Dating and Money: Always Split the Check on First Date

dating money survey

In dating, there can be a lot of miscommunication. Thinking you’re exclusive with someone who doesn’t think so can be AWK-ward — but financial misunderstandings are even more major.

And they can start early. Like right from the first date.

A new survey from The Cashlorette reveals a variety of expectations about who pays for that first soiree. Women are more inclined to want to split the check (37 percent of women prefer this, vs. 9 percent of men), while most men (85 percent) want to pick up the entire tab themselves. Millennials are more likely to be check splitters than other age groups.

On your next Bumble date, before you reach for that check, take a sec to reflect. You could be setting yourself up for a relationship filled with clashes over cash.

Financial issues in a relationship

Money miscommunication on a first date can lead to some serious financial heartbreak, when you look at how much people expect to spend. On average, millennials say $90 is appropriate, while Gen Xers say a little over $100 is the sweet spot.

A bill like that can put a serious dent in your savings, especially if you’re swiping up a storm on Tinder!

Want to hear even more heartbreak? Fighting over money too often becomes the norm in relationships, The Cashlorette’s survey finds. Just over half of Americans who are married or living with a partner admit to fighting over finances. They most often argue over one partner or spouse spending too much, or one of them being too frugal. Other typical conflicts involve dishonesty about spending habits or savings, and how to divvy up the bills.

Call me Cupid, but I’m here to fill you in on how you can get your fairytale ending, while keeping your finances intact.

How to avoid money issues in a relationship

Just like many things in a relationship — like who gets which side of the bed and what your go-to Thai takeout spot will be — expectations about money can be set very early on. That’s why you should be as open with your attitude toward money as you are with your feelings about Netflix vs. Hulu. Because nothing screams romance like talking about Roth IRAs, right!?

Kidding! Kinda.

You should definitely nix the idea that talking about money is a dating taboo. Dishing about how you view finances can help manage expectations before things get serious, sets the tone for what types of dates you both can afford, and helps provide more insight on what you both value. Differences of opinion don’t have to be deal breakers if you’re honest from the get-go.

Tread lightly — no need to get super specific with salary numbers and credit scores! But a simple “I really value saving money over spending” can go a long way in terms of managing expectations.

Maintain financial independence

With cuffing season coming up, this one’s important to remember! Make sure to maintain some sense of financial independence, even on the first date. It’ll set the tone, and you could even end up avoiding some romantic resentment down the line.

My advice for the first date? Split the check to avoid stress when the bill comes. Don’t feel pressure to foot the whole bill — whether it be out of pride or what you think is expected — especially if you can’t afford to.

Even as things get more serious, like if you move in together or get married, keeping your own checking or savings account is always a good idea. Consider it your “Freedom Fund”: In case things go south, you have those funds to fall back on. It also serves the whole “you’re spending too much on shoes!” argument; the cash in your own checking or savings account is yours to spend or save as you please.

The two of you don’t need to have identical views when it comes to finances — it’s OK to have your own opinion! Don’t sacrifice your sensibilities to score your soulmate.

The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 1,001 adults living in the continental United States. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

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