Friday, October 12, 2012

To pay or not to pay?

The other night, I had a second date with a guy.  I was a little on the fence about him after the first date, but his follow-up was way impressive and earned him a second chance.  And I can honestly say I'm glad I didn't write him off after the first date.  I enjoy spending time with him and look forward to the next time we can get together.

Anyhow ... on our second date, there was an awkward moment.  Not caused by either of us, but rather by the waitress.  When she took our order, she asked if the orders were on one check.  My date immediately said, "yes." After our delicious dinner had been consumed along with a few beverages, we talked for a while.  Like I said, it was the second date, so we still have a lot of topics to cover.  At one point, we indicated we were ready for the check.  She returned with it moments later and put it in front of me.  She actually tucked it under my drink napkin.  I didn't know what to do.

Should I immediately slide it over to him?  Should I try and inch it toward him?  What?

He didn't seem to know what to do either.  After a few moments of not really addressing the check at all, he joked, "So are you paying this time?"  I shrugged and said, "I can, I guess. It's not a big deal."  He made sure I knew he was joking about me paying, but I still didn't know if I should hand him the check.  I'm still pretty inexperienced with this whole dating thing (don't let my age fool you), but I didn't want to appear to be the kind of girl who expect the guy to pay every time.  Because I'm not that girl. I'm totally fine paying my own way (and even picking up the whole tab) every now and then.

I tweeted about my awkward dating moment, and some people responded saying he should have insisted on paying or that I should have moved the check to his side of the table. They said the second date was too early for me to be paying. 

I went over to my new blogging partner site, Hot Date Ideas, to see if they had any insights, but I didn't see any on this particular topic.  They have a lot of other good tips and ideas for dating though.  I'll be referring to them frequently (I hope) as I continue my dating adventures.

So now I'm asking the blogosphere ... what would you have done in my position?


  1. well i've already told you this, but i honestly think that you made the best out of an awkward situation and i really don't think he's going to start expecting you to pay or anything like that. i think that you taking it and paying just shows him that you are not a girl who will be dependent or needy. and as far as people saying he should have insisted or you should have pushed the check to him? i think both are a little extreme. if he didn't reach for it, i would not have pushed it to him. and anyone who knows you, even a little, knows you expect to be treated and viewed as an equal to someone, not as a damsel in distress. he probably didn't want to push the issue and make you feel like he thought he was superior and like you NEEDED him to pay. obviously i don't know this guy at all, but that is the only reason i can imagine him not insisting to pay. he didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable by being too pushy.

  2. Dissenting view from the East Coast. I would have picked it up and said, "Let's just split this, right?" and calculated the share and then moved on to another topic of conversation.

    I think that the idea that a guy needs to pay is antiquated and you'd just be better off always offering to pay. I don't think that two grownups need to have that added layer of unnecessary bs when they're just starting to get to know each other. If someone says, "I'd really like to take you to this place and I'd really like to treat" that's different - hell, I still do that to my boyfriend who I live with & have been with for 9 years! - but think about the radical notion of always offering to pay your half and how that would change dating dynamics for the better.

  3. I would have handled it the same way, since she put it under your napkin, (which is weird since HE said responded yes to the "one check" question). But, I think he expected to pay but was ok with you paying.
    I don't think a man paying for the dates shows that you are needy in any way. That's the rules: men pay. ;-) however, since this isn't 1945, and more women work than men these days, I think having a conversation about who pays for what is completely acceptable. I did that after my husband paid for the first few dates, and he said he expected to pay because that's what his parents paid for everything. And, remember, guys like to be needed a little! I don't think it's wrong to be a little old fashioned. Men don't know how to court a woman any more. If he's a gentleman and offers to pay, let him. the whole thing. And don't feel guilty about it. Next time, before the date, you can say "I'd like to treat tonight" and then he'll know you stand on equal ground, but expect to be treated too. ;-)
    It's your relationship and you need to do what works for you and this guy. Don't over think it, just ask him. ;-)

  4. I would have done the same thing......paid the full bill without thinking. There are so many random "rules" to dating these days, it's hard to know what is the right/best thing to do.

  5. First of all, that server displayed very poor form by assuming you were getting the check and not putting it in the middle of the table. But, I think you handled it the best you could have in that situation. I might have said, "I'll get this one, but you can grab the next one, okay?" This then invites the third date. :) I think it's good that you didn't shove the check back over to him as if you had an expectation of being taken care of, since that's not the type of person you seem to be. I'll also bet that your date relieved that you handled the situation with grace and didn't make it even more awkward.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Thanks for the mention Micah! Kat covered this a little in our Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry but that was more for a first date.

    As far as your situation, I think you handled it perfectly. The waitress should have placed the check in the neutral zone but when she didn't then your date should have grabbed it (smoothly of course) or, if out of reach, let the waitress know that it went to him.

    As for people recommending that you slide the check to him, I don't think that's a good idea. Even though he should pay on the second date, esp after working hard to convince you to see him again, and he implied he was going to do so with his "one check" comment, it still seems rude to do things like that. There's a fine line between taking care of things on a date and being taking advantage of, and guys can be touchy. You could also use a joke in this situation like "Think we should pay this or do you want to make a run for it?" or even by excusing yourself to the restroom and giving him time to take care of it while you're away.

    IMO, three dates is about right for the guy to cover things. By that time you know each other well enough - through emails, texts, phone, and even the dates - that everyone's comfortable enough to start splitting things. This can vary for people in different financial situations but it's a good general rule, tho I may be antiquated. ;)

    (sry about the double post)

  8. I think you did great! What a very awkward situation. I always offer to pay but kind of look down on the guy if he lets me on the first date. However, depending on how much had been spent...if it was one of those dates with lots of drinks and the tab was well over $100, I am perfectly fine contributing my fair share. I think you handled it great, but since he had said it was on one check from the beginning, he should have just taken the tab and paid. He's the one that made it awkward.


Pin It button on image hover