Thursday, June 24, 2010

How much to spend on a first date

I personally don't like it when guys spend money on me on the first date. I mean, who knows how long it's going to last, and especially if it's a one and done, then it's just a waste of money, when just sitting and talking is all that really needs to happen on a first date. A friend of mine is of the opinion that guys are supposed to spend a lot of money on a first date, so she was appropriately impressed when a guy took her to an expensive steak restaurant on a first date where even the cheapest item on the menu was not cheap at all. The idea is that the only way to build a relationship with someone is through giving, so the more a guy gives, the easier it is to build a relationship. So we give of ourselves by taking the time to get dressed up and do our hair and makeup and pick out a special outfit, and the guys are supposed to give to us by spending money.

I have three problems with this. Firstly, I don't think getting dressed up can really be considered investing in a relationship, and that's besides for the fact that I am not into the whole "getting dressed up" thing for a first date. I make sure to look nice, but I don't spend more than 1/2 hour getting ready. I would probably go dressed more casually on first dates if everyone didn't keep looking at me in horror and going, "That's what you're wearing on a first date?!" Therefore if they guy spends money on me, then all the giving is coming from his end, so he'll end up developing feelings for me, while I sit there as a passive recipient without giving very much at all.

Secondly, the first date isn't the time to start working hard and building the relationship, it's the time to just get to know the person and see if you want to build a relationship at all. Wait until a few dates in, when you have seen some sort of potential before wasting money that could be better spent.

The third problem I have with this relates to guys paying at all. One day perhaps I'll write a post on my view on feminism, but suffice it to say that I believe men and women are equal - not the same, but equal, and the short version of the story is that anti-feminists call me feminist and feminists call me anti-feminist- it depends on where you're coming from. Anyway, I don't think it should be automatically assumed that the guys are paying for dates, and I think girls should chip in so that it's equally split. I confess to being a complete a hypocrite in this area, simply because I am afraid that if I offer to chip in for a date then the guy will think I'm a feminist, or he'll think I'm weird for not sticking to standard social protocol, and I don't want to make him all flustered and confused and not know what to do. And also because the few times I have felt comfortable offering to pay or chip in, the guys refuse to let me pay, which they are told to do. I heard that guys are told to say no to girls who offer to chip in, since many girls are just testing guys and even though they offer to pay, they actually don't mean it and expect the guy to be all chivalrous and insist on paying for them. But they offer because then at least they appear as though they are being nice. Obviously I think that's ridiculous, and none should make offers they don't intend on following up on (Emor Miat V'Aseh Harbeh, anyone?).

I also think it depends on the situation. If the girl working and the guy is still in school or learning, why should he pay if she's making more money? Or if both people are in school and it's clearly their parents paying, why should his parents be the one paying? Don't worry, I feel the same way when it comes to weddings- I don't think it should be automatically assumed that the girls side is the main contributor. I think it should be evenly split, but that I think depends on the two sides and what agreement they come to.

Some suggest that men want to pay for the date because they need to be manly and their manhood would be offended if the woman paid for the date. However, we no longer live in a world where the men provide the main source of income. In many couples, especially ones where the guy is in kollel, the female brings home the bulk of the income. Why should a girl who wants to be a kollel wife wait until marriage to support a man's learning when she can do so by chipping in on a date? The main problem with this way of thinking is that the guy is the one planning the date, so it's not fair to ask a girl to chip in just cause the guy decided to take the girl some place fancy. I can just see where this is going, "Let's go out for steak...but you can pay." Perhaps if they made the decision together of where to go it would be more logical to ask the girl to chip in. If a guy decides to take me to a fancy restaurant where even the cheapest item on the menu is expensive, then I would not offer to chip in, since if it was my choice he wouldn't have to spend any money on me at all.

Back to my original question, I know that if I was a guy, I would not want to spend money on a first date that potentially leads no where. So when guys spend money on me I always feel bad. On my very first first date, the guy took me somewhere where he didn't spend a cent and I was so thrilled! Some guys have bought me something to drink on a date, which I thought was nice- if you feel like you have to spend some kind of money on me, then at least let it be something small- a dollar or two or three, and not more than that.

So, girls: Do you like it/not like it when guys spend money on you on the first date? Would you offer to chip in, or never c"vs you should be labeled feminist or weird or and never get a shidduch?
Guys: How much would you spend on a first date? Would you be weirded out/ would you find your manhood at risk if a girl offered to split the cost, or would you be thrilled and find it refreshing?


  1. As long as the girl acts properly on the date, I don't regret spending the money, even if we only go on that one date. I'm not a fan of restaurants on the first two dates, but my first dates are usually pretty expensive, when they're in NY (even if you don't count the travel expense). Honestly, if I go to a nice/expensive place on a date, it's not just for the girl, I probably want to go there, b/c it's a place I enjoy. If a girl offered to pay or split the costs, I wouldn't accept, but I would think it was nice and it might make me wonder if she's just being nice or if she's a crazy feminist.

    As far as girls getting dressed up for dates, I do think it's important to look as good as possible on a first date. Guys also spend time getting ready (or at least they should), maybe not as much time as most girls do, but I don't think I could get ready in less than a half hour.

