Should I just shut up and let him pay?

July 18 | Guest post by March Adams
By: Robert S. DonovanCC BY 2.0

Recently I started seeing a guy that I had merely been sleeping with in a friends-with-benefits kind of way. The situation worked delightfully well for about half a year, but then we decided to take it a step further and start dating.

Now, maybe it's because, save for a handful of first and second dates, I've been single for five years and used to making my own way. Maybe it's because I'm inching towards my mid-thirties and my perspective has changed. Maybe it's because he and I work in the same field and, therefore, the same income bracket and I have a rough idea of how much he makes. Or maybe it's just my strong sense of independence and feminist ideals.

Whatever it is, I suddenly find myself in a position where after half a decade of buying my own dinners and buying my own drinks, I have a man buying them for me. And having a man buying them for me feels, well, odd.

Not just odd but a little bit uncomfortable as well if I'm being completely honest.

I'm uncomfortable even when I thank him, and he says he's more than happy to do it, and I believe him. Even when I know he wouldn't be buying me dinner, and concert tickets, and surprising me with fancy "just because" cupcakes unless he really wanted to because — let's be honest — the guy went from guaranteed no-strings attached sex, to dating and feelings and all the strings attached to relationships, including the financial aspect. (But, of course, also the sex as well.) Even taking all of that into consideration, I'm still coming to terms with this new arrangement.

Not to say that I always adhere to this. I've taken the check out of his hands and told him it was on me. We've gone Dutch. I've also surprised him with fancy just because cupcakes.

Obviously he wants to pay and is happy to pay. If he didn't, he wouldn't keep suggesting dates that require money. But the offbeat, long-term single woman inside of me resists and rebels.

I've spent most of my adult life paying my own way and it's hard to suddenly accept that someone now wants to do it for me and on a regular basis.

How do other couples do it? Do your partners really not care, or not see it as a burden? Am I over-thinking this?

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  1. Hmm, this is tougher than it sounds. In general I think, unless one partner in a relationship is significantly financially worse off, there should be relative half-and-half sharing of money matters, including the cost of dates. But, on the other hand, I get how sometimes it's nice to buy someone a present or a dinner sometimes.

    Generally, with my partner, we mix it up. Sometimes we split the cost, sometimes he pays, sometimes I pay. I think this works well, because you get the "datiness" of buying someone dinner, and both parties get the joys of both giving and receiving.

    Maybe it doesn't feel "romantic" enough to him somehow if you split your costs, as though you were still friends. But it might feel romantic if you said, "I'm taking you out tonight, because you've been so great to me this week – you pick the place, it's my treat."

    39 agree
    • I like the idea of mixing it up. I'm in a poly relationship and he currently has more dating expenses in addition to regular living expenses. We agreed early on that we would pay for our own meals unless the other offered to pay (there would be no "arguing" if the other offered). We've adopted the same for bigger date items….recently he paid for museum tickets, we split movie tickets, I paid for a big fancy homemade dinner, he's buying off broadway tix for my b-day.

      I think it's all about communicating and ensuring you're on the same page from the onset.

      8 agree
      • Other dating expenses in poly relationships is not something I even considered here! Great point. It wouldn't be fair if someone felt unfairly burdened.

        3 agree
    • Oh, I love the idea of making it an advanced plan. Usually I pick up the check at the end of the dinner or whatever, but letting him know that it's something special and on me going in is different. Thanks for the suggestion!

      2 agree
  2. When I started dating my now husband we just went back and forth. I'd pay for one date, he'd pay for the next -as long as it was something "normal" like dinner, a movie, bowling etc. If we got into expensive things like concerts or trips together, We'd split it down the middle, or one of us would pay initially, and the other would pay that person back their half later.

    25 agree
    • this is what we did at the start, and 8 years later we still do this. hell, we do it with groceries and everything else, too. it just works out that way.

      8 agree
  3. I'm not getting the impression you've had a real discussion about this, as of yet. That would be the first step, if you've not already taken it.

    I think there's a part of the social DNA, at least in Western countries, where paying for your lady-date is expected part of being a gentleman and a way to show affection. It's a bit old, in my opinion, but certainly not beyond a discussion.

    He may not be totally comfortable going dutch all the time, but I think there's room for compromise here. Whether it's occasionally splitting, doing an every-other date pay scheme or (since you mentioned a financial melding) a co-account for dates that you both contribute equal parts to, but allows him the "face" of paying for you in public (if that's amenable to you both, of course).

    I think you also need to take a step back and think about what it is you would like to have and what would be a reasonable compromise to the situation. I don't think it's insurmountable, but I think a good conversation about it when money is not around — so one of the times you do something free, or are hanging out, or if you go on walks together or something like that — would be a good time to strike it up as it limits both of you from getting really defensive.

    13 agree
    • My hubby was raised in a conservative family (dad works, mom stays at home) AND has always worked in a conservative workplace (the police, where misogyny is RAMPANT). Luckily there were women before me that had already schooled him and made him more open-minded (though he also learned a lot from me). So I let him pay the first one or two dates, then sprung for the check, say "hey, we BOTH had fun, we both should pay" (or something like that). Since we´re both more frugal than most, we don´t really do many money-dates, but will treat the "date" item the same as the "grocery" item in our joint "running tab/monthly budget". At the restaurant/whatever, we will take turns actually dishing out the money (even though we both know that we are really BOTH paying). We also "treat" each other out ("I´m taking you out to dinner tonight because of WHATEVER"). Because sometimes/ with some crowds it´s important to him to "save face" (though we both know it´s actually BS), I will quietly slip him the cash to pay for both of us (which I did at our last "group date"), our I´ll give him a cue and hand the money over while we are BOTH looking at receiver (aka, I "collected" the cash, but it´s obviously from BOTH of us). What is also "fun" for us is to bet on dinner out so OF COURSE I´m going to pay if I lost (I will admit to sometimes betting just to take him out! ; ) LOL!) Oh! and the "pay for your lady-date" thing wouldn´t help LGBT people, just saying! 😀

  4. When my guy and I were going out, we did the "whoever plans the date, pays" thing. So when he joined me for my weekly swing dancing group, I paid our entry fee and bought an appetizer and drinks afterward. When he asked me to see a movie, he got the tickets and popcorn. I also felt uncomfortable letting him pay for everything, so I tried to make sure that at least some of our dates were things I planned for him. But that only works if it suits your relationship dynamic for you to take on some of the planning (and if your guy doesn't then expect you to take on ALL of the planning).

