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Home > dating > I Got This, Woman: Why She Needs to Stop Reaching for her Money on the First Date

I Got This, Woman: Why She Needs to Stop Reaching for her Money on the First Date

On Tuesday, I had the privilege of appearing on Huff Post Live to discuss one of the most popular dating topics: Who should pay on the first date?

I know there are as many people tired of talking about this as there are people like myself who are always up for discussing it, but the rules keep changing so the conversation continues. What prompted yesterday’s discussion was a recent study done by Chapman University, which found the following:

Consistent with conventional norms, most men (84 percent) and women (58 percent) reported that men pay for most expenses, even after dating for a while. Over half (57 percent) of women claim they offer to help pay, but many women (39 percent) confessed they hope men would reject their offers to pay, and 44 percent of women were bothered when men expected women to help pay. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of men believed that women should contribute to dating expenses, and many feel strongly about that: Nearly half of men (44 percent) said they would stop dating a woman who never pays. A large majority of men (76 percent), however, reported feeling guilty accepting women’s money.

I have included the segment at the end of this post, so you can see me along with my fellow panelists and host Caityln Becker discuss the topic in full. But I want to expand on a particular point I touched on in the show about the first date and why I take issue with women who go for the reach to pay half.

There was a phase I went through where I tried to intellectualize and rationalize the whole idea of men not needing to pay for the first date. I had all sorts of stats about how women were rapidly out earning men, flimsy theories on how by not paying for the first date I was actually demonstrating my support of feminism, and a story about my mom asking if the girl I was going out with on my first date had a job too and when I told her she did, mom said that means I didn’t always have to foot the bill.

You will never hear me bad mouth my mom’s advice, but my two other rationales were the product of an immature mind who just didn’t make enough to support the kind of dating habits in which he wanted to indulge. As I got older, I just grew more and more tired of talking about who should pay on the first date and made a firm decision:

Since I’m usually the one who asks for the first date, I will pay. I realized it’s not about what’s right and wrong, it was about what’s fair and unfair.

Fair is ponying up the money for the date I planned.

Unfair is making or expecting a woman contribute to it.

One would think more women would agree with this outright, with no questions asked. But one would be wrong.

A lot of women of do this thing where they reach for their clutch or purse as though they are about to hand me some money to go half on the date.

In football, they call the fake hand off, play action. In dating, I call the fake reach, play me. Because she’s obviously trying to play me.

But my counter attack to her move is letting her go through with it. That’s right, I let her search and search for her card, take it out of her purse and lay it on the tray or in the sleeve right next to my card on top of the bill.

I call that move the “played yourself.”

Because she just played herself by acting like she was going to pay when she had no intention of doing so. There’s a time and a way to be polite, when the bill comes is not the time nor the way.

I’m an adult, so maybe I shouldn’t still be holding on lessons I learned watching Doug on Nickledeon. But do you all remember the episode, “Doug & Patti Sittin In A Tree?”

Patti asks Doug if he would like to go to the movies with her, just the two of them. In the days leading to their meetup, Doug ponders whether or not they’re going on an actual date. To figure it out, Doug and his best friend Skeeter study a book about dating which says one of the ways a person will know if it’s a date or not a date is if the other person pays for their half of the activity they’re doing. When Patti meets up with Doug on Friday, he’s so confused as to what to do so he hesitates. Behind him, you see Patti ask for one ticket at the box office. Doug now knows it’s not a date.

I apply the Doug theory to my dates. If a woman is offering to pay for her half of the date, I take that as disinterest in seeing me again or seeing me romantically, and in both those cases I’m perfectly fine with letting her pay for half of our date.

But I have heard some woman say they only do this to test a man, to see where his head is at. When they reach, it’s just for show.

Let a woman give me the test and I’m going to fail every single time with no shame whatsoever.

Offering to go half on a date when she knows she will judge me negatively for accepting, is like her showing me the condoms in her purse, and saying I’m a pervert when I start getting undressed.

So please ladies, don’t offer to pay half on the first date, don’t reach for your credit card. Common sense would tell you that’s not common courtesy, that’s some fake reverse-chivalry a woman made up to impress a man or a passive aggressive way to demonstrate your lack of interest, and any man who holds not reaching against you is reaching for reasons not to like you.

I am more than happy to pay for our first date. Tip included. If I asked, I don’t need your charity, unless you insist on helping out a friend.

Check me out on HuffPost Live on the segment “Who Pays On Dates?”

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  • Nicole Wyche

    The budget aspect is key. Don’t go for the steak dinner if you can only afford to pay for yourself, grab coffee instead!

  • curvyinthecity

    Thank you–cause I tell people this and they look at me with shock and horror saying they will never go out on a date again. Also, I think an important point here is that you assign this activity to determinig a role or direction of the realtionship, this is KEY. A big key we as women often miss out on, men are all about roles–we want to be all the roles,a t the same time, it doesn’t really work that way.

  • Jessica

    I never reach for my wallet on the first date because it never crosses my mind that a man would expect me to pay. If he did, I would pay my half without hesitation and that would be our first and last date. Simple as that.

  • scsilk

    If a man offers to take me out on a first date, there’s no reason for me to reach for my wallet. However, I don’t hesitate to pay if I do the asking.

