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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