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Modern Romance: Who Should Pay on a Date?

Modern Romance: Who Should Pay on a Date?

It's the proverbial question and it's making its rounds through videos and posts on Facebook. Who should pay on a date? If it's a first date, the rule of thumb is that whoever asked for the date should pay. When the bill arrives, the other person will at least make a gesture of offering to help with the check—a offer that should be graciously declined. Easy enough. But try a different situation. What if it's not the first date? What if you're a couple of months or maybe even years into dating? Who should pay then?

Great question. If you're looking for insight from someone with a lot of experience in that arena, look no further. Been there, done that. I don't believe in click bait headlines, so I'll give you an actual answer. But, here's the kicker. I'll also tell you why you might be asking the wrong question. Intrigued? Read on .

The Answer
First of all, let me go on the record saying that every couple is different. Some will prefer to have one person pay every single time. Another couple will want to split every check right on the spot or pay each other back afterward. Still others would rather take turns paying. If you and bae have talked it through and have discovered a system that works for both of you, that's great. Congratulations. Stick to it.

If you find yourself in a more ambiguous situation—going on dates with someone fairly regularly and anxiously wondering each time who should reach for the check—I'd suggest talking it out. If you plan on exploring or continuing a relationship with this person, you're eventually going to need to learn how to talk through awkward situations like this. Consider it practice for tougher conversations in the future. And don't worry too much about broaching the subject. Chances are, you're both probably wondering the same thing. Find an arrangement you're both comfortable with.

That's it. That's the answer. Not anything earth-shattering, but it's the grown-up way to be in a relationship. #Adulting. 

The Better Question
Now that I've just told you how you can figure out who should pay on a date, I'll share with you the question you could be asking instead: Why are we having such a hard time figuring out who should pay?

Ready for the crazy-but-true answer? It's because you stopped asking each other out! I said in the beginning that there's an almost universally accepted understanding during a first date that whoever asked the other person out should pay. But why do the waters get murkier after the first date, when you're on your sixth, seventh or even 150th date? Probably because your dates have turned into hangouts. When you've been dating someone for a bit, the language tends to shift from, "Hey, can I take you out to dinner this Friday?" to "So, what are we doing this weekend?" Nothing wrong with slipping into familiarity. That's a bona fide relationship goal. There's only a problem when familiarity crowds out the word that sends some hearts aflutter and maybe some eyes rolling: romance.

Hear me out. I'm talking about a modern romance: two people mutually pursuing each other's affections. Note the emphasis on mutual. Modern courtship only works when two people make a mutual effort to make the other person feel special. It's simple, but powerful. 

So, how does this relate to our original question? Well, if people started looking at their dating relationships as a romance or a give-give, instead of give-take, the whole question of who should pick up the check at the end of the night is a moot point. 

That's my take on it. I'm lucky enough to have married a guy who shares the same values. When Grant and I first started dating, he picked up a lot of our dinner checks. He's a gentleman and I like being treated like a lady. He enjoyed asking me out on dates and surprising me with new restaurants or coffee shops. I loved it. He loved it. I also enjoyed taking him out to a lot of my favorite pubs and eateries. Or taking him out to my favorite hiking trails. Again, I loved it. He loved it. It wasn't about the money. It was about finding fun and creative ways to spend time together. 

By the way, I'm not saying you need to make every single outing into a romantic over-the-top date. There will be days when you just want to grab a quick burger at In-n-Out after work because no one feels like cooking. You didn't ask each other out. That's ok. Treat the other person anyway. They'll appreciate it and I'm sure they'll get you next time.

Also, the experience of treating someone feels a whole lot sweeter when you are doing it because you actually want to, not because it's expected of you. This idea of who "should" pay for the date and keeping score of who "should" do this and that run contrary to the nature of romance, which is freedom in giving generously and spontaneously. Nothing kills romance faster than feeling like you have to go through the motions of a relationship just because the other person expects that of you. And if you don't  feel excited about making an effort for your significant other, maybe it's time to wonder why or whether you're even with the right person.

Even now that Grant and I are married, we like to ask each other out. Sure, all of our money is coming from the same pot anyway, but it's not about who spends what. It's about making that special person in your life feel like a VIP.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think. 




Weekender Series: 24 Hours in Lake Tahoe

Weekender Series: 24 Hours in Lake Tahoe

Real Ingredients Matter

Real Ingredients Matter