    26 agree
    • I think that's a great plan for people with different funds available, too. (A picnic in the park versus a fancy dinner)

    • I think this is the standard etiquette nowadays. Whoever invites, pays. You can invite to fancy dinner or hikes or milkshakes, whatever your comfortable with (both socially and financially).
      In my longer term relationship, we still kind of do this, "Do you want to get dinner? I can pay" or "I'm hungry. I can buy pizza if you want" and we sort of alternate this

      1 agrees
  5. I hate being payed for. If it was still a friends with benefits deal then maybe I would let it slide but if this is a guy that you could really see a future with then I would say something. For me that would sour a relationship very quickly if it wasn't addressed (and if he didn't listen then that would be a problem for me).

    I do understand though that splitting the bill can feel unromantic or cheep for some people-I had a bf a while ago that hated the idea. He actually did have more money than me at the time but it still felt…well, uncomfortable, like you say to let him pay all the time. We came up with a deal that we took it in turns to organise dates. He payed for his days and I payed for mine. It was nicer than splitting the bill and we both felt that we got value out of it- he spent more money but I spent more time and effort organising things.

    7 agree
    • For me, I prefered to pay if it was just a FWB thing. I didn't want anyone to think they had anything over me.

      3 agree
  6. If he suggests he's happy to pay for your dates, why not suggest you'd be happy to pay for some dates too? This way, you can split the costs by alternating the dates each of you pay, without making him feel bad and still maintaining your own sense of independence.

    I used to insist about always going Dutch at the beginning of our relationship, for all kind of reasons – the main being that on first dates, I would not allow to feel pressured to make out just because he paid for something. After some time, I allowed myself to be treated from time to time, and he'll gladly accept that I treat him sometimes as well. Though now, most of the time, we use our joint account to pay for our dates 😉

    7 agree
    • "feel pressured to make out just because he paid for something"

      This is such a great point. Buying dinner for someone NEVER "buys" you anything else. You should never feel pressured to do anything you don't want to, and certainly not feel obligated to do anything if someone spent money on you. (On the other hand, if you want to, go for it!)

      7 agree
    • I hated dating because of this reason! I always wanted to go Dutch on first dates and early dates, but when I was single I was so broke it ain't no joke. Eventually, I ended up telling people that I wouldn't mind going on a date, but that I had no funds to contribute and would offer suggestions for free things we could do. They always offered to pay (who am I to turn down a free meal?!), but it felt better being honest before the date AND providing alternatives beforehand.

      4 agree
  7. My husband and I have always taken turns paying for dates, more or less alternating every time unless one of us wants to do something really expensive in which case the person who suggested it usually pays. I don't think there was even a conversation about this, just my saying "Let me get this one" a couple of dates in and thereafter until it became habit. When we travel we do something like have one of us pay for lunch and the other pay for dinner one day and then switch who pays for which meal the next since dinner will usually be more expensive. We both get to treat each other and we know it evens out over the long run.

    2 agree
  8. When it comes to going out for dinner my partner and I switch-off on paying: one time he will pay, and the next time we go out it's my turn. That way we both get to feel like we're treating each other, and it's a lot easier than splitting the bill.

    5 agree
    • The going back and forth bit does seem like the easiest way to make it all balance out.

  9. Hubs and I still split dates (that are not special events) out of our personal accounts. When we were dating we took turns paying by who organized the date or just alternated if it was something we did regularly.

    But we talked about it and tried to make money (or lack of) not a big deal in our relationship.

    3 agree
  10. Whoever you ask will have a different take on whether it's right or wrong for one person to always pay and more specifically what this means when the payer is male and the paid for female. This is about what it makes you feel and if it makes you uncomfortable then talk about it.

    For me it's about equality and there is no denying that if one person always pays that there is an imbalance and powerwise it is in favour of the payer. However in relationships things just aren't equal (incomes especially)and it takes careful negotiation between two willing partners to balance things out. For example my wife earns twice what do and therefore pays more rent, but food and bills are equal. If I insisted on splitting the rent then we would have to live somewhere else. Occasionally it makes me feel weird, if I really dwell on it I can squeeze out a feeling of slight shame that she pays more than me. However it makes total sense to do it this way, I'd do it in a heartbeat the other way around. Getting to this arrangement though was tricky and took negotiation.

    I find being paid for can be potentially disempowering (not saying it universally is) if the payer has not negotiated it with me, it sounds like there is an assumption going on in your situation that irks you. This is the time to tackle it because how you are able to deal with it together will tell you a lot about your potential together. Your guy is not in the wrong and so should not be told off but some kind of discussion, preferably before the point of anyone paying for anything sounds wise. It's always scary the first time you have a discussion with someone you are seeing about how you want to handle things together but it's kind of the first big couple moment. Good luck!

    12 agree
    • I fully agree with this comment! I've always found the "who should pay" dynamic to make me very uncomfortable, and find that it can create an unease no matter who is doing more of the paying. For example, in my first serious relationship I either paid for myself or paid for both of us for almost everything: I paid for meals, drinks, movies, all the travel expenses to visit him, everything. I paid for a nice steak dinner on his birthday each year, and each year on mine he made me pay for him yet again.

      In contrast, my current boyfriend and I split costs. Before I even asked him out we had discussed my ambivalent feelings towards paying for dates, and he took notes: I like the offer of being paid for, but I like to pay for myself or pick up the full tab as well. I like things to feel even, I like to feel like someone isn't going to use the ol' "I paid for dinner so you have to do ________," but I also like to feel like someone values me enough to pick up the tab once in a while. We don't have an actual system like some of these comments suggest, we just figure it out as we go along.

