Take the awkward out of the "who pays" debate

There are a lot of parts about a first date that are awkward. If you met on a dating app, you do the thing where you walk into the bar or restaurant and hope it’s easy to identify the person based on their pictures. You hope you don’t end up with food in your teeth, and then you hope there aren’t awkward silences that force you to comment on something innocuous happening around you.

And yet no matter how smooth the conversation ends up being or how free of lettuce your teeth remain, the part of the date where the check comes is always slightly uncomfortable. How long do you wave your debit card around wildly before you let them pay? What if the date was lackluster at best?

Here are some ways to wrap up your night out without doing the awkward “who pays?” dance back and forth until the end of time.

Be gracious, but don’t feel bad

Some people hate letting their date cover the bill because they don’t want to come off as entitled, or they end up feeling as if they owe this person something. Offer to contribute to the check, but also know it’s okay to just be grateful and thank your date if they end up picking up the tab.

Remember: taking someone out is a nice thing to do, and general politeness can be hard to come by when you’re dating. You shouldn’t feel as if you’re forever indebted to this person/are no longer an independent adult/are otherwise in a bad position because of it.

Take your date out next time

If there’s a second date, it can be your turn to pick up the check. Paying on a first date is thoughtful, but it shouldn’t become a pattern if you begin to see this person more regularly. Give your debit card a workout from time to time too.

If you’re tasked with picking the place and suspect your date might want to pay, choose wisely

If you’re not sure what the check breakdown is going to be and your date puts you in charge of picking where you want to go, be mindful of the other person’s budget. Save your favorite, expensive meal for a splurge-y night out with friends. Or when your parents come to town, of course.

If the connection isn’t there, chip in

If you’re out with someone and it’s pretty clear there won’t be a second date, it can feel slimy to let this person pay anyway. In this situation, offer to cover your half. No hard feelings, plus you’re subtly indicating to them that the whole romantic angle has run its course.

You can each contribute something

If your outing requires buying multiple things (tickets to a show or a game, then beers at that event) it can feel off-balance to let this person buy everything from start to finish. If you don’t love this idea, divide and conquer throughout the night. He bought the tickets. Perfect. Now you can buy the snacks/beers/overpriced souvenir cup.