This isn’t a poly thing so much as a dating thing. But it comes up enough I wanted to tackle it here.
In “traditional” American dating, the man asked the woman and the man paid for the date. As social mores have changed, the issue has become confused.
Some people “go dutch” with both people paying for their share.
Some people expect that whoever asks the other person out on a date will pay for the date.
Some people still follow the traditional (sexist, heterocentric, and gender binary) view that the man pays for the date.
People who ask “who pays for dates” in polyamory seem to expect there to be a standard. There isn’t.
The best approach is to discuss who pays ahead of time. If you can’t, then:
1) if you ask the other person out, make sure you have enough money to cover the whole night,
2) if the other person asks you, plan to pay your share.
Then, with both of you having money on hand, discuss it on the date.
Taking this approach ensures that there is no awkward moment of “I wasn’t planning to pay…” (which is far worse than the awkward moment when you both [all] pull your wallets out at the same time).
If a single date turns into a relationship, at some point you should discuss how you will handle dates in your relationship.
If you are splitting the cost, don’t be inconsiderate.
Unless you have a joint budget (in which case, why are you worrying about who pays?) anyone you go on a date with will be in a different financial situation. What you can pay for easily might be someone else’s once a month splurge and a third person’s “You’re kidding, right?”
On the last post in this series, A shared how expensive “dates” contributed to one of their relationships falling apart:
“Generally, we were fine regarding the way we handled our joint finances, but apparently the “expensive vacations with other partner” thing galled him. If he’d talked about it with me, I think we could have handled it better — his other partner made six figures, he and I were struggling financially, and she kept wanting to take extravagant trips with him, but didn’t want to pay more than 50% of the cost, even though she made twice his salary.”
As I read that comment, I wondered “what was this person thinking?”
If you want to take a partner on expensive outings and they have less money than you, think twice. What may be a reasonable trip for you could break their budget. Be considerate. Either go on dates that are within your partner’s budget or be prepared to pay for it yourself. Yes, it sucks wanting to share this awesome thing with your partner and not being able to. But if your partner can’t afford it or says they can only afford it once in a while, don’t pressure them or shame them or ask them to do the same thing again next week.
This post is part of the Polyamory Finances blog series.