Who Should Pay For Dinner?

March 11, 2015



Have you ever puzzled over who should pay for dinner on a first date?

Back when I was living mostly in the land of 50/50 love, what author David Deida called Stage 2 Intimacy, I wanted my romantic dates to at least pretend they were willing to foot half the dinner bill.

Especially on a first date.

This would clue me into a woman’s independence.

I needed to see a woman reach for her purse as I went for the bill, acting like she had every intention to contribute.

Even if her reaching was awkward and hesitant, as if feigning the act, I still appreciated it. It was her way of saying, “Bryan, I don’t expect you to take care of me. I can take care of myself.

Oh it just made me swoon!

I don’t have to take care of this woman? Be still, my 2nd Stage heart!

I may have let a woman or two (or more) pay on the first date. Perhaps if she had asked me out first, or if she insisted twice. If there was a second date, I silently hoped she’d grab the bill and say, “I got it!

I’d let her, too, and feel good about doing so.

Evolving Out of The Oppressive Stage 1 Love

In a Stage 2 Relationship (there are three stages), I fully want a woman who can take care of herself, who doesn’t need me any more than I need her. We can exchange love and resources on equal terms as complete, whole individuals who would be just fine without each other.

That’s bliss to those evolving out of the oppressive Stage 1 love.

Stage 1 lovers gets dinner out of obligation, a sense of duty, and often manipulation. They usually expect something significant in return. Whether they’re offering dinner, money, sex or simply an hour of their time, this person only gives to get.

When a Stage 1 lover doesn’t get, they do not give.

If you’re out to dinner with someone who loves this way, you’ll likely feel the weight of their expectation for you to do your part.

When a man compliments a woman but gets upset when she doesn’t offer the appreciation he wants in return, he’s offering Stage 1 love.

A Stage 2 lover, treats you as an equal … as in, “the same.”

They might open the door for you or massage your shoulders for a minute, but they’re meeting you on equal ground. They want their shoulders massaged, too, for an equal amount of time, and it’s totally cool if you open the door for them, too.

They also might NOT open the door for you if it would inconvenience them. After all, they’re not responsible for you. They don’t want you to expect anything from them, and they won’t expect anything from you, either – or at least they’ll try their best not to.

A couple in Stage 2 offers love cautiously to each other, often checking in for agreement along the way.

I lived in Stage 2 for most of my life.

I thought that’s where the magic was. I was wrong. Loving this way eventually made my most significant relationships unsatisfying at best, and horrific at worst.

Because we gave cautiously to the relationship and determined to maintain our independence, we were never able to fully surrender in love to each other.

We split every bill … metaphorically speaking.

We played love safe.

[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”big” animation=”none” background=”plain”]Modern western culture idolizes safe Stage 2 loving.[/dt_quote]

Understandably so.

Eons of oppressive Stage 1 love has created a world in which women’s freedoms are repressed and men resent being manipulated by those repressed women.

Stage 2 love mostly satisfies on superficial levels. No one takes the risks required to love from the most profound depths.

But let’s get back to that first-date dinner.

What Happens When You’re Dining With a Stage 3 Companion?

A man loving from Stage 3 will enthusiastically pay the bill when he has the means to pay, and he’ll expect nothing in return, not even a “thank you.”

Paying is his gift, to himself.

It’s an authentic expression of his capacity to love freely, which feels awesome to him. No matter how his date receives it, he enjoys giving it.

He might still appreciate her offer to pay.

A Stage 3 man also wants a woman who can take care of herself. He doesn’t want a dependent partner looking for a meal ticket. However, this man is delighted by an independent woman who is actually strong enough to relax and let him take care of her. She has nothing to prove, for she’s a Stage 3 woman. She loves giving her authentic gifts, too, and a part of her gift is fully receiving her partner’s masculine love.

Nowadays, I feel alive when I pay for a date. I even get great pleasure feeling my resolve strengthen as I wave off her purse reach with a casual, “No … I got this.

The other day, I treated a woman to lunch who surely makes a lot more money than me; it was delightful!

As I confidently told her to stop reaching for her purse, she immediately gifted me with her bright radiant smile. Her body visibly relaxed, too, and I felt great knowing that my unconditional offer allowed her to be more comfortable in her body.

