First, second, and even third dates can be made awkward for a variety of different reasons but lately the question of “who pays the bill?” has been the topic of conversation among my single friends, men and women alike.
I caught up with a friend over coffee and she confessed she was back in the singles pool and actively dating again.
Exciting? Very. Awkward? Extremely.
Gabbing about our latest dating experiences, my witty, outgoing, gorgeous friend surprised me when she admitted she was at a loss for words on her last date. She said,
“The date was going great, both of us in the groove, conversation flowing, but then my anxiety crept up at the very end when the waiter looked down at the two of us and asked, “will this be together or separate?” I froze instantly. So many thoughts whirling in my mind…Do I grab my wallet? What if he puts his card down first, do I put mine on top? Do I argue with him? When do I stop arguing with him? Do I offer to pay half? Do I sit and say nothing? I got so awkward! I didn’t want him to think I was expecting him to pay the full bill!”
My friend went on to tell me she has gone as far as buying gift cards to restaurants for dates, telling her date it was a present from a friend, just to avoid the awkward method of payment at the end. This way they were “both” getting treated…
I realized quickly this was a problem for my friend and most likely other singles attempting to navigate the uncharted realms of the dating world.
Expectations can vary among daters, but I have always stuck to a couple guidelines before heading on a date to keep me in check.
Never assume the bill will be covered
The majority of first dates I have been on, my date has covered the bill but this isn’t always the case. Whether it be drinks, dinner or a movie, I have never expected my date to pay the full bill. When the check is placed on the table, pull out your wallet. If your date says they’ve got this one, thank them politely, put your wallet away and say you’ve got the next one, if you want a second date that is.
Always carry cash
Take money out prior to a date just in case you two decide to split the bill. If your date only has card, let them know you have cash and have no problem going halfsies! Cash in your wallet is also helpful at old school restaurants that refuse to take card! I have definitely found myself in that awkward situation before.
Talk about it
I would reserve this conversation for the fourth, fifth or sixth date when you have established some sort of exclusivity. I think it is really important to understand each other’s expectations and dating style early on. The rule that has worked best for me in the past is going date for date. For example, if I treat my boyfriend to a date night on Friday, he will get the next one the following weekend, so it becomes an equal playing field.
I want to know how you choose to pay the bill?! Together or separate?