Who’s paying???

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for almost 2.5 years and never touched on this most glorious topic!!! I dated Girl Ninja for 3.5 years before I popped the question. During those 3.5 years we went out to dinner at least once (usually twice) a week. Since we didn’t live together, and we were both relatively busy, dinner together was the easiest way to guarantee some quality time. I’m just ball parking, but I’d guess we ate out about 300ish times together during our dating years. Some meals were cheap (Rubios) and others weren’t ($190 valentines dinner). Wanna know how much all those meals cost Girl Ninja? Probably about $100. And thus brings today’s topic: Who should pay for dinner when on a date?

Personally I’m a big fan of chivalry, and part of that (to me) means picking up the tab…every single time. Can it be expensive? Sure. Is it a great way to show your significant other you like to provide for them? Abso-freakin-lutely. I could afford to pick up the bill, so I did. Not because Girl Ninja expected me to. Not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to. Nothing more, nothing less.

That said, I know that not everyone shares a similar belief. The other day I had a female friend tell me that her boyfriend rarely offers to pay the whole bill. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for her to pick up the tab instead. She was wondering if that was a bad sign.

Do I think it is weird for her to want to be provided for? Heck no. But I also don’t think that it’s fair to expect him to pay the bill. Would Girl Ninja like it if I opened the car door for her every time we drove somewhere? Probably, but I wasn’t raised in the south and often forget that opening the door for a woman is a sign of respect and love.

I don’t open doors and my friends boyfriend doesn’t pick up the whole dinner tab. Neither of us are horrible people, but we both have some work to do to become the husbands/boyfriends these women deserve. It’s a continual learning process!

Now that I’ve had my few moments to preach, I’m curious to hear your thoughts…

Men: Do you pay the whole bill when you go on a date? Once you get in a serious relationship do you continue paying the bill every time? Do you think women should pay their share? What does chivalry mean to you?

Women: Do you expect to get a free meal on a first date? Would it bother you if your boyfriend asked to split the bill every time you went out (let’s assume said boyfriend is financially stable and able to afford it)? What does chivalry mean to you?

42 thoughts on “Who’s paying???”

  1. My husband and I dated for ~6 years before getting married and we were students the entire time. We took turns paying so we could afford to go out more often.

  2. Call me conservative, but I’m all for chivalry. I’m in grad school and my boyfriend is a biz exec who lives far away. Usually, I pay to get wherever he is and he pays for stuff while I’m there. I chip in where I can though. A while back, I decided I would always buy coffee if we stopped for coffee. Occasionally I pay for a meal. One time, I took him on a date and it was really special. I pretty much never ask for money and I try to make sure that I offer to pay for anything that I can afford to pay for.

    On the opposite of chivalry, I try to act like a lady! I try to always look nice for him and do lots of little things to let him know I love him. He’s an amazing cook, but I try to edge my way into his kitchen when he’ll let me! It think it’s all about give and take! I’ve never read the book, but there’s a book about the 5 love languages. Sometimes I think people show love one way and accept love in another way. It’s important to know your own love languages as well as those of the person you love. Maybe I’ll read the book!

  3. Should have added–on a few occasions, my then-boyfriend pried himself out of bed and drove to a drugstore in the middle of the night to buy medicine for me when I wasn’t feeling good. That meant a whole lot more to me than him picking up dinner tabs.

  4. I don’t know any couples, gay or straight, where one person pays for all the meals out. I’m gay, and my girlfriend and I generally take turns paying the bill. She has been paying a little more lately, since her income is much higher right now.

  5. My SO and I over the last three years have either split the bill or alternated who pays. I think we’re both pretty happy with the system and it seems fair. Sometimes one person will treat the other but it comes out about even. I think paying is a nice gesture but splitting would be my preferred choice long-term.

  6. I’m of the school that whomever asks/makes the reservations pays for the date. I asked and paid for our first date. My spouse asked and paid for the second. Of course, now we have Date Nights. Since we pool our funds, we both pay for it. But we also budget for them.

  7. I think I’d probably be a little annoyed if my (imaginary) boyfriend insisted on splitting the bill anytime we did anything, but only because that would seem a little penny-pinchey. That said, I’d be happy to just take turns picking up the tab. I’m sure it would all work out at the end of the day.

  8. We try to do 50/50, but since I keep track of finances, I know that I pick up more than 50% of our dinners out. That being said, I am a HORRENDOUS cook (I’m working on it…) and the BF does the majority of the cooking at home… so I guess it all comes out even in the end.

    I think the important thing is that neither party feels taken advantage of. I’ve known girls who’ve dated guys longer than they really wanted to because the guy would take them out often and pick up the tab. Not OK in my book.

