When is it time to pick up the check? Who picks up the check is one of those thorny subjects for which there is no single “right” answer. Changing social mores have turned the long-held tradition of “the man pays” into a bewildering muddle. Making things even more confusing, expectations about who pays seem to vary with age. The findings of a 2008 online poll by Elle magazine and MSNBC.com point out just how confusing the check issue has become as illustrated by the contradictory results:
- 66% of men, particularly younger men, want women to help with the check after the first couple of dates
BUT 44% of women are annoyed when the man expects them to chip in
- 57% of women always offer to help pay for a date, particularly younger women
BUT 34% of women don’t like it when the man allows them to share the tab
AND 46% of women are annoyed if their offer is refused
Basically, the problem comes down to communication and expectations. The fact that older and younger daters have different expectations about who should pay for a date illustrates the speed with which dating habits are changing. It’s also interesting that women have more variable opinions on the subject than men. Men as a rule seem to favor check sharing after the initial 2 dates with younger men more eager to split the check than older men; financial security (or a lack thereof) being the most likely reason. Women are split on the issue down age lines. Women 40 and older favor the more traditional approach and expect the man to pick up most of the financial burden. Younger women, however, are not only willing to chip in but expect to pick up part of the tab. Of course, social or political beliefs can skew opinions either way in either age group, making who picks up the check swampy ground for men.
The solution is to be clear about payment when extending an invitation so that no one gets blindsided when the check arrives.