Dutch Date: Who gets to pay?

by epi on May 11, 2012

Q: My son is an 18 year old high school senior. He has a girlfriend. However, they have been great friends in a large group of friends for a year. Before she became his girlfriend, they would often go out to lunch or dinner. Sometimes the two of them alone, sometimes a third person or many.

The real question is: Is it proper for him to expect to pay for every meal when it’s just the two of them? We have told him that it is. However, as he is in high school and doesn’t have a steady job or income, what is the answer to this? They’re both pretty bright kids and they tutor an occasional student, but this doesn’t amount to much money.

A: Today’s customs can differ from community to community and group to group. The “boy pays” tradition is still observed in some places, particularly for first dates and major occasions. But “Dutch treat” — boys and girls paying for themselves — is now more popular, especially for casual group get-togethers. For many one-on-one dates, it has also become customary for the boy or girl who issues the invitation to pay the normal expenses (movie tickets, refreshments, cab fare or gas if he/she drives). Then if the couple decides, for example, to go to a more expensive restaurant than planned, the additional costs are shared.

Though teens are adept at working out their own financial arrangements, the normal costs of dating can stretch a young person’s budget thin. Parents who inform themselves about current practices in their teen’s crowd will be better able to determine when to pitch in with extra date money.

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