Why splitting the bill on a first date could be the key to a successful love life

73 per cent of women think chivalry is dead, according to Match.com

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 01 August 2017 16:34 BST
(Getty Images)

There was a moment on Love Island that will leave fans will be talking about in years to come, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Cash Hughes.

Jonny and Camilla were having a conversation that was - for once - devoid of the usual “eggs in baskets”/”stick it on me” rhetoric.

This rather high-brow - by Love Island standards - conversation was specifically about the financial logistics of dating. And #Jamilla fans will know that it didn’t end well. After Jonny admitted that he'd feel emasculated if a girl offered to split the bill with him.

Camilla responded by explaining that she would feel awkward were a man to pay for an entire bill, to which Jonny (bless his ignorant soul) responded, “you’re a feminist aren’t you?”

Cue nationwide face palm.

As Jonny and Camilla’s little tête-à-tête exemplified, money might be funny, but it definitely isn’t sexy.

The subject of who should pay for who on a first date is evidently still a matter of great fragility.

What if you paying will hurt their ego? What if you have an uneven number of drinks? What about when one person earns significantly more? What if they chose the most expensive bar in the city? Is paying for everything like buying your way into someone’s bedroom? How long until this becomes deemed as a form of prostitution? What if they think it's still the Fifties and women don't have the right to work/vote/buy their own drinks?

Welcome to the smorgasbord of sexual politics.

According to the most recent edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette, the "official" rule is as follows: “for a first date at least, the person who asks for the date should pay unless both parties agree in advance to share expenses.”

"Can I please pay £27.13 for the lasagna, 2.3 glasses of Pinot Noir and 3.75 pieces of calamari? Oh and a crust of the that piece of bread." (iStock)

“But…but…I don’t know who swiped right on Tinder first?” I hear you cry.

Not only is this quite possibly the most millennial thing anyone could ever say, it indicates just how blurry the lines of modern dating are.

Obviously if you meet someone at a bar or a party, it can be significantly simpler. However, most dating apps have yet to introduce an algorithm that shows who liked who first. Then, there are apps like Bumble, where the woman actually has to initiate the chat, so who’s the instigator in that scenario?

Even if you could identify an initiator – in the Tindersphere or IRL – can you picture yourself talking pennies and pingits quicker than you can say “medium dry Rosé?”

"I would feel uncomfortable if a guy insisted on paying the whole bill on a first date, especially if it was a lot of money,” 24-year-old Samantha told The Independent. “It just seems unfair, particularly if there isn't a second date and a chance for me to balance it out.”

That’s not to say it’s time to get the calculators out (few things kill the mood like times tables), particularly if you’re operating on a “drinks at the bar” basis, in which case there would probably be several bills after every round for you to scratch your unsexy heads over.

“Most of the time a guy offers to get the first round of drinks and then we'd just take it in turns,” Samantha explained. “If they pay a little more on the first date I don't lose too much sleep over it and will simply get the first round on date two."

For some datefolk, not offering to pay at all – not even a tactical “reach” - can be very off putting, particularly so early on.

“I would pay up until date three or four when we know each other better. But I would expect them to offer sincerely every time,” 22-year-old Hugo told The Independent. “If they don’t sort of offer then it’s a massive turn off”

And that’s just drinks. As for dinner? That’s a whole different minefield.

What if you opt for a modest pasta dish but then they order the filet mignon? Or if you order the house red and they insist on the sommelier’s finest Merlot?

“I’d actually find it very bizarre if a guy asked me to dinner for a first date,” 26-year-old Lucy told The Independent. “Maybe it’s a generation thing but for me, dinner is more of a third date thing and by that point you’d both probably feel fine just splitting it. Particularly if the guy is the same age as me and I know we’re on a fairly level playing field,” she continued.

“If they suggest going to some super fancy restaurant for the first date it’s an instant red flag, not least because of the obnoxious price tags, but for what it says about their character.”

In the words of Nortorious B.I.G.: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

In summary:

  1. Leave gender stereotypes to Donald Trump
  2. Whilst it’s kind for someone to offer to pay the whole hog, for the sake of ease it’s always better to split or take turns buying rounds, regardless of who asked who or who has a nicer handbag
  3. Save champagne and caviar for another time, or at least until you know their last name.

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