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Who’ll pick up the check

Published : Oct 29, 2015, 9:12 pm IST
Updated : Oct 29, 2015, 9:12 pm IST

A British dating show has once again got a debate going about who needs to foot the bill on a date. Etiquette experts tell us that it’s best that men pick up the tab — at least in the beginning.

Picture for representational purposes only
 Picture for representational purposes only

A British dating show has once again got a debate going about who needs to foot the bill on a date. Etiquette experts tell us that it’s best that men pick up the tab — at least in the beginning.

An episode from the British reality dating show First Dates, recently featured a couple called Elle and Mark. Things were going great — till the subject of paying for their meal came up. Elle sent the bill towards Mark’s side of the table, stating that she never pays when she’s on a date. Elle eventually offered to pay £30 toward the bill (the total was around £136) after she and Mark got into an argument about the ethics of who should pay. The date eventually ended with Elle walking out on Mark.

The episode triggered a huge debate on social media, about “first date etiquette”. While Elle drew a lot of flak on social media for her attitude, the etiquette experts we spoke to, told us that a dating formality like this is best dealt with delicately.

Twenty-two year old Sonia Garg, an accountant, says that when a guy pays the bill, it’s a sign that he’s interested, besides being a gentleman. “I like it when the man pays for the meal because I consider it chivalrous. Though if I go on subsequent dates with him, I feel like it’s not right for him to bear the burden. I don’t want the date to feel like I am using him for a free meal. That’s why I prefer splitting.”

Men, take the lead Etiquette experts Suneeta Sodhi Kanga and Sheena Agarwaal agree that it’s best that the men pay for a date, even in 2015. They state that not only do women end up feeling pampered, men too feel “accomplished” since it gives them an opportunity to provide — even if it’s just for a meal. Sheena says, “On a first date, the splitting of the bill can often be an awkward and uncomfortable moment. It is highly unlikely that either party will be comfortable raising the issue. In order to bypass any of these uncomfortable situations, seize the opportunity by paying subtly. For example, give the waiter your credit card at the start of the evening, so that everything is taken care of without discussion. However, if your date insists on paying her share, be gracious. But most women will be grateful that you have cleverly avoided that awkward end-of-date moment.”

Chivalry wins brownie points In the current times, dating rules have undergone an organic change. Etiquette expert Chetna Mehrotra tells us that men asking women out, “safe” conversations on a date, are a few formalities that have become obsolete. She observes, “In the current times, women are much more confident. Women, even in India, do not shy away from calling the shots when it comes to asking the men out. Moreover, women can easily afford to pay the bill!” However, she asks men to never underestimate the power of chivalry. She says, “Dating or a relationship between a man and woman is of an equivalence; not equality. On a date, it is wonderful for a man to treat his lady well — relationships need this especially in today’s times. I think, if a woman is pampered on the dates, it really adds on to the value of the relationship. Such emotions always invoke a mutual feeling for another.”

Women, offer to pay As for women, Sheena advises that you reach for the wallet and offer to pay. She informs, “It’s important to make sure your date is aware that you didn’t go on the date just for a free meal. The best way to do this is to reach for your purse when the bill comes to the table. It is most likely that your date will take care of the bill. If he doesn’t stop you, don’t be hurt. At this point, just split the bill.” Suneeta adds, “Women could order thoughtfully, somewhere in the mid range is a safe bet: Never the most expensive or the cheapest dish/wine when you are out on a first date. Ladies could certainly offer to buy dessert or drinks.”