The Real Reason Men Should Pay The Tab On A First Date

Name: Kevin
Age: 43
State: NJ
Question: After a year of online dating I have decided the best first dates are coffee dates because of the low cost and casual, quiet atmosphere. There is one place in particular that I try to meet my first dates at. Every time I suggest it, they never heard of it but they always tell me upon arrival it is such a cute place and love the atmosphere. It looks like the set of Friends with cozy tables/chairs and couches.

The problem is that this coffee place has desserts and serves food. When the wait staff brings the menu, the coffee,teas,desserts are on the same menu as the flat bread sandwiches and other foods they serve. The ladies act pleasantly surprised they have such good food selections and then want to order the food. That surprises me because when we make plans, I suggest coffee/tea and never mention food.

When they mention they want to try the grilled chicken panini or spinach dip with bread, I feel like I am put on the spot. Not every girl does this, but enough of them do to prompt me to write.  My choices are to go along with it and take it in stride or object. I have never objected. Of course I will follow suit and order something to eat too since it would feel awkward if she ate and I watched her. I think their intention is to meet for coffee but when they see the menu perhaps they think food is fair game? My plans for a low cost first coffee date turns into a more moderate $35 date. Not expensive but certainly not the intended $10 cost I was counting upon. After a year of online dating, I know it is a fool’s game to spend anything more than 10 bucks on a first meeting due to the uncertainty of first date outcomes.

Some of these dates went on to 2nd and 3rd dates and sometimes more so the initial investment was well worth it in the end for me with those women. But some went the route of 1st date failure with the no chemistry reasoning or disappearing act.  I wonder why many ladies feel it is OK to ask or suggest the food when the menu is brought to us when the whole point of being there in the first place was just  coffee.  It seems my only options are to object at the meal ordering (and kill the chances of a successful date), go along with it (increase the chances of a successful date like I have done) or not bring them there at all. The last option would be a shame because the place is just that good.  Can you give me your thoughts on this? Thank you.


The appropriate protocol for a first date, especially a first meet up from an online date, is to stick to the plan. If the plan is to meet “for drinks” then nobody should assume that it’s okay to upgrade. Eat before the date. It’s rude to show up for a pre-arranged cocktail/coffee date and then take it upon yourself to upgrade. If you are hungry, then you should make it clear to your date that you plan on covering your share of the tab for that order. Stick to the plan.

If you don’t want to get bamboozled into paying more than $10 for a date, then find a place that doesn’t offer food. If it is that big of a deal for you then don’t put yourself in a situation to have to break your piggy bank open and spend a whole $35.

As much as I loathe people who take advantage in situations like this, I find it unfortunate that you’re one of those “I refuse to spend more than $10 on a date” guys. You must have heard that from another guy or on some forum somewhere. Allow me to womansplain something to you…never take dating advice from guys who gather on the internet to trash woman and dating. The whole reason they are there is because they haven’t had much luck. Ergo, their advice is tainted and they don’t actually want you to succeed. They will use you as a soldier to carry out their desire to hurt women.

Breaking….dating isn’t cheap. Nobody can successfully date when they decide that they are going to be one of the “smart” people and not spend more than $10 on a date. Plus, unless you don’t drink alcohol, coffee dates are lame. There. I said it. The settings of places like that are not conducive to creating the right environment. Those places are loud and have a slew of laptop hobos (TM Gawker) hovering around. Those types of dates are stiff and unpleasant.

It’s fine to say that you’re not going to spend more than X amount on a date. Nobody is saying you need to spend $100 on a date. But you should be willing to fork over more than the equivalent of an 8 year old’s allowance. I understand how frustrating it can be to hand over $50-$75 a date to have nothing come of it. But that’s dating. You win some, you lose some. If you walk into every date with the mindset that you refuse to be played or taken advantage of, you’re sabotaging your chances of success. You will never revolutionize the dating game with your little Ten Dollar Test. Trust me.

You need to change your approach. Your first dates should be at a modestly priced bar. Don’t take a menu if offered. That should be a clue to the woman that you don’t plan on eating or footing a bill beyond what you originally agreed. If she doesn’t follow your lead, then let her order whatever. If you like her and want to see her again, pay the bill. If you don’t, slide that check right over to her side and put down a $20. Don’t blink an eye or worry what she’ll think of you. Who cares? You’ll never see her again.

The true problem here is that you care way too much what these women think. They don’t appear to show the same concern, do they? If you don’t like her, don’t pay for her. If you do, pay. It’s simple. If she’s a smart woman, she’ll know that she needs to demonstrate her appreciation with a genuine offer to help pay the bill or an offer to cover what she ordered. If she’s not and she expects guys to just foot the bill because they’re the man, then that’s why they’re single in the first place. They will go out with guys who pay the tab every time and delude themselves into believing that the guy does that because he really likes them. Um..not necessarily. $100/$200 per date is nothing to a lot of men.  If a woman refuses to reach into her pocket date after date, I can assure you that there is a really good chance that she will end up sleeping with that guy and then never hear from him again. If a guy doesn’t see that offer or see any true reciprocation on the first few dates, he checks out emotionally and mentally. It then becomes about getting a return on his investment. You do it to yourselves, ladies.

Just like men can spot the “I won’t sleep with a guy until we’re exclusive because I’ve been pumped and dumped over and over” women, women can spot the “I won’t pay much for a date because I go after women way out of my league and get used” men. Really, we’re on to you. We know what you’re doing with the coffee date idea. That’s probably a reason why so many of these women take it upon themselves to order from the menu. You’re telling women, with your decision to take them to Central Perk, that you’re someone who gets taken advantage of.That’s usually what happens with these kinds of tests. They back fire. A lot.

You could also maybe cut back on the number of dates you go on in any given time frame. You don’t have to meet anybody who shows interest, you know. You are allowed to filter people out. Your pool will not dry up. Part of the problem here is that you appear to have bad taste in women.

I agree with you that it’s rude of these women to make these assumptions. The upside is that this a great way to get a glimpse of the woman’s beliefs and expectations. But to whine about it just makes you seem weak. Dating costs money. Women like to feel desired and appreciated and, unfortunately, use how much a man spends as a barometer for how interested he is. Sometimes you just need to suck it up and go with it.



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146 Responses to “The Real Reason Men Should Pay The Tab On A First Date”

  1. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    I agree with Moxie 100%. And, I will add this. Women are maddeningly socially inapporpriate when it comes to this stuff because they’ve convinced themselves that they’re entitled to be paid for on a first date. Women also seem to love shoes. That’s women. Since you apparently want to date WOMEN, you have to satisfy that market. The way to do that is to pay. And, pay. Then pay some more. And complaining (other than to yourself and close friends) is useless since women won’t change.

    Think of dating like investing in the stock market (pretend it’s 1998) You put money in. Some days it goes up a little, and you’re happy, and some days it goes down a little, and you’re sad. But, over the long run, you don’t worry about these individual movements. It’s the big picture. Same with dating. Over the long haul, i.e. after many dates, you are better off not being “cheap” because by being generous – you will appear to women as a more socially appropriate and better quality man- even though, on an indiviudal basis, not every date will “pay off.” It’s investing.

    Ok, let the “who pays” games begin.

    • wishing u well Says:

      I think a little perspective is in order. I live in NJ, and I know of a spot that fits what this guy is talking about to a tee to the point that I’m willing to bet that it’s the same place even, based on the “lookalike of the set of Friends” description. If this is the same location, it’s less expensive than a moderately priced bar. Let’s be clear: women aren’t trying to “upgrade” the date here. They likely honestly believe that if you chose the location that you know that the place has a menu with cheap options. They also likely don’t consider it an upgrade because the options are fairly cheap, and it’s less expensive than an Applebee’s or a Fridays. $35? That’s less than you would spend on a typical movie date. So in THEIR minds this isn’t an upgrade.

      If you want a cheap meet and greet, you have to stop picking this spot. I know that the ambiance is cool, it’s comfortable, sometimes they have live things, and it’s great to encourage someone to relax. Move on if it’s outside of your budget and stick with Starbucks. Or a meet and greet for a slice of pizza at a really awesome spot.

      • chillybeans Says:

        Let me add to this please-women like the kind of places with grilled panini and spinach dip. They dislike, for the most part, greasy pub type fried food. Take them to a no atmosphere fattening food, chicken wings sports bar type of place, and they won’t order food. They also won’t think too much of you either.
        That’s the trade off my friend, you pay your money and you take your chances.

        • Eliza Says:

          Chillybeans–you are right about that. Unless you are on a date with some triple-chin mongoose who is one of the guys…then you are not a date with a woman. If she can outdrink you or kill a six-pack? Run. Quick. LOL! greasy pub food is usually served in a loud, unalluring environment…like a sports bar…any man that has half a brain knows better than to take their date to that type of place (that is, if he wants to make a positive impression)–and get to know her and be able to hear each other. Dating is not rocket-science fellas! It’s rather easy. But yes, do as Moxie suggests…and don’t take advice from single, sour men. Take advice from women. Every man should have a friendship with a woman they can get a good perspective from. That is, an intelligent, together woman who can be sound board, and offer sound advice and tips about the opposite gender.

    • Howard Says:

      I remember a while back, Moxie gave some advice about limiting phone conversation and just meeting in person. Now that is a woman perspective thing that is quite convenient if you harbor the sentiments recommended in her advice above.

      If you’re a man and you have problems getting dates, then Moxie advice about limiting phone conversation made sense. However if you no have no problem getting first dates, then it makes more sense to qualify your prospects, before investing time and money.

      Moxie’s perspective above is pretty much the average perspective by women when it comes to men spending money. Don’t get upset by it, if you are a man. That’s life, and it’s never fair, some people born richer, or better looking or more athletic or smarter. Play the hand that you are dealt, and the emphasis is on the word “play” not hand or dealt. Players get it! You don’t have to be a player to survive the game, but it helps to steal the better part of their playbook, to defend yourself from the entitled mindset women have regarding first dates.

      • Terry Says:

        OK, someone, please enlighten me! WHAT men have trouble getting dates?! All the guys I have come across have plenty of dates to choose from – which is why those guys are able to screw around and cheat.

        Now, mind you, these were not good-looking guys. They were professional guys, not career losers. However, as far as appearance goes, they were average-looking; some were much older. Only one was what I would consider good-looking, at least for my taste, but he wasn’t gorgeous. Mostly, what made him noticeable was being 6’2″, a weight of 240 lbs. which he carried very well, and having a back and shoulders that flared out from the waist; he was ram-rod straight and walked with an air of confidence (but did not come across as conceited). The irony of this one was that he was a manipulative, lying cheater EVEN THOUGH he was completely impotent and his “member” as he called it, was the size of a Vienna sausage (no joke here). Somehow, he still managed to find willing women to screw around with, engage in casual “sex” with, and cheat on his wife when they were married, and then cheat on me after their divorce, which is when I met him.

        So, if even guys who are not good-looking and guys who are impotent can get plenty of women, I don’t understand which are the guys that can’t find women!

    • Terry Says:

      Since we’re all presumably adults here, at least chronologically (if not emotionally or morally), why don’t we just call a spade a spade and tell it like it is with respect to the meaning of the word “invest.” Based on the tenor, tone and feel of the words used by the guy who posted the original comment, and by some others who have replied, what it’s referring to is the amount of money that the guy will have to spend before he gets laid. That’s it. Very simple.

      With that nasty mentality and disgusting attitude, which is viewing a woman as a whore, any guy who subscribes to that concept is just a manipulative user no better than a cross between a sewer cockroach and a sewer rat. As far as a woman who willingly serves the part of whore, she is a moron – since at least whores get paid to be used and disrespected.

