Dating: Who Pays?

It’s a quiet morning. I get a call which starts off innocently enough. “I have been chatting on Tinder with a girl and arranged a lunch date with her”.

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Great news I think, but I was wrong. Said date had ‘disappeared’ after he clarified they go Dutch. He originally just wanted to meet for coffee, but she had proposed lunch. He was frustrated. Why do women always expect the man to pay? he asked. He was tired of paying £100 lunches for people he had never met and then never saw again.

I had two things to say to that.

Firstly, good riddance of that date. I think it is extremely rude for someone in a dating context to expect another person they have never met to pay for them, lunch or otherwise. In fact, can you even call a first encounter a date? There are loads of articles out there maintaining the guy should pay for the first date, the first month even. He should do this, that and the other to sweep her off her feet. Indeed some women expect it; perhaps even think that if he doesn’t pay for her he is not interested. Then there are others who feel the opposite. Some women would rather not he paid on the first date, some don’t like receiving flowers and chocolates and so on. We.Are.All.Different. This leads me to my second point.

While most people on the whole are decent, there are a lot of idiots playing on people's good intentions. Both men and women. To add to the complication of dating, regardless of how decent people are, they will have different values and expectations to yours thus reducing the ‘pool’ of suitable partners. As a result you may encounter a lot of unsuitable people before you meet someone that is right for you. Imagine a salesperson cold calling. They often get more rejections than sales. If you are dating, that’s you. You are basically a salesperson, expect rejection.

So what to do? Firstly, there is the issue of dealing with rejection and then there is the issue of how you go about attracting who you meet (and whether you are going about it in the right way). Essentially dating should be fun. It should feel good and any rejection should feel like a minor blip in your mood. Ideally. If it isn’t, then you are probably doing something wrong.

Rejection issue aside, I would like to consider whether you are attracting the right sort of people for you. Sometimes it’s simply because you have rigid expectations, like ‘he must pay on the first date’, ‘she should kiss me after 3 dates’ etc., that stop you from meeting the right person. Other times, it might be the way you go about approaching someone and getting to know them . For example, in the above example, perhaps not discussing who pays what before meeting would have led to a different outcome. It might have come across as unromantic and blunt to ask to split the bill before even meeting each other. In other cases, it’s about understanding deeper issues, such as, you are not in the right place to be going steady with someone. It can be difficult to say which is what. There are no cookie cutter answers unfortunately.

However, If you think paying for the date is an important value to you, make sure you match up with someone who values that too (as opposed to taking the payment for granted). If going Dutch is important to you, then match up with someone who subscribes to that value too. This will help you decide whether to date someone. This goes for your values in general, not necessarily payment concerns.

In short, the answer to who should pay for the first date is: it depends on you, your values, who and how you attract who you do. (And be prepared to be rejected, indeed welcome it, if you meet someone whose values are different to yours).

Madeleine Mason Roantree

Dating Psychologist, The Vida Consultancy Ltd

Dating and relationship expert, with an MSc and BSc in psychology, pending counselling psychology doctorate, Cert. in Applied Positive Psychology, plus cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), person-centred and psychodynamic training. Madeleine offers personal coaching and counselling sessions as well as seminars and workshops. Having experience in marriage, divorce, dating and relationships, Madeleine is passionate about helping people to understand their own needs and getting successful results in their personal relationships. She was shortlisted for Dating Expert of the Year 2014 and 2015 at the UK Dating Awards, plus nominated best dating expert in the world at the 2016 iDate awards. She has worked with various publications such as TimeOut, Daily Telegraph, The Independent and continues to blog at LifeLabs. In 2016 she founded the UK Dating Fair, an annual event for singles to get dating advice and meet the best dating experts in the UK, she is open to collaboration and idea exchanges within the helping profession.