9 Young Women Reveal Who Should Pay For The First Date

What they have to say might surprise you.
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There’s no denying that the question of who should pay on a first date is a point of contention.

As the dating world continues to spiral into a more casual, laidback approach (gone are the days of old-fashioned courting), we’ve heard some real horror stories. From partners that have conveniently ‘forgotten their wallets’, dates proposed as a foray to McDonald’s, and people who have ordered the lobster and expected their partner to foot the bill—there are all kinds of faux pas when it comes to dating.

Having sat down to chat to a range of women, from all different dating backgrounds in their 20s and early 30s, it’s safe to say that the classic approach of ‘the man should pay’ or ‘the person who earns more should pay’ is certainly not in vogue.

Are we still looking for chivalry? (Credit: Image: The Notebook)

Most women said they were looking for equality when it comes to splitting the bill, for a range of reasons, from wanting to avoid feeling like they “owed” their partner or just because it seemed fair. Others were more about manners: whoever asked for the date should pay—at least for the first round.

They didn’t expect everything to be paid for, but instead for an offer to be there, and an ‘it all comes out in the wash’ approach, as opposed to penny pinching. A common tactic was to counter an offer to pay by suggesting to split, or pay for the next round, or the next date, to even things out.

Interestingly, an Elite Singles study found that women were more likely to want to split the bill than men, with 18 per cent of women keen to split the bill as opposed to 7 per cent of men. The majority in this study still felt the man in a heterosexual couple should pay.

However, the data from this survey was taken from women and men of all ages on the dating website, back in 2019. Our conversations with women in their 20s and 30s suggest that opinions on who pays could be changing generationally, as expectations move away from more patriarchal date-paying structures.

The truth is that a more equitable dating scheme is better for everyone. It makes dating more accessible, and puts both partners on an even playing field. However, looking at the responses, there is still a need, particularly from those looking for cis-het relationships, that the man should display chivalry by driving the conversation.

This is what some of the women had to say:

Maddison, 27

“Whoever organises or suggests the date I think should pay, or at least offer to pay. Then if there’s an offer to split then that’s lovely.”

Olive, 31

“It should be 50/50, where you buy a round of drinks each. I date men, so sometimes I will wait for him to offer the first round.”

Mon, 27

“I think balance is important. [In a heterosexual couple] the man may pay for dinner and drinks at the restaurant and the woman to pay for drinks after dinner.

“That way it’s even, but there is still a bit of chivalry shown.”

Meg, 25

“I would expect them to offer to pay, but I would be happy with 50/50 split payments.”

Sana, 28

“I prefer to be roughly 50/50 for a first date, such as paying for a round each. It probably won’t even out perfectly, but that’s fine.

“Perhaps it would be nice if a man would pay for the first round, but I like to pay for the second. Likewise, for a movie he might get the tickets and I’ll get the snacks. If it’s something small like a coffee then yes, it would be lovely if he offered to pay but I would also be fine paying for my own cup.”

There are so many fun date ideas to be had. (Credit: Image: 500 Days Of Summer)

Here’s what our team had to say:

Cassandra Green, Senior Writer at marie claire Australia

“I always prefer to split it, but do really appreciate when my partner will offer first (sue me for loving a bit of chivalry). Splitting becomes even more essential if the meal is bit pricey, so that it’s more accessible for both people.

“A mostly 50/50 approach, especially for a first date, is the most straightforward.”

Rebecca Mitchell, Senior Writer at marie claire Australia

“I haven’t been on any first dates where there was a formal sit-down dinner and one bill. It normally starts with drinks followed by a meal, so there’s always an opportunity to do rounds.

“I’ve dated both men and women, which does make gendered politics around ‘who pays’ seem a bit ridiculous. It’s not that difficult if the two of you are decent people. Be polite. Be open. Offer. Err on the side of generosity. Don’t take advantage of somebody else’s generosity. Try to observe peoples’ limits. Go somewhere cheap if you aren’t sure what you/they can afford. Also, just talk about it. It’s not a big deal.”

Teneal Zuvela, Digital Writer at marie claire Australia

“I think the person who asks someone on a date should also pay for the date—regardless of gender. That’s just good manners.”

Maddison Hockey, Shopping Editor at marie claire Australia

“Perhaps it was the way I was raised or maybe it’s the token Libra in me (we’re known for being generous with our time, advice and money) but, the idea of not even offering to pay has me physically cringing. If my date is adamant on footing the bill, I won’t fight them for it, but I will make sure the favour’s returned if we make it to date number two.”

We’re moving towards more equity in dating. (Credit: Image: 50 First Dates)

A Fool-Proof Approach To Settling The Bill On A First Date

  1. Consider your date’s financial circumstances: When you set the location for the date and start to order, consider whether your date will want to be splitting a bottle of Veuve Clicquot or a more affordable prosecco. If you want to go boujee, you may also need to be prepared to pay the full bill.
  2. Be generous: If you’re going in rounds, try to follow a cadence where each partner pays for a consecutive round.
  3. Enact the offer/split dichotomy: If you have one big bill at the end of dinner, and have the means to do so, offer to pay for the bill. If your date is on the same page as you, they will likely say they would like to split it.
  4. Consider a different date style: If you’re not keen to put yourself in a situation where there is one big bill, consider going for drinks at a bar instead or even for a more affordable coffee or walk.

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