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Should men pay on first date?

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At first glance, it seems that there are few things less incompatible than dating and finance. Surely talking about money is a real turn-off for a potential partner?

Well, yes and no. Ultimately, dating is about getting to know someone and learning to make decisions together. And few decisions are more important than how you choose to budget your money.

Too many people fail to consider money or finances as an important factor when they are falling in love. Initially, this is understandable. But just like other elements that can make or break a romantic relationship — trust, communication, and healthy boundaries — the way you manage and talk about money with your partner needs to be established slowly, and considered as things grow.

The first “financial” discussion that most couples have is often on their first date: Who will pay for dinner?

There are, of course, long-standing (and outdated) cultural assumptions that “the man” will do so. But how you approach this question — both as an individual and as a potential couple — can say a lot about your financial future together. As with most things when it comes to relationships, the key here is honesty and clarity.

Rather than letting those assumptions lurk in the background, be open about money right from the get-go. The goal is to handle this situation in a way that is comfortable for both you and your partner. For instance, you might say, “How should we handle the bill? I know these conversations are a little awkward, but I’d love to cover it if you don’t mind.” Likewise, if you want to split it, you can suggest, “Do you mind if we split this down the middle?”

Don’t, whatever you do, jump in and insist you pay, thinking you are being chivalrous — this can often be read as arrogance. You should also steer clear of either assuming that your date will pay, or that they know your financial situation (or you theirs). If you are embarking on an office romance, for instance, it’s tempting to avoid talking about money because it is also “talking about work.” But avoiding a subject in this way is the beginning of a bad habit, and can store up problems for the future.

Regardless of whether couples choose to split things evenly or base their decision on gender norms or income, being open about what you can and can’t afford and what you’re comfortable having someone else pay for is important, especially if you don’t want to be stuck with any surprise expenses.

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