Keep The Receipts: The 26-Year-Old Woman Dating In NYC

A recent survey from Discover and Match Media Group showed that even though credit scores can be complicated figures, many daters today use them to make a number of judgments about others. Money, and how people manage it, can say a lot when it comes to romance.

In our first installment of a new Refinery29 series, Keep the Receipts, a 26-year-old guy dating in New York City told us how much money he spent dating over a month. Next up, a 26-year-old woman in NYC shared her dating expenses over a month. She met her matches on Tinder and Bumble — and had some pretty interesting ways of figuring out how to sort out payment on dates.

Read on to see what her month of dating was like.

Interested in sharing your own month of receipts? Tell us at moneystories@refinery29.com.

Illustration by Paula Volchok.
R29: How do you tend to handle the issue of who pays on dates?

I always offer to pay, and if they don't let me, I don't argue.

Do you have any negative feelings about a guy who lets you pay or asks you to split?

If it's obvious that they make more money than me, I think, Okay,that's fine — but weird. If they make the same amount or are in an industry that probably doesn't make much money or have consistent paychecks, I'm probably going to split. If they ask me out to dinner, they choose the place, and they make more money than me — and they still split it, I think, This is weird. I'm fine with it, but I try to look at it holistically to see what makes sense.

With platonic male friends — especially if we're in that weird territory where one of us might be into each other — I will always split. I don't like dating my friends, so I split with them just to make sure. Like, We're friends, right?

So, that's kind of your silent boundary. “We’re friends! So, I’m splitting.”

Yeah. Until we've gotten to that point where we're really close friends and we're never going to cross that line. Then it's, I've got you this time, you'll get me next time.

There are signifiers that indicate how much money someone you're going on a date with makes, but it's not always obvious. How do you pick up on that?

Usually, I can tell based on how people talk about money, or their spending habits, or what they like to do. What industry they're in is also super telling; so is how they talk about work. In New York, it's pretty easy because you might say, “New York is so expensive,” and then you can hear what people think of as expensive. That's kind of interesting for me.

I do have a thing that I do that's super helpful for me in terms of figuring out whether or not they want to pay, or feel like it lets them decide: I like washing my hands a lot, so I go to the bathroom after I finish eating. Usually, that's around the time that the bill comes. So, if I go to the bathroom and wash my hands, and make sure there's no food in my teeth, and I come back and it's paid, then I'll say thank you and "How much do I owe you?" Or I'll say, "Oh, I'll get it next time," if I want there to be a next time. If the bill's still there when I get back, then I say, “Great. Let’s split it.”

That doesn't make you think any less of them?

No, I just don't like that awkwardness. I don't like to do that wallet reach. It's really annoying.

Do you feel like guys know that that's a gesture that you're doing?

They probably do, but no one says anything! It's just easier for me to do than to know what they're thinking.

In the previous installment of this series, a guy talked about how it was ingrained in him to handle the bill. But over time, he said he felt it reflected poorly on the people he was dating if there was no splitting of the bill ever. How have you handled that in the past?

In my very first relationship after I first moved [to New York], I had a job but my boyfriend at the time didn't. When he came to visit me, I would cover most things. If he said he wanted to take me out to dinner, I’d say, "Okay, you can pay." But it was obvious because I had a paycheck that I would buy his plane ticket out, and that sort of thing.
Tell me about your first date, on 6/16.

It was a first date and we went out for drinks and appetizers in Chelsea. He chose the spot, and he paid. It was going to be just drinks, but if you give me alcohol, I have to have some sort of carb, so we got an appetizer sampler. I felt okay with him paying because it was not that expensive.

What about the second first-date you went on?

This was a brunch. I met him on Tinder and we started talking. I asked him for work advice about a few things I was working on. He worked in international law for a little bit, and I wanted to be careful the way I was phrasing something. After bothering him a little bit before we met, I said, “I owe you breakfast for this." So I paid for both of us, which was fine, and he didn't seem uncomfortable with that.

Your date on 6/20 was a second date. Was it with one of the previous two people?

No, he's from before the first week of Keep The Receipts. For this date, he asked to go for a walk around the park, and then get dinner. We split a lobster roll, burrata, and two drinks. For our first date, he paid for juice I had.

I usually let guys choose what to do on dates, mostly because there are interesting things I like to do, but I also like to expand my horizons. If they mention something interesting, I will do it. I have a hard time saying no to people. After this second date, though, I complained to a friend about the fact that I really hate going on dinner dates and drink dates. They're so boring, and I don't like drinking all the time.

She changed my profile to say something like: "Tired of drink dates. Suggest something interesting and then we'll talk." I like walking in the park ones, which is really easy and free. You can kind of tell if someone can hold up their end of the conversation. And in this experiment, my favorite dates were the ones that were cheaper.

That takes us to your date on 6/22 — watching the sun set in a park?

