Imagine this: you’re out on a date with the man of your dreams. You’ve had amazing chemistry, a constant flow of conversation, a few flirts, and most importantly GREAT food! Now the awkward part: who pays for dinner for a first date? In this modern era of independent ladies and softer gents, it can be difficult to pick up on social cues. In her etiquette advice, Miss Emily Post would have said “Gentlemen ALWAYS pay,” but perhaps the playing field has since been leveled.
In the event you find yourself lost in ambiguity, here are a few tips to decipher the social code:
1. Always be prepared to pay for your own part, for emergencies, social or other.
2. When the bill comes, wait for the man to reach for it while you reach for your purse. This shows you are willing to contribute your share, but are letting him take the initiative to offer or clarify his intentions.
3. Verbally make an effort to split the bill (or pay your portion), but acquiesce if he insists. Respect his hard-earned cash but don’t offend his pride or ability to provide.
4. If he insists on taking charge of the full bill, ask if you can leave the tip. You should have cash to avoid troublesome splitting of cards for the waiter or waitress. There are two ways to easily calculate the tip using the receipt… a) double the tax and round up to the nearest dollar amount, b) take 20% of the total and round up. Depending on the establishment, the tip may be left on the table or included with the bill and payment folder.
5. If he has asked you for a “Dine-In Date,” offer to bring something to contribute to the meal, either a side dish, bottle of wine or beers, or dessert. If he wants to impress you with a full spread, simple flowers may be appropriate as a table decoration. However, be prepared to arrange them in a glass or pitcher as he will not likely have a vase on hand.
Being a cheap date is generally not attractive and your beau will appreciate if you are yourself and actually order what you want to eat and not merely the least expensive item on the menu. However, a mark of true lady is respect of his budget and modesty in your character and waistline.
If further dates ensue, keep in mind that you are also learning about financial compatibility for a potential future spouse. Open communication and the tactful feminine charm will quickly become your greatest allies in this area. Bon Appétit!