I helped her feel cherished and cared for, and I felt powerful.

In that moment of giving my gift freely without expecting anything in return, I received so much.

Can you see a rule here about who should pay?

I hope not … because there is no rule! (trick question, ladies and gentleman)

We are evolving towards a liberated future for humankind; there is no place for the rules of our repressive past.

I always have the resources to pay.

But what if a man who gives his love freely has finances tighter than his comfort level?

Why shouldn’t he accept his date’s offer to contribute?

Might it even be appropriate that she pay the bill?

A lovely female friend of mine in Los Angeles often paid for meals with a Dutch boyfriend she loved deeply. His work visa was expired and he hadn’t found work in months. He was so financially poor he had to ride the city bus for an hour to visit her a few miles away.

But he showed up for her. He loved her deeply by offering his strong, steady masculine presence. He took care of her in other ways that didn’t require money, which allowed her to relax in his presence. He returned to Holland after a few months so he could work. She followed him soon after.

Today, they’re thriving together.

[dt_quote type=”blockquote” font_size=”big” animation=”none” background=”plain”]Here’s the essential point: THERE IS NO FIXED RULE ABOUT WHO SHOULD PAY![/dt_quote]

If it fills a woman with genuine joy to see her partner smile and relax as she steps up and says, “I got this!” then she should pay if she has the means. Because that’s her gift to herself.

Either way, if you’re a woman, it’s perfectly appropriate to offer to contribute when the bill arrives.

Just watch closely what happens next. For you’re about to discover what kind of lover you’re dining with, and what kind of lover you are, too.

What about you? What kind of filters or rules have you created when it comes to paying for the bill? 

Please share your insight in the comments below!


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  • I always go out fully expecting to pay my 1/2…and always feel ‘guilty’ when the guy takes care of the bill! Part of me is relieved and very glad he does (I long to be taken care of), but the strong independent women in me hates it – for her it’s a sign of weakness! It’s a tough one these days when the lines are more blurred than they used to be…

  • This is a great article Bryan. Yes, this is a funny and so often misinterpreted and outdated model for many. The “man” buys when dating has departed long ago- along with “wives in aprons” (don’t get me wrong, I love my apron and to cook too). But yes, I have found, for me personally, that I love to pay when I can – and often do. That it is more for the self, a relationship with the inner “abundant you” who you are “courting” or taking out, and not necessarily the “other” – though it feels good too – to both give and receive in this way. Out to dinner with gratitude and appreciation verses “out to lunch” on the whole notion. Love your insights and appreciate seeing reality get morphed and twisted into something more conscious day by day!

  • While I’ve not been on many dates in my life, those I did date insisted it customary they pay (except one). Of course, that led to other expectations on naive me, so you can imagine the confusion and anxiety simply going out to dinner with a man brings.

    To this day I keep enough funds on me to cover my meal if not both. This is such a bugaboo topic and I really appreciate you writing about it.

  • The key to this is good manners. A man wants to feel appreciated, so if he picks up the check, a gracious thank you is in order. Let me approach this from my point of view, that of a successful 50-yr-old woman. I want and expect the man to pay for dinner or drinks, quite bluntly. It tells me he’s not a cheapskate, that he takes care of his woman, that he has control of the situation. I want that. My current boyfriend makes far less than I do which is fine. He cooks me fabulous meals and when we do go out, it’s a more modest restaurant and he pays. I know that I would insult him if I offer to pay.

    • I agree with your perspective, Maggie, and I get the cues his actions provide you. I’m with you on it. However, I’m seeing a different experience emerging in younger generations (I’m not far behind you) around this experience … with so many young college graduates having difficulty finding work, with so many people leaving jobs they don’t enjoy but not yet figuring out what to do next … who pays for dinner is not as obvious as it used to be!

  • I like a man to take the initiative to choose where to eat and will only suggest another place if it’s out of my budget if I decide to contribute to the bill. My criteria on deciding is: Do I want to have a second date? And, do I think he wants a second date? If the answers “yes” to both, I relax and let him take care of it.

