspectives on this topic, I definitely would say there are no rules, although non-oblivious folks have clear opinions on the matter. Those two friends I mentioned previously, who believed in not paying during the initial dating phase, believe that they’re setting a certain standard of how they’d like to be treated. They see themselves as prizes to be won; women to be supremely courted. If they make it too easy for these men, then he would undermine their value. I get where they’re coming from. But I can’t feel it.

What if I knew by the second date that this was probably not going anywhere, but I agree to go out on a couple of more dates just to be sure? At that point, can I really justify not chipping in? My sense of empathy wouldn’t allow it. If he’s not going to win in the end (either via sex or a relationship) then I’d prefer he not invest in me so much.

On a more general level, what about just establishing a level of reciprocity. I’m not saying women should pay for every other date but just chip in here and there. If you go to dinner on the third date, you can offer to get the movie tickets. On a humane level, it just shows consideration. Judging from the experiences of all my friends, there’s no right or wrong way about it. Of course most men would tell you that they would appreciate the reciprocity, but from my observations, when a guy really is into a girl, he doesn’t seem to care at all that he’s picking up the tab so much.

What is your philosophy on this dating conundrum? When do you offer to chip in and what’s been your experience with these type of situations?

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  • Max

    Those are the first dates and both parties do not know each other. These first dates are for the people to figure out if they are a possible match, if they have a lot in common. Why men should invest in the first dates ? I believe that it would be fair if first 3 dates bill was split and then men can pay more, but not 100%.
    I have been dating for a very long time and there is plenty of women around that do not mind going out for a date with the men who they think that they will not like because they will get “a free gift” which is a dinner. Too many women tries to take advantage of the situation as well many men tries to take advantage of women. We should treat each other with respect and consideration if we want to create happy, harmonious and successful relationship.

  • Kimberly

    I am the type that will pay for a date, especially if it is something that i want to do. I have found that some males get really insecure and start to act like babies later on, or throw it back in my face later. Case in point, prior to meeting, i purchased two tickets for a concert that were in great seats, even purchased a parking pass. After meeting i asked him if he would go to the concert with me, that it was already taken care of, and all he had to do was get a hair cut (to which he did not) after that, it was a matter of days before i just told him to get lost because his whole attitude changed.

    • Barri

      cI think it’s just common courtesy to either take a guy out every now and then, pay for a portion of the date, or even just offer to leave the tip. I have dated successful professional women whom made more than me, and rarely offered to even leave a tip. I’m like a Seinfeld character because if a woman doesnt offer to even pay a tip after a few dates, she’s history! I’m tired of the entightlement that many women seem to have.

      • Barri

        Forgive the typos por favor.

  • IllyPhilly

    I have honestly NEVER thought about this. I’ve been lucky to say either “I got it?” and He said yes or I said, “You got it?” and he said yes. We haven’t had this argument yet; we don’t fight over money a lot though.

  • Big Mike

    During my initial conversations with a woman, i can usually tell if she’s just looking for free meals/nights out or if she’s really interested. Most girls go out on numerous dates to see if there’s a spark (and eating free in the process). I can tell if there is a spark there first, BEFORE we ever go out. Neither of our time/energy/money is wasted. I have NEVER, EVER made a woman pay a dime on a date, but almost ALL of the women I dated have offered – I knew what type of women they were before we ever went out.

    Fellas, use your instincts. But remember, you attract what you put out there. If you’re a flashy guy who likes to front like you got lots of money, you’re going to attract women who expect you to break bread. Some of those women will take you for a ride (and not the one you like).

    Ladies, if men feel an initial spark when meeting you, he will have no problem paying for dates.

  • 305MovesLikeDagger

    Aren’t most women independent and equal to man. Women only want to be equal when it works in their favors. My parents thought me to pay for the tab but honestly I believe both people should chip in for the date(first date is excusable). It is only fair, if a chick doesn’t go on a second date because she had to chip in that means to me she wasn’t worth it. I don’t owe you anything,

    • John Doe

      Love the comment!

  • Hawaiian Breeze

    I keep it simple. You pay for you and I will pay for me.

  • quest

    It’s getting getting bad on MN when you can comment on the article without reading it. NO I’m not paying for dates.

  • quest

    It’s getting getting bad on MN when you can comment on the article without reading it. NO I’m not paying for dates.