  9. Hi Ninja,

    When I started dating my husband he paid for most things because I was a student and he was gainfully employed. Since then he pays for most things as he makes more money than I do.

    Here’s a question back at you, Ninja: according to your feelings about chivalry, who should pay for dinner in a gay couple (either two men or two women)? 🙂

  10. My husband and I dated over 5 years before getting married. Most of the time we split the bills or took turns. Special occassions he generally paid for. Although, I made a point of paying for some. We are both financially stable and it is important to him not to fall into strong socially developed gender rolls. In the early part of our relationship it was a little strange for me but it ended up working out really well. We both cook, we both clean, we both do most things. There are certain things I’m better at than him and vice versus and we’ve split those things but based on skill not sex. Although now that I’m pregnant (a plight he can’t take) he is being a wonderful gentleman and picking up lots of slack. 🙂

  11. I try to pay for most things early on in a relationship. But as things progress I tend to find many women want to pay their fair share, and some are even insulted a bit when you don’t let them chip in. Once that starts I’m pretty much willing to let them pay if they want, but I will still open doors for them, give up my better seat and hold an umbrella for them in the rain.

    My old lady seems to appreciate these little touches. However, my father in law has me beat, he always opens the car door for his wife, and I only do this when it is raining.

  12. I prefer to pay for my own meal, not to split the bill because usually I eat a salad and drink a glass of water and he eats a lot more than me (95% of times)

  13. When I was dating, who paid depended on who asked for the date and how the request went down. He asks to go out for the evening, he paid. If I asked, I paid. If it was a tagalong situation with other friends, each paid their own way. This was applicable probably 90% of the time. There were a couple of long distance relationships and if the one made the effort to make the trip, the other picked up the tab for the day/weekend.

  14. I guess my first thought is always “why can’t a woman show their love & affection by paying for her man’s meal?” I feel like the question is always assuming that it’s only chivalrous if a man pays, but if the woman pays, there’s something wrong with HIM.

    Anyway, you can imagine that my answer is that I don’t expect it and we pay pretty equally. I say pretty equal because before we started contributing (equal) money towards a shared account that included eating out, he paid more because he’s always made a little bit more money than I have, and therefore he paid for eating out a little more often than I did (maybe 55/45 as opposed to 50/50). Now if we go over our allotted eating out budget, we have to pay for it from our own accounts, and we probably go back to our old 55/45 split. If I made more money than he did, I’d be the one paying more often. So for me, chivalry is about treating someone because you can afford to and you want to, but it’s not based on gender.

    Clearly my man is getting a good deal with my progressive beliefs! lol

  15. For my first date or two with my boyfriend, he paid, since he had asked me out. The next time or two, I insisted on doing things dutch. Now that we’ve been dating for about a year, we alternate with dinners, movies, drinks, gas for ski trips, etc. We figure it all comes out in the wash and don’t keep meticulous track. I have a hard time accepting a favor since I don’t like being indebted to anyone (even him!) or feel like I’m taking advantage of him for dinners and drinks. I see it as an investment in our relationship, and I like being able to make that gesture that says that I care about him. For what it’s worth, our incomes are relatively on par with each other.

    • I’ll also add that splitting a bill all the time is kind of annoying when you don’t tend to carry a lot of cash.

  16. We dated long distance, so whoever traveled usually didn’t pay for much else. Whoever “hosted” usually arraigned activities & meals- so when he came to town, I cooked for him frequently. He didn’t really cook at the time, so he’d take me out more when I went to visit him.
    I do prefer that my husband opens the door for me. He did not grow up like that, but I grew up with my dad always opening mom’s door for her. That being said, I don’t think a man is bad or rude or unchivalrous if a door isn’t opened- especially if it’s not important to his significant other. I think true courteousness is finding out what’s important to your partner & then doing it on a consistent basis. My husband now always opens the door for me & I special each time because I know it’s something that he does just cuz I like it!

  17. With my current partner, we alternate, I think. I consider the male paying to be a throwback to days when women didn’t have their own financial worth and kind of belittling so I don’t enjoy dating men who want to pay for everything. It seems so antiquated and gives me the knee-jerk reaction of, “No, I don’t want to have your babies and cook your dinners, thanks.”

    Also, for a good 7 years I dated only women and we usually alternated. So to walk back into a dynamic based on biological sex where one sex “had the money” made me really feel the culture clash there. (Although I’ve dated women who liked the idea of paying since they were butch, I did discourage that also for the same reasons – it made me feel like a potential housewife.)

  18. I will honestly say that I am disappointed when the guy doesn’t pay for at least the first date. However, I always come prepared to pay. Once the relationship is more stable I like to pay my fair share but I also like it when the guy pays, especially as I’m a student and (often enough) they are working. I’m a big fan of taking turns paying.. not splitting the bill.. because that way it feels like you’re treating the other and you get to enjoy a free meal now and again, whereas splitting the bill every time means you’re always paying something..

