Opinion: Your Date Doesn’t Always Have to Pick Up the Tab

Ah, the age-old questions that has been ruining relationships since the dawn of time, who picks up the tab when you go on a date? Now, before I continue with this riveting topic, I want to make clear that this is my opinion. So if you are easily offended by opinions that are not your own, stop reading because this is an opinion piece.

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Dating can be super fun, but also extremely confusing. There are all these unspoken rules and they seem to multiply in the dark, but the one topic that has yet to fade away is that of who picks up the tab at the end of a date. Most people have very strong opinions about this topic, as some will say, “It is always the man’s responsibility to pick up the tab”, while others are more inclined to say, “That’s something that can change over time.” Let me provide some insight and a different perspective.

When my husband and I were dating, before we were husband and wife (which seems like an eternity ago tbh) we were both entering our senior year of college. We both had part-time jobs, I was a receptionist at our university and he was Vice President of our Student Government, which means he used to receive a small salary biweekly. I was living at home with my parents; he was living on his own. We were both active in our Greek organizations (which if you were or are Greek you know it’s not cheap) and we both paid for a good portion of our bills (car, cellphone, shopping, etc.). Needless to say, we were not rich by any means, we were the definition of broke college kids.

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The reason I bring this up is because everyone you meet whether you are dating them or not has different financial circumstances; whether, they come from a wealthy family, built a multi-billion dollar business, or are working hard and struggling to get by, there is no one-size-fits all. That is why, we as a society need to be understanding and stop putting so much pressure on these unspoken rules about dating and paying. I get the whole chivalry thing and if the man or woman you are dating has the financial means or feels strongly about always picking up the tab, then hey, more power to them and I respect people that stay true to their convictions. However, this does not mean that you should expect or require your date to always pay for you.

The first few dates Alex and I went on he would pay the check, but after about the 4th date or once I realized this was serious (not sure which one came first), I would offer to pay for the check or offer to split the bill. I’m not and I wasn’t an idiot, I knew he wasn’t rolling in old money or new money, heck he wasn’t even rolling in monopoly money, so why would I feel entitled to have him pay for every single time we hung out? At the end of it, we are both benefiting from a great dinner, a funny movie, or a trip to the zoo.

Dating is a time where two people are getting to know each other, to explore if they are attracted to one another, to see if their life goals, values, and lifestyles matchup;  its two people trying to figure out if they are each other’s life partner. But through this whole process you two are still individuals, with individual financial goals and limitations. Each of you should be mindful and respectful of the other person’s financial situation. This isn’t about chivalry dying, or a feminist saying women don’t need anyone else to pay for them, this is about mutual respect for each other. If you always expect the person you are with to pick up every single bill when the two of you are hanging out, then I suggest you go live on the set of Gossip Girl because that’s just not real life. Be mindful of the individual you are with, look past the age old myth that if a “man cares, he will always pay.” I mean really, it’s the 21st century and dating isn’t conventional anymore, far from it, and we as a society are quickly breaking down gender stereotypes and roles.

So, to answer the question, who picks up the tab at the end of a date? Whoever damn wants to.

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