  • 30thoughts

    I only offer to pay on special occasions when we’ve been dating someone for a few months or more, and most of the time, even on special occasions, my money was refused. I don’t think a woman should feel obligated to offer to pay. Can we get SOMETHING out of this dating game!!? Geez

    If you want to offer, offer. If you don’t, don’t. KISS

  • 30thoughts

    I only offer to pay on special occasions when we’ve been dating someone for a few months or more, and most of the time, even on special occasions, my money was refused. I don’t think a woman should feel obligated to offer to pay. Can we get SOMETHING out of this dating game!!? Geez

    If you want to offer, offer. If you don’t, don’t. KISS

  • Anon

    The answer is NEVER. I don’t pay for dates unless we’re actually in a relationship and even then, it doesn’t happen often. I’ve never dated a man that felt comfortable with me paying. They accept it on special ocassions but it’s sort of a hassle to try to pay any other time…

    • GaveUp

      Totally agree… NEVER. I won’t even look at the bill

    • GaveUp

      Totally agree… NEVER. I won’t even look at the bill

    • John Doe

      How is it a hassle for you to pull cash or a credit/debit card out of your purse? Some Women want to be Independent only when it works in they’re favor!

  • sabrina

    I ALWAYS offer to chip in on every date I go on. (And I also would have the funds just in case they take me up on that offer.) Every single time though, the guy refused to have me pay (except for this second date I went on with this one dude…he actually agreed to me putting in for some of the tab…and then he treated me to dessert after! I was like forreal dude?!) but I always felt like it was a nice gesture to show that I don’t feel ENTITLED to this meal, and I’m pretty sure they appreciate that gesture.
    I would more than happily pay for the third date, or whatever date thereafter because I’m not cheap at all, and I learned that reciprocity is key when building a relationship.

    • Big Mike

      This is a great way to go about it.

  • Miss D

    I offered to pay the tip on the first date with my boyfriend, and he declined. He paid for the next date or two, then I paid for the next, then it was just whatever. He usually assumes the cost of the dinner/outing but I think it’s important for me to pay sometimes and show that I appreciate what he’s doing for me.

    • IllyPhilly

      plus one!! 50/50, but sometimes 70/30, just sometimes.

  • Nope

    Add this one to the list of dumb things women do to keep themeselves single, including:

    Calling “dibs” on a man they don’t even have the courage to initiate engagement with
    Actually honoring that silly code of not going after a man one of their friends has called “dibs” on
    Liking men that don’ like you back
    Bypassing the “good guys” when you’re the It Girl, and think you’re still on their mind a few years later when your fat and old
    Banking on your (fading) looks to attract men forever
    Coming into relationships and “relationships” with your used car as-is mentality regarding yourself
    Feeling entitled to have the “perfect man”, when you would either a) change that man anyway b) get bored with him
    Using “tradition” as an excuse to not approach men when it’s really because you’re terrified of rejection

  • Nope

    “Of course most men would tell you that they would appreciate the reciprocity, but from my observations, when a guy really is into a girl, he doesn’t seem to care at all that he’s picking up the tab so much.”
    I generally agree with this. Only problem is the women that make false assumptions of how much the guy actually likes her because of how awesome SHE thinks she is. I think most men would appreciate it if more women chipped in like you said for the drinks, definately the tip, or their portion of the date. I’m glad you didn’t say anything about the lame excuse many give about whoever asks the other out should pay. Because we all know women generally don’t do that due to being terrified of possible rejection (though many other excuses are given). And a woman not feeling obligated unless she’s in a relationship seems backwards to me. Dating = he doesn’t owe you anything, and vice versa. So if someone feels that way, they should at the least pay for their own portion of the date. SMH head at any woman proud that ‘she has her own money’ but never spends it even for her own damn plate. Way to many meal hustlers out there. Plate panhandlers.

    • John Doe

      Lmao! Love it! Ha ha!

  • gracie

    I have always chipped in expecting the guy to turn my offer down. I feel like it takes a lot for a woman to look good so if I go out of my way to look hot then why won’t you go out of your way to make me feel secure? All the Guys who let me pay turned but to be stingy or broke!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/TUEXVVHBFHYJ5T36VNTAD3PYTQ Cool Breeze

      I bet ur busted.

    • IllyPhilly

      Damn, well maybe you didn’t look that good to those guys.

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