Has dating etiquette about money really changed from the days when men paid for everything? Yes and No. In the not too long ago past—talk to your parents and grandparents—men paid for almost everything on a date. Oh, once in a while the woman would treat him to something that was not expensive, but the cultural etiquette was that men were expected to pay.

Yes, the sixties invited more balance and equity, but that idea faded somewhat. For a time in the 1980’s when women’s earning power increased, some women paid a larger share and often took turns paying. Unfortunately, today, there still isn’t a rule book. Yet, common sense and awareness of men and women can shape your dating etiquette. Let’s look at the most frequent questions.

1. Who pays for the first date?

The person who initiated the date usually pays. Usually, this person is the man. No matter how “modern” we get, men still tend to like to court women. They tend to like pursuing, decision-making and appearing in charge. Some women might like to offer to pay for the tip or dessert and coffee, but if the man insists, then let him pay.

2. Should I try to impress the person with a really fancy, expensive or exclusive date?

Skip the “wow” factor. If you are someone with access to exclusive and exciting activities, put that urge on hold. You don’t want to be liked for the wrong reasons. Sometimes those over the top dates can backfire because your date senses that your exaggerated efforts are hiding insecurities—or revealing your real goal of sexual seduction. So, while we’re on that topic, skip the idea of going back to each other places afterward. If you are really getting along and want to talk more, go to a quiet bar that stays open till late. Be suspicious of all emotional eagerness and over the top behavior.

3. What should you do if the person paying for the first date says something like “you can get the next check” when you offer to pay–but you don’t want to date the person again?

Oops! Now you see the risk of offering to pay for some of the first date. My advice is to let the person who set up the date pay for it! And if you don’t want to go out again, say thank you.

4. What if the person asks you out again, but you don’t want to go?

Make sure you are absolutely certain that you don’t want to go out again. If you don’t want another date only because you don’t feel that hit in the head that makes you feel “chemistry,” then accept another more casual date such as lunch or an evening with his friends. Hanging out together and observing his or her interactions in a more relaxed setting can give you a living picture of the person.

Be empathic. After all, if you liked someone, wouldn’t you want a second chance? Think of your dating history. If you have not been successful in finding a good match, it might be wiser to date someone who is different from your usual attraction.

But if you truly don’t want to go out again, then be short and sweet. Reduce your date’s embarrassment or sense of rejection by saying something like: “I can tell you’re a really good person, but I’m not a good match for you.” And don’t go on and on or over-explain.

5. What if there are huge income disparities between you and this new partner who takes you on expensive dates?

Do not pay for something beyond your means. However, you can make “caring payments” by buying a breakfast, lite lunch or dessert. These gestures can help the wealthier person feel appreciated or loved for being him or herself—and not for his or her money.

6. If your incomes are more equal, how much do you pay as the relationship progresses?

The rule is that there aren’t too many rules at this stage. Typically, the person who arranges the date is the one who pays. Other options are to split the payment or to pay for the wine and dessert, for example. Always keep these questions in your mind: “Do I feel taken advantage of and not cared for? Have I been generous and expressive of my appreciation of this person?”

7. If we finally become a couple, how do we pay for our expenses when we do things together?

You and your partner will most likely develop a rhythm that grows organically out of your mutual sense of trust and respect for each other. For example, if you are a caring and empathic person, it will automatically occur to you that your date has been paying for movies a lot lately.

But don’t fall into the trap of keeping score and insisting on “even-Stevens” or “your turn, my turn.” This behavior can become argumentative and insulting. Trust your instincts.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, Ed.D, MSS, MA, is a nationally recognized psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, specializing in women's issues in love, life, work, and family. Sign up on her website, http://www.lovevictory.com, to receive free advice, blog, cartoon, and information about her two upcoming research-based, self-help books for women: The Love Adventures of Almost Smart Cookie-a cartoon, self-help book and Smart Relationships. You can follow Dr. Wish on Twitter.