    The second date I like to invite him to my home for lunch or dinner with drinks, that I’ve prepared myself. If he asks what to bring I usually say “chocolate”. I’m perfectly happy if he doesn’t ask and brings nothing. I like to take the time to prepare a meal and ‘take a care of him’. Old fashioned maybe, but I like it.

    Now, to back up to the first date…if I’m not romantically interested or get the feeling he’s not, I’ll be the first to pull out my card and suggest we split the bill.

    The most relaxed, memorable date I’ve been on, was when there was obvious mutual attraction, and my date had taken care of the bill without my knowing. He was a charming, confident, slightly younger man who had plans with his sister after our date and took care of the bill while I was in the restroom. It was AMAZING how I felt. Appreciated, taken care of and respected. Particularly because he had other plans afterward and felt absolutely zero pressure to ‘put out’. I couldn’t wait to invite him over for lunch! And when he did come over, without asking to bring anything, he picked a handful of dandelions on the way. “Volunteers”! He exclaimed! I was smitten! We had a wonderful lunch and I asked, “I hope you don’t mind, but I’d rather clean up after you leave”. He smiled and said “sure”!

    In hindsight, I feel like the exchange was equal, if not monetarily, but in value for each of us. So comfortable in ‘being’ without feeling any expectation. Still by far, my favorite first two dates!

  • A beautiful man told me… “You know what you’ve made me realize? That you allowing me to treat you like a queen, makes me feel like a king. And there’s no greater gift you could have given me. With this realization, I know I can do anything & money I manifest through your divine feminine presence in my life is only a tiny fraction of what you’ve given me. Serving you is the least I can do. My only desire is that I can do this for you everyday for the rest of my life.”

    No matter how independent or financially “successful” we women are… I believe, that if we don’t inspire our man into that kind of service to the relationship…do yourselves both a favor & move on. A man longs to be deeply inspired by the woman in his life & if he’s not…you’re both doing yourselves & the world a great disservice.

    A man prior to him once told me, before I knew any better…”I know that you don’t “need” me & you’re more capable than I’ll probably ever be. But at least pretend you need me. Or if not me, the man in your future. Because let me tell you a secret…we long to be needed.”

    I believe, when the right man meets the right woman…what she inspires in him makes monetary questions trivial.

    • So very true!! Yes, we do long to be needed, but not by neediness.

      Likewise, a man should be so worthy of her love that he inspires her woman into his service, as well.

      It’s a beautiful dance when it all comes together like that.

  • Thinking about that: No more roles nor rules. Only rich life experience. My feeling is – I am a gentle women and I am a strong person – human-being. No contradiction. No need to prove. No sacrifyng. No pleasing. No controlling. 2 things that are in different levels. With my Man – I am the softest creation that can brake the mountains with heartedly warm approach. In the society – I am what I am according to the situation. Letting my energy serves me. We all do long to be needed. Out of abundance. Out of thriving. Out of infinite source. So beautiful dance. Thank YOU!

  • By your description, I am now a stage 3 lover, which makes it challenging to date men who are stuck in stage 1 & 2 “transactional” love, as I did for most of my life. As the one who made more money, I never had trouble paying the bill…..until I met someone who “reached” first, and realized that something always felt a little “off” energetically when I put my card on the table. After a dear friend gave me a copy of David Deida’s Way of the Superior Man, and I distinguished that sexual attraction dims without polarity and I start to feel like a “buddy,” which summons my masculine energy. Good, bad or indifferent, “paying the bill” is a masculine activity, (not “male,” for those unfamiliar with WOTSM) and I spent too many decades functioning in my masculine because it was what worked in my career, not knowing what I didn’t know about an alternative way of being. Mid-50s, it is delicious to allow and receive , express authentic appreciation (whether he needs it or not) and accept the gift of masculinity that a man offers, calling me to my feminine…..where I am (as most women are) at home.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Barbara. And yes, there are indeed men out there who are eager to learn that delicious dance of masculine-feminine energies in a way that will thrill you both. Of course, as you alluded to, it really has nothing to do with who pays the bill. You can still provide the money for the bill, while your partner provides the masculine energy. It’s all in how conscious we are to what’s happening, and how we’re carrying ourselves in each other’s presence.

