Q: I was raised to believe that a man is supposed to pay for everything. My last boyfriend was in school and didn't have money, so I paid for everything. We broke up over money and trust issues and now I don't want to make the same mistakes. I've been seeing someone new for about 2 months and I feel guilty because he pays for everything and I'm not sure if he can afford it. But at the same time, I want to know if this is Biblical? Can women pay for dates or should men pay, always? Karen
A: Money is awkward enough to talk about with people you've known for a while, not to mention a new romantic interest.
Biblically, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer because dating, as we know it, was not common in Biblical times. There were arranged marriages where the groom gave the wife's family a dowry of money and gifts before marriage to prove that he could take care of their daughter (Genesis 34:12, 1Samuel 18:25, Exodus 22:16-17).
But that's all the information the Bible provides. There are no instances where boy meets girl; boy asks girl out on date; boy pays for date.
Each situation is different and it all depends on your beliefs, your date’s beliefs, and what you both can agree on.
However, when deciding how to handle paying for dates, make sure you consider what you ultimately want and the long-term consequences of your decision. Because the standards that you set in the beginning, could define the terms for the rest of the relationship. And although it may feel cute and cuddly at first, some situations get old.
Here is my opinion of 5 typical ways couples pay for date nights to help you decide.
- I’ve met plenty of women who want to pay for everything because they may make more than their significant others. However, over time, they begin to feel used and like they were the only ones in the relationship--because they were doing all of the investing financially, emotionally, or otherwise. Unfortunately, most mature men in this situation may feel like a mere trophy piece or an accessory who their significant other could live without. They don’t feel needed, so they grow bored of the arrangement pretty quickly. Eventually, they withdrew from contributing to other parts of the relationship as well, such as calling, planning dates, and showing genuine interest in her life.
So, unless he’s a lazy, gold-digging momma’s boy, this may not work—long term.
2. Some couples prefer to take turns paying for dates. This works well if neither of you are well-established in your careers and you're on a tight budget. It’s also a sign that your date wants to see you again, if he offers to pay next time. But beware of feeling like you “owe” him after a while if you’re keeping score of whose turn it is to pay and how much he spends versus how much you spend. The last thing you want is a creditor –debtor relationship when you’re trying to make romance happen.
3. There's an unspoken rule that says: “whoever asks the other out, should pay.” This can backfire if the guy does all of the asking but he doesn’t necessarily like doing all of the paying. He may take it as a sign that she expects him to pay for everything. If she does all the asking and paying, she may take it as a sign that he’s not interested enough to invest in the relationship.
4. There are men who prefer to pay for everything. I'm pretty sure that this was born before equal rights in an era when men worked and most women didn't. So it was natural for men to pay for everything.
When I met my husband, this was (and still is) his mentality. To him, it was embarrassing for me to reach for my wallet—unless it was his birthday. He appreciated the fact that I didn’t mind paying, but he was raised to believe that it’s the manly thing to do. And you know what? I gladly let him. Because men who are wired this way are not going to change. They feel that it’s emasculating to let women take care of them financially.
If you disagree, you can argue and force your beliefs on him, but he’s eventually going to settle down with a woman who makes him feel “manly.” So it’s best for you to either let him be (who he is) or leave him be (alone) if you can’t handle this. If you want to reciprocate or show some appreciation for this type of man, you can occasionally treat him to a home-cooked meal, birthday gifts, tickets to see his favorite sports team or favorite band. He has no choice but to join you if you already have the tickets : )
5. And of course there is always going dutch, where each person either pays for themselves or they split the bill equally. This is my least favorite method of all. When you pay separately, it almost implies that you’re only friends and you have no intention of ever going further. It makes a date feel like a non-date and more of a business meeting or a group social. It just feels so, separate or divided.
However, in defense of independent thinkers, some women have touted that it’s also a way of signaling to the guy that you don’t owe him anything at the end of the evening. There are still some guys who feel that if they pay, you must "play." So, if you want to set the expectations from the beginning, maybe this is an option you should consider.
Whatever the two of you are comfortable with should be clearly communicated so that there is no uncertainty or awkwardness. Be prepared to be flexible if one of you loses your job or if one of you gets a promotion.
P.S. Please note that options 3 & 4 work well for women who believe a guy should court them by paying for the first few dates. They are happy to pitch in after they become an official couple.
Talk back. Leave a comment below, letting me know how you prefer to handle paying for dates?