The new status quo in the age of dating egalitarianism is that Who Pays actually means something. I have a female friend whose recent first date was going swimmingly, right up until the check came. The guy looked at it, threw a twenty in, and handed it over to my friend, saying, “Ok, you owe this much.” She was left wondering whether the whole evening was even a date to begin with!
But that doesn’t change the reaction it caused in her, nor does it delegitimize that reaction. It’s completely fine and respectable that this guy was ok with the check being split, but there is a way it’s done that says “We’re equal” instead of “Here’s your half, I’m out.”
1. Whoever suggests the “main course” of the date pays for it. If you’re talking about doing drinks, and then one of you excitedly says “Oh we should go to that new show with Michael Shannon!” then that person is responsible for getting tickets. If it’s your idea, ladies, and then you wait expectantly for the guy to buy them, don’t be surprised if he sours on you. And if it’s your idea, guys, and then you tell her how much she owes you for her ticket? She will assume you just want to be friends. And she will probably think you’re a dick.
3. Eliminate the mystery with “I’ll get us next time.” So on a first date, one of two things is going to happen: it’ll either be followed by a second date, or this is the end of the road. Sometimes you don’t know until after, but usually you know about halfway through. This is a great time that either one of you can send a nice subtle message to the other by saying something like “Fine, and thanks for dinner. It’ll be on me next time.” I LOVE when women say that! And guys can do it too: “No, don’t worry about it. Tell you what: you pick up the check when we go out again next week.” This shows you expect equality, and it also takes the mystery out of it.
Which is what the whole goal should be in the first place.