      Granted, that is what works for me, not necessarily you. But if you're feeling uncomfortable, I agree with all these other lovely Homies who suggest talking it out with him. I've been on plenty of dates where I just outright refused to be paid for, mostly due to reasons similar to yours (especially the feminist beliefs and being used to being single). But there's always a third option that can work for both of you, and you can only reach it through communication 🙂

      2 agree
    • Oh, I know he's not wrong and I honestly think he does it from a place of chivalry which is very sweet. I think finding the right arrangement that works for everyone and makes everyone feel comfortable can take a bit of work, but it sounds like you have one that works for you guys!

      1 agrees
  11. "I've spent most of my adult life paying my own way and it's hard to suddenly accept that someone now wants to do it for me and on a regular basis."

    It is hard to go from being independent to having someone want to pay for you, as well as going from "friends with benefits" to a romantic relationship. Both feel strange and complicated, but you've got some great suggestions above.

    When my husband and I were dating (didn't go from 'friends with benefits'), he made more than I did. Early on we'd go dutch. But as we got more serious, he'd go to pay for things, and I'd more often than not offer to pitch in, whether that meant splitting things 50/50 or tossing in $20 or whatever. Sometimes I would split or contribute, sometimes he preferred to treat. But we talked about it each time, and it all balanced out. (And to be honest, sometimes it was nice to be treated, as weird as that felt at times *smile*)

    3 agree
  12. I think early on it's okay to shut up and let him pay. But after a while guys like to know that they're not EXPECTED to pay every time. First and formost you should communicate how you feel and find out how he feels. Maybe start off by saying "I don't want you to feel like you're expected to pick up the check every time we go out." To follow up you could invite him out and treat him. If he is buying you random gifts (Mmm cupcakes…) maybe you could get him random gifts too.

    7 agree
    • Oh yeah, totally this! Buy him little presents and surprises and stuff, especially if he does that stuff for you.

      3 agree
  13. Yes, duh. Nothing says you can't buy surprises and shit for him, too, whenever you want to. Enjoy being respected, fer chrissakes.

    6 agree
    • There was actually a section in my original letter where I mention that I DO buy surprises and stuff for him, too 🙂

      4 agree
    • But why is it respectful to be paid for? I don't mean to be snarky but seriously, why is that someone voluntarily spending time with another person , sharing their body with them etc is not already a clear cut sign of respect, why does it need this financial confirmation? I'm really asking this to people in general more than directly at you Jane, hope that's clear.

      Consequently if I go out with someone and I haven't already talked about paying and they don't offer does this mean they don't respect me? Should I consider that I've done something wrong if I don't get the "respect" at the end of the date? And what should I do in return for the "respect"? What kind of girls get "respect"?

      What I'm getting at here is the underlying issue with being paid for on a date as reward or more worryingly, confirmation of worthiness and the implication that one's own validation of worthiness needs confirmation and is not sufficient on it's own.

      In non-romantic contexts one person paying for the meal (or other stuff come to that..) is equally fraught, think about businessmen competing to pay for lunch, it's clear that whoever gets to do it has one over on the other. It can be awkward between friends when one of you tries to pay for everything, in my experience it takes being very well established friends to be able to do this. I'm not talking about things like the common practice of a small group of friends alternating buying drinks for each other in rounds over an evening, I mean more that thing were two couples go out and one couple tries to pick up the whole tab unwittingly humiliating the other.

      I'm not saying one person or party paying is universally wrong but it does create an imbalance and this usually requires a pre-established relationship where you can take turns and even it out. When you are just starting dating someone you don't yet know if this is going to last long enough to be something where you get to take turns, which is why in my book it's good to be clear from the start.

      3 agree
      • I get what you're asking, and why you're asking it. I think it's a complex thing that depends mostly on the individual circumstances.

        My current husband and I have pretty blended finances, and that is fine. We run a business together, so it was more convenient to just sort of put everything together. Therefore, it does not matter really who pays for what…because it is all coming out of the same pool. It took a little getting used to, but it works and I don't have any icky feelings about it.

        Before, when I was young and dating, I was 100% pay my own way on dates, especially "casual" dates. I'd had it drilled into my head that men paying for dates equals expecting "something" in return, so I always carried enough cash to pay my own way even when I was broke as a joke. But when I got serious with my now ex-husband, we went Dutch. Always. Down to the last penny. And at first this was fine, because like I said, I liked to pay my own way. But once the relationship got serious…it was different somehow. I can't even describe it. Even after we lived together, even after we were MARRIED, he insisted on splitting everything. Like, we'd go to the grocery store and get separate carts and he'd pay for "his" groceries and I'd pay for "mine." We'd split the dinner check, split the utilities exactly by half in our shared space, if we went on vacation, we'd split the cost of hotel down the middle. After awhile, especially since he made 3x what I did, it got to be something that made me feel bad. I no longer felt like an independent feminist who was paying her own way. I felt like I was married to someone who thought I wasn't "worth" a goddamn dinner at Applebees on him every once in a while. I kept telling myself it was stupid, because hello feminism…but when your husband wants to go out to eat somewhere nice, and he can afford the whole check but you have to give him your share out of your decidedly less income, it gets pretty annoying and disrespectful feeling after awhile.

        So, yeah…happy medium, I guess. There has to be one, and both parties have to be in agreement about it, or it WILL become an issue down the road.

        3 agree
        • This reminds me of one part of The Joy Luck Club… pretty much exactly. They would split everything… He would even tell her that her birth control was her expense not his. And that he shouldn't be responsible for paying for the ice cream because she bought it. That sounds like a horrible way to be married.

          My husband and I still have separate accounts (though we bank at the same bank and can see the balances in each account), but we have a joint credit card that we put most of our purchases on. I pay the credit card bill which means groceries, house stuff (toilet paper, shampoo, etc), going out to eat, as well as bills that can be paid to credit card like my cell phone, the cable, etc. He pays all the other bills (including the mortgage).

          When we were dating, he paid for everything for probably the first month or so, but then we would split things. Not usually do split checks at the restaurant, but if we did dinner & a movie, I'd get the movie tickets and he'd get the dinner, or he'd get drinks, and I'd pay for bowling, things like that. It didn't always work out to an "even" amount, but I don't think either of us was "keeping score". I also sometimes would treat him because I wanted to. He never made me feel obligated in any way because he paid for things, and I certainly hope I don't make him feel that way.

