Picking up the Tab: Who Pays?

by Dual Income No Kids on July 31, 2009 · 0 comments

So we’ve all likely had experience around picking up the tab at restaurants. This can particularly be a bit touchy on first dates or at the beginning of relationships.

Everyone has different opinions, but this is my take on the matter.

I’m traditionalist in thinking that it is appropriate for the guy to pay on the first date. That would hold unless the woman asked the man out on the date, in which case it would be appropriate for the woman to offer and the man to accept.

I believe that the best way to deal with the tab is to take turns rather than splitting it. This makes the entire relationship more generous and less stingy. Not to mention less awkward.

So, how is it that you offer to pay the tab?

Gentlemen, the easiest way to do so, is to simply take the check and pay for it. If the woman protests, then say, don’t worry, I’ve got it. Ladies, this is when you should say thank you. If there isn’t an appropriate time to say thank you while paying, then do so as you leave the restaurant.

If there is protest from the other person, the next best thing to say is, I’ve got it this time, if you insist, it can be your treat next time. This both shows class in paying for the first date, but also shows that you’d like to go out another time. Plus, you automatically set up the system of trading times to pay.


So tonight I was actually out with some intern types in DC, when one asked for our female advice. He was getting together with a high school crush that he hadn’t seen since. He was texting with her to set things up and wanted to know how to broach the subject of paying. I gave him some of the advice above.

He was originally going to write back something like, you pick the place, don’t worry, I’m paying and I don’t expect anything in return.

Guys, never, ever, use that as a line. It is guaranteed to fall flat on the floor.

If any of our readers have tips on what works or doesn’t, or opinions who should pay, we’d love to hear.

Happy Dating,


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