  • “if she had asked me out first.” Does that actually happen? I have never experienced that myself, being a very unattractive guy. The few dates I have had, I ended up paying because it seemed the lady was doing me a favor by going out with me.

    • it can happen, sure … and it has nothing to do with what you look like. If you can sincerely offer a “HEALTHY MASCULINE PRESENCE” that makes women feel safe, cherished, loved, they’ll want to be around you. If you think they’re “doing you a favor” you’re almost certainly not offering a mature masculine presence. I don’t say this to criticize or belittle you. Not at all. I say this to point a way forward for you. Keep reading my blogs. Read the book, Way of the Superior Man, by David Deida. If you’re interested in coaching around this, as well, please let me know. I work with men to help awaken them to their full masculine brilliance. It’s a delicious journey. If I can be of service to you, please let me know. (https://bryanreeves.com/transformational-life-relationship-coaching/)

  • I am female and the whole thing about who pays makes me nervious whether its a date or even a friend that may not know too well, especially if its a larger expense like dinner. Drinks is different as you vsn always say you’ll get the next one. I use this if they insist on paying and feels better. I sometimes just pay for both, not because i can afford it, but because if feels painful for someone to pay, especially if new in my life. Life is complex, nowdays!

  • Love this! I am a very independent young women and have always thought dutch is the way. I mean, we both wanted to go on the date and are both enjoying the dinner or movie, whatever it is. So why should he HAVE to pay for me? I’m not looking for a person to take care of me I want someone who will be by my side!

    My current boyfriend (5 yrs together) knows this about me and we have gone dutch many times. There has been times where one of us wasn’t working and the person who had a job would pay. Now that I have finished school and started a career I make about 2x as him. It hasn’t occurred to me, until reading this, that this is now an issue for us. Lately he has been wanting to pay all of the bill. I would think “what’s wrong with you I have the money??!!” Lol. Now I realize I need to just let him feel his masculinity and not offer to pay (for a while/some of the times we go out).

    Thank you for this because I also need to stop bugging him on on letting me “help” him purchase a new car.

  • I went on a date today for the first time in a long time with a woman I just met. I knew from the moment we met that she was someone I would love to treat for lunch because her presence just made me feel like a better person.
    The only thing that troubles me is I fall in the camp of the Dutch man in your article. As a foreign student, my income is extremely limited and I have to admit that it is something I don’t like to make public, especially when trying to impress a lady. No, she isn’t shallow and I’m pretty sure she can take care of herself if need be, but I have been raised with the mind that the man should at least have some financial stability, shelter and offer stage three love to the partner he chooses. How do I demonstrate those things to a woman I have met who is seeking a partner when I have very little to offer at this point?
    Still I told her it was my treat, and I’m looking forward to our second date. Though I am still tight for cash, I’m willing to give the little I have because I think she is worth it.
    I don’t know what point I wanted to make with this comment. I guess I needed to get this of my chest, and to also let you know your article touched me in a way that has made me think of the value of finding someone to give your last slice to and think nothing of it.

  • I am a woman who is stuck being the man in Stage 3:

    “A man loving from Stage 3 will enthusiastically pay the bill when he has the means to pay, and he’ll expect nothing in return, not even a “thank you.” Paying is his gift, to himself. It’s an authentic expression of his capacity to love freely, which feels awesome to him. No matter how his date receives it, he enjoys giving it. He might still appreciate her offer to pay.”

    Always have been since I was a freshman in college until now (10 years later)…guys realize that I tend to give financially (gifts, meals, cook, groceries, etc.) without expecting anything in return and that the Asian in me will ALWAYS offer to pay. And so most guys go ahead and let me without hesitating. A friend of mine told me that it made him feel less of a man to have a girl pay for him – especially on dates. I love someone now and can’t stop showering him with free meals, my time, groceries I leave in his refrigerator, booze and conveniently “forgetting” that he owes me money. He finally admitted to me that he felt terrible guilt for doing nothing for me in return and that’s why he would distance himself from me – I wouldn’t even call it a Masculine Checkout Syndrome…because he’s not even physically there for me. I go up to the city every weekend to be with him and then go home to work during the week.

    I’m learning slowly the line between unconditional love with independence and just straight being taken advantage of.

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