      I am still in total shock, and I have been since I started dating after my marriage ended 7 years ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long!), at the huge number of women who complain about not being able to find a good man, can’t find one who knows how to keep his zipper zipped, they’re all players, etc. – yet these very women spread their legs at the drop of a hat. Then they complain about how the guys are filth. Yes, filth they are nowadays – for the most part, with some exceptions; however, if the women didn’t facilitate the guy’s abhorrent behavior, those creeps wouldn’t have their egos continually fed and thus would not be further encouraged to believe that women are whores to be used, lied to, and then abandoned.

      Women have much more power than they think – unfortunately, they gave it all up when the so-called Women’s Liberation Movement took hold. Those women didn’t understand the power of “the cookie.” They didn’t understand the concept of excess inventory. They didn’t understand the concept of supply and demand. They wanted to behave like men, screw around like men, engage in meaningless sex like men – and they got just that. They ended up with MEANINGLESS interactions with men. They ended up with men who think that the women are MEANINGLESS! Today, more and more women are realizing that that was a GIANT MISTAKE and want to turn back the tide in that regard; however, they are finding it very difficult to accomplish because the inventory of available vaginas is so large, that if one woman doesn’t spread-eagle, others are willing to do it. You can’t start a movement with just a few women willing to actually walk the talk.

      So…with that said, ladies: INVEST in YOURSELVES. Forget the loser guys!

  2. kenny Says:

    I do not comment on such subjects but I have to say, I would not care about money at all if I was with an interesting beautiful woman.

    I dont care! At all!… what I do care is if she shows interest in me… and if I like her. Money can be created easily… however finding the right person.. for me at least…. seems to be the hardest thing in the world….

    • Ani Says:

      I agree with you. If you like somebody at the first date, you have to show it and sit her at a normal place. If you are not, you can go to the coffee place, pay for her coffee and don’t expect the second date.

      Guys they don’t get it. Most women can afford that dinner or more. I don’t need a dinner during a miserable date. It just waste of time.

      My experience, who was a man, he behaved as a man. Who was not and ask 10 dollars to support the 20 dollars tab, that was shameful for his gender.

  3. Marshmallow Says:

    I don’t actually look at the first in person meeting with someone I’ve only known online as a date. To me, it is a pre-date to see if we click in person. Online dating is a crap shoot and sometimes you can come across some real “interesting” people. It should be short and simple like lunch, a drink or coffee (even though Moxie gives it a thumbs down, it is pretty no-pressure).

    • Chris Says:

      Bingo! It’s not a real date, so why the expectation that the man should pay for it? It’s not the classic situation where a man has already met a women, knows he likes her, and asks her out.

      • Wanderlust Says:

        I think the problem here is that no one seems to want to communicate. Why are we relying on the other person reading the other’s mind? Hopefully, some conversation took place prior to the first date, pre-date screening or whatever you choose to call it. So if it is your thing to be low-key and see if there’s chemistry and that’s why you pick the coffee spot, that’s fine. Say so, so that the woman knows up front. Or if that’s too uncomfortable to do, then tell the wait staff, “Just coffee, thanks!” when they ask what you want and ask the woman what kind of coffee she likes. Simple.

        Women, don’t assume the guy doesn’t mind you ordering a la carte off the menu. At the very least, ask the guy, “Are you hungry?” or “Were you planning on getting something to eat?” or “Is it o.k. if I get something?” and then watch his reaction. That’s why we’re gifted with the powers of observation and intuition.

        If you’re famished because you had run out of the house or didn’t have time to have dinner beforehand, say so and offer to cover the cost of what you eat. Hopefully, the man graciously declines your offer to pay but if he doesn’t, at least you don’t come off looking like a mooch.

        As a woman, personally, I like simple coffee-style dates for online dates until I’ve a chance to decide whether I want to spend more time with the guy. Try having a 3-course dinner with a bore or someone that used a 15-year old photo…back when he had hair!

        • nathan Says:

          While I agree that people would do well to communicate better in general both before and on first dates, this whole money topic is filled with landmines. Some of the women on here act like men who don’t offer to pay, or who aren’t interested in spending a lot of money on meet and greets are basically cheap and worthless. In addition, the scenario you bring up where the woman asks the guy about food feels like a trap. If he says yes and doesn’t mean it, he’s going to put off a negative vibe. And if he says no, how many women will simply write him off, no matter what else he does?

          One of the reasons why I’m so against this fixed notion that men should pay is that it creates all this tension around something that should be about generosity. If I’m famished and need to eat something, you better believe I’m going to offer to pay for something to eat for my date if she wants it. And if she’s in the same position, I’d like to think that she could do the same for me. Or whatever the situation calls for.

          Some women place so much stock on guys paying, and yet seem to forget over and over again that they are just doing what’s expected of them. It’s not special at all. Whereas if there isn’t that expectation, and a guy steps up and offers something, then you learn something about his character.

  4. Trouble Says:

    If finances are an issue, switch up your preferred location and invite people that look interesting but you’ve never seen before in real life to a coffee place that serves nothing but coffee/tea. I personally see nothing wrong with a coffee date as a location for an initial meeting. Why make a big investment when you don’t even know if the person looks like their photo or if there will be any mutual attraction?

  5. Rick Says:

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks coffee dates are lame. Thanks Moxie!

    Other than that I’m still trying to wrap my head around being upset that a date cost $35.00…

    • Eliza Says:

      Thanks Rick. I find whining and complaining about spending $35 on a lame coffee date–well, lame–and pathetic…and that goes for women who have to occasionally spend that much–even if the date doesn’t materialize into something worthwhile or long-term. Dating does not offer any guaratees. Think about all the spending women have to do – just to show up and make themselves presentable. That is, for those women out there that take much pride in prepping for dates–as casual and simple as the date may be. To cry like some little girl over $20-$30? Very sad. If a person is that much of a tight wallet…stick with a sure thing, and get a prostitute! lol–oh, that may cost way more. What can I tell you? Nothing is a guarantee. Coffee dates are lame. Go bowling, or go to a nice billiards place or to a live music event that is free–at a bar, where they serve no food? $10 date limit? Gee. Perhaps put out a disclaimer–letting women know-you have a $10 budget, and that they should pay their way? Starbuck’s even serves food. What if the lady wants more than 1 cup of coffee?! lol. I understand not wanting to spend $100+ on someone you never even met. Either way you look at it–if you want to date, you either pay or end up looking very miserly and cheap…and once that occurs–women do the disappearing act. Because there is no worse plague to have other than “cheapitis”. And that goes for women too. Once I meet someone I like, I tend to treat them out, to nice places, massages, and find out what they do enjoy…like a live football game, etc. But you need to give a little–to get a little. You know?

      • Rick Says:

        Pretty much. If money is tight, which I can understand, you have to be judicious in how you spend your resources. Spend some time getting to know them and be honest in your assessment, weed out the unlikelies. You don’t have to go on a date everyone you meet to get a feel for whether or not you might click. Then you can pool your date budget for better dates.

        I don’t come at this as a “money doesn’t matter issue,” but at a realistic perspective that dating costs. I don’t make a lot of money, and I live out in the country, which means I’ll spend at least $10 in gas just to get to the date. Treat each date as a night out for yourself as much as a date. That way if it goes bad, you at least did something you enjoy. She just might, too. But unless you plan to take your date to McDonalds, it’s not going to be cheap. Nothing is anymore, and if you can’t afford it, hold off until you can or minimize the number of dates. What if you hit it off? You can’t keep up $10 dollar dates.

      • Chris Says:

        “Get a prostitute”- great idea, since they actually deliver what men want, unlike some of these gold diggers just looking for free meals.

        Here’s a clue for you- men have to show up and make themselves look presentable, too. We don’t have unlimited free time, either.

        Get over yourself!

        • Anon Says:

          Personally, I don’t understand why more men don’t visit prostitutes.  You know what you’re getting, and if you save enough, you get to sleep with the 25 year  old “10” that men like to imply is so easily obtainable at 48 when they’re balding with a paunch and increasingly weaker and less satisfying erections.

          The whole reason, I think, that there’s so much anguish in dating is that men (and women) don’t want to date within their leagues.

          A beautiful young woman isn’t going to be interested in a man her father’s age… Unless he’s super rich, or she’s super damaged.  That’s what men don’t get when they slam women for being a certain age and still single.

          A woman who takes advantage of a man does so because she thinks he’s beneath her, and wants compensation for her wasted time.  If she thought there was potential, she wouldn’t act so entitled.

          It’s actually really simple.  If you want women to treat you with consideration, don’t date too young or too pretty.  Or pay.  You decide.

          • DrivingMeNutes Says:

            Wait a second. You mean to tell me that when I turn 48, I’ll no longer have to rely on my good looks and charm to get laid but I’ll just have to reach into my wallet and shell out some cash? That is awesome.

            In all seriousness, here’s my take on your comment. ALL women (or virtually all women) regardless of their “league” expect to paid for, at least initially. As I noted in my initial comment, women as a gender have their “needs,” which must be serviced. In my experience, the difference in whether women expect to be treated in the long run has less to do with “leagues” and more to do with the education and intelligence of the women. When you date more educated, sophisticated women, there is less reliance on fairy tale gestures and more pragmatism. They just tend to contribute more in every respect. Even the really good-looking ones.

            • Anon Says:

              “When you date more educated, sophisticated women, there is less reliance on fairy tale gestures and more pragmatism. They just tend to contribute more in every respect. Even the really good-looking ones.”

              In theory, yes.  However, based on some of the hostile comments towards women who are educated, intelligent, sophisticated AND self-made, it seems like you guys don’t want them.  

              I’m not sure that an educated, sophisticated, intelligent AND non-career oriented woman exists.  Unless she has devoted all her adult life being supported by men (and expects you to pay for her), or she’s the daughter or ex-wife of a magnate or an earl.  In that case, I’m not sure she would be willing to make a contribution.

              What you’ve described is a unicorn.

              • DrivingMeNutes Says:

                Self-made? Oh, please, you didn’t build that.

                Talk about unicorns….

                • Anon Says:

                  BTW “self made” refers to the person who reached a degree of success without Daddy or a spouse’s backing, or resorting to dubious methods like sex with the boss.

                  I would call a professional (man or woman) self made if they earn a good living, have a nice home, lifestyle etc. Self-made women are around you everywhere.

                  The unicorn is expecting them somehow to be deferent to you, or downplay their achievements just to make you guys feel better.

  6. chris Says:

    coffee/tea dates are very lame. If a woman ever suggests i say let’s have a drink instead. I mean I feel like I am somewhat cheap but this guy is nuts- 10 dollars!! that was like high school in the 80’s.

    • K Says:

      Agree, coffee is lame. The one guy who suggested coffee turned out to be way older than he looked in his pics and the whole date was just uncomfortable. At least a beer or cocktail makes you feel less awkward when you have to spend an hour chatting with someone you’re not into.

      It always works best to just meet at a bar, sit at the bar, and have a drink. If there’s no chemistry, you can just say, “well, gotta go walk the dog” or whatever, reach for your purse, pay for your drink if the guy lets you, or you let him pick it up and don’t feel bad / guilty because it was just a $10 drink. But if you like each other, you can stay for another drink. A lot of times I found the guy would suggest ordering something to eat. I think they go out with the intention of having a drink, and then if the conversation is going well and they think there is potential, they will turn it into dinner.

      Seriously, this is the best way to do the first meeting, in my opinion / experience.

      • John Says:

        K- I think that scenario does work. I think the problem lies when events transpire as you describe and then the girl flakes on him or disappears in the days that follow. So the guy spent more money than originally planned because things seemed to go well and really it meant nothing. If that happens enough times, the guy will get jaded and look to keep costs low because of that frustration and waste of money.

        However, when the girl doesn’t flake and uses Moxie’s guidelines about thanking him for the date, saying she looks forward to seeing him again, etc, then you do get a good feeling feeling about the experience.

