It used to be the way things always were in America: if a man and a woman went on a date, the man paid. No two ways about it.
It's now not quite as ubiquitous as it used to be, but it is still a very common mindset. Many women expect men to pay for the first date. Many men would even feel embarrassed to not pay for the first date. Of course they pay for dates! That's just how it's done, and anything else would be classless and rude.
It remains the status quo to a large extent in countries around the world, in fact: I've heard many Latin women gripe about how they'll never see a man again if he doesn't pay for the first date, and when I've asked Asian women if the Asian guys they see on dates pay for them, they respond with, "Of course!" Even the guys they claim they only like as friends and will never date pay for them.
Everywhere you go, men pay for women. A lot of hoopla was made in the States about "going Dutch," which meant splitting the bill, but even the fact that it had to be given a name made it seem like some sort of big, extraordinary event.
Men are still expected to pay for dates.
I intend to show you today, however, that not only is paying for women unnecessary – it actually hurts your odds of ending up with a girl! Bear with me if that seems to insult your sensibilities a bit – before you pass judgment, allow me to invite you to come along down this rabbit hole with me.
Why Men Pay for Women
To understand the psychological effects of a man paying for a woman on both the woman and the man, let's dive deep into the psychology of what exactly is going on when a man pays.
As we discussed in the post on what women want, there are effectively three different kinds of men that women search for:
- Lovers, and
Women search for all three of these kinds of men all the time.
Some men compete for the role of "friend," and try to show women what fantastic friends they'd be.
Some men compete for the role of "lover," and aim to be very charming, sexy, and alluring to women.
Some men compete for the role of "provider," and aim to show women what reliable long-term providers of security and material comfort they will be.
When you view a man's actions through the friend-lover-provider lens, it becomes quickly apparent where paying for a woman slots you.
It doesn't position you as just friends, because a man and a woman who are just friends share expenses equally.
It doesn't position you as her lover, because lovers are trying to provide romantic and sexual satisfaction to women – not financial or relationship security.
Paying for dates with women, then puts you firmly into provider territory. In other words, you're competing for the long-term boyfriend or husband role.
When you pay for dates with women, you're competing to show them you can take better care of them than other men can.
There's a problem with this though: unless you're super rich, this is a competition you probably can't emerge victorious from. So when you pay for a date, you're not actually winning any competition; you're not actually gaining any extra points; and you're not differentiating yourself in any way over other men.
The man who pays for a date just shows women how average he is. How he's just as good as any other man.
But "good enough" doesn't make a woman's heart flutter, nor does it cause her to drop all her other suitors and fall helplessly, hopelessly in love with you.
In fact, as it were, it doesn't really work at all.
What REALLY Happens to Men Who Pay for Dates
Every girlfriend of mine I've ever had paid for her own food or drinks on our first date.
Most of them paid for mine, too.
But before we talk about what I do – and what you should do – let's first talk a bit more about men who pay for dates.
The past few years, I've gotten good at getting women to open up to me and really trust me with telling me a lot of their inside secrets. And I've heard a lot of shocking things about how women treat men on dates.
I've heard the same stories in San Diego, California and in Beijing, China. Half a world a way, but the stories are exactly the same. They go like this:
- Girl meets boy
- Boy asks girl on date
- Girl goes on date with boy
- Boy pays for dinner and drinks with girl
- Girl smiles and thanks him and makes polite conversation
- Boy and girl maybe see each other one or two more times; boy always pays; girl never sleeps with boy or becomes his girlfriend
I've heard about fifteen of these stories over the past year or so. I think I heard of one where the guy ended up together with the girl.
That's fifteen men and women meeting up. Let's say thirty dates total between the lot of them, some going for one date and some going for three before things unraveled. Let's peg the average cost of a date low – let's say only $35. Many of these dates were to expensive restaurants, so that's probably grossly understating things, but let's say $35 on average.
What's that come out to?
That comes out to over $1000 spent by 15 men on 15 women with a 7% chance of success.
Me personally, and most of my friends, we don't pay for dates, and the percentage of the time we get the girl is typically right around 50%. 50% of the time we go on a date with a girl, she ends up together with us – and we don't pay.
Most men pay for dates, and the vast, vast majority of the time they fail to get the girl.
It should start to become clear that most men are doing something really, really wrong here.
In fact, it should start to appear that most men have no idea what they're doing.
So what's going on? Why do men who pay for the first date not get the girl?
To understand what's happening here, you have to understand the way women assess the men they meet and decide what they want with them. If a woman assesses a man as a potential lover, for instance, but not as a potential provider, she'll be open to moving quickly with him because she finds him attractive, enticing, and sexy and doesn't see moving too fast with him as risky.
