May 16, 2012

First Dates With Your Online Interest - Who Pays?

Is it always the man's place to pay?
Today, etiquette guru Peter Post (who's also the great-grandson of the Queen of Etiquette, Emily Post) is tackling a question that's become constantly debated: Who pays on the first date? The answer causes even more of a struggle when two people are meeting for the first time after flirting online. After all, both have paid for their internet dating sites. So should they both be paying when they first meet? Or is "going Dutch" too casual? Should the man always pay?
For the most part, when it comes to two online daters meeting for the first time, I agree with Mr. Post's counsel:

"I counseled that the “date” be in a public place, that it be kept relatively simple and inexpensive (like meeting at a coffee shop where conversation is the activity), and that each person pays his or her own way." 1

One of the most common questions I'm asked about my 31 Dates in 31 Days dating project is that same question: Who paid for all those first dates? After all, I did the inviting, so I assumed I'd pay. But lots of the guys had a difficult time with that, even if it the biggest expense was my cup of hot chocolate at the end of a free night at the museum. Admittedly, that took some getting used to.
For the first few dates I would dread those moments when it came time to pay. I would slowly grab my purse, reach in for my changepurse, and out of the corner of my eye would search my date's behavior for any indication of whether he was planning on paying: a confident reach for his wallet, a strong step towards the cashier, a slight turn away from me as if to block my attempt a payment. Eventually I adjusted. I finally started to realize something that sets singles dramatically far apart: everyone defines "dating" differently.

Before my project, the word "date" had a lot of heaviness associated with it. It felt very formal. Almost as if I were saying, "My presence equals my official decree that I find you remotely attractive." It felt like the first step in a deal-making process. Much like a job interview.

But then I went on my project and discovered that I was redefining what the word "date" meant to me. It started to feel less threatening, more fun. It felt more like a meet-and-greet. I focused less on thinking of our long-term potential as partners and focused more on having fun with a new friend. That's when I noticed a change in those moments at the cash register. No longer was I fumbling through my purse and interpreting a man's gestures. Nor was I feeling nervous. Instead, I noticed a bit of confidence. I would offer to pay. And if a man insisted on paying, I learned to receive his offer with grace. I believe that the more simply singles define first dates, the less pressure they'll feel about payment.

"A first date generated from an online relationship is different. It’s a get-to-know-you moment, one which may go somewhere or may never go any farther. Because she pays her way, the woman may feel more comfortable not having any sense of obligation to the man, be it to see him again or for anything else. At this point in the relationship it keeps everything neutral. If things go well and one asks to see the other again, then they’re into “the person who does the asking does the paying.”

If you're still unsure of who should pay, it may be best to get the question out of the way before the date even begins. Here's some great advice from Emily Post's great-great grandaughter Lizzie:

“Whoever did the asking is on the hook to pay the check unless otherwise specified... If you do want to go Dutch treat, now is the time to say so — during ‘The Ask.You don’t want any awkward moments when the bill comes. If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t like someone to pay for you or you don’t see this as a date, mention that during The Ask as well.”2
What do you think? When it comes to online dating, who should pay on a first date? Cast your vote on my poll.

My book, 31 Dates in 31 Days explains how first dates changed my life. And if you're interested in changing the way you date, consider taking my Online Dating Boot Camp. Here's how you you can get your free Starter Kit.
Happy Dating!

image source
other sources 1, 2

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am fine if the girl offers to pay, but I would always go into a date assuming that I was going to pay. Is that the wrong way to think about it?

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