  19. My guy and I have been dating for close to two years. He is definitely of the mind that the man pays – all the time. The few times that I have been able to grab the check and get it paid before him noticing, it was almost like he was disappointed. He has come around to appreciate it, but certainly doesn’t expect it.

  20. Expect no, prefer yes. Once you are steady I think splitting is fine. Although special treats, like crazy work days, promotions, family gathers involve switching in my head. Chivalry is being kind as well as a sort of protector in my head. Walk on the traffic side of the street, knows when to “man up” in crowds, etc.

  21. I don’t expect my boyfriend to pay every time we go out but at this point in our lives he has a well-paying job and I am a poor grad student, so I definitely appreciate it when he does pay. I like to think I make up for it by doing 90% of the cooking when we eat at home 😛 The guy should definitely pay for the first date though…I think I would be a little surprised if someone asked to split the bill on a first date.

  22. Also, I just want to clarify re my comment that these are just my feelings – I don’t project them on other people (unless I’m dating them!) so my comment wasn’t meant to imply that I thought anyone else who replied to the contrary was being judged. Figured I’d throw that out there just in case!

  23. When I was a kid, my mother had a divorced friend who liked to say that she should have known not to marry the guy in the first place because he always insisted on each paying their own. That always stuck with me. I don’t mind picking up the check and am not bothered by sharing expenses–but when the guy seldom takes a turn, or only wants to split or go dutch every time, I can’t help but wonder what else he can not be generous with.

    On first dates, whoever asked the other one out should at least offer to pay. I still chip in 90% of the time, but I like the offer.

    • Lola, maybe that is more of a strike against the divorced woman. Maybe she couldn’t handle money and resented the order her husband wanted.

    • I think being able to share expenses more or less consistently is important – it shows me that sharing and treating each other as equals is something you can do.

  24. Since the purpose of going for dinner is to be together, there are alternatives such as picnics, activity dates, someones cooks or meeting for dessert. It is not how much you spend and I feel it can be reciprocal.

  25. My fiance doesn’t have a job, so I do pay for everything. When she gets one, we’ll split everything. I think it’s fair considering I have a mortgage and bills to pay

  26. We generally split or alternate. I have a hard time letting a guy pay for me; in fact I feel a little awkward about it. In my current relationship we both have good jobs, though his pays significantly more than mine. If we’re on a roll with eating out then sometimes I just have to admit I can’t keep up with paying and he takes over. No hard feelings either way- soon enough the money will just be ours and we won’t worry about it!

  27. I always pay the bill (every single time) and I always open doors (unless it requires some acrobatic and unusual act). But I was raised by my mom and taught early on that that was the polite thing to do so I do it second-nature now without even thinking twice and I enjoy doing it because I know not all guys treat women that way. However, if I ever dated someone who was completely opposed to or offended, I would concede a bit if it made them more comfortable.

  28. For me, I prefer the guy to pay for the first date (it gives me a way to guage how he treats money and lets me see how he tips/treats the server). After that, I’m a fan of alternating who pays and letting it come out in the wash. I am proud to earn what I do and contribute financially to the relationship.

  29. I have been with my BF for 5 years. We generally split the bill. If one person does treat it is usually him, but I do every now and then. As for the expectations, def not. When I used to date I would always be prepared to pay for my share, but it was always appreciated if the guy picked up the tab. Not sure if my expectations would be different if the guy was in a much better financial position than me.

    • I’m in a pretty good financial possition, but it is because I don’t overspend. I think women should be careful in assuming, “he has a house and I don’t so he should treat.” That just tells me that the woman doesn’t understand how money really works.

  30. On first dates, whoever asks should pay. Once in a dating relationship, though, I like to split things. I think it’s important to say (and to prove) that sharing and treating each other as equals is something you can do.

    I’ve recently been downsized, though, and if my husband (married 2 weeks 2 days!) wants to pay for more stuff than that is going to be fine with me. Until I am working again.

  31. When I was dating (before my husband because that’s a different story all together), I would let the guy pick up the first tab, then offer to pay the second date. After a while if i was dating someone I would make a point of treating every once in a while just to be polite…

    If it was someone I was committed to, as in the exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend mode i’d always offer more because I’d know more of my man’s finances by that point.

    For my husband, we started dating when he was un-employed and got his income by selling plasma at a donation center. So we would do free things together and when we would maybe go get something on the cheaper end, he sometimes treated or paid his share and it was sweet.

    We did long distance for a while and he gave up christmas in lue of a plane ticket to see me… and ultimately walked to school in the snow so he wouldn’t have to waste his donation money on gas. Instead he took his donation money and bought me a diamond ring.

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