Should Men Have to Pay for an Expensive Dinner to Show Women They’re a Good Catch?

Elle Silver

Some women use men for free meals. There's a term for this: "foodie call."
Photo by Gary Barnes from Pexels

Lately, I've listened to a lot of women tell me that they won’t go on a date with a man unless he invites them to dinner. I'm not talking about any old dinner either — but an expensive dinner in a fancy restaurant.

These women demand expensive dinners on first dates because they view themselves as an investment for a man — literally. By paying for an expensive meal, a man shows he's serious about investing in a commitment with a woman.

He also demonstrates that he brings something to the table: financial security.

Women who demand such treatment on first dates claim they don't do this because they intend to live off a man. On the contrary: such high-value women simply want a man who equals them in career ambition and financial resources.

And sure, such women also desire a man to elevate them from the already cushy lifestyle they live. But because more and more women demand mates who will spend serious money on them, a growing number of men feel they won’t get anywhere with a woman unless they buy her a pricey dinner.

They fear they can't make a good impression otherwise. But is it fair to expect men should have to pay for expensive meals just to show women they’re a catch?

There's a social expectation that men should always pay for the first date.

Your answer might be: let people do what they want. If women demand this and men will spend this kind of money on first dates, then what's the problem? But we also can't deny that in our society there's an expectation that men will always pay for a first date.

A survey conducted by and SurveyMonkey found that 78% of both male and female respondents believed that men should foot the bill on the first date. Do men really have a choice in the matter?

Common etiquette says they should pay for dinner. No, they don't have to take a woman to an expensive dinner. Still, meals these days in big cities carry a high price tag.

Dating can get incredibly expensive for men, who feel they're expected to shell out a lot of money on dates. They're expected to pay for dates even if the women aren't really interested in them.

A woman might consent to a first date but have no interest in a second one. It's sad that men have to put up with rejection while also getting stuck with a $200 dinner bill.

Even if the bill is just for $50, that’s still a lot to pay to find out someone doesn’t like you—or worse, is just using you for a free meal.

"Foodie calls": when women use men for a free meal.

Yes, you heard that right. A new breed of women are consciously using men for free dinners. This issue is so rampant that there is even a term for it: "foodie calls.”

A study published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science entitled, “Foodie Calls: When Women Date Men for a Free Meal (Rather Than a Relationship),” found that out of a surveyed 698 single heterosexual women, 22% of them had agreed to meet a man for a date just for the meal they'd get out of it.

These women may even claim to be traditional. That's why they expect a man to pay for the meal. But the thing is, these women have no real interest in the men they go out with. They just want to eat for free.

Because men have been conditioned to pay for dates and don’t want to ruin their chances with a woman by asking her to split the bill, men end up paying for the meal.

But they just end up feeling abused as a result.

The coffee date is not necessarily a better option.

Some might say that people should just go on coffee dates when meeting for the first time. But as I mentioned, a lot of women won't accept an offer to get coffee with a man as a first date.

Women see an offer to go get coffee as an indicator that a man isn’t really serious about them. If a man isn't willing to invest something in her on the first date to really impress her, a woman isn't interested.

For this reason, some men are afraid to offer a date to get a coffee together because they fear they'll strike out with a woman before they've even started.

The same goes for asking her to split the bill.

Some women will pay the dinner bill if they don’t like a guy.

That said, not all women are out to use men. Some women even feel guilty about the social expectation that men always have to foot the bill. This is especially true if they discover on the date that they're not really interested in a guy.

According to relationships writer Carlyn Beccia, she's found a way to work around this issue. While she will let a man pay for her dinner if she likes him, if she doesn't want to see him again, she will pay the bill.

In her essay, When A Woman Should and Shouldn’t Pay on a First Date, Beccia writes:

To be clear, I view picking up the check as an act of altruism. You are putting money back into your date’s pocket so he can take out another woman who will appreciate his longwinded diatribe about why everyone should drive a Tesla. (I so wish that was not a personal reference.) Meanwhile, you will not feel the least bit guilty when you give him some hackneyed blow-off as to why there is no chemistry.

That sounds like a much more evolved approach to me. What do you think? Should men always pay on the first date? Should a guy have to invite a woman out to an expensive meal to show he's a catch?

And if she's not interested in seeing him again, should she pick up the tab?

What about "foodie calls"? Have you ever gone on one? Or has a woman ever used you for a free meal?

I'd love to hear in the comments. You might also want to read my story about how I get around the issue by meeting men in parks for our first date: I Meet Men in Parks for Our First Date to Save Time and Money.

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I'm a relationships expert with a focus on post-divorce dating and family. Everything I've learned about love, I've learned the hard way. You can learn from my mistakes.

Los Angeles, CA

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