    • Eliza Says:

      Chris–I agree coffee is lame. Especially in say a Dunkin Donuts! or even Starbucks…it screams – sorry, I am cheap ladies! Not a good first impression to leave. Those places are not cozy or lend to a nice atmosphere either. Some women are not big drinkers…but I guess 1 glass of wine, or something non-alcoholic would be better than coffee. Wow — how pathetic…a man that is crying about spending more than $10 on a date.

    • Chris Says:

      Men can’t win, no matter what we do. I’ve offered to meet women for “a drink” and some of them assumed my plan was to get them drunk and take advantage of them. Of course, I said nothing about alcohol, just drinks, which could be Coke or tea or anything, and even with alcohol, one drink isn’t going to get someone drunk.

      So which is it: coffee is lame, but alcohol means there’s a sinister plot to get you drunk?

  7. India Says:

    Two simple solutions : 1) speak up or, 2) deal with it.
    If you are on a budget, say, “do you mind if we split the check?” If the woman is offended, she would love be the right fit for you anyway.
    Do expect women to guess what you are thinking.
    Either way, the simple solution is to man up. Moaning poetic does not solve anything.

  8. Craig Says:

    The real reason men should pay on the first date is simple: because women expect you to, and if you don’t you’re gonzo. Yeah it sucks and it’s unfair, but it is what it is. If you want to play the game, you gotta play by the established rules. I suppose a guy can take a stand and refuse to pay. Fine, but all that means is that the next guy will and he’ll be the one that gets the girl. Guys, do you want to be right on this issue – or do you want to get laid? I always chose the latter. So think of it as this: you pay not to please the woman, but rather to fend off competition from other men. Maybe that context makes it an easier pill to swallow.

    Frankly, I think managing to spend only $35 on a date is brilliant. My dating market was Manhattan, so I was never able to pull that off. I won’t go so far as to say that coffee shop dates are lame – but rather they are not condusive to setting a romantic mood for the reasons Moxie outlined above. To minimize costs I usually did first dates midweek after work and met for a drink at a sexy but moderately-priced lounge that didn’t offer food. You have a couple of drinks each over 2 hours and spend maybe $50. If you don’t like the chick, just have 1 drink, pay the tab, and bail. I always planned dates optimistically assuming each woman was gonna be special. I was wrong the majority of the time. So I’d simply switch to plan “B” and got out of there without being a dick. But I always paid no matter what. No harm, no foul. And ladies? Do offer to contribute to the bill. If you choose not to, suit yourself. But know that the ones who do were considered potential girlfriend material and those who didn’t were at best considered good lay material.

    • Selena Says:

      It’s this convoluted reasoning that makes dating so… fun. A woman is supposed to offer to pay for herself on a date to be considered potential girlfriend material. The man is supposed to decline her offer because he’s in competition with other men. A woman is supposed to pay her share if she doesn’t want to see the guy again so as not to “take advantage” of him.

      Woman offers to pay.
      Man declines her offer.
      Woman flakes after first date.
      Man feels taken advantage of even though he declined her offer.

      • Craig Says:

        There’s nothing convoluted about it. Most Most well-adjusted secure men don’t expect a woman to pay if she doesn’t want to see the us again, we just expect her to not run up the bill. Order one drink or whatever you’re having, decline anything further, and bail quick – we’ll get the message loud and clear. We understand that first dates are more likely to not work out than lead to something and we’re cool with that. We can live with having our time wasted for only $10 or $15. It’s only a problem when women know early on they don’t like the guy and yet order tons of food and drinks instead of simply cutting bait quickly and putting the guy out of his misery.

        • Selena Says:

          It doesn’t sound as though the women the OP has been out with were ordering tons of food and drinks if the bill for two only came to $35. And we don’t know that the women didn’t offer to pay their share when they decided not to go out with him again. We know from him he doesn’t resent paying if the first date results in a few more, only when it doesn’t. If women are expected to offer to pay for themselves regardless of whether they want to go out with the guy again or not, then the guy really doesn’t know the level of their interest. And if a man will not accept a woman’s offer to pay for herself, what is she supposed to do? Make the situation even more awkward?

        • Eliza Says:

          ok Craig–what if, date one goes well…and the lady is nice enough NOT to run the tab…and date 2 goes well, and it’s kept at a minimal/reasonable cost, and then the guy offers to take her dinner, and slowly–but surely-exhibits some behavior issues, or a negative presence/disposition, and the woman responds by losing interest, which is inevitable. You see…with dating, one puts their best foot forward initially–it’s human nature. But eventually–one can’t continue to be an oscar-award actor or actress and don that mask forever..the truth and the genuine person (good and bad) will come out. And women AND men are both entitled to change their mind based on what they see/hear and feel in terms of energy. It’s not time wasted…with dating there are no guarantees. If the guy is masking his miserable ways…eventually – after a few dates, leading to more pricey evenings, women will scatter and run for the hills. Do you blame them? If there are no emotions vested, a smart woman will bail as soon as she witnesses odd behavior. not all women are out for blood or a man’s wallet. Getting to know someone’s demeanor takes time.

          • Craig Says:

            We’re talking about first dates here. What happens on the second is beyond the scope of this thread. That said, by the second date a woman really should be contributing something if not actually treating for the whole thing. That guarantees no feelings of being used if she bails in your hypothetical. Problem solved.

          • India Says:

            Eliza’s points are completely relevant.
            Dating is a not a risk-free operation and the woman or the men may lose interest at any time. If someone constantly takes the victim stance -” these women/men are just using me”, it would be a miserable way to exist.

            • Chris Says:

              India, I don’t know if you’re a man or a woman, but it sounds like you’ve never been put in the situation you describe, so you don’t know what you’re talking about.

              • Anon Says:

                Actually, Chris, I’ve been thinking the same about India, whose comment smack of self-righteousness and inexperience.

      • M Says:

        I see where you’re coming from with this, Selena. How about this for a situation where the woman does not want to see the man again:

        Woman offers to pay.
        Man declines her offer.
        Woman insists and pays for whole date.
        Woman flakes after first date.
        Man is disappointed, but knows that this was inevitable, and doesnt feel bad because he didnt have to pay for a girl he never sees again.

        Woman does this every other time she finds herself in this situation. That way, for her, it evens out. Sucks for the guy she does not pay for, but what are you going to do?

        • Selena Says:

          How does she insist though? Does she say, “Oh please, I insist on getting this because you were so kind to invite me!” “Or does she say, “I don’t want to see you again, so I insist on paying the whole tab.” The latter is awkward don’t you think? Might get some harsh words back from the guy being that blunt. And if hypothetical woman used the former …do you really think the guy would get the message?

          • M Says:

            She says the first thing, taking the high road. It may be a lie, but its not unfair to anybody. The guy would get the message when she turns down his request for another date.

  9. John Says:

    The online dating equivalent in the wild: Male sees female and she is in heat. All of a sudden 20 other males show up. She stands back and watches them fight over her. They fight until one remains. Then not only does he get that original female, but all the neighboring ones too. The one dude gets 10 females in his harem. The other males then argue over why they lost the fight and cant mate with even one and say to themselves, “maybe I should have approached her in the pasture instead of closer to the cave.”

    Then Oprah or Sigourney Weaver narrate what just happened.

    The show was called OKDarwin.

    • Joey Giraud Says:

      Patriarchy was devised to prevent this scenario; excess men can lead to social chaos.

      But those days are thankfully gone. Time to find a new balance.

  10. nathan Says:

    This whole who pays on the first date debate is so tired, as is nearly every last justification, rationalization, etc. coming from both sides.

    So, I’ll just say that I’ve never personally had any trouble meeting and dating women – short term or long term – from coffee dates, walks in the park, and other low cost or no cost first dates.

    I also don’t live in NY, where everything dating related seems like a pressure cooker.

    To the OP – forget about the who pays debate, and all the noise in your own head about potentially wasting money. Sit down and decide what you’re comfortable with. Consider different first date locations. Money you might spend, even if you split the bill. Etc. As long as you aren’t clear about your own comfort zone, this issue will keep coming up. Get clear about what you feel good offering, and then stick with that.

    Even though some might balk at the experience I shared above, I’m almost certain it works for me because I’m clear about what I’m comfortable doing on a first date. Why? Because I can be myself, letting my confident side show from the beginning. And that, much more than whatever money is being spent or not, is what really matters.

    • K Says:

      Nathan, I understand your points, but I just don’t think a walk in the park (or similar) is a great idea for a first meeting (say from online). Walking through a park with someone you don’t know at all could feel really awkward, and there’s just not enough structure to it. Meet for a drink, and both people know what to expect. One drink and you’re out if there’s no connection, or stay for 2 drinks if you want to talk more.

      Walking in the park just feels loosy-goosy and open-ended, and then what if you do like each other – you have to have a logistical conversation about what to do next, where to go, etc. Whereas if you’re at a bar or lounge, it’s easy, just order another drink and maybe an app or something and the conversation keeps flowing. There are too many variables at play in a park.

      Now, maybe I’m not your type, and women who’d be up for a walk in a park are your type, I don’t know. I do know there was a guy on OKC who wanted to go to a park, get ice cream or something, told me to bring my dog, and I just politely declined. The whole thing didn’t feel right, and I didn’t want to deal with all the variables of timing, weather, my dog, etc. I got the sense about this guy that he just asks *everyone* out, and keeps it low/no-cost because he doesn’t try and filter who he goes out with and doesn’t want to spend money.

      • nathan Says:

        K – I’ve only done the walk in a park date a few times. And it’s not something I’ve suggested in many years, because I agree that there are too many variables.

        That really wasn’t the main point of my post. Or even of that sentence. I brought up the walk idea because it’s not the standard thing. The OP has a set pattern, and it’s not working for him. Thus, a change is in order.

      • Joey Giraud Says:

        wanted to go to a park, get ice cream or something, told me to bring my dog, and I just politely declined

        Showing him that you’re a person who expects or needs more structure and safety and perhaps isn’t comfortable with surprises.

        Choose a venue that fits who you are, and inappropriate dates may disqualify themselves.

        • K Says:

          Yeah, fair. But I think my instinct about this guy was correct. He was way over-eager and continued to argue confrontationally with me after I declined the date. And kept messaging me after that. He just struck me as a guy who doesn’t know/follow social norms, and I didn’t want to be on an open-ended date in the park with him.

          I do want more structure and safety, and part of that is a guy who understands how to behave in the dating world. There are plenty online who do.

  11. Becca Says:

    I think a simple solution is to not also get food. If you didn’t offer to get food too, they probably wouldn’t want to eat an entire sandwich in front of you.

    But like everyone else, it’s $35.

    • Denise Says:

      Whenever I’ve been on dates where there have been menus, my date and I talk about which items look good, and I always ask him what he is going to order. If he says he’s getting a drink, I order a drink.

      The menu is an easy topic of conversation, and if I were a man worried about overspending, I would either order first, or let the date know what I was ordering, so she could adjust her order accordingly.

      If she hears you’re ordering an espresso and she orders food then expects you to pay, that’s something you’ll have to weigh up against how the rest of the date went. Just don’t complain that she’s selfish later, because she’s showing you who she really is.

  12. Amy Says:

    OK so I read this guy’s questions and all the answers. It seems to me that ONLY Nathan and Trouble actually answered his questions.
    IMO, he didn’t ‘whine’ or ‘moan poetic’ or ‘refuse to spend more than $10 on a date,’ – he repeatedly found himself in a situation that wasn’t working for him and came here for some answers.
    He specifically said that he DOES pay and NEVER lets his feelings show about it when the woman orders.
    It is disappointing to me that he got judged, called cheap, misrepresented, and ridiculed.
    I think his question was legitimate and well-stated.
    Mox, you and many of your commenters sometimes seem catty, mean, and deliberately abrasive. I have a question I was thinking about asking, but I am unwilling to be the brunt of that behavior, so i haven’t asked it.

