Should First Dates Pay 50/50? TikTok Has Reignited The Debate

Is 50/50 a sign of equality? Or does true equality have a long way to go?
Who pays on a first date?
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Who pays on a first date?

Who should pay for the first date? It’s a question (almost) as old as time, with many, many opinions on it.

There’s team 50/50, or those think it’s gentlemanly for the man to pay, then there’s the camp of ‘whoever suggested it should cover the bill’, regardless of gender.

And recently, some TikTokkers have firmly stated that paying half is a scam.

Content creator Kiera Breaugh led the discussion after sharing a video explaining how patriarchy works insidiously and manifests during dating.

“Men expect 50/50 from women when women don’t get 50% of anything,” she explained. “But to pay equal amounts even though you don’t have equal rights?”.

Breaugh added that women don’t enjoy half the things men do such as “money,” “safety,” “privilege,” or “space”.

She continued: ”It benefits men to say: ‘Oh yeah, I’m a feminist, I believe in women paying 50/50 on dinner dates’. And that is the only time they believe in equality.”

The video has been watched half a million times, receiving thousands of comments. Many agreed with the sentiment, pointing out that women often make less money than men, yet do more domestic duties such as childcare and house work.

On the other hand, some pointed out that expecting a man to pay takes away a woman’s autonomy; her ability to choose where to go, how much to spend, and could spell future trouble.

It’s obvious there are many schools of thought when it comes to this heated topic. So we put the question to a few HuffPost readers to gauge their opinions.

Conor, a bi-sexual consultant from London, 27, says whether he’s on a date with a man or woman, it’s always the same.

“If I like them then I’ll pay for the whole date. But it would be 50/50 if I had no intention of seeing them again,” he says. “And that applies to whether I’m with a man or woman.”

Meanwhile for 28-year-old Tori*, a podcaster from London, paying equally is an “absolute no”.

Tori mentions the high cost of going on date (make-up, hair, nails) and how the first date sets the tone for the relationship.

“I think it’s common courtesy especially when the guy has asked me out. Often, not always, the first date sets the tone of how a man will behave. If he wants to go halves, perhaps he’s looking for a friendship,” she tells HuffPost.

“I also find it hilarious when men say ‘but we’re in 2022, we’re in progressive times, women should pay too’ and yet the same guys are misogynistic in other ways.”

Similarly, Samira, a 29-year-old baker, says that Black, Asian and other minority women have not enjoyed equality in terms of salary, opportunities, and respect, so, from a Black woman’s perspective, she feels that it’s unfair to expect them to foot half the bill.

“The first date shouldn’t be split because if you set the foundations like that, you could be exploited,” she says.

“Men reap all of the benefits and resources in society. Resources are never shared with us and somehow we are still expected to be a mother for their children, creating a home, doing the house work, while also contributing half the financial costs.

“By agreeing to 50:50 you are basically defining the future state of that relationship will be. So it’s important to set the tone right from the start.”

Samira also responds to the comments about how men paying for things can also lead to financial control, with “all the more reason for the woman to hold on to her own money.”

On the other hand, 31-year-old Yasmin, who works in marketing, says it’s less about gender, and more about the person treating the other.

“I would prefer that one of us just paid the whole bill. Personally, splitting the bill feels very uncomfortable. I always offer to pay it whole and I do sometimes, which is fine.”

For 25-year old Phoebe, an editor, who lived in Amsterdam for 10 years, splitting is a must.

“I think I’ve internalised the phrase ‘going Dutch’ so I believe it should be split, unless one person invited the other to somewhere specific,” she says.

“It’s so nuanced and a personal decision. But if I want equality, then to me, that involves the things I can control too, like paying my half. I also like treating others, whether that’s a friend or date, and it’s something that makes me feel proud of myself for making a living that allows me to do that.”

In a similar vain, Fatima, a 30-year-old from Essex, who works for a think-tank, says dates should be split and using ‘women aren’t equal in society’ as an excuse is “justifying a gender role that benefits women on the basis that there isn’t wholesale equally.”

She adds: “Gender equality is about more than women’s rights. It’s also about dismantling toxic genders that affect both men and women. The whole man should pay thing is part of the fabric of toxic masculinity. It comes from ideas from man as provider which is problematic in itself.

“And in that respect it comes full circle. Because a lot of the lack of safety and violence that women experience is a function of toxic masculinity.”

We told you there are many, many thoughts on this. What do you think?

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