“A guy asked me out for a first date. We went to a nice restaurant. All was well until the bill came. He pulled out a two-for-one Groupon and told me that I could cover the tip. My girls say dump him immediately. I’m not opposed to using coupons or saving money, but well into a relationship, not the first date. What would you do in this situation?” —K.I.
I’m always amazed at the frequency of people who write in about using coupons—or in your case, Groupons—on dates. Like you, I respect the desire to operate on a budget and be mindful of money, as our parents told us, “It doesn’t grow on trees.” But there’s a time and place for coupons, and a first date just doesn’t strike me as one of them—unless there’s a conversation about it beforehand. Also, down the line, even while still dating, I think it would be fine to use them.
If he’d given you a heads up to say, “Hey, there’s a restaurant I really want to try that I saw on Groupon. Would you like to go?” I’d think that was fine. But just to whip one out at the end of the night? It reads as cheap and, worse, tacky. As if that weren’t enough, he’s asked you to reach into your pocketbook to pay the tip on a date on which he asked you. That’s doubly tacky.
It he wasn’t able or willing to pay for the full price of an expensive meal and gratuity, I would have preferred that he select a place where he could afford the full price of dinner or at the very least told you that he wanted you to pitch in to cover your portion. There were a few options available to him that could have made for a less awkward situation, and he elected not to use them.
As to whether you should go out with him again, the life coach in me wants to focus on the bigger picture: Did you enjoy the date? Did he make good conversation? Other than the sketchy situation with the bill, is he otherwise likable? Still, I have pause here.
I know that when a man is really interested in a woman, he is trying to impress her. Even if he doesn’t have a lot of money, he will make up for it with a lot of effort. And what bothers me most about your scenario is that your guy managed to put forth a minimal amount of it. Not only did he whip out a coupon on a first date, he asked you to pay, and he didn’t even give you a warning. He’s either very socially inept or not all that interested in impressing you, neither of which bodes all that well for you. He had to know that there would be a great chance you were turned off, and he took it anyway, likely because he’s just not all that interested.
I shared this perspective with some friends, and a few thought your friends and I were being hard on the guy. They argued that single women seem pickier than necessary and are writing off guys for these sorts of “concerns”; what they see as a minor infraction, I found to be a bigger issue. I’m of the mind that “single” is not synonymous with “desperate,” and a woman’s got to have some standards. If you start cutting corners with date No. 1, you’re not going to get any better treatment on date No. 3 or date No. 30.
You are entirely capable of finding at least one man who will try to impress you or at least communicate with you better.