On the other hand, if a woman assesses a man as having provider potential, she'll slow things down with him dramatically so as not to risk losing him.
And what happens when things slow down with a seduction? Well, more time is involved. More steps are added. And the chance that mistakes are made, that life intervenes, and that the two people involved don't end up together raises dramatically.
Which means that, when men pay for dates with women, they communicate that they're competing for the boyfriend or husband role, which leads to women slowing things down with them, which leads to them losing those women most of the time.
By paying for dates, most men inadvertently shoot their own feet off, metaphorically speaking. And the worst part is, they never even realize that's what they're doing.
The Answer to "Who Should Pay for a Date?"
So what's the right call then? Does the man pay for a date? The woman? No one?
I struggled with this for a little while. Even after realizing that paying for dates was bad, I'd still try to do it from time to time. Looking back, I can honestly say I have never slept with a girl I paid for on the first date. It hasn't happened once.
I've experimented: I've taken women to fancy restaurants. I've taken them to movies. I've taken them casual places, and everything in between. And out of those different trials, some patterns have begun to emerge.
As a result of all this trial and error, there are a few guidelines I can give you that you can follow that will help you immensely. I'll list them out here:
- Keep dates cheap. Fancy restaurants or otherwise expensive, glamorous dates tell women, "I want to provide for you and take care of you," which in turn tells women, "You need to move very slow with me and make sure you don't mess things up," which leads to things fizzling out most of the time.
Nip that in the bud by keeping things cheap and informal. You can meet a girl at a café or take her on a picnic in the park or hang out at your place and watch a movie, and keep expenses low or even non-existent. Then, instead of the focus being on who's providing for whom, it can just be on you and her, which is what the focus should've always been on from the start anyway.
- Keep the mood informal. Lots of men make their dates a big production, as if this is some huge, significant event that the two of them are out somewhere together. This puts a lot of pressure on women and pushes them into high stakes evaluations. I've had women tell me about girlfriends of theirs' dates, which can range (with one girl) from a casual date that ends up with the girl in bed with a guy on the first date (or the first night they meet) to über formal dates with a guy who wines and dines her repeatedly and never wins her over. The girl remains completely the same – the only difference between the guys she goes on casual dates with and sleeps with and the guys she goes on super formal dates with and does nothing with are the men themselves and the experiences they provide her.
Formal dates do absolutely nothing to help you, and everything to hurt you – avoid them at all costs. Anything that puts a wall between you and a girl – including formality, and hardcore "assessing" and "evaluating" – is counterproductive toward the two of you ending up together.
- Split the bill. When the check arrives, just split it. Lovers treat each other as equals – it's only the providers who seek to throw money and resources at women. By splitting the bill – by each of you paying your fair share – you communicate to her that the two of you are equals and are on the same ground. This is much more conducive to setting up a romantic and sexual relationship than the man who tries to "buy" a woman's attraction with dinner or gifts.
It's important above all that you keep things casual and inexpensive and the focus off the date itself and any monetary aspect of it and rather instead on the daters: you and her.
Dates should never be about impressing a girl. It isn't about showing her how you're obviously doing so well at work that you can afford an expensive dinner. That tells women if they're interested to slow things down and string you along to get you into a provider-style relationship. They're not being malicious when doing this, they're simply giving you what you appear to be seeking: a marriage candidate. They figure if you're going to make things this much of a big production, obviously dating must be an incredibly significant, formal event for you, and they'll have to act accordingly.
Certainly no sex before Date #3, probably not before Date #5, and quite possibly not ever unless you're perfect through those first five dates.
There is a better way: keeping things informal. Keeping them casual. And not paying for dates.
Is it chivalrous to pay for women? Well, yes, certainly it is. But I'll tell you... I've heard lots of women talking about how they wish a man would come along and be chivalrous and take them on a proper date for a change. Yet, these same women sleep with men fast who pay for nothing for them, and never sleep with the men who take them on those proper dates they kept asking for and paid for them.
I'm a firm believer in listening to people's actions over their words, and this is one of the instances where women's actions speak deafeningly louder than their words:
Society may tell you you need to pay for a date with a woman. And women may even tell you that themselves if you ask them.
But when you stop and look at their actions, you realize that not only does paying for dates not help you – it actually hurts you quite a bit. So if you've been paying for dates, give your wallet a break, check out the alternative, and let women's actions speak to you over their words.
And what their actions say is: "I don't want to be bought – I want to be treated an equal!" Being good with women is really about being able to know what women truly want and give it to them – and that starts with listening to their actions and responding accordingly.
So, give the chivalry a rest – and give women what they actually want: a real experience, instead of one that's bought and paid for!