Who Should Pay On A Date – Men Or Women?

What’s proper modern dating etiquette? Should men pay, should women pay, or should you split the bill?

By Juliana Stewart3 min read
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Dating is so confusing nowadays. Is it fair to expect men to pick up the bill? Where did this idea even come from, and is it still relevant? What’s proper dating etiquette in 2020?

Whether you believe in chivalry or not, you have to admit: it feels nice when the man you’re attracted to treats you to a cinema date, a meal, or an ice cream. It signals that he is attracted to you, that he appreciates you, and wants to impress you. It makes you feel special. 

The Origins of Dating

Men paying for dates all started in the Roaring ‘20s, which replaced courtship, a.k.a. “calling.” Dating is casual, but courtship was intentional and a process that led to marriage. 

“Calling” involved parents inviting a suitable bachelor over to their home to meet with their daughter while watching over the interaction. It was an opportunity for him to not only win her over but her parents too. If all agreed they were a good match, they would get married. Calling is similar to cultures that practice arranged marriage where the whole family is involved in the process.

Today’s dating is casual, whereas courtship was intentional and a process that led to marriage. 

But as societal attitudes changed in the 1920s, courting a woman began to relax. Men started asking women out on casual dates, moving it out of the family home and into the public sphere. During the Prohibition period, men invited women out to speakeasies, dance halls, amusement parks, and other public spaces. Asking a woman on a date and paying was the gentlemanly thing to do. This tradition has continued over the years and has shaped dating as we know it.

Dating in 2020

Men asking women out hasn’t changed since the 1920s, but the landscape and gender dynamics have changed dramatically. 

Women are equal to men now, and we’re more than capable of paying for our way. We also have tons of ways to meet men, from social media to dating apps to the workplace. Dating apps such as Bumble require women to send the first message after a match, so the lines of who should initiate and who should pay on dates become blurred.

With that being said, should women still expect men to pay on dates? The short answer is: yes.

The correct dating etiquette is whoever initiated the date should pay. It’s similar to inviting a friend over for dinner. Would you expect your friend to bring the ingredients for you? No. You’re the host, so you supply the dining experience. Should your friend offer to bring a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates as a gift? Sure, it’s polite, and it shows they have manners, but you don’t expect them to.

The correct dating etiquette is whoever initiated the date should pay. 

Another example is if you invite a client out for lunch, would you expect your client to pay for half of the bill? Of course not, that’s insane. Whoever does the inviting always covers the bill. It’s basic common courtesy. 

So if a man asks you out on a date, he should pay. Whether he plans a walk in the park and you stop for ice cream or he books dinner at a fancy restaurant, he should offer to pay. 

You also have to remember that this is dating. A man asks a woman out because he’s attracted to her and wants to get to know her. He wants something from her. He either wants: a) a casual or serious relationship, or b) he wants to sleep with her. 

I know the latter doesn’t sound very nice, but it’s the truth. There are many men out there who are only after one thing, unfortunately.

Should a Woman Offer To Pay?

Of course, you should. It’s polite. It also shows you were brought up well and have manners. Especially if you’re a few dates in. It’s polite to offer to pay for the tip or to get dessert. You’re not a freeloader. If you like the guy and would like to get to know him more, you could initiate by offering to get the next date. 

Can a Woman Ask a Man Out?

In my personal opinion, it’s not a good idea for a woman to ask a man out. Firstly, it changes the dynamic entirely and turns the woman into the pursuer. There’s nothing wrong with being the pursuer, but you need to realize that the tone you set at the beginning will frame the rest of the relationship. If you’re the one who has to do the asking out, it’s likely you will also have to pay for dates and take charge in other areas of the relationship. Before you know it, you may be doing everything, and end up becoming a weird girlfriend/mother to him, which isn’t fun or attractive.

The tone you set at the beginning will frame the rest of the relationship.

Some women enjoy being dominant and always in control, but many women feel frustrated and hurt in this type of dynamic. In the long run, they burn out from having to do everything and end up resenting him for not being “man enough.” 

Closing Thoughts

Men have always had to win women over throughout history, so women need to understand their worth and own it. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and allow men the opportunity to impress you and prove that they’re worthy of being with you.