  • Nicole

    I totally agree with you on the “friendzone” comment if a woman offers to pay. Speaking from personal experience, this is my silent way of saying “I don’t see this going anywhere so let’s break even now” so the guy doesn’t feel like I owe them anything. Unfortunately, most men have read this as me being a cool chick for offering so eager for a second date…

  • Jody

    I am with this post 100%.
    1) The requester of the outing shoulders the financial responsibility unless previously discussed. I want to do something, I just need the other person to show up. Technically not limited to the opposite sex.
    2) I will let you pay if you offer. (Though I do think a good gesture is getting the tip. It shows concern for my financial situation)
    3) Referencing “Doug”, was great!

  • Chocolate Vent

    Yeah, a woman should never have to pay. EVER! First date or 13th date. If I offer, that’s one thing, but I should never be expected to pay.

    As for the argument that women are making more nowadays, that’s just an excuse for men to not have to pay. Why don’t you all step it up, instead of checking what’s in a woman’s pockets?

  • Mr. SD

    Keeping it honest I could never see me letting a woman pay half for the first date or any date for that matter. Even if she ask me out, Id still push to pay. If she insist then whatever..its only money. Her reaching for her purse is fine, im not offended at all. I can respect it…I’ll never let it go down but its nice to she she half assed

  • blablabla

    Why dont you step it up, you deadbeat? Women like you should be avoided like fucking parasites, because, in truth, that’s all you really are.

  • blablabla

    Why not just, you know, be straight up and tell them this rather than letting them think you’re a cool ass chick who is interested in them? It would go over so much better for everyone. Stop being a wuss and say it.

  • FTW

    Don’t really get this. So she reaches for her card without any intention to play.Seems like a harmless fallacy, no? Probably something she was taught was polite, but is utterly worthless, like reaching over to unlock the door.

  • LeeLee

    “any man who holds not reaching against you is reaching for reasons not to like you.”

    THIS! I agree. I”m not “gaming” anyone. I don’t do the reach, unless I’m not interested in the guy romantically or do not plan on seeing him again. Certainly, men and women are entitled to their opinions on this as every person has a different idea of the type of dating relationship they want (modern equality vs. traditional) Much respect to you for admitting that you changed your mind on women paying for the first date and the rationale behind it. I’m always interested in the “when” and “why” people change their stance on a particular subject.

  • sw

    I find this so strange…. Why would you be offended by her offering to pay? If a guy takes me out, I’m going to offer because its my way of signaling who I am — a woman who is interested in meeting you half way. That’s not to say I won’t graciously accept if you pick up the bill, and say thank you. But I’ll also offer to get a round of drinks or buy coffee later. I’m not interested in hanging out with someone because they can buy me stuff. I can buy me stuff. I’m interested in hanging out with someone because they are fun and I want to see if there is potential for a long term partnership. To me, a partnership means both people contributing (in all ways, not just financially). Offering to pay just comes second nature to me, but it also sets the tone early for the kind of relationship I’m looking for.

  • Dom


    I’m tied, Jozen.

    On the one hand, I used to do the play action (or “play [my]self”, as you would call it) on dates. I think it’s a courteous gesture to genuinely offer to pay for my half.

    On the other hand, I understand why you would be insulted: it’s like she’s trying to call you out on not being a gentleman or something. In every instance where I offered and actually paid for ANY part of a first date, I never took that guy seriously again and/or I never went out with him again. I take his allowing me to pay (without my insistence, I might add) as his way of indicating we’re bros, pals, buddies.

    And we are not bros, pals, or buddies.

    If I offer to pay for my half, I’m not just whistlin’ Dixie…I really will pay. It’s just like reaching for the door: I can open it myself, but wouldn’t you feel like less of a wuss if you opened it for me?

    The point is, not all men follow societal norms. They know they’re expected to pay for the first date. Alas, there are some men who have, as you did in your younger days, developed some rationalization for why a woman should pay. Instead of having a face-off when the check comes and possibly even a nasty, date-ending verbal sparring over why he doesn’t think he should pay for me, I’d rather communicate through non-verbal cues: reach for my purse and have him cutely, but firmly ask me to stop. If he doesn’t, then he is not the man for me. No conversation needed.

    There are definitely some women who have no intention to pay when they do the reach, and for them, I hope they learn to do better. I think it comes down to this for both sexes: Don’t let others write your life story. Don’t be a [expletive deleted] because your date is a [expletive deleted]. Be ladies and gentleman and hope that your date follows suit. If they don’t, you never have to go on another date with them again.

  • Haniplease

    This doesn’t work in Chicago. Black men rarely pay for dates, it’s sad. I offer to pay half they expect the whole date on me. Then when I refuse to see them again, it’s like dayum,she was fine, decent body, cool personality what happened? (Their words not mine lol)

    I’ve since chosen to just stop dating brothas for a minute, so I can truly enjoy this city with a gentleman. I don’t mnd paying after a few dates, but In the beginning the man should ALWAYS pay or it’s not a date.

  • Haniplease

    Nice to see a brotha still on this. 😉

  • Mr. Sims

    “Offering to go half on a date when she knows she will judge me negatively for accepting, is like her showing me the condoms in her purse, and saying I’m a pervert when I start getting undressed.” – True words right there. great post.