Should you split the bill on a first date? It’s a question that divides opinions and causes a fair amount of animosity among couples. Get it wrong, and you could be accused of sexism or even come across as tight-fisted or mean.
But when done correctly, splitting the bill can be straightforward, and it can ensure equity in a relationship. But how do you split the bill without causing offence? What do you need to know?
Here, we look at everything you need to know about splitting the bill with your partner to ensure you can bridge the topic without falling out.
Positives of Splitting the Bill
If you want to split the bill on a date, it’s important to go about it correctly. You certainly shouldn’t expect your date to automatically foot half of the bill, particularly if you’re the one that has invited them out.
This is why communication is so important; it might even be worth having the conversation before you go out. This way, there will be no surprises when paying the bill at the end of your meal.
So, if you’re keen to split the bill on a first date, here are some of the positives associated with doing so:
The most significant advantage of splitting the bill on a date is that it is fair and equal. After all, two of you have been present on the date, and it’s fair that you both pay your way. This creates equity in the relationship from the outset and ensures that one person isn’t taken advantage of unfairly.
Suppose you both contribute to the dates that you arrange as a couple. In that case, you can focus on enjoying the experience without worrying about one person footing the bill all the time and the dynamic that creates in your relationship.
Research shows that the average date in the UK can be up to £129, which is a significant amount of money, particularly if you and your partner date regularly.
Splitting the bill immediately offers cost savings, and you can get together more often and even visit more expensive places. As a result, your dating experiences are likely to improve, and you can spend more time getting to know your partner without feeling the need to be responsible for all of the expenses.
When the bill arrives at the end of a date, it can be awkward, particularly if you and your date haven’t discussed things in advance. If you simply assume the other person is going to pay, it can ruin all of the time that you have spent together and put a downer on the entire relationship from the start. This is why it’s such a good idea to speak to your date in advance about splitting the bill, as you won’t surprise them with a payment request when the night draws to a close.
Negatives of Splitting the Bills
While some people are happy to split the bill with their partner, others wouldn’t dream of it! Therefore, it’s only fair to say that splitting the bill has several cons and pros, particularly if you don’t go about it correctly. Some of the drawbacks to asking to split the bill on a date include the following:
Loss of chivalry
Historically, a gentleman was expected to pay for the privilege of taking a lady out on a date. While the world has changed a lot recently, some men still believe it is chivalrous to pay for the bill when taking someone out for a date.
You will find that every person has a different view on whether it’s chivalrous (or potentially offensive) to take this viewpoint. Still, you will need to consider this regarding your relationship with your partner.
If you’re both traditionalists at heart, then there’s certainly nothing wrong with the gentleman paying the bill at the end of the date. But again, you need to be aware that everyone has different expectations in today’s modern world, and it won’t always go down well!
Loss of intimacy
Picture the scene – you’ve just had a wonderful date and connected with the person sitting across from you in ways you didn’t think were possible.
Everything has gone perfectly, and you can’t believe how perfect they seem for you. Then, they ask you to pay half of the bill. How would it make you feel?
For some, it would take away some of the intimacy from the date and could even be seen as a lack of interest. Asking someone for money is difficult at the best of times, particularly after an intimate experience.
If you’re considering splitting the bill, read the room first and consider how you think it will make your date feel – the last thing you want is to make them feel uncomfortable.
Sometimes, it is unfair to split the bill after a date. For instance, if you have invited someone to an expensive restaurant and implied that you would take care of things, it’s unfair to turn around and ask them for money.
Equally, if you have been dating for a while and know that you and your partner don’t earn a similar salary, it’s not necessarily fair to ask them to pay half the bill.
Alternatives to Splitting the Bill on Dates
If splitting the bill at the end of a date fills you with dread, but you don’t want to foot the entire cost of a night out yourself, there are some alternatives to consider:
An approach that works well for many couples is taking turns paying the bill. Even if there are slightly different costs from date to date, taking turns to pay for things means you don’t need to worry about splitting each bill down the middle. Instead, you can focus on enjoying the company of your partner and know that you will contribute financially to your nights out together.
Who initiated the date?
When it comes to first dates, a good rule of thumb is that the person who initiates the date pays the bill. While this approach doesn’t work for everyone, it’s certainly a fair way to approach things.
After all, if you’ve been speaking to someone for a while and finally convinced them to go out with you, asking them to split the bill at the end of the evening might not go down particularly well.
You pay for this, I pay for that
Another option is to pay for different aspects of the date. So, if you head to the cinema, you could pay for the tickets, while the other could buy the drinks and popcorn.
If you adopt this approach, try and make sure that the aspects are relatively similar in price, as you don’t want to cause an argument by offering to pay for the cheapest part of the date each time!
Many couples struggle to decide whether to split the bill on a date. The fact that people have strong feelings about whether or not a bill should be split doesn’t make things any easier.
We advise that communication is key, and you should speak to your date about it before surprising them with your suggestion. Chatting about splitting the bill beforehand will take much of the awkwardness away, enabling you to focus on enjoying the date.
If you’re struggling to bridge financial topics with your partner, our guide to talking to your partner about money without fighting or conflict will help you out.