The conversation around women, dating and splitting the bill has always been (and probably always will be) a source of hot takes and cultural division.
With International Women’s Day just last week and with improving attitudes towards gender equality across all areas of work, life and society – the topic of who should pay and why remains a tricky one when it comes to dating, especially between men and women.
Of course, traditionally, in Europe as well as across the world, it was always expected that the man should and would pay for the entire date – but many women, including relationship experts and founders, are challenging the norms and empowering women to make their own choices.
So, besides situations where it’s the culturally accepted norm that the man pays (try and ask an Argentinian guy to split the bill, we dare you), what’s the big deal with men wanting to pay for their date?
For some, splitting the cost of a date from the very start sets a healthy precedent, creating a fair dynamic in the relationship and avoiding any feelings of indebtedness or obligation.
Others, however, feel that men should be entitled to their display of so-called chivalry – because what’s more chivalrous than covering the cost of the six G&Ts you ordered to get through the doldrum of their conversation?
Interestingly enough, however, Money and SurveyMonkey found that an overwhelming 78% of participants believe that men should be responsible for covering the cost of the initial date. The survey revealed that even more men (85%) than women (72%) held this view.
Of course, depending where you are in the world, for example in South America, it's sometimes a cultural non-negotiable that the man pays. Or in Asia, where it’s considered an honour to be able to cover the bill for friends.
However, in the Wild West that is the modern online dating game, where first dates can be as unpredictable as they are sometimes awkward, Marsha Goei, founder of offline dating app Breeze, found that entrenched cultural assumptions around paying the bill almost always left women at a disadvantage from the off.
“We talked to countless women about their dating experience… other dating apps are not designed with women in mind... The way they are set up can cost a lot of emotional energy — affecting self-esteem and self-image.”
Breeze, arranges dates for its users at a select number of partner bars and restaurants and pays ahead for the first drink, recognizing the issues that can arise when a date insists on paying:
“We talked to a lot of women and what they told us was that if the guy pays for the date, there’s a feeling that you owe them something. So by giving both parties the same cost for the first drink, there’s no expectation on either side.”
Breeze’s pay-ahead model makes it so not only is your date more likely to show up – but that there’ll also be less feeling of the guy or girl being owed something in return for flexing their financial muscles (ew).
Of course, this dynamic doesn’t just stop after the first date, and women can still be negatively impacted if their partner insists on paying and expects something in return.
Eliza Eastwood, from couple’s therapy and intimacy app Lover, shared her thoughts on building healthy habits for bill-splitting from the start:
"There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Each person will have their own unique set of expectations in a relationship, so do what works for you.
The key is to communicate clearly with your date and not feel awkward about having the conversation. Being open and honest about your preference will mean you find a solution that works for you both. If not, they’ll either be worth the compromise or not!"
Need we say more? If you don’t set your boundaries from the get-go, you’re bound to experience what’s called a “boomerang effect,” which basically translates to it’s gonna come back to bite you in the ass.
As an app powered by women, our own mission is to facilitate women’s ability to make their own decisions – so that once you’re past first date stage, you choose to split the bill however you like.
Paying with Cino means you can still pay with one card, except an agreed ratio is debited from each person’s connected bank account. We believe it’s the future of paying together – no topping up, no payment requests, less awkward conversations. Plus, it’s free and there’s no commitment like with other joint accounts that require topping up and a regular fee.
Ultimately, though, the decision to split or not is a personal one and should be based on the preferences and values of the individuals involved. It's important for both parties to communicate openly and respectfully about their expectations and boundaries around money in order to ensure a healthy and enjoyable dating experience.
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By yours truly, Raluca Groza