    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      It seems my only options are to object at the meal ordering (and kill the chances of a successful date), go along with it (increase the chances of a successful date like I have done) or not bring them there at all. The last option would be a shame because the place is just that good. Can you give me your thoughts on this?

      There’s his question. It was literally the ONLY QUESTION he asked in his letter, other than when he thought aloud about how maybe the presence of a menu made women think food was was option. He asked for my thoughts. I gave them to him. And my thoughts could be summed up by saying that wondering why women do this is a waste of time, as this is just how it is. I also gave him suggestions as to how to avoid this situation and told him he’s free to not pay for the woman should he not wish to see her again. So sorry it hurts your delicate sensibilities to let someone know that budgeting $10 for a date is silly and, yes, cheap. Whether or not that’s what he actually spends isn’t the point. That’s what he feels is an appropriate amount of money for a date. THAT’S his problem.

      I’ll manage to get along with out your incredibly pressing question, Amy.

    • LostSailor Says:

      Just because he never lets his feelings show doesn’t mean that he doesn’t in some way resent the women he’s dating for somehow forcing him to spend more than he intended. Sorry, but this isn’t being catty, mean, or abrasive. It’s just true.

      Here’s the OP’s question: That surprises me because when we make plans, I suggest coffee/tea and never mention food….Not expensive but certainly not the intended $10 cost I was counting upon….I wonder why many ladies feel it is OK to ask or suggest the food when the menu is brought to us when the whole point of being there in the first place was just coffee. It seems my only options are to object at the meal ordering (and kill the chances of a successful date), go along with it (increase the chances of a successful date like I have done) or not bring them there at all. The last option would be a shame because the place is just that good.

      This isn’t a legitimate question. Let’s unpack it, shall we?

      OP: Hey, let’s get together for coffee, I know this cute little place!

      Date: Sure, sounds good.

      [cut to coffeehouse]

      Date: What a cute place, this is really nice.

      OP: What kind of coffee would you like?

      Date: The latte looks good. Oh, and the have a great selection of panini!

      Now, in the OP’s mind, he’s intending that they have only coffee to keep it under his intended $10 limit. How has this been communicated to the date? She certainly has no clue about his intended limits and since he chose the place where he knows the coffees and the food are on the same menu how is she supposed to know that food is not part of the reason he took her there? Just because he only mentioned coffee and never mentioned food he thinks it’s reasonable that she intuit this. Sorry, I can’t view that as a legitimate question.

      He’s so “invested” in the idea of a $10 date that he’d consider not going to this cute venue that apparently has vibe that the ladies like just because it might cost him more.

      And, go ahead, Amy, ask away. I for one promise to be gentle…

      • Trisha Says:

        As he goes to this “cute place” so often, I am sure the management knows him. Perhaps they can design a “coffee only” menu just for him and his first dates. :)

  13. LostSailor Says:

    never take dating advice from guys who gather on the internet to trash woman and dating. The whole reason they are there is because they haven’t had much luck. Ergo, their advice is tainted and they don’t actually want you to succeed. They will use you as a soldier to carry out their desire to hurt women.

    Aw, Moxie, it’s not about “hurting” women, it’s about helping men to keep from getting burned. It’s not like this site doesn’t crack hard on the ladies when need be…

    That said, coffee dates for a first meeting are lame, he chose a venue with food so he shouldn’t be surprised when she orders some, and being cheap is not an attractive quality.

    I definitely agree with keeping a first meeting (date or not) to a reasonable cost, and I choose venues (and can offer a range of choices if she doesn’t like the first one) that meet that criteria, even if the date extends for several hours. But let’s be realistic. $35 is not an expensive date pretty much anywhere in the country, unless your idea of a perfect first date spot is Waffle House.

    I’m not going to get into the whole “why he should pay” thing since it’s been hashed to death: unfair or not, it is what it is. Suck it up and pay the tab. You’re not going to change it so don’t whine about it. If you’re lucky she’ll offer to pay (I usually decline and pay anyway).

    But I do have one piece of advice for the OP: if you still want to use this spot for first dates and you suspect that your lady will want to order, do the manly thing and preempt her. Since you’ve been there before you should know the menu well. When menus are offered, suggest sharing an appetizer-like dish and name two you’re willing to pay for. That way you can control your costs. If she opts for something more expensive, you’ve learned something about her.

    But, bottom line: stop being cheap.

    • wishing u well Says:

      “Do the manly thing and preempt her. Since you’ve been there before you should know the menu well. When menus are offered, suggest sharing an appetizer-like dish and name two you’re willing to pay for. That way you can control your costs. If she opts for something more expensive, you’ve learned something about her.”

      I couldn’t resist, I’m sorry. What, pray tell, will he learn about her when $35 is considered to be “too expensive” for him in the state of NJ? It is not cheap to live here. If the OP gets mad at her choosing not to split a $5 – $10 appetizer with him…well….he should prepare to stay single. Because she likely will miss that hint entirely and think nothing of suggesting something else more to her liking. And with such a low price point, she won’t even think it’s that big of a deal. Heck, were it a bar, she’d at least get to have her own drink!. Or get used to a ton of 1st dates without a 2nd date. Dating under $10 for 2 people takes a lot of creativity and hard work. And let’s be real – you can’t even really get 2 full meals at a fast food location for $10 anymore due to the rising costs of food. Even a small meet up at 5 GUYS will run you more than $10 for 2 people. This dude has some seriously unrealistic expectations. This cute spot should be his 2nd date option, and hopefully the potential $40 tab won’t break him….sheesh.

      • LostSailor Says:

        What, pray tell, will he learn about her when $35 is considered to be “too expensive” for him in the state of NJ?

        I was merely trying to offer something constructive. Her ordering a dip or panini is normal behavior. I was talking about a situation where a man you suggest something to share and she would respond along the lines of “I’d prefer the sauteed foie gras with sour cream and Beluga caviar. Will you be ordering anything?” What one would learn is that on a meet-up/first date that woman is likely out for the free food and drink.

        I agree that a hard ceiling of $10 for a first date is unrealistic. Which is why I prefer meeting after work for a drink as a first meeting. In NYC, just that can run as high as $15-$20 in some places. The preemption I mentioned I’ve done many times. Assuming things are going well after one or two rounds at the bar (much preferable to sitting on opposite sides of a table) and assuming the place has food, I’ll often suggest sharing an appetizer because it usually results in extending the date and another round. Unless the date is a disaster and thus ended early, I expect that first dates will cost me around $50 or so.

        You gotta buy the ticket if you want to take the ride…

        • wishing u well Says:

          Oh no, I agree with you, and I for the record, also disagree with unexpected major date upgrades that were not initiated by the one who asked the other out on the date (usually the guy). I’m just poking fun a bit due to the OP with his unbelievably unrealistic expectations of dating and decided to toss in some numbers.

        • LaRubia Says:

          There’s a plethora of nice places in my large west coast city that have TWO “Happy Hours” a day; I prefer a meet-n-greet at one of these places as the drinks are $4-6, and DECENT appetizers start at $1.95 up to $5.95 for REAL food. This way, no one loses or gets screwed. Sheesh!

    • Selena Says:

      Good points in your posts LS. Even though the OP suggests going to this restaurant for coffee/tea, it sounds like the type of place people routinely order food rather than ‘just’ coffee/tea. Since the women he’s bringing there aren’t intuiting they should only order a beverage, why does he keep bringing them there? I like your suggestion of a pre-emptive strike, picking an app or two he’s willing to pay for if he insists on taking dates to this restaurant.

      Your suggestion of the OP declining a menu with the excuse “I already ate” might get the message across to some women it’s a beverage-only date, but probably not all. Even if one doesn’t plan on ordering food, the aroma in a restaurant can make one suddenly hungry. If the OP truly doesn’t want to spend money on food out, he’d be better off taking his first dates to venues that don’t serve it.

    • Eliza Says:

      Hi LostSailor–I fully agree – it is cheap. Actually, if I, as the woman did the asking out–I would pay–for my date. If a man asks me out – and take me to some coffee house, fine…and the menu comes my way–and I see a small appetizer…why should I feel like I am walking on eggshells and not order? If spending more than $10 is going to put a huge financial crisis into a man OR woman’s budget–don’t date–that simple. Or tell a woman outright–“Listen, I am on a tight budget–can only spend $10″ and see who does the Houdini act! seriously. Again, I fully understand how spending $80-$100 on a stranger is unreasonable. But spluring on a panini or small salad? Then take the date to Starbucks–and express to her that you have a limit of 1-2 coffees ONLY. Geez.

      The point Moxie was making about not taking advice from wounded men, is that you will not get sound/objective advice from men who are tainted. Similar to women taking advice from women who have been dumped or ill-treated. You need to take advice from someone who can see both sides of the coin, and be objective, and tell you “hey, you are not approaching this in a positive way”…or “hey, you did everything right, just encountered the wrong person”….that happens to all of us. There are no guarantees. Bad things do happen to good people. It’s called life.

      The point is, if you are going to nickel and dime everything about dating…you are going to be miserable, and not enjoy the process…and that in itself is going to create a negative presence about you. Women want to be around men who are positive, and they also want to be around men who “Like women in general”. Not around someone that is so tainted, they second guess every move, or believe every woman out there has an underlying motive. In general, men operate the same way. They want to be around a woman with a positive energy who is relaxed.

      How can anyone be relaxed…when they are so focused and concerned and biting their nails- when a lady goes to order a small appetizer?! really.

  14. Diana Says:

    I don’t agree with women who expect the man to pick up the tab every time. But if you ask a girl out on a first date, for coffee or whatever, you should expect to pay. When I was in the dating realm, I ALWAYS offered to pay. Rarely would the man accept, but I think it was appreciated.

    When the wait staff offers you a menu, you could say, no, thank you. I already ate. Chances are she won’t want to eat either. Then if the date is going well and you do get hungry, take if from there. You could always go somewhere else for adult beverages.

  15. Kristen Says:

    My last round with online dating resulted in a handful of day-time meetings, and I know from now on, I’m not going to do that. I’ll kindly decline (not try to “upgrade”). Nothing comes of them. I have only had one day-time meeting that resulted in subsequent dates, and the reason it was during the day was because we went to a sports bar to watch football. I’m also the type of person to oblige myself to pay for the least the tip if the person I’m with refuses splitting the bill.

    Anyway, my point being that I don’t think the coffee date is a good way to meet people. I’ve never met anyone at a coffee shop “organically”, so I don’t know why it would be a good place to meet someone offline (for me).

  16. myself Says:

    I’m not much of a drinker. Put me on a date in a bar, one drink, I’m done. I’m also not fond of drunk idiots, so a bar was always likely to frustrate me & put me in a terrible mood.

    I’m also the type who is paying for myself, only rarely have I let someone pay for me. I liked a coffee date as a first date, sorry….but then again, I am no Manhattanite…..note do I feel the need to be impressed, I can remember telling my current friend I didn’t need to be bought in order to like him.

  17. Trouble Says:

    The thing about the “first dates” that the OP is describing is that they aren’t really first dates. They’re first meetings. A first date is an outing with a person you already know you like with the hope of future romance. A first meeting doesn’t rise to the date threshold, in my book, because you don’t have any idea whether you actually will like that person when you meet them, or not. And, I’d guess that the success ratio isn’t that high, either. I’ll be honest, probably half of the time when I met someone from an online dating site face to face, I wasn’t attracted to that person or interested in dating him. I would say that about half of the men who met me felt the same way.

    For that reason, I think daytime/cheap is the best way to go. First, online dating is a number’s game. You’ve got to get out there and meet 2-3 people in order to find someone worth having a first date with (in my experience). So, that means a lot of first-time meetings just to find someone you’d like to go on a date with.

