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First date tips: Why it pays to pick up the bill on the first date

Avoid bill-bust ups and persistent partners with this handy how-to

To stand a good chance of a woman staying with you longer than 5 minutes, you need to be on time and dress the part. You can not keep her waiting. 57% of Londoners believe a modern gentleman should be punctual – how’s that for a statistic, gentlemen?

We also managed to obtain information that found 70% of women prefer men to dress smart-casual on a first date. If you want the odds to be in your favour, check out our style content for more fashion tips.

And so we come to the thorny issue of the bill. There it is, sitting on that small silver tray, unassuming yet obtrusive, and here to wreak havoc in the wake of a lovely date. A token mint or two sit on top – futile attempts to literally sugar the pill of the looming discussion. Who pays on the first date?

It’s a tricky one, but important nonetheless. So let’s have a much needed etiquette tête-à-tête, and settle the matter of settling up once and for all with our first date tips below.

First date tips: Why it pays to pick up the bill on the first date

Pay on the first date - no matter what

Firstly – and this is the golden rule of the dinner date – the gentleman should always pay upon the initial meeting. Regardless of whether you asked her out, or she asked you out, it is your duty as a gent to reach into your pocket, pull out your wallet and say ‘I’ve got this’.

But here’s where it gets complicated. After you lay claim to the bill, the evening could shoot off down one of several paths – some of which are considerably more pleasant than others. Let’s talk through just some of the scenarios that may play out when the chips – and credit cards – are down.

Ideally, she will smile, thank you and allow you to pay for the meal without either hesitation or protestation. Obviously, this never happens.

First date tips: Why it pays to pick up the bill on the first date

Keep it cool

Instead, she’s likely to put up at least some sort of a fight. For the most part, these qualms and quibbles will be born out of politeness – so when she suggests splitting the cost, wave your hand to show just how carefree you are, and proceed to pay in full. Do not get nervous and sweat too much about the price, we found that women from the UK want a gentleman to take them to a casual dining restaurant for a first date. Save some money for that second meeting.

The issue if you do take your date up on her offer to split the bill is that she’ll either think you’re unchivalrous or uninterested – neither of which is ideal. Typically, bills are only split between friends, so let her pay for her portion and it may look like you want her to not only pay for her food, but also for wasting your evening.

First date tips: Why it pays to pick up the bill on the first date

Don't read into anything

On the flip side, if she quickly concedes and virtually grabs your credit card herself, don’t imagine that she just wants to be friends. Etiquette dictates that the man should pay, so don’t go running to the bathroom for a conciliatory sob if she doesn’t reach for her purse – you’re not in the friendzone yet.

So far, so simple. You offer to pay, she might let you immediately, she might take some gentle convincing. But both of those outcomes are relatively tame when compared to the worst bill-related bust up – that of the persistent partner.

First date tips: Why it pays to pick up the bill on the first date

Know when to quit

There are certain women who simply will not take no for an answer. Be it for reasons of equality, expensiveness or simple pride, these purse-thrusters will make it harder to split the bill than it was for Rutherford to split the atom – and with equally as explosive results.

If the evening does indeed descend into a shouting match, give in – it’s unlikely you’ll want to see someone so stubborn again anyway. But make sure you put up a good fight.

First date tips: Why it pays to pick up the bill on the first date

Know your exceptions

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Casual drinks can be bought in rounds – as long as you buy the first – and this will especially work in your favour if one of you is drinking shaken perfect Appletinis and the other basic brand beer (we’re not judging who’s who in this scenario).

But, when it’s a meal, the man must pay on the first date. If you choose the restaurant, you’ll ensure that you’re not left destitute by the time the starter arrives, and you can also impress her with your gastronomic know-how. However gentlemen, 1 in 2 women do not care about how much a gentleman spends on a first date.

As the dates roll on, the rules admittedly change. Second date, it’s still the man’s turn. Third, your date can pitch in for drinks, but you should still pay for the lion’s share of the meal and fourth, is when you finally reach the point where splitting is acceptable. She may even insist on paying for the whole meal, and if you’ve stuck it this long without a fight, it seems silly to argue with her now.

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