In these tough economic times, even the rules of who should pay for a date are uncertain. While we pretty much universally agree that dudes should foot the bill for the first excursion out, you can’t always know if your date’s going to agree, especially if he’s lost his job or is watching his budget. And if it’s date number two or more, you really can’t count on a freebie. Blasted!
But ladies, before you resign yourselves to a life of watching back-to-back episodes of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” know that a packed calendar of fun—and free—dates can be had. You just have to be clever. Here are eight ways to get out of paying for a date.
- Suggest a restaurant that doesn’t take American Express or Discover cards, and then wouldn’t you know, you only have your Amex or Discover on you, oops! Catch you next time, love!
- After dinner, excuse yourself to go the bathroom, and let the waiter know your date wants the check. Take your time primping and washing your hands, so by the time you get back all should be taken care of. (This is an oldie-but-goodie that has a pretty high success rate.)
- Make a huge deal when he opens the door for you or pulls out your seat about how chivalry is dead these days and you love a man who knows how to treat a lady. Be sure and emphasize “treat.” Essentially, shame him into paying for it.
- While not necessarily the classiest maneuver, make comments throughout the date about how broke you are. Like, “Wow, it’s so nice to be not be eating popcorn again for dinner.” Or, “Thanks, I made this skirt out of coffee filters. Hey, at least being poor is making me resourceful!” He’ll probably not only pay for your dinner, but he might lend you some Benjamins—score!
- Make a friendly bet that you know you’ll win, like the scene in “The Color of Money” when Paul Newman bets Tom Cruises that he can pick up the girl at the bar (who he already knows, obviously). Try betting the country of origin of your waitress (when you’ve already befriended her on a “bathroom trip”) or wager you know what exact varietals (grapes) are in your wine. You’ll have to show up a bit early to flirt with the sommelier, but not only will you get free dinner, you’ll get some wine knowledge as well!
- While the old “forgot my wallet” is a classic, the mastery of this trick depends on your acting skills. These days a simple fumbling around for your wallet won’t due. No, you have to look in your purse, check all your pockets, put on a good “panic face”, confused as well as thoroughly embarrassed—you might want to slyly pinch your cheeks to produce some color. He’s either going to feel sorry for you: 1) Because he really thinks you forgot/lost your wallet, or 2) Because you’re obviously such a bad actress. Either way you’re good.
- If all else fails and the date is going badly anyway, you could just bail by:
- Being wildly offended by something he says or does like flirting with the waitress or eating meat—murderer!
- Feign a contact lens attack, which starts with rapid blinking, then progresses to eye rubbing, and culminating with cupping the assigned eye in a panic! You’re blind! Gotta go!
- And if the date’s a total dud, when the check comes look him squarely in the eye, smile, and promise to get the next one. Not that there’ll be one.