    When I was dating online, I was meeting 2-3 men a week. That could quickly add up to a major expense for most men ($4-500 per month) if they are employing the same strategy and meeting 2 or 3 women a week. Not all guys are attorneys, so while this option may have worked great for Craig, it seems like a major financial commitment to me.

    A coffee “date” may be lame, but until you know if there is going to be potential and chemistry, why spend a lot of money? Sell it as a casual meet & greet: “You seem great, let’s get coffee and see if we feel the same way when we’re face to face.” I think anyone who’s met online can acknowledge the obvious: Some people are very nice, but when you meet them face to face, you aren’t going to feel a shred of attraction for them. For that reason, I think it’s fine to start with something cheap, and work your way into a dinner date later on down the road. Personally, I lke coffee and lunch because you have an excuse for ducking out in 45 minutes or so if there’s no attraction. Meeting for a beer and a football game is a similarly cheap option, but then you’re stuck for the 3 hours the game will be on without a polite excuse to leave (been there, done that). I live in the south, so I’m also a fan of a hole in the wall oyster bar with cheap beer. And then you can see if the man is squeamish about eating oysters, to boot. ;)

    My husband and I met for lunch on our first meeting, at a nice restaurant, and then we split the tab. I think it cost each of us around $15. That seems reasonable to me, but then, many women aren’t willing to split the tab, and find it offensive to be asked. Truthfully, I kind of feel sorry for men at this point. I can see why some of them have gotten fairly jaded about the process.

    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      To me, there is no relevant distinction between a “first meeting” and a “first date.” The problem that I have with the distinction is that it assumes that “mutual attraction” is something entirely external that is “discovered” rather than, at least in part, something that must be “created.” With EFFORT. That’s why, to me, venue is so important, as is a willingness to play the game and part with cash. (Not really sure I’ve found a more productive use of money anyway.). You have to create an environment where attraction will form and grow. Go ahead and make it look effortless, if you can. But, actual investment and some risk-taking- even on a first meeting, is always required. In other words, stop with the coffee dates.

      • Selena Says:

        It seems like the OP did find a place with ambiance conducive to building attraction. He just wishes his dates would stick to coffee.

    • Craig Says:

      When I was dating online, I was meeting 2-3 men a week. That could quickly add up to a major expense for most men ($4-500 per month) if they are employing the same strategy and meeting 2 or 3 women a week. Not all guys are attorneys, so while this option may have worked great for Craig, it seems like a major financial commitment to me.

      That is how much action women get perhaps, but most men do not get enough responses to date 2-3 different women a week. Most of us would be ecstatic to see that much activity in a month, never mind a week. Second, you’ll find few NYC attorneys who have the time or energy to date 2-3 different women a week, so no, that option wouldn’t work for Craig. Lastly, if you’re dating in NYC, $400 – $500 a month is what it’s gonna cost to date just one woman no matter what you do for a living. The average cab ride is $10-$15 a pop – you drop $80-$100 a month on that alone, because taking a date on the subway is a huge no-no. You have to get your head around the concept that living here is a major financial commitment no matter what you’re doing.

      My husband and I met for lunch on our first meeting, at a nice restaurant, and then we split the tab. I think it cost each of us around $15. That seems reasonable to me, but then, many women aren’t willing to split the tab, and find it offensive to be asked. Truthfully, I kind of feel sorry for men at this point. I can see why some of them have gotten fairly jaded about the process.

      In a perfect world that’s how it would work, but alas the world is not perfect. Many women are indeed unwilling to split the tab and find it offensive to be asked. Knowing this, us men will play the game women would have us play – to a point. Why? Not because we’re giving in to women. Rather, because if we don’t pay, the next guy will. It’s like competing for real estate with multiple bidders – go in fast and go in with your best offer. That’s the reality of big city dating.

      • Trouble Says:

        You’ve simultaneously made me grateful to be both married and southern. Gratz. :)

        • Craig Says:

          Trouble my dear, there’s a reason why they say “If you can make it here, you can make anywhere”. I wouldn’t have it any other way, nor would I wish to live anywhere else.

  18. D. Says:

    Bottom line:

    When you’re picking the place, bear in mind the FULL menu. If the place has food, be prepared to pay for it. If you aren’t, find another spot with no food.

    My attitude is that if I pick the place, then I’m on the hook for the max possible realistic menu selection. If the place has a filet mignon dish for $50, I go into that place understanding that I could end up paying for that.

    Now, obviously, there are some extremes that I wouldn’t countenance, and which I expect nobody would. Social graces require that, when you’re invited out as someone’s guest, you don’t order the $200 bottle of wine (if the “host” wants to order it, that’s fine, but you as the “guest” don’t take that initiative).

    But this is also why I like picking the place, and don’t do the whole “So where do you want to go?” thing. When I pick, I know what I’m potentially in for. I know what I average if it’s a place I’ve been to multiple times, and I know what the max I could end up paying is. I accept all of that. It’s why I picked the place.

    And if I go with a girl and she ends up going way out of line, then yeah, I agree with Moxie — slide the check her way. Hell, most of the time, the women I go out with at least have the courtesy to do the “Check dance” and reach for a wallet. At that point, if I want to pay, I will. If not, I won’t.

    As a side note, I offer the following:

    If your attitude about online dating is that it’s such a crapshoot, then perhaps you need a better filter in who you ask out on a date in the first place. When I was doing online dating, I started off willing to go out with a wider variety of people…until I had enough lousy experiences that I started focusing more on what I was looking for. When I did that, I usually (not always) had more successful dates where I didn’t mind paying a bit more because I already knew I was interested.

    I guess I just approached online dating differently. I appreciated sites where people can (and do) put down more information so I could find out more about them than just “She’s hot…and likes the same bands.” Based on that additional information, plus some emails exchanged, and a phone call usually, I could figure out if I wanted to spend another couple hours with someone, getting to know them better over dinner. My “initial meeting/non-date” was the phone call. The date was usually dinner at a place I picked, where, again, I knew the price range and was cool with it.

    Lastly, $10 is DIRT cheap if you live in a metropolitan area (which, maybe you don’t). $35 is dirt cheap, actually. Regardless, whatever your price limit is, it sounds like you want to keep costs low initially because of the potential for a “bad investment.” Therefore, it sounds to me like the issue is one of risk/reward. If that’s the case, maybe skip the coffee date and just chat on the phone a bit. If you can’t tell whether you would be happy to spend a couple hours with the woman over dinner after that….maybe you should just keep looking. This way, you could skip a whole bunch of lame $10 – $30 dates, and (hopefully) have better ACTUAL dates at whatever price range you think is appropriate. Just remember to take the WHOLE menu into account (reasonably speaking, of course).

    • just me Says:

      The OP could also try meeting during the afternoon (3 PM??) on a weekend.
      I think it’s hard to expect someone NOT to want to eat something if you are asking them out during “prime time” (e.g., 6 or 7 PM on weeknight, when it’s likely that they are coming straight from work and have not had time to eat anything).

  19. The D-man Says:

    I agree with Moxie’s advice overall. I always pay even when I’m not interested in pursuing it further. You can rail against the injustice of it all or just accept it as a cost of being on the market.

    If I do pursue more dates, the woman almost always insists on paying at least part of future dates.

    That said, I did date a woman for a while who never offered. We were semi-serious — I even took her to a very expensive restaurant for her birthday, at her request.

    I didn’t resent her for not at least offering on occasion, but it did make me wonder. She had recently divorced a guy who was flat broke for the entirety of their marriage. So maybe she felt like she was owed this, or at least wanted to see how the other half lives.

  20. Eliza Says:

    To D-Man–I personally know of some women who have this sense of entiltlement – that they should “never” pay. I don’t agree with that. For the first date–yes, if a man is the initiator–and picking the place, I feel he should offer to pay, it can be a cute comfortable spot., However, if I am going to be super uncomfortable, and be told “you can only order 1 drink” or keep your tab under $10….” sure–it’s not appealing. After some time, it’s nice to treat a man, it doesn’t have to be dinner, it can be to billiards, a concert, or sporting event…within one’s financial reach. When you like someone, you want to treat them every now and then.

    • LostSailor Says:

      Any guy who starts a date telling a woman she can only order 1 drink or keep her tab under $10 deserves to enjoy a life of grinding celibacy and abject loneliness and misery. Just sayin’…

  21. joe-f Says:

    Go to the park or do something free like museums on certain days. If you can’t afford $35 dates, you can’t afford to keep someone who enjoys eating out. You need to find someone as cost conscious as you. It is really weird to invite someone to a place with food and expect them not to order food or to split the check.

    I always paid-$10 or $100. I enjoy meeting new people and chalk it up as a gathering between friends with a chance for love. With that said, any girl who offers to pay her share or pay for dessert will get far more consideration for a second date.

  22. offensivedan Says:

    Ok, this is offensivedan’s take on this subject:

    1) OP you are cheap and this is why you are not succeeding in dating. You should expect to pay up to $40.00 for a first meet. Maybe $50.00. It’s bad that you are 43 years old and like this. If you don’t want to spend the $ then don’t date. Hoard it and enjoy with your left hand. I have a friend like and he is totally alone.

    2) OP I suspect you have no game or good, dating personality. I’m not saying everytime–but, if a woman thinks you are cool she will forget about ordering food and how much you spend. It’s all about making her feel she had a great time.

    3) The places you are taking these women sucks. You see, it’s not so much how much you spend, but the surroundings and ambience of the place you take these women. I have this go-to-place that I always take my first dates and it always leads to second dates with minimal effort and money. And my dates always comment how they love these places I take them to. Why? Because they are trendy and upscale and because its a new place. Most women like that.

    4) Coffee dates are a waste of time. Most women, if not all, hate coffee shop dates and know that it’s your way of being cheap. You should slap your self in the face for doing this.

    5) You can’t win everytime; You will get played at times. However, you can spot most of these broads that are just looking for a free meal. In fact, I told one, recently, she is a gold digger. She said no, but she is. On another recent date, a girl told me she wanted to be fed and I said no and told her why. I ended up taking her home that night. In any event, we all get played at some point.

    6) If you don’t want to buy them dinner then say so. I tell my online dates that I don’t buy dinner on the first date. And I tell them b/c this is just a first meet up. Most of them understand and don’t have a problem with it. If they do, I next them.

    7) Say some girl makes you spend $ on her and she clearly was using you. Well, make her pay by kissing her and, if she lets you, copping a feel. That shows them you are an alpha male and should not be made to look a fool. In fact, on any date–even the first date–you should go in for a kiss.

    • Jeff Says:

      Is date rape a concept you are familiar with?

    • John Says:

      Offensive Dan,
      In regards to your comment #1
      “,Ok, this is offensivedan’s take on this subject:

      1) OP you are cheap and this is why you are not succeeding in dating. You should expect to pay up to $40.00 for a first meet. Maybe $50.00. It’s bad that you are 43 years old and like this. If you don’t want to spend the $ then don’t date. Hoard it and enjoy with your left hand. I have a friend like and he is totally alone. ”

      Maybe you should change your name to ContradictoryDan or IChangeMyTuneToAgreeWithEveryoneElseDan.

      Because here is what I stumbled across when reading older articles from Moxie’s site:

      offensivedan says:
      December 8, 2011 at 2:42 pm
      Ha, WO7 is back. I still recall his legendary duel with Moxie on here that went on for days.

      Anyway, WO7 forget it. Women believe they have the right to behave anyway they want–again, entitlement. Most women will do the fade out and not even bother to thank you for the dinner or drinks.They assume it is part of the deal for them coming out to spend some time with you. That’s why I spend nothing on women nowadays. Last night I went out with some lady and I spent $4.00 on her.

      • offensivedan Says:

        Wow, you actually trolled thorugh all my old comments? I did not know you were such a fan or stalker. Or you must have too much time on your hands.

        • John Says:

          Moxie has random articles that appear on her home page. SO I clicked on one of them and was reading the comments. It wasnt stalking. It was just happening on that article which is
          randomly generated and then seeing your gem. You actually comment a lot. More than most. SO who is the one with the free time?

