Teen Dating Etiquette?

Updated on March 28, 2011
L.L. asks from Silver Spring, MD
12 answers

My 16 year old son has a new girlfriend. This is all new to me, and I would appreciate any advice about the etiquette of teen dating. When they go to the movies or to a restaurant, etc., should my son pay for his girlfriend, or does she pay for herself?

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answers from Pocatello on

Well If I were you I would teach him to treat all girls with respect. So yes if he asked her out to the movies or dinner he needs to pay ALWAYS! Just think back to when you were dating. I know for me if a guy took me to the movies but then expected me to pay my own way I would have been pissed! It's one thing if hes just out with a big group of kids and they all go grab a bite then no he doesn't have to pay for any of the girls there but if it's a real date then yes he should pay. And he should still open doors for her, walk her to her door
etc. I know times are different and keep changing but I am only 28 and I still remember boys doing this stuff for me back when I was a teen so I know this isn't way out of the ordinary.

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answers from San Francisco on

My opinion -- the boy should pay, open car doors, pull out chairs, all the old-fashioned, traditional stuff. That's what I'm teaching my 2 boys. (This is the opposite of my initial opinion from when I began this marriage/childrearing thing, 20+ years ago.)

The reason, IMO, that he should do this, is that if he learns to treat a female well, he will have a long, happy, healthy marriage someday. The 60's and 70's sure ruined a lot of things for us females.

And if guys learn early on to take care of females, they won't be grudging and pissed off later on if she stays home to take care of his children.

Hey ladies - do you want a respectful guy who remembers special occasions and brings you flowers etc., or do you want some Neanderthal who expects you to pay half?

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answers from Jacksonville on

If he asked her on a date, he should pay....If she asked him, he should at least offer to pay.......If they agree to split the tab, no problem......Point is, she should never be expected to pay unless she requests something absolutely outlandish like a 4 star restaurant with a 5 course menu that costs $$$. If she does that, he should run for the hills, LOL!
I'm 28 and am married to my HS sweetheart. He always paid unless I insisted that it was my turn to treat, which I did do occasionally and think women should do when dating. He used his parents' car to drive us around at first and then I got my license and got a car and decided that I would foot the gas bill and drive us around on dates. When he got a car of his own, we took turns. It worked for us....I never really expected him to pay in the sense that I never demanded it, but I did expect him to at least offer and not just stand there and look at me when a bill came or when the cashier asked for the money, LOL! :)

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answers from Milwaukee on

He should pay. He should open her door. He should walk up to the house and get her, not just honk from the curb. He should always be ontime.

Sure, it's expensive for a kid to be out there paying for so much, but it's the right way to raise a MAN.

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answers from Washington DC on

My son is 22. When he took his girlfriend out he did pay, even going out with friends. At times she also paid for him, she would call, say Hey let's go do xyz and then she paid. She also drove, she had her license first. At the time they were 17.
We stressed group dates and if they went out by themsleves it was at our house or hers, her parents were always home, they were very overprotective of her. Kept him honest. :o)

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answers from Baton Rouge on

When I was dating, we often went dutch - I knew that the guys didn't have any more money than I did, and splitting the cost meant that we could go to nicer places than if one person had to pay for everything.

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answers from St. Louis on

I would say that he should expect to pay, although he may not always. If it's a girl who ALWAYS makes him pay and never offers, I would think she probably wouldn't be a good independent type anyway. When I was dating in high school, and even now, I would offer to pay if I felt that the guy had paid to many times before, or I would suggest us splitting something (although that rarely happened, it was usually one or the other paid). I do agree that if he is paying though, he gets a big say in where they go and what they do. If he can't afford it, then he needs to honestly tell her that and she should respect it and either offer to pay or come up with something different for them to do.

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answers from San Francisco on

Hi L.,

At this age, if they can afford a movie, they could go DUTCH or if your son can afford two tickets he could pay and next time if the girl can afford she could pay.

If money is tight, your son could invite the girl to your home for dinner.....Her parents could do the same. Personally, I would like to meet and get to know the people my teen is friends with.


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answers from Washington DC on

I agree with the statements below that he should pay. Although in the future she should offer to pay and he can either accept or refuse. My philosophy is that if the boy doesn't have money and can't afford to pay for her then he shouldn't be asking. There are always things they can do for free too. For instance, watch a movie at your house or her house. I dated guys in high school that did that (free dates). I remember even going to a park on a Saturday afternoon and playing on the playground.

But definitely, at some point, it is polite and proper for the girl to offer to pay. If she doesn't then it could be that she is looking for someone to carry her. I'm old fashioned, but a girl that always wants to be taken care of and can never fend for herself is just as dangerous as the woman who never wants the man to pay or refuses any form of chivalry. There is a balance.

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answers from Seattle on

With the paying, it could go either way. They could split the tab in half if they want to. Or if he really likes this girl then paying for her is sweet. It just depends on them and what they want to do.

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answers from Houston on

Whatever they choose, they should discuss it before hand so that there is no awkwardness. Usually, the one who sets up the date is the one who pays. Typically, it would be the boy but every now and then if the girl is treating, then her. Really though, when my boys start to date, I am going to insist they go dutch... as in pay their own way at this young age so that it doesn't develop into this co-dependency/spoiling the girl thing. Just one other reason my kids won't be single dating until they are 18, and will be group dating only prior to that.



answers from Washington DC on

Well when I was younger and starting dating, a parent had to pick us up and drop us off, it didn't matter whose but that was a requirement. Being female, my dates always paid but my mom always made sure I had money. I think the polite thing is for him to pay. Nothing to expensive of course. My brother and I were both told not to buy gifts, unless it was a birthday or christmas, and even then it could not cost a lot of money, ( think less than 20 dollars not expensive). We were not allowed to accept gifts unless for the same reasons. I think group dates are highly underrated and you should suggest those. Good luck!

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