Guest Writer #48: “How Much to Spend on a First Date” by Leon Harris

The way you wine and dine a date the first time you go out could have significant ramifications not only for the outcome of the evening, but also for the potential of the relationship. If you go too low, for example, by hitting up a fast food restaurant, you’ll find out pretty quickly if she’s a gold-digger. But let’s face it: what girl wants to date a guy who’s that cheap? Of course, by going overboard with a five-star restaurant, roses, and the whole works, you could also turn her off (that sort of showy display of wealth can make your date feel pressured to offer something in return, a situation that most women don’t like to find themselves in). On the other hand, you also need to take into account the class of woman you’re dating. These are all considerations that will determine how much you should spend on a first date.

The first think to think about is how much you can afford to spend. If you’re in the poorhouse, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t date, but you’ll certainly have to get creative if you want to show her a good time. Instead of hitting up Mickey D’s to become a dollar menunaire, you might try making her dinner at your place or throwing together a picnic and taking her to your favorite park. Both are money-savers that still display your willingness to expend effort on her behalf (a very attractive trait) without betraying your lack of money (or imagination). Of course, just because you have a ton of dough doesn’t mean you have to go whole hog with a first date. Keep it low key if you want to attract the right kind of girl.
That said, you need to think about who you’re dating, as well. A lady who owns a house in the Hamptons in addition to her Manhattan apartment may not be content to gobble down a folded slice of New York’s finest pizza while guzzling beer from a plastic cup. And a girl who lives by the tracks might not be terribly comfortable in an upscale and exclusive restaurant (in addition to having nothing to wear to such an establishment, the clientele and atmosphere could make her feel fairly self-conscious). Although you’ll want to push your partner to try new things eventually, the first date may not be the best time to put her squarely outside of her comfort zone (unless you don’t care if she’s focused on something other than you).

So, the ideal amount to spend is not necessarily defined by dollars. The safest bet is middle-of-the-road. Go to a nice restaurant if you can afford it, but not a place that requires reservations or a dress code. And be prepared to pay for everything (since you’re probably planning it to fit your budget without knowing what hers looks like), but don’t be pushy. If she wants to go Dutch, let her. A lot of independent women feel better about the arrangement if things are divided equally (so the resultant kiss at the end of the night is pressure-free).

Leon Harris writes for J.G. Wentworth, where you can find information regarding an annuity loan or an annuity buyout

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