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Act Like Scrooge On Your First Date And Prepare To Meet Thy Doom

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Act Like Scrooge On Your First Date And Prepare To Meet Thy Doom

Why men should always pay on a first date and for a long time afterwards

Dear Duana,

I really liked Diana, and on our first date I thought the chemistry was there.  But she’s vague about another date.  My women friends say I doomed it by going halves, which I only did because during my long former marriage, I heard that some women take offense to traditional dating.  They couldn’t say why I should’ve paid, but they were adamant that I should have.   Are they right?  If so, why?  Is there a good way to approach Diana one more time?



Dear Duana,

I’m a grad student, so when my friend Eva offered to set me up for a first date with Traci, I said I’d need to split the cost.  Eva then declined to set us up unless I agreed to pay the whole bill.  I’m not opposed to paying sometimes, but it doesn’t seem fair, modern, or economically wise for me to do it now.  What’s the answer?



Dear Doug and Drew,

Your intentions sound good, well-reasoned, and fair.  And I’d like to say that’s enough.

But the Road To Sex is not paved with good intentions.  It’s paved with good attentions—including spending money on the woman you’re interested in.

Here’s why:

Paying Men = Popular Men:

Fear not that you will offend via generosity, Doug.  Extensive evolutionary research shows that women all over the world, no matter how rich they are, prefer the Paying Man.

And my professional observations most definitely concur.  Notwithstanding urban legends of Angry Women Who Amputate Paying-Men’s Nads; nor my decade-plus as relationship consultant to women who can afford their own dinner (and yours, too); nor 20 years amongst highly educated, competent professionals with a steadfast belief in equal pay for equal work; nor extensive in-class interactions with today’s gorgeous and ambitious women—

I have never met one who abhorred the Paying Man simply because he paid. 

But I’ve encountered many who were angered by, confused about, and ultimately Unwilling To Put Out For (or up with) the Non-Paying Man.

Put another way, there are two kinds of men: Those who pay for dinner, and those we just don’t like anymore.

Paying Men = Committing Men:

Why would equality-valuing women risk hypocrisy by trying to have it both ways?  Why shouldn’t they pay their own way if they can?

Because love and sex are about something more Core than fairness or logic.   They’re about our physical and Genetic survival (details are available at the Love Science articles linked below my signature).  We want what our ancestors wanted—and we want those things because They Worked, carrying those ancestral preferences all the way down to us in a literally unbroken line.

And here’s where our emotions come in.  They make the stuff that Worked feel Great, and the stuff that failed feel Awful.    

Thus, women’s emotions operate from an ancient logic, helping women feel Good in the presence of a Man Who Is *Willing* And *Able* To Provide And Protect…

and Bad when their date divvies the bill.     

Men invest where they love, and women know it.  So what women correctly, albeit often unconsciously sense behind non-investment is non-love, insecurity, and  a bad long-term bet.

So if *she* pays on a first date (yes, even if she asked you out!), her emotions send up the red flares:  “He either can’t or won’t provide.  Danger.”   Her ancestral mothers’ psychology adds:   “You’re just a hook-up; you’ll be abandoned, abused, diseased, impoverished, or left in danger of losing your life through an unsupported pregnancy.”

Upshot?  A man’s failure to Pay clearly tells women they won’t be getting what their long-term mating psychology most requires:  Commitment.

And women who know there’ll never be Commitment tend to short-circuit men’s short-and-long-term mating goal: Sex.

Which brings us to Who Pays For Dinner:  You.

By now, the solution is obvious:  Pay The Entire Bill, especially on the first date and then some.  Pay it willingly, generously, and as if you’re truly glad to do so, because *willingness* to provide is at least as important to women as ability.       

Observe your own feelings as you fork over the Visa.  Your emotions, just like hers, convey vital information.  If being with this woman is a job, not a joy, and you resent paying—that’s a message from your Gut that she’s Not Worth It to you.  Move on.  Finding it out might cost you dinner now, but that’s a lot cheaper than divorce later.

What you needn’t be is Lavish, Drew.  Plan a date you can easily afford in full.  A swim at a pool that shows movies at night is inventive, fun, and affordable .  Plus, need I elaborate?  You get to see what your date looks like wearing Not Much.  A walk around the local lake, followed by a picnic you’ve packed, is inexpensive, but it shouts what women want to hear: “I Am Willing To Do For, Think About, And Provide For YOU.”

And Doug, in your case, it sounds as if you have means and only require reassurance that dating etiquette hasn’t changed that much.  Now that you’ve got it, you might call Diana and leave her a voicemail like this:

“Diana, this is Doug.  I’m hoping you’ll give me a moment to explain something.  I’m thinking I may have put you off by going dutch on our date.  Ironically, I was trying to avoid offending you by seeming too traditional.  I really like you, and I’m hoping you’ll give me another shot at taking you out properly.  How about it?  I’ll call you back tomorrow and hope for a yes.  Take care.”

If she has some other reason for declining, this probably won’t change her mind…but if Non-Payment really was the issue, I’ll bet you’ll get that second chance.

Whatever you do, don’t follow the example of our very distant cousin the scorpionfly.  He begins his first date well enough, offering up his ladylove’s favorite food—a dead insect.  But things often go downhill from there.  As soon as she begins eating, he gets on, gets off, and then, most caddishly, clambers down…to steal back whatever she hasn’t yet consumed.

Talk about paying for dinner!

Wishing you both the best—and a Bon Appetit—




The author wishes to acknowledge the following scientists and sources: 

David M. Buss, for his riveting presentation of what men want, what women want, (what scorpionflies want)—and why, in The Evolution Of Desire – Revised Edition 4 .


All material copyrighted by Duana C. Welch, Ph.D. and Love Science Media, 2010



Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, coming in January, 2015. She also contributes at Psychology Today and teaches psychology at Austin-area universities. Get a free chapter of Love Factually!

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