Students unsure of who pays for the first date


Who should pay for the first date? Since so much has changed in the last few decades, Chapman students and professors are unsure. Photo by Catherine Owen

We’ve all been there: the date went well, your evening is coming to a close and the waiter drops off the little black book holding the check. Then comes that awkward pause – Who is going to pay?

There’s no crash course on first dates for singles. It can be hard to predict what your date expects you to do when the bill appears.

“I wasn’t expecting to pay the whole bill,” said Geneva Schroeder, a freshman political science major. “I thought we were going to split it, but when the bill came out he didn’t say anything, so I just paid.”

So who should pay on the first date?

“We actually don’t know anymore,” said Marc Voss, a lecturer in Chapman’s Department of Sociology. “So much has changed in the last few decades that there isn’t really a standard.”

Some default to the idea that the man should pay. This is a concept that came from a time when men were the primary wage earners and were expected to pay, Voss said.

“I was always taught to pay, especially for the first date,” said Greg Hofmann, a freshman peace studies major. “It’s 100 percent a societal standard. If I had been raised knowing that girls could pay too, I wouldn’t feel half as guilty about not paying.”

Seventy-six percent of men feel guilty if they don’t pay on a date, according to a 2018 Wall Street Journal study. While men were almost completely unified in their feelings toward payment, women were split. Half said they were annoyed when men expected them to pay and the other half said they were annoyed when a man didn’t accept their offer to pay.

At Chapman, some male students still stick to the idea that men should pick up the entire bill.

“The guy should pay, of course,” said Parker James, a freshman public relations and advertising major. “If it’s defined as the first date, she should be OK with the guy paying.”

Female students said they sometimes met conflict overgoing Dutch.

“I have had experiences where guys have tried to pay and I have had to talk them into splitting the bill,” says Isa Basche, a junior integrated educational studies and English double major, “One time, a guy was almost offended when I said we should split it. I think he really liked the traditional aspect of it.”

Other students said that regardless of gender, whoever asked the person on a date should cover the check.

“There is no norm,” Voss said.