          2 agree
  14. Yeah, my guy and I go back and forth. I pay for dinner one night, he pays the next time we go out. I like that because we each get the chance to treat each other.

    If we're doing something really big–a trip or a concert–the person whose idea it was generally takes the bulk of the cost and the other person will pay for snacks, gas, whatever. As you get deeper and more serious in a relationship, obviously there are going to be financial issues that come up more often: "Hey, I've got that big insurance payment this month, can you pay for all our dates and I'll get you back later?"

    Everyone just has to figure out what's right for them. I also wouldn't be comfortable with my guy paying for everything, even if I knew he could afford it, because of equality and all that good stuff.
    All that said

    1 agrees
  15. I think this is less about whether he's happy to pay, and more about the fact that you're NOT happy NOT paying (at least some of the time). And I think that's how you should approach it with him. Tell him how you feel, but frame it as "I really want to do these nice things for you, too," instead of "I feel bad that you pay for everything." Relationships have a lot of give and take, and right now he's doing all the giving, at least in a monetary sense. You need the opportunity to do that, too, or you're going to feel like a pet instead of a girlfriend.

    6 agree
    • I agree about shifting the perspective of the conversation.
      Nothing spoils a coffee date for me more than an argument over who's going to pay. If one person offers, let them pay. Then you can offer to get it next time. Fighting over less than $10 is stupid in my opinion.

      4 agree
  16. Can I just say, CONGRATS on finding someone that you had sexual chemistry with and had that lovely discovery that you have emotional chemistry too! As if dating wasn't hard enough.

    Buying the meal for a date is a gift, like flowers, but better because it's fun times out and experience with your main squeeze. Try to see it that way, he's buying you a gift, and maybe it'll feel better. ALSO! Buy him the gift in return! I love saying, "I got this one," after a wonderful date. He'll say, "No, honey, it's ok," or "Are you sure?" and I'll say, "Yes, I want to," and we'll both be happy. Maybe you'll feel better about him paying if you pay what feels like an equal amount of the time.

    Then, of course, get to the make-outs.

    5 agree
    • The really good sex has actually gotten WAY better since we started dating and I think the emotional chemistry has something to do with that!

      5 agree
  17. My bf makes 3x more than me, and enjoys eating out more than me, so I let him pay for dinner. Once in a while, if it's a smaller bill, I'll pay, but overall, he pays. I pay for movies and concert tickets though, because they're important to me. I also will buy groceries and cook more, because I feel better about myself when I eat a healthy real food meal, than bar food (his choice).
    I'm not a huge fan of him paying for me, but I like that we split costs based on what's important to us, so I'm not resentful of being forced to pay for something that I don't want to do (eating out for the 3rd time this week, ugh).
    We didn't really talk about it though. I just started buying tickets (all beforehand, my movie theater has an app, so he didn't realize I paid until after we got in, and now it works for us) and pointing out that he paid for dinner. And I like to coupon, so I was paying for groceries anyways.

    3 agree
  18. When I first started dating my now husband we had an unwritten rule that if you suggested the date then you paid for it. It worked really well because it meant that when one of us was a little tight for cash they suggested doing things that were cheap or free, but when we were feeling flush we suggested doing things that cost a little more. It also meant that we never had that awkward situation that you go to a really fancy restaurant and only order salad because it's the only thing you can afford.

    5 agree
  19. I feel like you're not really upfront and into this guy (besides the sex).

    Most of my relationships started off with casual sex that led to long term relationships. I've been the same throughout keeping my independence with finances.

    Just be upfront and say your not used to having your meals paid for. Offer that you'll take/plan a date that you'll pay for. Or do the obvious and split down the middle.

    If he can't handle the spilt bill or you paying for some meals, you probably won't be lasting long with him anyways.

    1 agrees
  20. My husband and I are in the same income bracket, so we split everything 50/50. Sometimes I treat him, and vice versa. No conversation needed. Men are no longer the primary breadwinners nor widely expected to pick up all the checks, and we can do more fun things together if we both use our incomes.

    1 agrees
  21. I would suggest that if you are hoping for this relationship to continue into something with potential permanence, staying quiet about things that bother you and make you uncomfortable is not a good strategy.

    Relationships need to be able to withstand a few tough conversations because as life goes on, the tough conversations are inevitable. And money conversations are hard in general. Seeing how you each react to having this discussion will help you figure out if this is the right relationship for you.

    That being said, it doesn't have to start out as a tough conversation. You could just casually mention at the end of a date when you thank him for paying that next time you want to treat him, maybe even suggest where and when next time could be. If he accepts it easily then the transition may not be that hard to make.

    7 agree
  22. When I was in college, my boyfriend had more money than I did and consequently he paid for more things than I did. But since then I've always shared the cost with whomever I'm dating. Not in a 'split the bill' kind of a way but more of a 'you paid last time so I'll pay this time' approach. I think I would feel uncomfortable otherwise.

  23. I typically alternate on paying for things, but I also like being paid for from time to time. I've also dated someone that made a lot more than I did…and so I had no problem letting him pick up the cheque at certain restaurants while being the one to cover cheaper dates. I made peace with it.

  24. I think every couple needs to strike their own balance. And BALANCE is the perfect word I think.

    You don't need to be like other couples. You don't need to give up your offbeat-ness. But you don't have to be not like other couples – or uncomfortable either…just talk with him about it and strike a good balance that works for the two of you…

    Best Wishes for you!!

    1 agrees
  25. Thank you SO much for all of your comments! I want to make it known, though, that in the original letter I sent it I made it clear that I do sometimes pick up the tab or do the surprises or whatever like he does. He still pays about 2/3s of the time — but reading this with that omission gives it a totally different tone than what my original letter had.

    1 agrees
    • WHOA! You're right! That section totally got deleted, and I don't know why! Seriously, I edited this myself and there's no reason why I would have cut that. Definitely got cut my mistake. I added it back. WTF, Megan.

      3 agree
    • With the new information in mind, I want to amend my earlier advice since it changes the dynamic. Still talk, but I'd recommend looking for a good solution for the two of so that you don't feel like he's dominating the paying aspect of the dates.

      It sounds like you have a great amount of emotional closeness, which should help the discussion along a bit (knowing more about how you talk and any quirks in how you speak when you may be emotional/stressed about something).