          Of course that is what you would focus on though. Of course all your comments now lack
          credibility though.

          • offensivedan Says:

            Stalker John, great excuse which holds no water. So– you happened to randomly come across this article with my prior comment which, coincidentally, related to to my present post.

            John, what’s with your suppressed anger at my comments? I must have stolen your one and only ex-girlfriend.

            • John Says:

              WHen you click on one of Moxie’s articles, there are also other suggested readings. I am sure she can vouch that her website is set up that way. And since I have been following this thread since it has so many comments on it and wanted to see what all the hoopla was about, I clicked on one of the random articles when there was a lull.

              As I was reading the comments on THAT article and had just read your comments on this one, it was easy to see the contradiction. So it was pure coincidence that the random article with your comment appeared around the same time I was going through the comments on this article. Again, I am sure Moxie can verify that those articles are randomly generated.

  23. D'Alias Says:

    OP, I’m sure you THoMK you don’t let your feelings show about paying for food. But, I imagine you are probably transparent about it. I’m really not going to trust the assessment of social cues of somebody who thinks they should spend 10.00 on a date. That’s really pathetic. I’m sorry, but it is. All I can think of is what a loser you must be IRL. I’m chuckling as I read this. I know it’s mean, and don’t want I hurt your feelings but I just want to let you know how you come across to many well adjusted women. Haha.

    Honestly, I bet your cheapness has turned off a number of fine women who have might have been interested in you. Being stingy isn’t just about money you know. It’s a personality indicator. My gripe with guys like you is the sense of entitlement. Who told you every meeting was supposed to financially pay off for you? Who told you that you’re entitled to a “good deal” every time you step out the door? It shows a limited understanding of the human condition. There are NO guarantees with people – ever! We aren’t machines – you’re seriously whining about not gettin your way over something as trivial as a panini? It reeks of arrogance.

    PS – I’m def not a woman who thinks a guy must always pay, wants fancy things, has any sort of gold digger mentality, etc. I’ve been on cheap dates, free dates, two hundred dollar dates, etc. Cheap is a state of mind. A man who won’t share what he has with you is a cheapskate and a lousy partner, whether it’s five dollars or a few hundred thousand.

    • Lynns Says:

      Agreed – Cheap is a state of mind, and a cheapskate who will be greedy/stingy regardless of the item or dollars involved, is no fun to be around. He’ll be stingy in the shower, he’ll be stingy with the food in the fridge if you were ever a couple, he’ll be stingy towards others such as family/gifts and waitstaff/public, and he’ll probably even be stingy in bed. It stems from a general underlying sense of greed and lack. Holding on to what he’s got, for fear of his lack of ability to find or earn ‘more.’

      Back to the bigger topic of this thread: coffee dates suck, a “pre-date” is a sad unromantic idea, and a lot of these issues are going to be unsolvable until people are willing to be open and transparent about their income level. If you seriously do not have the money to pay for a pastry with her coffee, much less a $35 tab, then you need to state out-right that is out of your budget. You should try using your creativity, charm or humor to initiate a date that works for you and does not put you in a financial bind. In fact, you may as well say that your budget for the date is zero, and you prefer to meet at a bookstore or newsstand to walk and talk for a while, without spending any money. There is no point in pretending that your regular budget is beyond what it is; that will only lead you to frustration down the road.

      • offensivedan Says:

        Yep, greediness and cheapness are no fun. I can tell you, if that;s how you approach life, you will live a lonely life.

        I had a friend we called “cheapapottamus”–the cheapest man in the Southeast. He was stingy all around. If you rode with him in his car during a southern, hot day he would have the a/c off and you would have to request him to put it on. He would resond by saying the lack of a/c will accustom you the heat when you get out. Of course, when he rode in my car he would wave his hand infront of the a/c vent to signify he was not getting enough heat.

        In any event, we woul rip him mercilessly for being cheap. His own dad called him cheap, too. To make a long story short, we are no longer friends or speak to one another. I felt bad b/c we had been friends for more than twenty years but enough was enough.

        Last I heard, he asked my friend at lunch how he knows so many people. Umm, socializing and not being cheap.

        • Eliza Says:

          OffensiveDan–you see, cheapness transcends to all aspects of one’s personality–as has been stated by someone else. If a man OR woman is “cheap” with their money, and nickel and dimes everything…they wlil be cheap with their home, their attention, their love, in the bedroom. A cheap person doesn’t give to just “give”–they usually seek a return on their actions. And people like that usually end up very lonely, alone in a nursing home! lol. They also can’t maintain friendships usually. Because in general, it’s a very unappealing quality to have – “being cheap”. It’s the kiss of death for anyone in the dating arena too. Don’t be cheap with your money, yourself, your affeciton or your time. That simple. If you are in a bad financial situation, you are better off not dating than coming across cheap. Handle your finances, get them in order, and then focus on dating once you have all in control.

          • offensivedan Says:

            Eliza, I agree. My ex-friend is a taker. He doesn’t necessarily seek a reurn on what he gives because he gives reltively nothing. What he seeks is other avenues, whether through a person or something else, so that he will not have to spend his own $. His home looks like noone lives there–it is spartan and completely lacking in warmth,

            Also, he gets rides with other people to minimize paying for gas for his own car. NAd then he will tell you how he is looking to buy a second home. Complete d-bag.

  24. Steve From the City Next Door Says:

    I must live in a really different world. I can not think of a place that services coffee or beer and does not serve food — even the drive throughs had pre-made stuff.

    I am thinking inviting for a drink means you are still paying drink and food. And where I have lived that generally means a dive or fancy place – most women aren’t interested in the dive for a first date and the fancy place is going to be rather expensive.–2x$15 (drink + tip) + $20 or so for a tiny bit of food.

    Where the coffee date became important (for me) was screening out all the women who had just plain lied in their profiles…which initially was a high percentage. Almost all the coffee dates I asked to meet again agreed to.

    The one that really gets me i– these were like 3rd dates — s years ago I took some Japanese classes as the instructor took us to this great restaurant. I took 3 dates there on different occasions. The menu was mostly $13-15 with some less and some combo’s for $18, then there was the Sushi Sampler at $25, and then special Sampler – the impress me Sushi Maker – at $55-$60 – quantity wise it was not much bigger that the $25 but was more expensive fish, etc. All 3 dates ordered the most expensive item. Nobody from the class ever ordered it. The last one had an embarrassing slip during the drive to later to the next event – I said something like how I liked to take to people to new places – she said actually she had been there several times before, the weekend before. I said Oh, well I hoped she liked it. She responded oh yes, and it was the first time she had the sushi there which she had always wanted to but then thought it was….too…expensive. It trailed off like she was realizing what she was saying.

    • cb Says:

      Wow, I’m fascinated by the women that order the $50 dish. I tend to be more conservative what I order when a date might pay vs out on my own dime. I reign it in especially if my date doesn’t order in a similar price range to what I may order out on my own.

      It may be time to start looking at trends in the women you choose to date.

      • Selena Says:

        I was taught at an early age it is rude to order the most expensive item on a menu when you are someone’s guest. You order modestly, or in the same price range the host does.

        Did the women ordering the most expensive sushi entrees offer to pay for it when the check came? Perhaps they ordered the pricey option expecting to pay for it themselves. If you turned down their offer, why are you complaining? Seems you would be better off following D’s advice of being prepared to pay for the most expensive option on the menu if you aren’t going to split the bill.

        • wishing u well Says:

          “I was taught at an early age it is rude to order the most expensive item on a menu when you are someone’s guest. You order modestly, or in the same price range the host does.”

          THIS. Exactly.

          • Steve From the City Next Door Says:

            I wish I could find some meaningful trend. I only found to results that appeared meaningful…Women employed in STEM type work showed almost zero chance of showing this behavior (unfortunately there were very few of them) and teachers were almost 100% showing the behavior. I have even hired dating coaches to try and help and none of them did…and on two different occasions I had the coach do the picking and I always got similar results.

            One clue a female friend gave me right before I moved…She said I smelled of money. I asked what she meant and she noted that night I had nice plain T-shirt on probably $25 at Macy’s rather than $5 Kmart special or one of the douche bag one’s like John Gosselin. (quote best I can remember it)

            • wishing u well Says:

              I’m not sure what the trend would be either. My parents were older when they had me, and I’m the oldest. So I was raised with a lot of traditional values that I found stifling when I was young but appreciate now that I am an adult. It would be tough as you see your friends and classmates with younger parents with a more “current” life view allowed to behave differently, but I would not carry myself the way I do now had it not been for my upbringing. It may not have been perfect but I am eternally grateful for it.
              As far as careers within the realm of STEM are concerned: I came extremely close. My original choice of a college major was mathematics, but my mother, who is a retired teacher, pushed heavily for education. So I buckled under the pressure, but it was not the best decision. I am now happily employed in supply chain away from education, and I now work with a lot of engineers (go figure).

    • Denise Says:

      Steve, I really like the idea of putting down your share of the check and sliding the check over to her if she orders the most expensive item on the menu. Women who burn men on dates make it difficult for all the other genuine women out there who are looking for a partner.

      • Eliza Says:

        Denise–I fully agree. It’s inappropriate for women to behave like that. I know of some women, that go out with their girlfriends–and are miserly–they want to get separate checks – even if the meals differentiate by $1.00! and they don’t order an appetizer or a glass of wine…EVEN THOUGH they may want to – why? to save. yet when they go on dates–they will order that wine, appetizer AND dessert…and then take a doggy bag back home – for lunch the next day!!!! no joke. I am sure some men have done this too. They will order the most expensive thing on the menu without regard to the person treating. It’s in poor taste. And scream cheap and inconsiderate. Nothing wrong with sliding the check over to this type of gold digger.

  25. cb Says:

    A first meet is not a first date and I do not expect the man to pay. I’ll offer to pay my share of the bill whether I am interested in seeing the man again or not. If I do want to see him again and he declines my offer to share the tab then I will generally agree or offer to tip.

    If I am not interested in seeing him again then I will will be quite firm about paying my share. I follow the man’s lead on the situation above. If he says coffee then that is what I plan for. If we get there and he mentions the great food and indicates wanting to eat then I will follow suit.

    Moxie is spot on about the men that try and date out of their league and then feel cheated when the women they wine and dine don’t end up being interested. There’s too many people that cry victim and don’t see how their choices are creating these situations.

    • Steve Says:

      How is the women out of a guy’s league if she agrees to wine and dine with him? If she was so much out of his league, she wouldn’t have met him in the first place.

      • cb Says:

        There are some women that are out for a free meal and will date men they aren’t really interested in. They feel entitled just by gracing theman with their presence. If I were a man…these are the women I would avoid. There are men that chase this kind of women and don’t seem to understand why it isn’t working out for them.

  26. SB Says:

    The OP’s conundrum surprises me because when I was doing online dating, I always assumed that the first meeting (always a coffee date in my age group) was an unspoken pay-our-own-way. I mean, one cup of coffee is less than $5; not a big deal if I have to pay my own.

    I had a first date with someone I met offline at a bar. Since I don’t drink, I think I ordered a water (sometimes I’ll get a diet coke). Easy, cheap, I expect to pay. He ended up upgrading to splitting food, but that was at his suggestion. I am always aware of a first-date money situation, aware that I believe I am expected to pay (for one drink!) and would feel quite awkward standing there expecting him to get my drink for me.

    OP, to solve this easily and tactfully, when the menus arrive, decline. “Oh no, we aren’t getting food; we will just be getting coffee.” or something to that extent. Speak for her as well, and if she speaks up that she is actually hungry – understandable if it is that time or after work – then it will be clear to her that she is expected to pay. As a woman, I appreciate that kind of clarity, because knowing a man’s limits or expectations of you is always hard, too. I have some guy friends who judge a woman who doesn’t eat, thinking she is too prissy or has food issues, etc., and so ordering food would actually be a plus to them. Go figure; we are being judged, too.

