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Who Pays on a Date Depends on Your Looks

We're thrilled to present this smart LearnVest story here on Savvy!

If you’re an attractive woman, are men more likely to want to pay?

A new study from the University of St. Andrews in the U.K. found that men find it easier to imagine paying for dinner if their companions happen to be pretty.

Well, um, how shall we say this . . . duh?

Here is where it gets interesting, though: the more attractive a man is, the more women expect him to pay.

So, attractiveness might not work the same for both genders when it comes to paying up on a date.

Are You Hot Or Not?

Meanwhile, self-described attractive people of both genders are more likely to believe they deserve to be treated. This leads to a potentially interesting situation for ladies on dates with attractive men, if both wait for the other to do “the reach” when the check comes. (File that under “awkward money situation.”)


Why this disparity? Researchers think it’s because women are more comfortable accepting resources from attractive men. We probably don’t want to be beholden to men that we’re not that into, so we’d rather split the check and get the heck out of there.

Other results of the study confirmed what we already know: we all want to be treated, and women are more likely to expect men to take care of the check. (Does this advantage make you feel any better about all of those statistics on the wage gap?)

Should you despair if you're not hot? Find out when you read on.

The Real Deal

Should you despair if you don’t look like Angelina Jolie? Not necessarily. In the study, heterosexual participants—male and female—ranked themselves in terms of attractiveness. They were shown pictures of people of the opposite sex and asked to imagine who should pay if they were on a date with that person, or whether they should split the bill.

In other words, the study was done in a vacuum. The pictures were taken without makeup or without any of the context that usually comes with a date. The ladies in the pictures didn’t have a chance to charm with their wit, their easygoing attitude or their extensive knowledge of NFL trivia. Because the participants ranked themselves in terms of hotness, perhaps their egos inflated both their self-perceived looks and how valuable they thought their time was worth.

What’s The Lesson?

We are loath to tell women to go out and get a makeover before each date. Remember, this was an experiment done in a laboratory with untouched photos. In real life, your date could admit he’s a high-rolling banker or a starving artist. Overall, it’s just helpful to know these biases exist, however subtle they may be.

Money And Your Honey

Our rule? Whoever extended the invitation pays. After that first date, it’s up to the two of you to work out something that makes you both feel comfortable. (Read more of LV’s etiquette tips on the subject here.)

And of course, an extra swipe of lipstick couldn’t hurt.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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