Dating Across the UK: Who should pay on the first date?

Dating habits in the UK


Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and the sound of last minute presents being frantically bought is rising in the air – have you prepared for the big V-Day?

Many people take Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to ask out that special someone they’ve had their eye on for so long – it’s the season of love, what could possible go wrong, right?

We wanted see just how people in the UK approached dating and those nerve-wracking first nights out together, from how much they’d be willing to spend to how they plan an escape on a date gone awry, and this is what we found…


Home to the world renowned Gay Village and a lively student reputation, Manchester has always had a somewhat progressive reputation compare to the masses and they managed to hold up those ideals in their answers! Manchester was leading the way for equity, with 47% believing the billshould always be split on a first date. Only 2% thought the woman should be the one to pay, whilst 16% said it should probably be the person who asked.

Manchester also said that heading to the cinema would be the second choice after a going for a meal, which makes sense because no one said they’d splash out on a first date. The results were mostly split between either spending £20 or pushing it up to £50, with only 13% saying that they’d maybe go as high as £100 – but that’s not saying they’re cheapskates as barely 2% would try go out on a free date.

There was an overwhelming majority from the Northern City that said they’d carry on dating someone even if their friends didn’t like who they were with, but 56% said that they’d need to wait at least five dates to introduce their partners to their family. However, if Mancunians weren’t vibing with their date, 32% said that they’d potentially text a friend to help them escape.


The fair northern city of Leeds was slightly more traditional than Manchester, with 43% saying that the man should still pay on the first date. Unsurprisingly, 0% said that it should be the woman who pays instead, but 38% agreed that it would be far to split it as well. They also weren’t as keen as Manchester to head to a restaurant for a date, with more opting to catch a film, take in a theatre show or head to a gig instead.

Leeds were also more likely to lean on a friend to give them an escape route from an awful date, 57% saying they’d text a friend, but they agreed with Manchester that anything over £100 was too much for a first date and that £50 or £20 would make much more sense. If things were going well, 85% of Leeds said they’d continue dating their partner if their friends didn’t like them, and a whopping 60% agreed that they’d wait for over 5 dates to bring them home to meet the family.


The midlands were pretty happy to split the bill with 48% of those from Birmingham agreeing that it was the right idea. Still, 4% thought the woman should paid and 35% opted for the man to pay, but only 13% thought it should be the person who asked for the date. If the date wasn’t going so well, Birmingham was the most likely to escape with 43% saying they’d text a friend to give them an excuse to cut and run.

Birmingham were also some of the biggest spenders with 59% saying they’d spend £50 on a first date, and even 2% were willing to go over £100 (although only 1% would go up to £100 interestingly enough)! Those in the midlands were unlikely to stop seeing someone because their friends weren’t into them and they definitely wouldn’t take someone home after just one date. As for what they’d prefer to do on a date, going for a meal was still a clear winner, with only 4% opting for a gig, 8% heading to the theatre and 17% wanting to catch a film.


Ahh the capital, centre of all the action and the beacon for societal progression – or so they’d have you think. Actually, a solid 40% of people still thought that the man should pay on a first date, 15% believing it should be the person who asked and 39% opting to split it. Even though they’re home to the West End, only 10% would head there for a first date (which is lower than Leeds!), but they would be a lot more inclined for a cinema visit together at 19%. That certainly fits the bill, as the majority at 56% would want to spend roughly £50 for a first date, only 12% willing to go any higher – must be those London prices.

Londoners also preferred to wait until they and their partner were 5 dates deep, but that didn’t stop 13% from thinking that just 3 dates was enough. However, they didn’t much like the idea of dipping out on a bad date, with only 31% trying to stage an escape with a mate. Likewise, romance was more important than friendship with 83% saying that they’d ignore friends advice and keep on dating someone they didn’t like.


The Welsh capital didn’t rock the boat too much, mostly agreeing that £50 was a decent amount to blow on a first date, some even going as high as £100. They also were one of the more traditional cities, with more people still believing that the man should pay over going dutch at 39% versus 37%, a very small difference. 21% dared to think outside the box, stating that maybe it should be the person who asked.

Cardiff was evenly split on whether 5 dates or over was enough to introduce them to your parents at 39%, and they were also joint with Liverpool to be the least likely to conspire with a friend over a text to escape when a date was going wrong at just 21% saying they would. However, Cardiff was the most likely to take their friends advice and end a relationship with someone their friends didn’t like at 26%.


Heading back up to the northern coast, Liverpool came out on top as the most traditional with an overwhelming 47% saying that the man should pay on the first date, only 37% wanting to go dutch (and 5% saying it should be the woman). Under no circumstance would those from Liverpool introduce their new partner to the family after just 1 date, mostly agreeing that 5+ is appropriate, and joint with Cardiff they were the least likely to text a friend for an excuse to leave a bad date.

Liverpool also refused to go any higher than £100, and £0 was out of the question. At 53%, most of Liverpool said that £50 was a decent amount for a first date, with 21% willing to go as high as £100 and 26% settling in for £20 instead. They also weren’t keen on taking their friends’ advice, coming in as the second highest after Manchester at 89% saying they wouldn’t leave their partner if their friends didn’t like them.


Going even further north now, no one in Newcastle said that the woman would pay whilst 44% thought the man should pay. Following closely behind, 38% said that they would prefer to go dutch, with their date choices leaning towards meal and a cinema trip. As for how much they were willing to pay, 58% of Newcastle were happy to spend around £50 on a first date, with 35% falling back to £20, making that only 7% who would go £100 and over.

They were some of the most likely to ditch a partner in favour of their friends, with 22% saying that they’d break up if their friends didn’t approve. As well as that, those in Newcastle weren’t keen on ditching a date when it wasn’t going so well, only 36% saying they’d text a friend for a getaway plan. Once their date had jumped through those hoops, 80% respondents said that they’d need at least 5 dates to take them home to meet the family.


Now to the UK’s much colder version of L.A., Brighton was one of the most forward-thinking alongside Manchester with a majority thinking that the bill should be split at 42% versus just 28% holding firm that the man should pay. They also had the highest amount saying that the person who asked for the date should foot the bill at 28%. Brighton was a clear a majority wanting to wine and dine their date at 83%, although this wouldn’t be a 5-star restaurant as no-one wanted to spend over £100. Instead, Brighton was quite all-or-nothing on their date spend,  having the most people preferring to sit in the £50 mark at 67%, but also the most wanting to find a free date at 6%. 

When it came to introducing their partner, Brighton ended up being the most willing to do it after just one date at 8% (although their majority still preferred to wait until after 5 dates). If things weren’t going too well, Brighton were willing to last out the date with only 33% texting a friend for way-out, and when it came to disapproval from their mates, 86% would carry on dating with them regardless.

Take a better look at all the info below:

Valentine's Day Across the UK with TickX: Dating habits in Brighton, Newcastle, Liverpool, Cardiff, London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester

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