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Men Paying for Dinner: Is It More Romantic?

This article was written by in People. 18 comments.


This is a guest article by Well-Heeled, creator of the blog Well-Heeled, With a Mission. If you enjoy this article, subscribe to her blog using her RSS feed.

Last week, boyfriend picked me up at my apartment. I dressed up in a red dress and put on sparkly earrings. We went to one of my favorite restaurants and ate by candlelight. It was a lovely night and romantic night, but is it wrong to say that boyfriend paying definitely upped the romance factor?

Maybe I’ve been “socialized,” (oh society and its expectations about the financial aspect of love and dating) but there’s something inherently more romantic when the man pays for dinner than when the couple goes splits on the bill. At first, I felt slightly guilty about that. After all, why should the man paying be more romantic?

I’ve been raised to be a financially independent woman. I read a lot of history and nonfiction books that discuss the intersection of love, money, and power. Maybe that’s why when I was in high school, I was always uncomfortable with guys — even friends — treating me to dinner. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve realized that sometimes, I should just stop analyzing everything.

Boyfriend and I take turns paying for things or we split it down the middle. I think it all evens out at the end. But last evening was a real, old-fashioned date. And, according to real, old-fashioned romance protocol, he opened the door, pulled out my chair, and paid for the dinner.

Most of my girlfriends agree with me: The first date, the guy pays. The dates after that, couples will take turns paying or split the check. Or perhaps, one party will pick up the check for the dinner and the other will pay for the movie tickets. Whatever the arrangement, I’ve discovered that the most important thing is that neither side feels like they’re mooching or taken advantage of. And if boyfriend paying for a special dinner makes the night seem more special, well, I suppose I don’t have to beat myself up for it.

I’m not giving up my “independent woman” card. I can support myself, yes, but I hope I’m never so independent that I can’t let a little romance in my life.

Published or updated September 2, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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Well-Heeled is the creator of the blog, Well-Heeler, With a Mission. If you enjoy this article, subscribe to her blog using her RSS feed. View all articles by .

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar David@DINKS Finance

My girlfriend is just like you. She always wants to pay for herself, but on certain nights (like the one you described) I pay and she doesn’t put up a fuss.

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avatar Dedicated

I know it is weird, but even after all these years together it is a romance builder when my husband pays for dinner. We often joke about me being ‘kept’ and not always ‘kept working’ LOL.
At this point, it does not really matter who pays, because all our money is together, but emotionally it is an uplifter for me when he pays. Very romantic, because I feel loved. The same way I hope when I make dinner every night he feels loved.

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avatar Craig

Agree, as a guy I always pay on a first date. I think it’s respectful of the girl though to offer even though I wouldn’t accept. Also, girls should pick up something. Like you mention, if I take care of dinner, a girl should have no problem buying a round or two of drinks. It’ll be obvious within 2 dates if a girl is just taking advantage.

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avatar gina

If a guy takes half the hit of pregnancy on the body then a girl can take half the hit on the money side.

Marriage is about specialization, and dating’s purpose (in the end) is about marriage. Men specialize outside of the home as it were, and women specialize inside. Does it mean that men can’t raise children, or women can’t make money? No. I would offer however that it is more efficient for the system for women to focus on child bearing (for which they have no option to hand off to a guy) and men on bread winning (which they can hand off to a girl).

We can use paying or not paying of things to determine the ethics of an individual, but it doesn’t change the biological imperative. You can also argue that when dating you are not part of a system, but if you live your dating life that way, would it really change once you became a system?

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avatar feminist finance

Shiner and I take turns doing nice things for each other, including paying for dinner. I like other people doing nice things for me, ergo I like it when he pays for dinner. I also like when I pay for dinner and he is appreciative. I like eating dinner, generally, so as long as it gets paid for I’m pretty happy.

First dates are different to me, though. When I was dating I hated when the dude I was with insisted on paying on the first date. To me it was a litmus test: if he insisted on paying in spite of my repeated offers to split the bill, it came off as pushy, rigid, and like his idea of how the date was supposed to go was more important than my discomfort.

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avatar Two Wishes

I never had a problem paying on dates — in fact, I paid for dinner on the first date with my husband. (The waiter brought the bill while he was away from the table, and I wasn’t going to just leave it for him….) But I always liked feeling taken care of when the man paid. And I had a theory that it’s really quite fair, given the expensive higher standard that dating women must meet in terms of grooming, makeup, attractive lingerie, etc, etc.

Now that we’re married, my husband usually pays and occasionally I make a big show of treating him. But it’s all technically irrelevant because it comes out of a joint account!

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avatar Julie

Our joint account is our silly little joke – whoever gets the check first pays it, so we thank the other for “treating” us, even though it’s coming from the same pot either way. :)

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avatar Carrie

i consider myself a financially independent woman and i’m currently single, but when dating my last boyfriend i had no problem letting him pay on 95% of our dates. he made 3x as much money than me and men as a whole still get paid more than women for doing the same job so i didn’t feel guilty about it at all.

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avatar Steve

Ah feminism: All the rights, none of the responsibilities.

