Who Pays? Money and dating


I (he/him) have been out a few times with a someone (he/him) who insists on paying for stuff.

This is super new to me. My date paying philosophy is: (1) presume an equitable* split; and (2) the inviter or asker should pay or at a minimum offer/expect to pay, especially if they have selected the venue or activity.

*equitable can include 50-50 splits (each time or taking turns), paying your own check, or proportional share with income disparate couples, especially the longer you’ve been dating/together.

The someone knows that I aim to be frugal and that I don’t eat out very often. So some of his insistence on paying comes from a place of thinking that I wouldn’t be eating out or going to a specific activity if we weren’t seeing one another. He has said that it is affordable to him/he is in an ok place financially. He also has been very open about doing things that are free/cheap/not getting food.

The asker/inviter model isn’t very useful. He is a recent transplant to the area, so more of the ideas of what to do come from me (because I know where things are/things that exist) & are then mutually agreed upon. I’d feel a little better if he was paying for things he suggested, rather than things I did. Of course, I’m doing more of the ‘figuring out what to do’ emotional labor, and, eventually, would like that to balance out.

We haven’t spent enough time together to have deep and meaningful conversations about finances or frugality yet, though it’s come up in a bunch of ways. From what I can tell, I am in a much stronger, more secure financial position. Letting him pay for stuff when I could afford it - or suggest we do cheaper activities - feels weird to borderline wrong.

Thoughts or suggestions? This may just be a dating thing and not LGBTQI+ dating specific. Feel free to move topic if so.


I’m straight, but feminist, so my ‘who pays’ issues aren’t identical but aren’t dissimilar. The paying thing involves socioeconomic issues, disparate values, power differentials, and (in my case) gendered cultural expectations.

For very early dates I like to meet up somewhere super cheap, then get my own item. Those early days are when you’re weeding out the worst people, and among those worst people are the ones who will think I owe them something because they paid for my coffee.

Later on it gets more complicated. My last boyfriend made a ton of money and had really expensive tastes, so he almost always paid. When he paid a few hundred for a ‘dining experience’ it was really weird and made me uncomfortable. I would invite him on dates to the carwash, to look at stars, for tacos, etc., and I would pay on those.

I don’t really know what my point is. Where I’ve settled is that very early on there’s a rigid rule for me and my dates, but after that ideally we can communicate and work out something that’s good for everyone.


My preferred model is a super cheap first date, ideally paying my own/50/50. And then turns afterwards based partly on the asker/askee dynamic but also sometimes just paying because it’s been a while.

In early dating I avoid anywhere that I couldn’t pay my own way, and in later dating I will respond to some suggestions (VIP movie) by saying that I am happy at a regular movie, and will go to the fancy one, but won’t pay and would like to choose and pay for a different date next time.

Some of my dating also involves a D/s dynamic. In those cases I’m also sensitive to how paying or not paying helps them be in their roles. And this has also clarified some of the issues with who pays that went on with other relationships.

If it’s too soon to go in depth with money, could you have a feelings talk about paying? “I feel spoiled when you pay, and I like that. But I also want my turn to spoil you”.

But lets always remember to take my dating advice with a grain of salt and a few glasses of wine.


Maybe this is new to me because it’s rare for someone to reach “third date” stage for me. Haha.

He knows that I don’t like him always paying or want to be doing expensive things all the time, but we haven’t really gotten into the why, what my relationship with money is, or how it matters - or doesn’t - to him. I agree that this can be solved with communication. :slight_smile:

The language of “spoiling someone” by being the one who is paying doesn’t work for me, at all. I understand that some people have love languages that include giving other people stuff or receiving stuff or monetary support from someone. I also appreciate the idea that there is a D/s relational aspect that makes this important for some people.

I have whatever the opposite of that is. Intense egalitarianism or equity as an orientation? :smile: Probably because I view ‘taking care of someone’ by paying for them as an inherently gendered role that ultimately stems from treating women (and femininity) in an infantilized or objectified way.

Which leads us to…

Yes, all of this.

My social world has both “gay” and “queer” circles that don’t overlap that much. I struggle with how to handle being voluntarily low-budget/frugal in both of these worlds. Comparative to the queer and umbrella circles, I’m extraordinarily privileged and uncomfortable when people may make erroneous assumptions about my financial well-being.

In some of the gay cultural spaces, I’m surrounded by more affluent, mostly white, cis men from professional backgrounds. In these groups, I’m more of a hippie weirdo and struggle with how disconnected many such men are from social justice issues. Also, a lot of the things people like to do are classist-style hobbies, for socio-economic and cultural reasons.


This is such a good topic, @FIFoFum - I am really interested in this myself, particularly as a queer person who, similar to Elle, dates in both the queer and straight worlds. The way straight dudes perceive who should pay is so very different than how two women usually do, and it really gets my rankles up, but also I’m cheap so I think “should I just let them pay?”.

I always tend to the 50/50 split, and still do now that I’ve been in a co-habitating relationship for 3 years, though for one another’s birthday we’ll often pay for the other’s food if we go out. For me, the first date is only one part of the minefield - it gets so much more complicated when you don’t live together yet, but are hanging out a lot, and sharing a lot of non-restaurant expenses where the bill is higher, but also fuzzier.

Like groceries to cook together (my fav frugal date) - who pays? What if one of you drinks alcohol or eats cheese at the other doesn’t? (that sh*t’s expensive!)