      I'd still recommend a neutral-ground time and place for the discussion given that this is a sensitive topic for you and may be a chilvaric position for him (in the classic sense, not in the strictly-sexist way).

  26. When my partner and I were first dating, we were long distance between Seattle and Vancouver (BC) so we had a "My country my dollar" agreement. Made sense that if you were earning in that currency you spent in that currency. I made about 3x what he did then and so often paid for the more expensive activities (plus, we traveled more in the US than in Canada). Now that we are married and live and earn in the same currency, it's all community property anyway. I still make more than 3x what he does (he had to quit a job to move here, so has been unemployed) but often he reaches for the check in a restaurant and puts it on our joint account. There is something very hetero-normative about it, but it also makes him happy, so we go with it. (we are not a very typical gender role couple in other ways, so I let this one slide).

    • I've been in two long distance relationships, so yup, I am very familiar with the "my country my dollar" concept, although I've never heard it put that way before but I really kind of love it.

  27. Due to my feminist ideals (and weird "does he think I owe him sex now?" issues), I hate when guys insist on paying. I let one ex pay becuase he worked while I was not earning but otherwise I prefer to split it.
    I mean I'm not talking done to the penny. If he pays for my cinema ticket I'll buy him some drinks or whatever, but if he thinks it's his duty or some crap that's a major turn off.

    1 agrees
  28. I feel really strongly about making it as equal as possible in all situations. Ideally, taking turns paying for meals and drinks and coffee and equally giving gifts. This is a feminist issue. In my opinion, when a man pays all the time or most of the time or 75% of the time, there is a deficit and at some point, you're going to owe him something.

    All of that being said, I've been married for 12 years. Since I was 20 years old. Long before I had a career or really even dated that much. So I have no idea how to put this into play practically speaking. I think the best thing you can do is bring it up with him. Casually, ideally. Just, hey, I'd prefer to split the cost of all our fun outings. Maybe we could take turns? If that will put you at ease, then try that?

    • I agree that this is a feminist issue. It also, however is just one of many feminist issues in the relationship. As long as things are, on balance, where you want them to be, then this one issue is not my "hill to die on."

      My partner and I have ways that we are very gender normative and ways that we are not. Every time I get worked up about the ways that we are, I just remember all the ways we aren't and let it go.

  29. Think about what your underlying values are and how they are contributing to your current feelings…these feelings aren't just about finances for you, they may be about respect, patriarchy/misogyny, tradition vs. rebellion, feminism, etc. When you figure out what values are being tweaked by the situation, then you're ready to have a conversation about how to move forward. I've been in a long term relationship where my partner generally made more money but we split 50/50 and in a relationship where I made more money and we split expenses according to percentage of income we each brought in…and I'm now in a relationship where my partner is significantly better off financially than I am. My current partner enjoys eating out frequently and traveling, and feels comfortable treating me to dinners and trips…and I've gotten to the point in my life where I understand that he enjoys sharing these experiences with me, much more ao than he would if he went alone, so I let him treat much of the time. I still pick up the tab sometimes and get him little gifts and unexpected presents and I always thank him when he treats. We're both overtly appreciative when the other person treats amd I think that makes a huge difference. Neither of us takes it for granted. I struggle with the imbalance in our financial status a bit, I'm accustomed to being very independent and self – sufficient, but at the same time, I don't have anything to prove anymore with regards to those values anymore. He definitely respects me and what I bring to our relationship and that makes it easier for me to recognize that there is much more to equality in a relationship than financial equity. We've had conversations about our values as well as our financial situations and we will continue to have conversations about them as our relationship grows…communication is one of the best things about our relationship.

  30. After reading this part:

    "Not to say that I always adhere to this. I've taken the check out of his hands and told him it was on me. We've gone Dutch. I've also surprised him with fancy just because cupcakes."

    I think you might be overthinking this. Does he protest when you take the check or end up splitting it? If not, then paying for stuff is probably how he shows that he cares about you, much like just-because cupcakes are a way of showing that you care about him.

    3 agree
  31. It seems like some of this may be about changing expectations now that you're "dating" instead of just "friends with benefits" and a conversation about which of these expectations the two of you as a couple are looking for might be really useful. I think that some of these expectations might be really good like additional romance, more sharing of resources, or more emotional closeness, but it will probably be a balance so that you don't lose the parts of "friends with benefits" that originally drew you together. Sometimes all the romantic expectations can get in the way of just having a great time with your friend (that you just happen to like being romantic with).

  32. Short answer: Yes.

    Longer answer: For heaven's sake, don't go dutch. Alternate who pays for meals, pay the check while he's in the restroom, but don't go dutch with someone you're dating.

    Longest answer: Look, he wants to do nice things for you and do things that make you happy. Also, this could be his way of differentiating "before we were Friends with Benefits, but now we're a Couple." And that's not something you want to discourage (I'm assuming). So if it makes him happy to treat you to things, it would be a kindness to let him do that. Giving gifts like going out to dinner or special treats is how some people say "I love you."

    Oh the other hand, now that you two are looking down the road at a future together, you have a responsibility to him to not let him continue doing things that make you uncomfortable. I'm sure he doesn't want to be making you uncomfortable. So this is something you need to address.

    Bear in mind that should this become a very long-term relationship, "yours and mine" will eventually turn into "ours." So this is something that you will have to navigate through.

    And I will say this, there is something wonderfully intimate about letting your significant other do things for you even when you are perfectly capable of doing them yourself. Not because "hey, I don't have to do this" but because you are together as a team that cares for each other. For example, this morning my husband drove me to the doctor's to have some blood drawn. Now I was perfectly capable of putting on my big girl panties and driving myself there, and I did feel a little silly that he was interrupting his work-day for this. But he wanted to do that for me because he knows these things make me uneasy. I could have pulled the "no, I am independent and I can do this by myself," card and I wouldn't have been wrong. But by letting him help me in this situation, it builds our relationship. (And obviously I reciprocate in like.)

    This is not to say that you're wrong in feeling the way that you do. It may be that he's just doing this because he thinks it's just how its supposed to be once you're dating, and that's not good. And you do absolutely need to weigh how much the independence, as measured by "I always pay for my stuff," is central to your identity. Because keeping your identity is important.

