The awkwardness that often comes with splitting a bill on a first date is sometimes cringeworthy enough for reality TV.
Unravelling the ever-changing intricacies of “going Dutch” on a first date is a hard puzzle to solve and the meandering awkwardness that follows is worthy of cringe reality TV.

But it does make for scintillating reality TV. Britain’s Channel 4’s First Dates (Vuzu channel 116) is exactly that. The plot: A restaurant is filled with singles on their first dates and 40 remote-controlled cameras. What ensues is awkward silences, snarly rebuttals and that dreaded “how are we going to settle the bill” stare.

In an episode, potential couple Steve and Elaine clashed over who should pay the bill. During the course of the meal, they had been hitting it off with occasional flirting. The death knell fell when Steve said: “Are we going Dutch?” (paying for themselves) Things started going downhill afterwards – let’s just say they didn’t exchange phone numbers.

Picture this: you’re on a date and things have gone well, you’re done eating and you’ve had a great time. The bill arrives – now what?

Online dating site eHarmony, offered this advice: “By asking someone out on a date – whether it’s the girl asking the guy or the more traditional guy asking the girl – it is generally assumed the person doing the asking should at least make an offer to pick up the whole bill.

“When you ask someone on a date, you’re acting as the host, just like if you invited a potential partner over to your home for dinner – you wouldn’t ask for half of the grocery bill.”

We put this dating rule to the test and asked a few single people their thoughts on splitting the bill when on a first date.

Always a gentleman

“I prefer to pay the full bill, because most of the time I am the one who initiated the date and therefore I don’t expect the lady to pay,” says Musawenkosi Ndlangisa.

He says that’s not a matter of impressing his date, but rather making sure the evening goes smoothly instead of her being distracted by who pays the bill. “After all, we’re on a date – it’s not a competition to see who can afford to pay the bill or not.”

High maintenance date

Lizelle Josias believes that the guy should always pay: “I’m old school and I think it shows a good upbringing on their part.” She also thinks it’s orthodox for him to pay on the first date.

Equal footing

Matthew van Schalkwyk says that when he and his girlfriend started dating, he preferred to settle the bill. Now that they are in a long-term relationship, both take turns when going out. “One day I would pay, and another she would. On other occasions we’ll just split the bill.”

The Independent woman

“I try to go half and half, but some guys don’t allow it though, says Olivia Carolissen. “Some don’t mind, but I get the feeling others don’t like it when you want go Dutch.”