    Did I use enough parentheses this post? yeesh! Anyway, good luck OP.

  27. Trouble Says:

    I find it interesting that a lot of so-called feminist women would attempt to shame a man for not following traditional social values in dating. I bet many of the women engaging in the shaming actually earn as much or more than the man they’re castigating for being “cheap.”

    The evolution of our society is so weird. In all other regards, men are supposed to treat us like it’s 2012. But, when we go on a date, and the check is delivered to the table, everything should revert to 1950.

    Bizarre. At what point do you think women will start assuming financial responsibility for our romantic lives?

    This thread could easily have been entitled: “The real reason women should offer to split the check on the first date, and mean it.”

    • wishing u well Says:

      Well, that’s assuming that most of the women who posted here identify themselves as being feminist. I for one, never have identified myself in such a way. My personal views are a hybrid of the old and the new, and frankly, 2012 isn’t exactly the best when it comes to the treatment of the opposite sex in dating from either party. For me – sometimes I choose to chip in and sometimes I do not in the beginning. As the relationship organically evolves, the men I have dated will tell you that I have no problem with putting my weight in the team of “us” that is being built. In addition, I have dated quite a few men who have viewed it as an insult to their manhood if I even try to chip in. One actually said to me “Oh, I see that you’re one of those new ‘independent’ women.”

      I like to see a person’s attitude when it comes to giving with the chance of no return. I’m a fairly generous person, and I love to spoil my friends, family, and significant other within my means. If you give, you give. Don’t look for a return and bank on it as if it’s a debt to be called in. Therefore, if I see or even sense a man who asked me out and picked the venue clench his teeth about a check for 2 people that is less than $35? That leads me to conclue that either the man is cheap or the man is financially struggling, dating beyond his means…neither of which are good lasting first impressions for the meet and greet. And Moxie’s right – I am among the women who would gladly chip in and promptly fade out afterwards. This way I dont “owe” the guy anything. I’ve tried going along for the ride, and I’ve found that these types of guys tend to treat the relationship on a whole (if it gets that far) as a series of accounts receivables / accounts payables transactions. This is tiring and at no point are you really appreciated for who you are as a person. So call me what you will, but I will continue to do what works for me…

      • Eliza Says:

        I agree with Wishinguwell…you give voluntarily – because you want to – and because it makes you feel great. When I like someone, I want to treat them out. And not because I expect “something” back. Once it becomes a tat for tat situation, the romance goes out the window.

    • Selena Says:

      Women expect men to pay the check because it is usually HE who does the inviting. HE who asks for the company and their time. HE who chooses the venue, the activity and therefore the potential cost. “Treating” is a way of saying “Thank you for joining me.” The woman didn’t HAVE to join him, she could have turned down the invitation. If one doesn’t want to spend money on another person, they can surely go out alone, or stay home and watch tv. As true in 2012 as it was in 1950.

      • India Says:

        So if you grace your time and presence On a man, he needs to pay up? This line of thinking is dangerously close to being an escort to me.
        When I invite a friend to dinner, friends do not expect me to pay the entire bill. We are enjoying each other’s company.
        When I say yes to date, I do not automatically assume the man should pay. He is giving me his time and attention as well.

        • Selena Says:

          But did you ask him India? Did you determine the activity and venue? (And therefore the potential cost) Why should he have to pay if you did? What if you wanted to go to Chez Pricee and that was beyond his budget? Do you expect him to pay his “share” anyway? And you’ve never treated friends when you asked them to join you doing something you want to do either? Ever?

          • nathan Says:

            The ask always comes up in these discussions. And as usual, it’s treated as if it’s something that happens on a fairly even basis, when we all know that men do at least 90% of the asking, and are still, in 2012, expected to do so.

            Secondly, I continue to think that given the nature of online dating – particularly that we are almost always two total strangers meeting up – means some of the old rules need to be revised or tossed all together.

            Expecting a total stranger to pay your dinner just because he’s a man is kind of ridiculous, don’t you think? A lot of us guys do it because we know many women expect it, but people seem to forget, or never stop to think, that the context of “traditional” dating was/is usually different in many ways. Sure, strangers meet each other in public places and go on dates, but that’s the minority. The majority of the time, though, you have some connection with the other person before any asking occurs. The person might even be someone who you’ve known for a while, and/or is close to someone you are close to. It makes more sense in such a context to apply rules like the asker pays, or pays more.

            Whereas with online dating, you have some guy writing a woman he’s never met before an e-mail saying let’s get a drink at X or dinner at Y. Or some guy doing the same thing over the phone. What’s so special about that in 2012, when most of us are making enough money to pay our way?

            In my opinion, there’s nothing special about it. It’s not a kind gesture. It’s an invitation made usually with minimal effort and from a place of zero social connection. Trying to apply the rules of other social situations, even the similar first date with someone who you have met in your social circles, just doesn’t fly with me.

            I continue to think the OP just needs to decide what he’s comfortable with, and then let the chips fall as they may.

          • India Says:

            If you think men are obligared to pay for your time and attention, you are little to no different from an escort. It is as simple that.

            • Selena Says:

              Nope. Men aren’t obligated to do anything. They aren’t obligated to ask for dates. They aren’t obligated to pay for their date either. Women aren’t obligated to accept dates. The concept of asking and treating is standard etiquette. Good manners. Many of us do it with anyone – family, friends – whenever we wish the pleasure of their company doing what we want to do.

              Escort services are just that – they provide a service for a fee between strangers. They fact you don’t see a difference between the two says more about you and than about me.

              • India Says:

                Dates are between strangers. There is no long standing relationship between the parties in most cases. If a woman demand and expects the man to pay for her time, explain to me how this is different from running an escort service?

                • Selena Says:

                  On a date a woman ISN’T demanding or expecting a man to PAY for her time. Typically, he has interested her enough for her to want to spend time with him – that’s why she accepts his date – his choice of activity, his choice of venue.

                  Escort services have set fees for the employee’s time and what that employee will do and not do, where they will go and not go. Anything “Extra” is negotiated between the employee and the client, and considered beyond the scope of the service. That’s why escort services are legal. Sex, if there is sex, is negotiated between the two parties and not part of the service offered.

                  I’ve never known any woman tell a potential date he must pay her $$$ an hour for her time – have you?

                  India, if splitting everything EvenSteven whenever you go out with another person works for you…why the agitation when it comes to standard etiquette? Or is the agitation because it doesn’t acheive your desired results? If you insist on splitting the tab every time you are on a date, it’s possible you may be sending the message to some men you don’t want to see them again. Consider that.

                • Dater Says:

                  You are absolutely correct!

                  A man should ALWAYS insist in splitting the bill.

                  If ALL men start splitting the bill collectively, then this form of gender subsidy can finally be ended!

  28. Naked Girl in a Dress Says:

    I have had it go both ways–guys who said “just drinks” and we stuck to it and others who said that and then reached for the dinner menu once we were together. In both instances I stayed with the pre-arranged plan; I ordered drinks only.

    I had to scroll up to double check the profile of the guy when I read his $10 rule. He’s in his 40’s! That’s just crazy. With syrup and soy milk, a venti Starbucks drink can be over $5. I don’t know how he can even get out of there for $10.

    My standard first date rule is to offer to split the bill. I see it as a chance to both get to know each other, which might mean one or both of us agree we aren’t interested in pursuing a romantic relationship. Why should he pay because of that? Rarely does a guy let me split the bill, but I make a genuine effort to do so.

    Great post!

    • Chris Says:

      If the man takes you up on your offer to split the bill, do you still see him again?

      I’ve often felt that an offer like that was either a signal the woman wasn’t interested in going further or a trap where if you accept it, she thinks there’s something wrong with him.

      Assuming you’re genuinely offering to split the bill with no hidden intentions, I applaud you. This is how it should be anyway- when I hang out with my friends, they don’t expect me to pay their way just to get to spend time with them, and if they did, they wouldn’t be real friends.

  29. mark Says:

    I think Moxie offered some great advice on this one.

    OP: It sounds like you found a nice hole in the wall type of place that makes people feel comfortable. Great. You go for a coffee style meet and greet-great. When this place then has someone offer a menu and the person sitting opposite you says this looks interesting and decides to order a small something…well, what did you expect?

    If that really is a sticking point with you with the escalating cost then either:

    1) Choose a Starbucks or similar place that only offers coffee or a one quick drink.

    2) Speak to the wait staff before hand and simply say that this is for only coffee so they won’t bring a menu (but toss in some cash for them so you don’t look like a total miser). After all, they are in business.

    Dating is expensive, or it least it can be.

    • Chris Says:

      The issue is not that she wanted to order something, but that she expects him to pay for it. Why the sense of entitlement?

      • mark Says:

        Fair point so let’s look at it:

        She was issued an invitation to a coffee style place and accepted. things seemed to be going well at at a point in time a menu of items was offered of nominal items was offered.

        She accepted and ordered. If it was the most expensive item on the list then sham on her. If not, hush up and enjoy her company.

        Sorry, I really can’t in any way shape or form see this as entitlement. All I’ll say if that the style you propose is working for you then great. Stick with it. If not, then reconsider how you are going about things.

        Success breeds success and failure doesn’t. In the OP’s case he seems always to fall short. What would you suggest?

  30. Steve From the City Next Door Says:

    I think I may have figured out a major source of the problem. People don’t know have a second source of information initially about the person they are dating, hence people are not responsible for their actions. For example, in High School one girl was in high demand and she bleed some sucker dry, word got around quick and suddenly she couldn’t get a date. Now in the Adult world, word doesn’t tend to get around unless it is really major. When asking for a first date, all I know is what she has told or written in her profile…people I know don’t know her.

  31. Chris Says:

    Why the expectation that the man should have to pay for the date at all, especially in a first meeting situation where you don’t even know if you like each other in advance?

    Is it 2012 or 1950? Do women want equality or do they want the old school situation where the man was the boss? If you want a sandwich, why can’t you buy your own? Why do you have to act like it’s such a huge honor to meet you that you’re entitled to a free ride?

    Please choose one or the other, because in this day and age, expecting a man to pay your way the first time you meet, just to find out if there’s any interest in each other, is pretty lame. This is where terms like “gold digger” come from. It’s why the good men who you claim you want to meet feel like suckers when you run up the tab. A few “dates” like this are enough to make us forget the whole idea because we feel like walking wallets.

    If you’re 8 years old and expect someone else (your parents) to pay for everything, that makes sense. But if you’re an independent adult, why the entitlement mentality?

    • Ailenka Says:


      That just isn’t fair. There are dating rules. Men, the men that I know, love to provide. For many years, I heralded how I would go half and did same. Paid for trips to Hawaii and in the end, I still lost. Didn’t get anywhere. And, didn’t get why.

      But men have told me that they love and appreciate that I can and have done for myself EXCEPT for when they are with me. They want to provide for me. They want to send a message that they CAN provide for me. That starts before the check comes on that first date but while waiting for them to open my door. They know I can do it myself. They know I prefer to do it myself. I also know, they appreciate and respect the fact that I let them do it for me. It’s about sending a message that I am open to share my world with someone and, no, you may not be that someone but I am willing to give it a shot at this team thing. On a team, everyone plays their position. If a point, tried to play the forward, it might work on LA’s or Miami’s team, but it doesn’t work in the majority of the teams out there.

      Paying for the first date, sets the rules and let’s everyone understand what position we are in. Not only can I buy my own coffee, but I can buy my own whatever the hell I want, including a Rolex. If you wind up being my man, I might buy you one too but, on that first date, we aren’t there yet. I have learned to let a man be a man and play his position. Whether rich or poor, men who are men, want and need this because they want to provide and give. If I take that away from him over a simple $35 coffee date, I have emasculated him from the outset, and the potential is gone. He will get along til he gets gone and find a woman who will let him take his rightful place.