    Ultimately this is something you *have* to talk to him about. And that's a good thing! A great thing! Because you will have tough talks and disagreements about important things and it's fantastic that you get to start early on with a conversation that is bound to have a happy ending.

    3 agree
  33. I'd like to add a little piece I haven't seen yet here: giving gifts is a "love language." Just like compliments (words of affirmation) and coming over to help you move (acts of service). When you mentioned that he doesn't just pay for dates but also brings surprise cupcakes, I thought that it might be one of the main ways he communicates his care for you. I don't have any way of knowing I'm right. It could as easily be that this is what he thinks is expected of him. It could be some other reason.

    Others have already said, and I agree, this is a great place to have your first couple discussion about what you are both comfortable with. It's ok if you feel uncomfortable when he pays and he feels great when he pays, as long as you express these to each other and work out some solution that makes both of you feel good. The love languages tidbit (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/) is a little something that might help clarify the situation, or may not apply to you.

    2 agree
  34. You could just take turns. When I was dating my SO I loved the feeling of grabbing the check and taking care of it. Allowing the guy to pay is something that can take some getting used to. I let the guy pay for first or second date usually, if he expects to. Eventually I speak up if it's an issue for me. It doesn't always need to be 50/50 on the nose.

  35. Be grateful. Someone's mother raised him right!

    For the generations before me, men just paid. The end. It was expected and there was never an awkwardness about it.

    The generation after me has men paying, but occasionally at the expense (pun intended) of women feeling guilty. But, you shouldn't! There are so many things that women do for men that equal out the balance and you wouldn't expect compensation for those things, right? Let him be the man. Your separate roles create balance. Don't cuckold him. Let him do the gallant thing, if he wants to. You can be a treated like a lady and still retain your inner feminist. Feminism doesn't mean doing it all yourself. It means you should be respected for the ability and the right to do it all yourself, if you choose to do so.

    My generation, alas, is the generation raised as feminism was trying to find its balance and footing, so it features the exact opposite of a sweet spot in which men either don't pay or pay with extreme resentment at the backend.

    2 agree
    • You do not seem to know the definition of cuckold. To cuckold someone is to cheat on him (refers to males, exclusively).

      Also, this whole conversation has me feeling a bit uncomfortable.

      I pay for 95% of our meals/living expenses/everything. My husband is a seasonal worker and I make quite a bit more than him. Reading the words "chivalry" and "gallant" – and jeezy creezy, "cuckold" – in the comments indicates to me that there is still this aura around men paying for stuff that needs to be erased. Is my husband not gallant because he doesn't pay for stuff? Because he washes my sheets instead of paying for my food? Because he's folded my laundry and I'm putting up the down payment for our house?

      And Christ, I know that the headline for this article is meant to be ironic and eye-catching, but "shut up and let him pay"? Really, Offbeat Empire? This is the first time I've had the feminist rage boil up in me from this site.

      2 agree
      • I agree with you. I would also add that, while the OP's dude seems to really WANT to pay for things, the expectation that men pay for things can really be harmful! That puts so much pressure on guys, especially if they don't make much money, or make a lot less than the lady they are taking out. Their masculinity shouldn't be measured by their financial situation.

        When I've gone out with people (of any gender), it's always nice and makes me feel kinda special when they offer to pay for it, but I never would go into a date expecting it.

        2 agree
      • To me, the problem was framed in a way that didn't make me rage, because it seemed to pose a real dilemma: I'm a feminist and don't want a man to think he has to pay for me, but what if I'm in a relationship with a guy who enjoys showing his affection through buying me stuff? And I think that's tricky, and I understand why she's uncomfortable.

        But the expectation of different "roles" and assuming it will even out because of the "many things women do for men" and having to let men be "gallant"? Ick. Not so much my thing.

        3 agree
      • As the editor of this post, I definitely interpreted March's headline as ironic and eye-catching (…which made me think "perfect title!" so I kept it).

        My thought was that readers' concerns about the headline would be quelled once they read the content, which clearly comes at the issue from a feminist standpoint. 

        And the question itself, ooh boy — that was one that I struggled with myself for years! So I've really been enjoying the conversation, even when people have voiced VASTLY different outlooks than I have.

        But maybe it's a great question for us all — how can you find the balance between self-deprecating irony and feminist fierceness?

        1 agrees
      • I definitely used the wrong word. I was trying to get at that feeling that men sometimes have when they aren't valued for "being men" (whatever that means), and I had a mind blip, but I don't think my one misused word derailed the whole point I was trying to make.

        I did choose the the wrong word, but I wasn't being unkind. Belittling someone's opinion, however, is very unkind. The author asked for feedback. I expect she was hoping to hear lots of different opinions so that she could formulate her own view, or find a way to be comfortable with a view she already held. I doubt she wrote it to weed out those that hold unpopular/counter viewpoints. If so, I'm sorry if I misunderstood the purpose of this exercise.

        PS To be clear, I was talking about dating, not a union/partnership/marriage. Also, I never said a man who doesn't pay IS "less than." I said it might make one's partner FEEL "less than" if he isn't given the opportunity (if he wants it). Maybe my expressed view isn't progressive enough to be valuable? I certainly feel attacked for not expressing the "right" opinion.

        1 agrees
        • Maybe my expressed view isn't progressive enough to be valuable?

          I just want to interject here and say that ALL views are considered valuable on Offbeat Home & Life, even when readers may disagree with each other.

          4 agree
          • Thank you, Ariel. I've been a member of this community almost since day one, so it means a lot to me that you stepped in to reaffirm that different isn't wrong, that all opinions are welcome. You and your team have done wonders when it comes to keeping things relatively open and accepting on here. I feel the support from you guys, for sure, both personally and when others have expressed minority or dated opinions as well. Heck, it's those differences that keep me coming back. For me, I always love to read the varying perspectives of others, ones I agree with and ones I don't. I'm often surprised by a way of thinking I hadn't considered before, or listening to the rare life experienced person chime in with something new. It's a rare, rare thing to find a place where even the aging punk rock population can voice their thoughts. Plus, you've created a kick-ass place to learn about new things. Or, it was.

