Advice from three of our guy friends. This week they answer the question--and, in a Man-Handled first, they all agree on the answer--Who should pay on a first date? (Is there any man out there who disagrees with them?!)

Gay Engaged Guy (Joel Derfner, author of Swish): The guy should pay. I mean, strictly speaking, the person who issued the invitation should pay, but since the most effective way for a girl to ask a guy out is in such a way as to make him think he's actually asked her out (in order to spare the straight male's delicate ego when it comes to issues of masculinity), it amounts to the same thing. Obviously, if the girl wants to go dutch, then that's a perfectly acceptable arrangement, and the "insist twice on paying before acquiescing and allowing the guy to pay" approach is also particularly gracious (though it does create the risk that he'll actually accept). But we're long past the age when if the guy pays it's because he thinks the girl's place is in the kitchen. The guy pays to show that the food/movie/miniature golf was completely beside the point and that his real pleasure has come from the opportunity to spend time with his date.

Straight Married Guy (Jamie): Call it my Midwestern up-bringing, but I think the guy should definitely pay on the first date. Presumably, most guys aren't taking someone to a first date at Jean-Georges or French Laundry (what up, foodies!) so this shouldn't be an issue of blowing a lot of money on a woman you might not want to go out with again. The price of a meal should be more than worth the potential benefits (sex, marriage, an online gaming partner) of meeting that special someone. Plus, most of my independent, progressively-minded gal pals privately admit that it's a huge turn-off when a guy doesn't reach for his wallet on a first date.

Straight Single Guy (L.A. Chris): The man should pay, of course. To me, there is no question or debate on the issue. As much as feminism has empowered women these last 40 years, some things are sacrosanct or traditional for a reason. Now, I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy, and I admit that makes me a borderline chauvinist (I prefer that women wear skirts and I don't cry in front of anyone). So automatically I think the man should pay, if only for tradition. But I also think it shows a kind of respect for the lady, that you care enough to spend your hard-earned cash. And dudes, if you didn't know already, showing that you're a man of means is sexy. That brings up the whole philosophical question of men, money, and biological impulses, so I'll spare you the treatise and summarize: women are attracted to a man who can take care of things. And while you can try (and fail) to show this by bragging about your expensive car, flexing your biceps, or talking about yourself all night, there's few better ways to demonstrate your abilities than by quietly picking up the check.
Our "guys" are a rotating group of contributors, some of whom wish to remain anonymous and some of whom like the attention. Our Straight Single Guy is 35 and lives in L.A., and that's all he's willing to share. This week's Gay Committed Guy is Joel Derfner, author of Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever.


Arkadiy said:

You must be joking. What a bunch of sexists.

Can we get input from women on this?

Kristin said:

Who pays when it's 2 lesbians? Going on a first date with a girl tonight, I asked her out, so do I pay? Or do we go dutch?

Marcus said:

There are many outdated cultural norms. One of them is that good girls don't enjoy sex. Another is that a woman's place is in the home. And, obviously, the expectation -- or is it the requirement? -- that men pay for dates is another.

Men paying comes from a time when there was economic disparity between men and women. A gentleman can express his appreciation and respect for a lady without paying for it.

I enjoy being with intelligent, articulate and capable women. If because she is at a particular stage in life that makes her significantly less able to pay, then that is different issue.

The women I date frequently do not even offer to pay. From a values perspective, that indicates to me that she and I do not share a similar philosophy of life.

I know that everyone enjoys a free lunch, but --- just like unicorns --- they don't exist.

It is wrong for a woman to expect a free ride.

lalouve said:

Sure you can. I don't come from a culture where much dating is done, but I'd say that normally you share.


I fail to see how treating a woman to dinner is sexist. They're not saying she's incapable of paying, or that she owes anything in return. And I'm willing to bet that they'd let her pay if they go out again.

Sarah said:

Here's my input : yes, they should pay for the first date. In most of my relationships, as I usually make more money, I end up picking up the dinners later on. But the first date, if initiated by the guy, should be paid for by the guy. If you can't afford a dinner date, there do exist other, much cheaper, options, that should still definitely be the guy's treat. It's not sexist to treate a girl out. It's sexist to think she owes you anything more than her time because her portion of the date was paid for (but that's a whole other issue isn't it?).

Ben said:

The fact of the matter is, it's not sexist either way. If a guy asks a girl on a date, she shouldn't say yes just so she can get treated to a free meal. I think it's more acceptable for each to pay for themselves. After all, I'm not trying to buy your respect or appreciation. I happened to grab an hour of your free time and fill it with something fun, i.e. dinner with a new person.

In my perfect world, this would be the cultural norm. Of course, all it's going to do is keep first dates from becoming second dates. Come on, ladies. Don't you think it's time this meritless tradition dies out? In reality, it's more sexist for a girl to assume the guy will pay for the date.

I prefer to start with something free. Then if we still have free time after that event, we can move to a different location and get something to eat. Once there has been a connection made without a penny spent, I'm more comfortable buying a meal. After all, some girls really do go on dates with guys they're not interested in just for a free meal. Inviting her to a park or to go for a walk weeds those girls out.

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