  2. I've had good and bad dates, and I can say it is not dependent on the amount spent. I'm okay with coffee, and I suggest it, as I wouldn't be comfortable making someone pay, after which I'd feel all horrible for saying no. What's really nasty is when this guy is trying to wine and dine you and you know it's a dead end.

    My issue is that while it takes me less than a half hour to get ready, the finished product looks high maintenance. I have "the face" application down to a system, but many fellas nowadays are into the low maintenance look and get scared. Tough. The lipstick stays.

  3. BJG- Oh I definitely think it's important to look as good as possible on a date. I guess it just doesn't take me that long- 5-10 minutes getting dressed, 10-15 minutes straightening my hair, 5-10 on make up, and I'm good. Thats 35 minutes tops. I just don't believe in getting all fancy for a date as though it's shabbos or a wedding or something. I look nice, not too casual, but if someone sees me they aren't going to blink and wonder if it's shabbos and they forgot what day of the week it was.

    I never thought about the fact that maybe the guy goes to a fancy restaurant because he wants to and a date is a good opportunity to do that.

    Bookworm- Really? I haven't met too many guys who prefer a girl without makeup. Most guys prefer make up. (Although I don't wear makeup solely for guys, in fact I don't believe in doing anything only for guys. I wear make up because I like how I look with it, no matter what the guy thinks.)

  4. Makeup rocks. I especially love it when I find the right cocktail of product for day to day use that good for my skin and looks good.

    It's not just the makeup for some guys, it's even if you dress up "too much," whatever that means.

  5. What about both parties to the date making suggestions and reaching a consensus for the preferred dating destination.
    Wishing you a successful dating career

  6. "What's really nasty is when this guy is trying to wine and dine you and you know it's a dead end."

    Bookworm: It's nice that you care about the guy's feelings, but if you're not going out with him again for good reason, you shouldn't be worried about how much he spent. He should (and probably does) know that spending a lot of money doesn't mean you're going to want to go out with him again.

    Sterngrad: Everyone has their own dating styles, but for me I think on a first date it's good to dress at least as nice as you would for a job interview (not that I'm saying they're the same, but...).

    I definitely use dating as an excuse to go to places I want to go, it makes at least part of the experience enjoyable.

  7. I try not to spend too much money on dates. I have simple ways to save money which can add up pretty quickly. I mean if you find out the girl enjoys parks and going on walks, it will be a really cheap date. Bring bottles of water along, go to a park and walk around. Even if you will have to pick up refills later it will only set you back about $4 ($6 in central park). A restaurant for me is usually a cafe which is half the price if not more than a meat restaurant. I happen to be a guy who pays (partially) for my dates, so I am that much more conscious about it. I have spent on a first date from nothing to about $35 (including parking)

    Overall some of my better dates were on the cheap side. I made the mistake earlier on when I was dating that I was trying to impress her, but I realized that I don't plan on living a care-free monetary lifestyle later, so why get her thinking that I'm like that now? And as dating goes on I can spend less or more on her, depending on the date. Because in the end if I like her, I won't resent spending the money.

  8. Because dating any particular individual can be a quick process, it really makes NO sense to spend any major amount of money on dates, and save the cash for a significant milestone such as 1 month (or more) of going out. Otherwise, the guy is wasting serious dating funds that could be potentially used in more meaningful fashions (in life and on other dates).

    Rav Goldvicht said very strongly in his datin shiur that a guy should always pay until the couple is engaged, not even splitting it chetzi-chetzi (half and half).

    His best line about splitting the bill was "Guys ask me if they can do chetzi-chetzi on a date. What is chetzi-chetzi? *insert dramatic pause* chetzi-chetzi is schwarma."

  9. Anonymous- good idea. and thanks!

    BJG- there are a lot of similarities between dating and job interviews. :)

    harry-er- I agree with your thinking.

    Shades of Grey- Rav Goldvicht probably said that because many girls expect the guy to pay, so from the guy perspective of "how can I be the best date I can be", that is the best thing to do. From the girl perspective the way to be the best date is to offer to pay. I love the chetzi-chetzi line!! :)

  10. I don't think he said that in the context of girls' expectations, but was laying down the ground rules because that's how he thinks dating should operate. As the gemara in Kiddushin says (2B) it is the man who has to search after his lost object, so it makes sense that the greater burden of the cost is on him - at least from a certain hashkafic point of view...

  11. Harry-er: That's a good point about how you plan to live after you're married. Personally I do plan/hope to live a carefree monetary lifestyle, so I don't think I'm misleading my dates. I also agree that the cheaper dates can be more fun, but I don't think that's true for me on the first two dates. Unfortunately, I pay for all my dates, so I know where you're coming from.

    SoG: The way I look at it, it doesn't matter how long I end up dating the girl for. I want to make that time as enjoyable as possible for both of us, sometimes that involves spending a lot of money. Also, I usually have to spend a lot of money to travel for dates, should I not do that b/c it may be over quickly? I think that if I decide a girl is a good enough potential match, I should treat her as such and as long as I don't spend more than I can afford to, money should not be the focus.

    Sterngrad: Yeah, except there's more honesty in job interviews :(


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