I don’t have very helpful things to say, I guess, just musings on this.

SSO and I ended up creating a ledger because when we first started hanging out we would constantly be square cash/venmo’ing $1 - $6 back and forth for split bills at bars. It got annoying, so now we just use a shared Todoist list where we enter the transactions assigned to the other person and then reconcile at the end of the month. In YNAB, we have accounts for the other person that we split expenses for.

From a grocery co-habitating perspective: we split anything shared 50/50 but anything that’s exclusive to one person is not split. So I don’t drink alcohol and SSO gets really fancy non-sugar ice cream, but I eat sugar and get slightly cheaper ice cream, so we each pay full costs for non-shared things.

Occasionally I will break into the freezer and eat SSO’s ice cream in the middle of the night, and then I will replace it at full cost. cough

Also since SSO is out of town 3-4 days a week traveling, when I buy things to be consumed when SSO is gone (vegetables, pasta, etc) we don’t split it down the middle.


I’d like to clarify that I get off on both sides of the caretaking dynamic. Paying for treats, being spoiled, baking, etc. But I dislike it being unequal in the long-term.

But the language of spoiling was just an example of how I’d compliment sandwich this discussion.

I’m completely unsurprised by the differences you see in those groups. Any person with real long term potential will be willing to learn and open their mind, although it won’t be overnight.

I remain continually impressed by your dedication to math and tracking


I’ve been dating for about 25 years with an 8 year break for marriage :wink: and nearly always have done 50/50 split. My last male partner is the first person I’ve dated that was very insistent on paying. We had some really good conversations around this - as a person he actively fights against -isms so it wasn’t coming from an inherent cultural expectation for him. We’d been friends for some time before dating and he knew I had ambitious financial goals and never went out to eat on my own. But I wasn’t dating anyone then, and once I was, I preferred to split and budgeted accordingly for that. Mostly he felt that he didn’t want to derail my finances too much as he knew our salary differences and my spending habits, and I spent more of my time/money traveling to his place and working around his schedule, so to him it was a fair trade. It was an ongoing conversation and I let go of my angst about it. If we’d have moved in together we would have started splitting everything.

My last female partner was used to being paid for in her existing long-term relationship and we usually traded paying; we didn’t keep track, it just kinda worked itself out on its own.

I always wonder if there’s a regional difference, too – I grew up on the West Coast and always offered to split on first dates, and then usually went every other. When I first dated here in the Midwest, men were often very put off by my offering to split on a first date and took it as incontrovertible proof I hated them :stuck_out_tongue: On paper I’m dating the same crunchy artist types here as I was there.

It doesn’t seem to be an age thing, either; a friend of mine 12 years younger was absolutely pissed that one second date asked if she wanted to split the bill (for pizza or something equally not uber-spendy). She almost stopped seeing him, she was so offended, and I was her only friend that thought she was nuts. They’re now married with kiddos so it worked itself out :slight_smile:


I appreciated everyone’s thoughts on this - especially in the differences with regards to gender, region, and relationship seriousness.

I wanted to add a post-script: no longer seeing the person who prompted me to start this thread. We never got to a place of deeper conversations about money, although he was open to my free/low cost ideas of fun things to do.

While we were seeing each other, he frequently raised ideas of things we should do that were not only a little more pricey than I just do on a whim (road trip to a nearby city, tickets to a show of someone I’d happily just watch on netflix, etc.). I did a lot of deferring - not even so much because of $$$, rather because they were too MUCH or too far away in time (in proportion to how long we had known each other). They were “Yeah, we should do that…someday” ideas, not “Let’s do that tomorrow!” and in the back of my head, I was thinking: If we’re even still talking to each other then.

Anyway, the ways things went from Let’s do all the things! to ghosting (which I guess is how people handle things now?) was an excellent reminder not to stretch your comfort on $ or budgeting early on for a person in an early stage of dating. I have no problem with how things went, but I would be frustrated if I pushed myself to be spendy to match the $ priorities/values of someone who made it past 3 dates but not 3 months.



(although ugh ghosting NO)

In the past I’ve definitely overextended myself too early - mostly finance-wise, but also time-wise and with one person emotionally as well.

Good reminder, thank you.

I’ve become a lot better at sticking more closely to my “plan” regardless of infatuation of early days, but also communicating where I am willing to compromise and making good on spending in that arena, especially in winter.

…but: show of hands, who has bought concert/festival tickets for someone that wasn’t around by the event date? More than I’d like to admit, here!

I think, though, that tendency of mine was a major factor in prompting me to figure out a different relationship with my finances. I’m so much happier now when I DO decide to spend money on a prospective partner, because it’s just part of my budget and not a big emotionally-laden purchase that “means” something.

…I’m probably not making any sense other than yes: my early post-divorce dating years were fraught with mistakes :wink:


Emergency! Date has never let me pay for a fancy meal. But I begged Date to come protect me at a friend’s birthday tomorrow. Which is at a crazy expensive restaurant. It looks delicious and fancy. I asked, I pay, right? How do I enforce this around friends? Or do I just go with the flow?


You be sneaky.


I tried being sneaky. The restaurant was not on my side. They handed bills out to the butcher members of the party. So So weird. I’d expect a fancy restaurant in 2019 to enquire about how to divide things. And the staff I encountered enroute to the washroom wouldn’t help.


Also there was fa Cy alcohol at the fancy restaurant and I. Dru k