            Nowadays, I'm beginning to feel more and more hard line attitudes jacking the discussions. While they aren't breaking the "no drama policy" per se, I do see a lot of wave riding condemnation and mean girl syndrome, which is funny to me as someone who's already lived through all this stuff, as a person who was categorized as "different" at a time when "different" couldn't be bought at the mall, and different was often a dangerous thing to be.

            See, I identify with many of the young'un's [said in self-deprecating grandma voice] strongly held opinions. I held them, too, once. But, my thoughts on relationships and children and all sorts have evolved as I've grown. Some very punk rock ideals I held as a 20-year-old kind fell to the wayside when reality set in during the journey. Others are stronger than ever. My ideas on child rearing were very, very different before I had a child, when my child was growing up and again now that he's grown. That's not to say I was ever "wrong," just that things change and that's not always bad. There are some things that I've held fast to, and others that frankly seemed like a great idea in the abstract, but didn't end up working the way I thought it might. I'm not naming those examples here as I don't want to get flamed again. But this whole scenario of openness and acceptance (by the commenters, not the administrators) reminds of a great scene in the old TV show "Ally McBeal:" Everyone standing around a young woman who is naked from the waist up. They are arguing about whether or not you could tell if she had fake breasts. In exasperation, Lucy Lui's character rolls her eyes and stomps forward, grabbing the breasts in her two hands, and says, "They may look real…but they don't FEEL real."

            Again, my sincere gratitude for your creating a forum built on openness and acceptance, and for attempting to foster respect. It's not an easy horse to lasso, but you do it as well as I've ever seen.

        • I get what you're saying, and I agree with Ariel that all opinions are valued. But I think maybe the opening of your comment "Someone's mother raised him right!" was perhaps taken as belittling *other* opinions – as though if we didn't agree, our parents didn't raise us right?

          So I think there's maybe a bit too much drama on both sides of this argument. We can all be more respectful, definitely.

          4 agree
          • Oh. I certainly didn't mean it that way. It's a really common Southern phrase here that is meant (and usually taken) as a compliment, but I can see how, maybe in another country, it might have been misconstrued. I don't think that is the case here, but I could be wrong.

          • Sure, I completely understand you were intending to compliment the OP's boyfriend – but I still think it's an odd phrase, as the implication is that men who don't behave like that (or those of us who don't agree with men paying) have been badly brought-up. I know you were only meaning to be nice about him! But to me, it's a very problematic way of complementing someone.

            2 agree
      • Yeah, the headline was all me and not the invention of Offbeat. Like Megan said, I hoped the feminist angle of the article would balance the headline itself.

    • The fact that men paid for generations and it wasn't awkward is not v helpful, as it takes in quite a lot of time when women could only get very low-paying jobs, if any, and married women (among others) couldn't own property. That is why men paid. So not really applicable to the situation at hand, where I assume there is (approximate) financial equality.

      4 agree
  36. In past relationships we'd always alternate who paid when we went out. That way it always felt like one of us was "treating" the other, but eventually it worked out about equal. Now my partner and I share a bank account, but weirdly I almost always let him whip out the debit card when we go out, even though the money is coming from the same place, regardless. Hah.

    3 agree
    • We have almost the exact same situation — since we live in Indonesia, if I pay for things he 'loess face' as the 'male head of the household'. So, I usually hand him the money or debit card and let him pay — even though the money is all coming from the same place at the end of the day.

  37. I completely understand, and in fact wrote about my own issues about the 'who pays' dilemma.

    I feel that it is important to split or pay some of the time. My SO is Japanese, and so has been socialized to pay for women.Always.

    I found that me paying outright or passing him my half at the counter (as in Japan you go up to a register to pay) makes him uncomfortable, so now I discreetly pass him some cash before we leave the table, and then he pays at the register. Everyone wins^ ^

    1 agrees
    • That's interesting, because I've noticed when I offer to pay he kind of has an "…okay" attitude, where he's not sure how to handle it. Maybe my paying makes HIM uncomfortable!

  38. Confession: It's been nearly 10 years since I dated, but I always loved when my date paid.

    Does that make me a Bad Feminist? I don't think so — I always brought enough money to pay my share, but I definitely never said no when my date offered to pay.

    I was in my 20s! And broke! If my date paid for me, that was one less expense I needed to worry about. A good date, a little lovin', AND a free dinner?! Score.

    My husband and I have been together for nearly 10 years now and there's no 'mine' and 'his' when it comes to our finances.

    We have one bank account and two debit cards and all of the money is co-mingled. Sometimes I earn more, sometimes he earns more… It's all the same in the end.

    I've never felt like we needed to differentiate what money belongs to me and what money belongs to him, nor how the expenses get broken down.

    (That's what works for us, but I know that wouldn't work for everyone.)

    2 agree
  39. I think general unwritten rule of dating is whoever made the date is the one who pays.

    As far as established long term relationships I think its just whoever has money and is willing to pay? My fiance doesn't pay every single time we go out, and I think the nice thing about being in a relationship is the knowing that there will be a next time that you can pay for and vice versa.

    I guess I just don't worry about it anymore and I dont think my fiance does either…

  40. I wonder when you get beyond this stage of the relationship into marriage ( are you living together now?) will you still keep separate accounts?

    It took a lot of therapy to trust my husband enough to add my earnings to the same account. He had never done anything to earn distrust,,,It was about total trust. And the long lasting effect of having my father take off with everything when she ended the marriage with my him.

    I'm in my 50's and am intrigued that this argument is still going on.

    I feel like my mother burned her bra for nothing.

    When my husband and I dated neither of us paid. We took sandwiches, met somewhere, and drank free wine at art galleries openings with the beautiful people. Screwing, as I was on birth control, was free entertainment. We could afford only to decide whose apartment we would spend the night at.

    He makes ..a lot… More money than I do these days. Though our money goes into the same account, he loves it when I pick up the check to pay for anything from our account.

    (Sometimes off the topic, but… Oh, well)

  41. I just negotiate this by taking turns. I kinda hate splitting up checks anyhow, and when I goout to eat with friends we often take turns picking up the check, so its not weird at all to extend that same sort of arrangement to people I am romantically involved with. Sometimes one person will pay more than one time in a row, but I generally try to keep things approximately fair. And it's fun to get to feel like you are "treating" someone, so both people should get a chance to do it.

