I was having a chat with a friend recently, he has been online dating for a while and despite enjoying the process, he is beginning to find it rather a burden on his purse strings. Being part of a couple in London is expensive enough, being single in London is a whole different ball game. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and dinner and a few drinks can easily hit triple figures. All well and good if there’s a bunk up on the cards but when there’s no chemistry and you’re unlikely to see each other again, a weekly dating bill can be as costly as the rent on a small flat in zone 2, as my friend is discovering.
His solution? To skip dinner and head straight to the pub. Which, to my mind, is absolutely fair enough. He prefers to be the majority payer, and a bottle of SB in the local boozer is a far more economical way to suss out whether there’s chemistry or not than foie gras at The Dorchester.
His conundrum and indeed, sensible solution, got me thinking about the big paying debate.
Who should pay on a first date?
Urgg, isn’t money just a gruesome topic? far more hideous a conversation subject than any others I can think of, not least of all on a first date. I don’t envy guys when it comes to the dilemma of paying on a date. Women are complex creatures and whilst some would be mortified at the idea of splitting a bill down the middle others take great offence to the suggestion that they would be paid for or ‘treated’ to coin a less suggestive phrase, believing that, in a modern society when women expect equal rights, a man insisting on paying for a date is both undermining and sexist.
Myself? I like to consider myself as independent as the next women however when it comes to first dates, I prefer the guy to pick up the bill.
For me it is less about the money – whether it be a few pints in the local or a slap up diner in a Michelin star restaurant – and more about the gesture. It says to me that he is a gentleman, that he values my time and my company. It is one thing for a man to accept the offer of going dutch after dinner however when a man presumes that the first date bill will be split, (emphasis on first date)it indicates to me that he is either not that into me and has no intention of seeing me again or that he isn’t generous – in spirit as much as in wallet.
It’s undoubtedly a dating minefield out there and for those of you who are utterly confused about the etiquette of paying on a date, a few key points for you to consider:
Women should not expect to be paid for.
It is my preference that a man should offer to pay on a first date however – and this is where it gets complicated – women shouldn’t expect it and should at least gesture for their purse. For a woman to not at least offer is as much a turn off as a guy pulling out a calculator mid-dessert.
Men shouldn’t presume they’ll be going dutch either. When going on a first date, keep this in mind – If you can’t afford the final bill, regardless of who ends up paying it, don’t suggest an expensive venue. Choose somewhere within both of your means, that way, whatever the tab outcome nobody gets too stung … or resentful.
And girls, do not order champagne cocktails if you’re not expecting to contribute to the bill. Be considerate, especially when you’re expecting your date to pay.
Trust me, you’ll know if she wants to go dutch.
It’s not difficult to gauge a women’s willingness to go dutch, if she nips to the loo when the bill arrives or mummers ‘let me give you something towards that’ whilst looking in the other direction it’s probably a safe bet she’d prefer you picked up the bill. If she grabs the cheque out of the waiter’s hands and starts quoting Julie Burchill at you however, you can pass on insisting. I’ve heard men say they didn’t want to offend their date by offering to pay. I don’t buy that, when it comes to going dutch it’s not hard to know if your date’s in or not.
Don’t forget your manners.
Despite preferring a man to pay on a first date, I do have two golden rules. Firstly, when a man does pay for a date, I always say thank you. Obvious to some, but you’d also be amazed at how many men have told me about women who haven’t after being treated to a night out. Regardless of how wealthy your date is, not saying thank you is a serious dating faux pas. You think it’s a turn off when your date expects to go dutch? Imagine how you must come across when you can’t even pull two words out the bag.
Don’t take the piss.
Secondly, I pride myself on giving everyone a chance on a first date and rarely don’t see an evening through regardless of my instinct and chemistry with my date, however, if I know I have no intention of seeing him again I am far more insistent on going dutch. I don’t need my aforementioned friend to tell me how expensive dating is, and God knows, I’ve been both doing it and living in London for long enough. If I’ve had a good night but know it’ll be the last time I see them, then for me it’s a no-brainer. Not only does this reduce their unsuccessful dating bill by half, leaving me with a much clearer conscience but it also means the likelihood of abusive ‘you’re a fucking gold-digging bitch’ texts are greatly reduced – everyone’s a winner.
So there you have it, an extremely complicated guide to going dutch, which largely comes down to personal opinion and winging it when you’re there. I don’t want to be bought or paid but, personally, I am more attracted to a man who offers to pick up the bill on a first date.
Oh and incase that’s not enough fuel for the fire, I positively encourage being wolf-whistled at by builders – let the onslaught begin ….