It’s no secret that women are tricky creatures. Even if we believe in coupon clipping and saving every penny, we will still call a guy cheap if he lets us split the check on the first date. Take me for example. I have an entire website dedicated to frugal living (The Frugal Model), yet I still believe in that old school behavior of men opening doors, pulling out chairs, and making you feel like they are more than happy to take care of the bill. I know it’s confusing. I would never marry a guy who was careless with his spending, but I also wouldn’t go on a second date with someone who let me pay for the first.
Letting a woman pay the bill right from the start lets her know that you are either a) “between jobs,” a.k.a. too broke to afford the restaurant that you likely chose b) are so scarred from your gold digging ex-girlfriend that you will now make every other woman pay for your emotional baggage or c) you’re just plain old cheap, and no one wants to be with someone like that.
So how do you find that delicate balance of impressing a woman without ever looking cheap?
1. Set the standard immediately
If you are actually broke, then not appearing cheap can be difficult. Even if you impress a woman with lavish spending on a first date, this will likely be a habit you can’t keep up for long. You want to set the standard for how dating you will be right away. You can’t hook her with the nicest restaurant in town and then take her to Burger King every date after that. Plus, if she isn’t into BK and that’s all you can afford – better to find that out now before you fall in love, buddy.
2. Plan on paying for the first few dates
Another reason why you should be choosing date spots that you can afford. Even if you’re the kind of guy who believes in splitting everything, for the first few (meaning at least three) dates, plan on picking up the check. Any woman who has a high self-worth and isn’t desperate will be pleased to know that chivalry isn’t dead with you. Once things are more comfortable and the courting stage is over, allow her to split the bill when she offers (which she should).
3. Use social coupons for experiences – but not meals
- Rounds at a shooting range
- Bootcamp classes (she won’t think this is a hint that you think she’s fat)
- Dance classes (like salsa – NOT Zumba. No man looks good doing Zumba)
- Musical tickets or any event or tour
Pretty much any activity that you think your date would enjoy, but that she wouldn’t know you used a coupon to pay for. This is why I recommend not using one for a meal for at least the first few dates – because you will have to let the server know, and this will ultimately make you look cheap.
4. Use your resources
- Eventbrite.com has an option to put in your budget and it will pull up events in your area that are in your price range (even if its $0).
- Free-attractions.com also lists things like free museums and parks in your area
- Sometimes cable, wireless or credit card providers offer discounts to events
- Simply Google “free events” and your town to see what’s going on in your area
5. It’s the thought that counts
Remember that the kind of woman that you want to be with shouldn’t care about how much money you’re spending to take her out. There is much more value in being thoughtful and considerate when planning a date. Pay attention to what she likes to do and find frugal ways to make it happen. If she loves theater – go to something romantic (but inexpensive) like community theater in the park. Women are complicated, but we aren’t stupid. We are well aware that it is much easier for someone with money to take us somewhere expensive than it is to plan a thoughtful fun date – and that’s much more valuable.
You see? You can still charm a woman without having to spend your entire paycheck or look like a cheap bastard. Thoughtfulness, a sense of humor and some personality will always go a lot further than an expensive meal. Use your online resources, your creativity or your coupons and show her why she should keep dating you even if you’re still living at home with your parents.