My first gay date was an embarrassment. I had no idea what to do. We had originally met at the bar the weekend before. He was handsome, local - he had lived here his whole life and loved that I just moved here. I’d never been picked up by a guy before I only ever unsuccessfully flirted, so I swooned hard.
I was so new to the scene, all of the friends I had made so far in the new city were girls, and they also had no clue how a gay relationship worked, let alone the first date. So, I bought a new cologne - okay it was a sample of a new cologne I wanted, don’t read me, and I got ready for the night. I thought, at least if I don’t know what’s going to happen, I will smell good.
When we went on the big date, I was not prepared for the amount of awkwardness that I would spew on this poor man. It was a classic date; we went to a local pub he recommended. Super low key, and honestly not memorable, so don’t be disappointed if your first date is either. But I digress.
The waitress swung by toward the end asking how everything was, he quickly said, “Just the bill please, together.” Honestly, I was taken back. I was expecting to at least split it, but he wouldn’t even let me tip. He was very macho about it and it started raising questions for me. Do all the guys here act this way, or did I find the one who’s got a complex? I’m really skilled at doing that, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case back then.
Post-date gossip session with my best-friend was obviously next. I asked her about him paying, and she got pretty jealous. She said, “Even I have to pay for my dates ‘cause they’re broke college dudes with no jobs.” I kept asking around and I wasn’t getting two answers that matched. I knew my parents were pretty progressive while raising my siblings and I, but I didn’t think I was ever going to be paid for, the experience had really thrown me off.
As gay men we’re not constricted to some awkward gender norms, which can be helpful in this scenario, but it’s not the 1950s anymore and women can and are often paying for their fair share on straight dates.
So, without the out-dated gender norms, how do we go about deciding who pays on a same sex date?
Who the heck is supposed to pay? Let's consider the options.
The Top Pays.
Some people will say the top/dom should pay should - they should give you an instant red flag. There’s no reason your sexual position should dictate that you do or don’t pay. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine because it stems from the expectation that sex is on the table.
Your first date should be about getting to know each other. If you’re not eating because you expect to bottom later, is it really even a date? Sure, if he’s eating an expensive steak that might make more sense to argue he should pay, but that doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for funding your own diet.
But ruling things out doesn’t always help answer the question. Which brings me to:
Whoever asked who on the date is who most people will say should pay. If he’s super gallant about selecting the place you are going to eat at then he should also be offering to pay. That’s not to say he will, but more on that later. This goes for you, too. You could be picking out a restaurant and planning a lovely night that’s way out of his budget. If you’re putting that effort into planning, check your bank account first to make sure you can cover the whole bill.
This has been my tried and true method. Whether he’s a strict top or a total bottom, this little bit of chivalry from whoever requested the date can go a long way to building a great foundation to start your relationship on.
However, just because one of you initiated the date doesn’t mean you’re stuck paying for an expensive restaurant. Pick a place that you know is going to be manageable for you and your budget. Just try to avoid Denny’s, ok?
Doing it Dutch.
The Dutch are famous for their fair skin, fair hair, and fair eyes, but they’re also incredibly progressive in the dating world. The term doing it Dutch means splitting the bill in half, equal shares, because in the Netherlands that’s how it’s done. Both people coming to the date are coming there with no preconceived notions. There’s nothing to lose really, so going in expecting to pay for your fair share is a worthy option.
Talking it through beforehand will help communicate that this is your expectation. The head on honesty could be very attractive to your potential suitor. Splitting the bill is not only fair, but it sets the bar that you’re mature and capable of handling yourself outside this date. Your date might even see this as a super attractive quality.
Ultimately, doing it Dutch is the most practical route. You’re both equals in this new relationship, so you should be equally accountable for your date.
Flip-flopping isn’t only for vers guys or pornstars, it’s a great practise to get into for deciding who pays for the date.
Everyone enjoys being treated to a nice dinner. So, why not do just that? Offer to pay the whole bill next time if he’s paying for the whole date this time. That way you’re at least offering up your pocketbook. You also both get to experience the warm and fuzzy feelings that come with being paid for.
I honestly didn’t think I’d like being paid for as much as I did. But as much as I enjoyed it, I felt super awkward about how he approached it. Being honest upfront will help alleviate any awkwardness for your date. Communication is imperative in any aspect of a healthy relationship.
I was a university student at the time of my first gay date and I thought he felt like he needed to take care of the bill. I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t like assumptions made about their personal finances. I was fully prepared to pay my share; I just didn’t get the chance.
What do you do if he’s picking a restaurant out of your league?
Talk to him. Again, communication is what’s going to make or break your relationship, starting at the beginning is invaluable. Let him know the restaurant he’s picked is out of your price range or even comfort zone.
I’m not one who fits into a western bar and when a past date suggested one, I voiced my opinion. I didn’t feel comfortable going to that location, and he was fine with it. Like five minutes later and he suggested another spot and the whole date turned out terrible anyway.
Same goes for you, though. If your date comes to you and says, “Hey, I’m really looking forward to our date, but I’m broke, and I can’t afford a fancy steakhouse.” Make him feel comfortable at the very least but offer to downsize or pay for the date. You can even suggest saving the expensive date for a later, more special occasion once you’ve gotten to know each other.
It’s 2021, and it doesn’t fucking matter.
There’s no standard, no one is tallying at the restaurant. Honestly, whatever works for you and your new man is what works best. I’m not going to argue that bullshit gender roles play any factor here. And I’m also not going to tell you that you should always pay your half. Every relationship is different, and you need to do what works for you both.
Maybe he’s super traditional and enjoys treating you to dinner under the guise that he’s more romantic for having paid. If that’s how he gets his rocks off, let him. But he’s not more valuable for having paid for your meal than you are. You’re coming to the date as equals and in 2021 that means whatever it needs to mean for you both.
He could be 10 years older than you and you could make more money, but neither case really dictates who needs to pay. Figuring it out beforehand can ease a lot of stress and anxiety that you could both be going through.
However you choose to split the bill without a doubt communicating what you’re expecting is going to alleviate some of the first date stress you likely have.
Whoever is paying, whether the top, initiator, or both of you in some way, is in no way superior to the other. There’s enough bullshit in the world and we don’t need it in our dating lives. Make sure you’re honest with yourself and your date about what you’re expecting on this date. If he’s looking to buy a night of nookie with you, he can look in the classifieds.
At the end of the day, tip your service worker. They put up with a lot of bullshit and you don’t need to be part of that. If you didn’t pay for the date, it’s a great way for you to contribute. I honestly don’t think service staff get tipped enough so I usually throw in what I would want to tip them whether they’ve already been tipped, or not.
Anyway, this all sounds like so much, I’m staying in and eating ramen. Bye.