      In heterosexual relationships, there can only be one man and one woman. If I play the woman and the man, then what role is left for him? I rather let a cheapskate think I am a gold-digger seeking a freaking $17 meal (HALF of $35), then to engage in a practice that will send the wrong message when the right man comes along. I have no problems picking up the check and have done so on many occasions, but now I do it only when the time is appropriate.

      • Selena Says:

        I think some people – of both genders – are more attuned to the male/female dynamic than others. The OP’s dates knew they could and would pay their own $17 tab- they probably offered to do so. When he said “no”, he’d get it, they went along rather than offending him. Why is this so difficult for some folks to understand?

  32. Ailenka Says:

    Here’s my $.02 on this:

    I haven’t online dated much bc the one time I did, the guy flew from Philly to Prague and did not look like his picture and then he was there for 5 days and I had to be gracious under all sorts of pressure. Nightmare.

    Anywho, I am a cue taker because I value flexibility and abhor rigidity. So, if the guy gets a coffee and the server asks if I will be eating, I will have a coffee too and not a meal. Imagine, that if I was still unclear, I would just ask him if he’s eating, if not, I would just eat later, whether he’s paying or not. I am a coffee drinker and love going to coffee BARS, which are different from coffee shops, I believe and are not lame because they have very nice, french bistro-type atmosphere, but I digress.

    With all of that said, under no circumstances should some high-ball hanging dude get his panties in a bunch because a female he asked out, didn’t follow his cue. The overall cue was that he wanted to see her and offered a place with a menu that, at best, sounds like a coffee house menu, which probably no doubt averages its highest checks around that lowly $35 figure (based on two people).

    She is not rude for not picking up on your cue, she’s just not observant. And, trust me, she is not thinking that is an upgrade to the date. It’s what’s on offer. Don’t want to offer it, go someplace else. Being that I am flexible, you could take me to a sports bar. No, I wouldn’t eat. No, I wouldn’t have an attitude. And, no, most definitely, not as long as I know you, would I ever step foot in there again. Just not my thing.

    To the OP: If $35 sticks in your craw, you have other dating issues that make you undesirable. If I could be so bold as to borrow a phrase, I suggest, “And, that’s why YOU are single.”

  33. Self Respecting Person Says:

    In this age and time, the protocol should be shared expenses as all of us are working professionals and gender/race subsidies are distasteful!

    Why should anyone expect a free ride?

    Men should stop paying on first dates.

    Women respect men better if they show “backbone” as my last date told me. They actually want to sleep with you faster if they see you as a self respecting guy and not a looser they can freeload on……FACT!
    (ignore the propoganda written by the woman above)

    Wake up guys!

  34. Bree Says:

    How about if your on that tight of a budget and can’t afford to date, get some porns to occupy and females who friend zone you and Don’t Date!

    • Eliza Says:

      If one is on a tight budget, and has financial woes…they need to focus on managing that part of their lives first, so they are in a place where they are not so concerned and have tunnel vision where costs are concerned. Because if someone has money problems, dating is going to encompass perhaps commuting, driving (cost inducing), time is money too, and minimal spending on oneself…if two people do go dutch. A person still has to spend to go out regardless. if a man or woman is in that much of a financial crisis–where they have to keep their dating budget to $10 a date…they need to focus on their finances first, because life in general costs money to sustain oneself, make oneself presentable, etc. Sure…get porn, like Bree recommends, stay home and get acquainted with your left hand. Not sure what else to suggest. Don’t date. Save yourself $20, and be by yourself. But don’t complain and cry like some little girl that you are lonely.

  35. Chester Says:

    “Do women want equality?” asked Chris. The answer is a resounding “NO!”

    Women want to be women and treated like women…especially when dating. It took me years to realize what a women says she wants and what she really wants are two different things.

    If you don’t pay for the first date, you will not have many second dates.

    The best first date is meet for one glass of wine. (You can pay less than $35 even at some high end NYC night spots). Wine is romantic and a little buzz can create an ambiance of romance. Coffee is not romantic. Food is not romantic…especially in NYC when you sit 10 feet across from them and the people at the next table are closer to you than your date. If you want to spend more time after the first drink, arrange a second date. It’s that simple.

    When buying the drink, a man should not feel like he is buying her, or catering to her, or expecting something in return… or begrudging this. Women will pick up on this. You are buying the drink because you like to treat this beautiful woman you are with.

    • Eliza Says:

      Thank you Chester. Just like women shouldn’t feel entitled to anything. A man is NOT entitled to anything from a woman–merely because he bought a glass of wine to get to know her.

    • Selena Says:

      I’m guessin’ you get many second and subsequent dates Chester. :)

    • Terry Says:


      THANK YOU for understanding what most women want on a date. Most of us expect traditional behavior. Most women are not sluts. Yes, there are women out there, I have learned, that like guys, just want to get laid, but MOST women are not like that. They want a nice, enjoyable evening out with the gentleman, dinner and perhaps dancing, or a little stroll, nice getting-to-know-you conversation, mutual politeness and courteous behavior, and if there is a mutual spark of potential interest, then looking forward to a second date. Then from there it either progresses to something more meaningful, followed by sex at an appropriate point, or it doesn’t. It’s that simple!

      Having said that, YOU MISSED one IMPORTANT POINT about women and equality. We do WANT EQUALITY IN EDUCATION AND IN JOBS/CAREERS. However, most of us do NOT want equality in our personal/romantic relationship with a man. To be equal to a guy in the romantic arena means to be like him – and we are NOT like you guys in that part of our lives and we never will be.

      Frankly, the SMART GUYS understand that! They GET IT that for them to get the most benefit from the woman, it is BEST to treat us in a gentlemanly and traditional manner. The reason for this is because when you conduct yourself in that manner, you are taking charge, i.e., paying is a way taking charge, of making the lady feel comfortable, and ultimately, of providing for her, which is a way of making her feel at ease and protected. That’s really what women want – to feel that the guy is taking care of business and she is protected and doesn’t have to lift a finger to take charge on the date.

      The bottom line is that when YOU take charge, you are EXHIBITING YOUR MALE ENERGY – and when you are in your male energy, you allow the lady to be in HER FEMALE ENERGY. That’s how it really works between a man and a woman and those are the forces behind it. They are psychological needs that need to be met. Most women won’t dare say that because they don’t want to seem “anti-feminist” or “needy,” but it has NOTHING at all to do with being needy. It has to do with FEELING FEMININE – and when we feel feminine, we enjoy being with you. I can’t believe that most of you guys just don’t get this. It should be obvious. Having said that, NO GUY who knows this should use the knowledge to MANIPULATE a woman by PRETENDING that he is into her. He should be have like what he really is. If he LIKES the lady, however, and wants to see her again, he should behave in the traditional manner that I explained above.

      Happy romance and a happy life with an everlasting love to all who understand this basic concept!

  36. WO7 Says:

    Every single man feels some level of being played when he pays for a date and then never hears from a woman again.

    So the whole “Your attitude is probably bleeding into your dates” line is bullshit. Believing that the status quo is not “fair” for the guys is just reality. It doesn’t make you a bitter curmudgeon obvious to all women who date you.

    In response to some of the various other comments…even if I have a horrible time on a date, and I know I will never see a woman again, I offer to pay. I do so to be polite. I do so because it’s what’s expected of me.

    So in an imaginary world, you can imagine that when the guy doesn’t like the girl he doesn’t pay, and that evens out with all the times the girl lets the guy pay and then blows him off. But that’s not the real world.

    For christ’s sake, let a guy bitch about this clearly unfair practice. Most of us suck it up, and do what we need to do to make ourselves the most attractive prospect we can be. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to occasionally vent a little about how BS the situation is when we hit a string of bad luck.

    • Terry Says:


      It is NOT unfair for the guy to pay on dates. We do NOT NEED males to pay for our meal from the standpoint of nourishment. In case you don’t get it, since you guys are full of yourselves and the watermelon that you have for heads and egos won’t let you REASON things through – let me illucidate you as to the reason you pay. It is to: 1) earn our respect as a GENTLEMAN, 2) exhibit common sense, 3) make the lady feel wanted and appreciated, 4) make the lady feel protected – as in you know how to take care of business so that we can enjoy being with you, and 5) because ALL you want is to GET LAID! If you expect to get laid and on top of that you expect us to PAY for the PLEASURE of YOU getting laid – that is being much worse than the bleepholes that you already are. That makes you gigolos!

      A sixth reason is because MOST men still make MORE than most women, so we can’t afford to be asked on dates and then be expected to pay! In any event, expecting us to pay is a ROMANCE KILLER! If a guy is going to treat me like he would treat a male buddy and expect me to “go dutch” or expect me to pay for the both of us, there is no way that I can feel any romantic feeling toward him as I would if I think he is behaving like “prince charming. I don’t remember Prince Charming ever asking Cinderella to pay for anything! And yes, deep down, most women, regardless of age, still believe that their Prince Charming is out there somewhere and hope to find him. It is called ROMANCE!

      • LostSailor Says:

        Take that fellas. You’ve been “femsplained”! The gals don’t NEED you to pay! But you should anyway because they’re special snowflakes! (And you make more than them anyway, so you owe them.) Plus, it’s only common sense! A woman will only feel special, appreciated, and protected if you open your wallet for her.

        Plus, you only want to get laid, and if a woman paid, you’d be a gigolo! But because you pay and then get laid that makes the woman…a feminist!

  37. Mr. R Says:

    So I went on a lot of dates, like the OP, and here’s my advice:

    Screen them better.

    Yes, you heard me. You have to make sure that the women you are going out with are a) into you; b) attractive (I know, with online dating, you takes your chances, but even then, there are ways to work this – e.g. updated pictures), and c) normal and reasonable.

    Once you start going out with quality attractive women, you won’t mind paying the 40 bucks for a first date.

    Stop going out with the women who aren’t worth the $10 dollars for coffee, and start going out with the women who are worth the $40 dollars for a first date.

    Note: This is from a happily married guy who married a 10 (redhead, model, doctor), and has a 4 month old son. Life is good. And I got here because I worked hard on finding quality women – and I found one. :)

  38. Dorian Says:

    This paragraph is interesting: “never take dating advice from guys who gather on the internet […]. The whole reason they are there is because they haven’t had much luck”

    Were you talking about yourself??Please have a good look in the mirror dear

    “I understand how frustrating it can be to hand over $50-$75 a date to have nothing come of it”

    Realy? Imagine somebody who goes on 7-8 dates a month. This could be like around a 500 $ bill. And you expect this person to bear the burden on this? Hahah, yeah right.

    Online dating provides a lot of fake validation and boosts of fake self-steem on women, who are deluded to believe they have a higher sexual market value than they actually have. If a 60 year old woman is constantly bombed by messages and can go on 300 dates a year (like one of your readers) it is normal for her to believe that she is the prize and the man should take care of all the expenses.

    Having these beliefs is only going to cause you continuous failure in your online dating life and the only men who would want to settle with you are desperate douch betas.

    Go on coffee dates (there are some good cafeterias out there, forget about Starbucks!) and share the damned bill for God’s sake. Otherwise get ready for the pump & dump carrousel.

  39. Hola Says:

    How come nobody talks about the girl’s that want to try a restaurant, so they can brag about it to their office girlfriends the next day? “i went to this place last nite….” Sometimes it’s not about the guy, and it’s only about them telling their friends…

    • LostSailor Says:

      We often do. The point is that a man shouldn’t allow himself to be used in this manner. If he plans the date, it should go as he planned. If she wants to change venues to a fancy restaurant, he should ditch her. Simple as that…

  40. Mr Big Says:

    Wow a lot of what you say is easy to say when the onus isn’t on you to pay.

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