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Rule #1: Pay Only What You Owe Pay only what you owe You ordered the salad. "But for a large discrepancy, nip it in the bud the first time it happens, or else you'll set a precedent that's hard to break without you coming off badly," says Jeanne Fleming, Ph D, "Money & Ethics" columnist at and coauthor of Isn't It Their Turn to Pick Up the Check?
Firmly, but nicely, say—don't ask—"I think it would be best if each of us just paid for what we ordered." If your friend pushes the issue, calmly stick to your guns and pay for your meal only.
After that, we're happy to pick up the tab once in a while, but the first time out, it's nice to be treated. "Getting together in person is the next logical step," says Mapes.
However, according to Diane Mapes, author of How to Date in a Post-Dating World, whoever asked for the date should pay, even if it's your first time going out. It's not as if asking you on a date came out of the blue, as it would if you'd first met in person.
If you're hosting a dinner party, not a potluck, spring for the cost of the entire menu yourself.
So if the bill arrives and, instead of picking up the check, he suggests splitting it—even though he asked you out—be gracious and gladly pull out your wallet.
"Don't automatically jump to the conclusion that he's cheap," she advises.
Photo: Thinkstock Making an invite a thinly disguised invoice.
Author’s note: For the purposes of this article, I use the term “date” to refer to spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, fiancé(e)s, friends, etc. Due to its popularity, the article has been re-worked and updated to include frequently asked questions.
If you make it to a second or third date—no matter how you met—have a conversation about monetary expectations. If he seems to be offended, don't turn it into a battle.