D.L. Stewart: A big decision on first dates: ‘Your bill or mine?’

Through decades of marriage, my wife and I have arrived at some unwritten understandings.

  • I operate the television remote until the program we’re looking for pops up on the screen, or for 15 minutes, whichever comes first. After that, she takes over and locates it in 15 seconds.
  • She sleeps on the left side of the bed because it’s closer to the landline phone and nobody ever calls me. (Although we don’t have a landline phone anymore so it probably would make more sense for me to sleep on the left side, because it’s also closer to the bathroom.)
  • Whoever gets up last in the morning is the one who has to make the bed.
  • And when we go out for lunch, I almost always pick up the check, because by the time she can find her credit card at the bottom of her purse it would be dinnertime. Besides, the bill eventually comes out of the same family budget.

But for a generation that hasn’t experienced the joy of wedded bank accounts, the question of who should pay for meals, especially on first dates, can be tricky. According to a recent headline in The New York Times, “For Gen Z, an Age-Old Question: Who Pays for Dates?”

It’s no longer as simple as, “Who invites, pays.”

Should it be the man, who presumably has the higher income? And if income is the determining factor, does that mean each party should be required to produce their last three pay stubs? And what if they’re both men or both women?

If a woman offers to pay the bill and the man doesn’t want her to, does that make him a sexist for implying that she’s not capable of paying it? But if he hands her the bill on the first date, doesn’t that make him a cheapskate who never is going to get a second date with her?

Many women say they prefer to split the bill on a first date so the guy doesn’t assume that the dinner comes with “benefits.” But according to a study cited by The Times, 90% of young men paid for all or most of the date and only eight percent of women split it.

Money isn’t always an issue, of course. If there was a question for Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce the first time they went out to dinner, it might just have been, “Who’s going to buy the restaurant?”

But for real people facing the question, perhaps the best solution for them would be simply to flip a coin.

Assuming Gen Z daters know what a coin is, where to find one and how to flip it.

Contact this columnist at dlstew_2000@yahoo.com.

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