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avatar KC

It isn’t about romance, it’s about respect. I always expected the man to pay for the first date. It is socially acceptable in our society. And my opinion (and that of my female family members and friends) was that it was a matter of respect for the male to show his date. As I got older I realized that the men who insisted on paying on a first date were raised in a similar environment to me (which is why they paid) and it made us a better match. This doesn’t mean the man has to pay for every date – you can go dutch and sometimes she can pay. But on a first date the man should pay out of respect for his date.

In practice the man I married paid for the first few dates. But later in our relationship we’d split the bill. Sometimes I’d even pay, since I had a job and he was in medical school. But the first few dates there was no question who was paying – neither of us would have it any other way.

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avatar NJ

First dates are about putting your best foot forward and as such they usually cost more. For him, it’s selecting that special little restaurant and for her it’s about makeup, hair dresser, nicest clothes. I’ll gladly pay half of the dinner tab, if he’ll pay half my ‘romantic’ preparations.

The way I see it, first dates cost girls as much as dinner to look like the dinner companion he expects. If it goes beyond the first date, we can split the cost of the pizza and video rental.

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avatar Meg

It’s always “more romantic” when somebody does something special just for you – whether it’s treating you to dinner or giving you a massage or picking you flowers or buying you a gift. It’s not the financial element so much as feeling like you are worth somebody’s effort (whether that effort is time or money or energy or thought spent on you).

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the fact that somebody else is doing something for you that you could do for yourself. That’s the whole point. Sure you could buy yourself dinner, or buy yourself a massage or pick yourself flowers and that’s great – but that doesn’t mean we should refuse to let the men in ourlives show us that they care in those ways out of some sense of feminist duty. Conversely, when you do those things for your boyfriend you are treating HIM.

The reason we feel weird about it is that men used to primarily use monetary elements (dinner/flowers/presents/shows) to show attention to ladies, and women could pretty much only reciprocate sexually. But now that financially we’re all more on the same footing, there’s no need to shun ANY favors from your man unless they’re just not your taste. And you can reciprocate any way you like.

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avatar UH2L

I’m a guy who believes in feminism, but not feminism only when it’s convenient to the woman. That being said, I don’t mind paying for the first couple of dates. And if I make appreciably more money than her, then it’s obvious that I should pay much more often. But I’m always cognizant of whether or not a woman is taking advantage of my generosity. I’ve gone out with some women that never paid for anything. It’s not the money. It’s the principle and I don’t go out with them for much longer.

Today, more women get college degrees than men. Pretty soon, the average woman will make more money than the average man, (hoping and assuming that gender wage discrimination fades away). When the woman obviously makes more money, shouldn’t she feel obligated to pay more often?

Now if only women wouldn’t hide behind traditionalism when it comes to asking men out. It is such a cop out to always wait for the guy. They’re just as afraid of rejection as men, but have the excuse of, “the way it’s supposed to be,” to wait to be approached instead of making the first move.

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avatar Suzy Orman

I consider myself a financially independent woman and i am currently single, but when dating my last boyfriend i had no problem letting him pay on 95% of our dates. He made 3 times as much money than me and men as a whole still get paid more than women for doing the same job so i didn’t feel guilty about it at all.

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avatar jon

I went out on a First Date, payed for drinks and dinner, and when the bill came i payed the tab. She didnt say anthing, didnt even say thank you. At the end of the night she said it was a pleasure meeting me and she turned her cheek when I tried to kiss her. I got used for a free meal and drinks. Oh well “next” I don’t mind paying on a first date but manners and not being taken advantage on a date i don’t like.

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avatar Mark

Chivalry should die. Women need to feel equality.

The “whoever asks, pays” logic is flawed because most women do not initiate courtship. If you accept a date, then you are clearly interested in me. Why should I hold the financial burden just because I was the only one with the guts to ask you out? I’m not going on a date to pay for your meal. I’m going on a date to see if we have anything in common.

I cannot believe it’s 2011 and women still expect chivalry. Seriously? How is that equal? If you expect chivalry then I expect you to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen making me dinner. I combat sexist beliefs with sexist beliefs. It’s not 1950. If you want chivalry, then please be willing to put on a dress, heels and stay in the house all day.

Chivalry has no place in modern America.

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avatar Shawnia

I disagree. It is a sign of disrespect to me when a man insists on paying for a date. As for Gina’s comment, I do not work hard and earn the money I do to be considered “fit only for childbearing and household duties”. I could also tear apart the ides of sexist systems being more ‘effiecient’, but I’ll leave it that equality trumps effieciency any day. Further, Having men pay for dates does not ‘make up’ for the disparity in incomes or women being paid less then men. Insisting that women be paid the same as men for the same work with be the ONLY way to make up for this disparity. Lastly, it is not a romantic gesture. It is derived from times when women were not permitted to earn money, therefore it was necessary for a man to pay. To continue this tradition is not romantic, it’s a leftover form of sexism. I pay for what I want on a date, and expect my date to pay for what he wants. That’s called equality and that’s good enough for me.

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avatar jon

I agree with this but when the woman or man takes advantage of you and doesnt thank you for paying that is a big RED FLAG.

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