This was my favorite. I met him on Tinder and he was out of town, but asked if I wanted to do something. I said I could, and he replied, “Okay, get ready for the most amazing first date ever.” I thought, GREAT. Into it — and then he texted the next day to see if I wanted to go to Stone Street [Tavern]. I sent him back something like, “Sounds kind of tame for the most amazing first date ever…”, so he said, “Fine, we’ll watch the sunset at Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

After I got to the park, we got ice cream and then walked around. They have public pianos and apparently, he knows how to play, so he sat down and played me Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and “Ignition” in ballad piano editions. It was really cute! Later, after we walked around he took off his backpack and whipped out rosé, a picnic blanket, real wine glasses, and a water bottle filled with ice in case the rosé got too warm. And then we took the ferry back! It was the best first date I’ve been on.
You bought date outfits twice. How often do you think, I want a new outfit for this date? And when you do get date outfits, it just because you’re in the mood for a new outfit, or because you want to incorporate a new date outfit into your repertoire? Or maybe you’re seeing someone you’re excited about?

Kind of all three. I got out of a relationship in April, so retail therapy has been a big part of my life. That weekend, I didn’t go on a lot of dates because I had a friend in town, but we went shopping. I can wear these dresses to work, but I usually wear them on days I know that I’ll see someone I want to impress.

Your date on 6/27 was a third date. What did you do?

This was third date from the person I saw on 6/11 and 6/20. He made dinner at his place because he wanted to impress me, and I bought the wine. It was really annoying because he asked me what type of food I like and I said Japanese — but please don’t make sushi because it’s weird to eat sushi at home. You don’t really know where it’s from and I’m very particular about quality. So, he made rice with miso salmon and asked if I’d ever had it before. I thought, I literally make this every other week, but I didn’t tell him that. It was very sweet, but that was the last time I saw him.

Was it the dinner that did it, or were things already winding down?

It’s that problem I have where I don’t say no. I could sort of tell things weren’t going to go further. I felt uncomfortable around him — not for any particular reason. I just felt like I couldn’t be myself.

After this date was Fourth of July weekend, and you’re back to another series of first and second dates.

This is when I started learning to tell people that I’m not interested in them. The first date on 7/6 was nice. We had a drink and then we got ice cream afterwards. I paid for ice cream and he paid for my drink. I saw him again on July 13th; we went out for Italian food.

On 7/9, you went out for a second date with someone else. What did you do?

This was the person I walked around the park with on 6/22. For this date, I brought over clams and a baguette to his place. He has a pool in his apartment and I told him I wanted to hang out by it, so when he said he also has a grill, I said he should grill clams. They’re delicious and he’d never had them before, so I bought clams, ingredients to make a butter-wine sauce, a baguette, and some fruit. I did steal a mini-bottle of wine out of his fridge, but I don’t think that counts! I like him a lot and we’ve been seeing each other pretty consistently, but he’s often out of town.
Your date on 7/11 was another first date, and 7/12 was a second date. How were those?

It was fine. Watching the sunset was nice, but I got bug bites. The 7/12 date wasn’t supposed to be a date, but it kind of turned into one. Our first date was on 7/7, and I kind of knew after that things would be mostly platonic. But he really likes music, I really like music, and we have very similar tastes, so I thought we could be friends. I got tickets to a concert and my roommate was supposed to go with me, and I said he should come, too. Then my roommate bailed unintentionally — she got stuck at work — so I guess it was a date? I had no idea. He came and afterward we had dinner, and we argued about who would pay. I said I should pay, but he didn’t let me. I’ve hung out with him a couple times since then and I think, he’s pretty well off, so it’s engrained in him to pay. He pays a lot for his friends, too, so it seems like that’s just what he does.

Looking at the month as a whole, how do you feel about how much you spent?

I was surprised that my favorite dates, or most of them, were the ones that were cheaper for both of us. For example, my last date for Keep The Receipts on 7/15 was swing dancing, and that was free. It was so fun, and there was no cover.

Lincoln Center hosts a series called Midsummer Night Swing, and you do have to pay to get on the main dance floor, but a lot of people dance on the perimeter because you can still hear the music. That’s what we did, and it was great. After, he did say he didn’t think he was the right person for me, but I was like, “Okay…but can we still be swing dancing friends?!” I might try to go swing dancing with him again in two weeks.

After that date, though, I decided to stop dating as much. I was very tired and kind of over dating. I decided to hang out more with my friends, hang out in my apartment, and not do as much. Even with clams guy; we’ll hang out every other week, but I got really tired.

How do you feel in general about what women pay versus what men pay? Do you feel weird about the fact that men to pay more, or do you feel like it is what it is?

I do feel weird about it, but I think it’s a little more complicated than just gender. I think how much you make will determine whether you are willing to pay or not, which is also why I preferred cheaper dates, or free ones, or ones where we did something a little bit different than just a drink.

Interested in sharing your own month of receipts? Tell us at moneystories@refinery29.com.
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