So you went out with him after all! Good on ya'. You had a great time, a nice meal, and a lot of "getting to know one another." You order dessert, and you find out he likes chocolate over strawberry. Great. The waiter comes over to your table and leaves a small black tray with a daunting piece of paper on top, and a smile before leaving you to it. Suddenly, only a single question remains: who pays the bill? The man, the woman, or both? Maybe once you’ve been dating for a while, you could agree on what works for you as a couple, but in the early, nerve-racking days, it can be tough to figure out when you've only got mere seconds to decide. Is there a dating formula to determine the right answer here, or some dating etiquette book to check out? A 2015 Sage Journal article breaks this down for us a little bit: over 17,000 heterosexual, unmarried men and women were asked to determine who pays on the first date. Despite the fact that 74 percent of the men and 83 percent of the women report that both members of the couple should contribute to dating expenses after dating for six months, 76 percent of men said they feel guilty when accepting women’s money on the first date. 39 percent of women wished men would reject their offers to pay while 44 percent of women were bothered when men expected women to help pay. Yet even in today's day and age, there still doesn't seem like a solid, right-or-wrong answer to this question, but more so a few general guidelines that are widely accepted when it comes to our dating etiquette.Much of the data in the Sage Journal article states that there is a clear illustration of how people might be resisting or conforming to traditional gender norms. Historically, "dating" was related to the male’s displaying benevolent sexism, dominance, and the ability to fulfill the breadwinner's role during courtship, thus the traditional ideal that the man should pay for the first date and, ideally, for a few more into the relationship. Realistically, it does seem to be the courteous thing to do and suggests a sense of responsibility, stability in his own finances, and the level of enjoyment of his date’s company. Farnoosh Torabi, a female writer for time.com's Money column said in a post from 2014 that, "If I ever insisted on paying my half at the end of a first date when you offered to treat, it may have been because I never wanted to see you again. My persistence to pay was—at best—code for, 'Let’s just be friends'." That being said, there certainly is no reason why a woman shouldn’t offer to pay for a drink before or after dinner or make some other small gesture to contribute towards the date. The key to who pays on the first date is simple: it is a test to showcase how the man handles himself and not how the dollars and cents are divided. Whether the man or woman instigated the date, the man should be prepared to pay first. Can't afford a nice dinner? Try a coffee date, because it shouldn't take an expensive meal to get to know if you can connect with someone. If the woman insists on paying or putting something of her own towards the bill, accepting it with grace instead of immediately allowing them to pay or rejecting them outright will score you more points in the long run—if there is still a chance, that is. Bernardo Mendez of Your Great Life TV states: “If during the course of the first date you decide that you absolutely don’t want to see this guy again, insisting on paying for your half can help you signal more clearly that you’re not open to it.”The trick to it is not to make the cheque scenario awkward when it arrives to your table. An impressive way for a man to handle the bill is to discreetly settle it on his way to the men's room in order to avoid having any conversations about it. Trust me, you'll be MVP of the night with this move, fellas. The important take away from this is to know that paying for a date is more about the person than it is about the money, whether it is the first date, the second date, or the one-year anniversary! Paying for things generally gets easier as the relationship deepens and evolves so it is best to put your focus on the person in front of you rather than in the weight of your wallet. The chivalry at the beginning of a relationship is important, so prioritize this during the first few weeks of dating someone new.