  42. With all of these kinds of things that are about balance in relationships, whether it's doing chores, making decisions, or paying for things, I've found that it works best for me and my partners to make it about generosity. Instead of trying to split everything up perfectly evenly and logically, we both try to be gracious about both giving and accepting anything the other person has to offer. We both like cooking and dislike dishes, so we started by agreeing that whoever didn't cook did the dishes. But then we realized that we were also both trying to outdo the other person in generosity – so sometimes one person would do all the dishes while cooking, or the cook would quietly go start dishes after dinner while the other person was distracted with something. Sometimes we'd fall back on the default, but trying hard to take care of the other person leaves both the carer and the cared for person feeling good. If someone ends up doing "extra," it's all their own choice and they can't feel mad at the other person for doing less. If someone ends up doing less, they don't have to feel guilty for it – but they can try to be extra-special caring to the other person, too.

    It works this way with paying for stuff, too. As most people have been saying, as long as you COMMUNICATE a lot and make sure that nobody's doing stuff out of obligation but instead out of caring, you can find the balance for your own relationship.

    Sometimes that balance is kind of hard to find. My current boyfriend grew up in the South and he likes to pay for things (and open doors for me, etc). It's got a few echoes of the kind of chivalry that make my feminist self a bit bristly – honestly, before meeting him, I paid for meals and opened doors much more often and automatically than my boyfriends, kind of on principle. In previous relationships, I never liked how much chivalry tended to feel like a deliberate signifier – "Oh I'll take the check for this nice dinner – see how gentlemanly I am?" "Oh I'll open the car door for you on date night – isn't that deserving of makeouts later?"

    With this guy, it doesn't feel like that at all. The chivalry-type stuff is what his mom taught him. It's not about sexy gallantry, it's just about basic respect and being a good person. It's in the same category as helping a busy mom with her groceries or buying a drink for a military veteran in a bar. So I don't feel like it's really anti-feminist, it's more a quirk of how his "being a good person" plays out based on his cultural history. So in this relationship, he picks up the check on our dates a lot more often, I tend to make up for it in other ways (like the grocery store), and we both feel good about it.

    2 agree
  43. My boyfriend (it's not really called dating here in Europe, we call it boyfriend from the beginning of seeing us and until we get married :-)) and I are together for over 3 years now. I always hated to let him pay.
    I was 20 years old when I had my first ever relationship with a man and I always had to pay for my own drinks, holidays and shopping items. I am a grown woman with a degree from a university and I make my own money.

    So when we met each other, I made it clear that I will not let him pay anything for me. Not even a drink. Although I earn a lot less than he does. Also I made it clear that I do not want us to buy presents for each other on our birthdays and christmas. Instead we go shopping and buy something together that we both really want for us (like a new DVD or a holiday or recently a machine for home-made icecream) and share the cost and the item and spend some happy hours together enjoying the outcome of our expenses.

    On groceries we usually split it so that one time I pay and one time he pays, since also the shares on the single buy are not always even. But I like to think that it is somewhat weighed out.

    We recently bought a flat together and took a credit together and we made sure with a private contract that if we break up one day, everyone gets the money back he put into this flat and not more and not less, although if we did not have this contract, it would be a huge financial advantage for me.

    In my opinion, that is a great solution for the both of us. And we live very well with that. I am sometimes short on money, but I hate borrowing money from him and I always pay him back within the next week.

    But what I will have to take is that if we should have children one day, he will be the one to earn the most money in our relationship and I will have to take him paying for the most part of it all since I can not do too much in this situation. I still do not feel comfortable on that, I will have to learn to let this happen.

    • what i also forgot to say:
      this behaviour is only in second place caused by being feminist in my opinion. the idea of a relationship being an economical unit is in my opinion outdated since women have the possibility to go to school and work for their money. This is a great opportunity for relationships as well. We do not marry for money any more but we marry for love. Two economical units existing next to each other, but two hearts beating together. This is the new kind of relationship that feminism has enabled us to have.

  44. No, you absolutely shouldn't just "shut up" about anything in a relationship that makes you uncomfortable. Just discuss it with him. It is entirely possible that he just has no idea that dating works any other way. Feminism has done a lot for men and women…but there is still an overwhelming sense in relationships that a "good" date must pay for his ladyfriend to show that he's a good provider or whatever. If you'd rather go Dutch, or switch off paying, just say so. I can't imagine that it would be a big issue for him. And if it is, and also one for you, better to know that now so you can decide if it is a deal-breaker sort of thing with this relationship.

    1 agrees
  45. Short answer: no, you shouldn't shut up, because discussions about money are very important.

    Here's my suggestion: This really only works in relationships where you know each other's income, but the way I like to pay for things is by percentage. Add your incomes together and then divide your income by the total to figure out the percentage of expenses (for dates or anything else) you should be paying. This provides the most equitable arrangement and helps prevent one person from bearing more financial burden than they can afford.

    I absolutely think you should insist on at least some type of split, if nothing else to avoid feelings of guilt, like you "owe" your partner sex (or whatever) because they paid for a date, or any number of other icky feelings that come from financial inequity in a relationship. The other advantage of percentage splits is that if one person becomes unemployed for a time, there is no pressure for them to continue to try to pay for things while they work on finding a new job, or if they are choosing to stay home with children.

  46. Its funny, I'm married, finances combined and everything, but my husband still insists on being the one to pay, unless I get there first and just do it, its how he defaults. When we first dated everything was dutch but as soon as things got serious, I think he felt some instinctive desire to take care of me and wanted to pay for things. Its a little old fashioned, but sweet.

    1 agrees
  47. My boyfriend almost always insists on paying for dates centered around food, and truth be told, I don't mind. I've offered many times to cover the check, but it makes him feel like a gentleman to buy me breakfast and dinner, so I let him unless he's already taken me on two or three dates that same weekend. We split expenses like gas and parking, and sometimes, he'll let me pay for movie, museum, and other event tickets. I spoil him in other ways like keeping his favorite snacks stocked in my pantry.

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