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From across Europe to Mexico, Brazil, and Australia, here’s basic dating etiquette as far as who pays.

Germans are very subtle with their flirting. Unlike the rest of us, who might try to make an instant connection with the opposite sex, Germans tend to do things a little different. A guy walking up to a girl at a bar and saying “hi” would be much too forward.

Instead, German men have a highly sophisticated wooing device: the concentrated look — a gaze which might, but often doesn’t, include a smile. Most importantly, eye contact should be brief and fleeting. Guys will envision a long lost pet to enhance the forlorn and harrowing sense of melancholy.

If the woman is interested, she will walk up to him and drop her drink on the floor. The man will offer to buy her another drink, and they will talk about German politics and how wet their shoes are. Many will read this and dismiss it as melodramatic, but I think that would be missing the point. If this type of flirtation seems too subtle, might I remind you of the guy from last week who asked “hey baby, wanna get lucky?”

So, who pays?

If the man asks the woman out, it’s understood that he’s paying for the date.


Dating doesn’t really exist in France. Instead, they have dinner parties on Friday or Saturday night. These can be formal sit-down dinners starting with champagne, or a casual last-minute invitation. When the French go to a dinner party, it’s considered polite to bring a bottle of wine or flowers, but not food as that would embarrass the host. When two people at a dinner party become interested in each other, they might take a walk and discuss politics or the existential virtues of Camembert cheese. Later, they may arrange to meet for drinks at a bar, or stroll through a museum where they will say the word oeuvre over and over again until they are asked to leave. Men do not give women flowers at these meetings, as such a gesture would be considered razzle-dazzle, and might indicate that they are dating—which the French do not do.

So, who pays?

On the first date he will pay, and the next time she will pay. But they never split the bill. That would be tacky.


Flirting is just as serious in Turkey as it is in Germany, but the method is more direct: If a girl doesn’t know he’s interested, he’s got no shot at her. In some Muslim countries, women aren’t allowed to be seen in public with a man who isn’t her husband, but Turkey isn’t like that. There is a common saying, “if you treat him like a king, he will treat you as a queen.” Dating is fairly straightforward here, and going out for ice cream (not dondurma) is becoming a very popular date idea, as ice cream flavor is an accurate compatibility indicator. Vanilla people tend to be colorful, impulsive risk takers. Strawberry people are shy, yet emotionally robust. People who like chocolate are compatible with butter pecans. On the subject of toppings, a Turkish girl will never take a man seriously if he asks for rainbow sprinkles.

So, who pays?

The guy pays, and there is no such thing as splitting the bill.


Soap operas have wrecked the dating scene for guys in Mexico. Girls begin watching soap operas from an early age and expect dating to be as steamy as a summer love triangle. To provide the sort of passion they desire, boys must also watch soap operas, or at least have an alternate personality with his own private practice. Either way, he will have to wear a clean suit. On the date, he will gaze passionately into her eyes for ten straight minutes while reciting lines from Rubí. Doors will open for her. A coat will magically appear on her shoulders when she gets cold. She will groan beneath the weight of flowers and stuffed animals. Dates typically end with a kiss on the girl’s front porch and, as the boy is walking home, she will call his brother on the phone to seduce him.

So, who pays?

Guys pay. No one in the history of soap operas has ever split a bill.


Group dating is the norm across Australia among teenagers. Couples often don’t go out on first dates alone until their twenties. In Australia, it’s not uncommon for girls to ask guys out on dates. Nor would it be strange for the girl to make all the plans, including handling dinner reservations or finding a theater that’s not playing a Nicole Kidman movie. Guys sometimes do the asking, but most wait for the girls to take charge, as they secretly enjoy a girl who will open doors for them and give them flowers.

So, who pays?

Ladies have no problem picking up the check…at least for the first few dates.


It is becoming more and more common for both girls and boys to ask each other out. Sitting on the same side of the booth and touching while engaging in conversation is common in Spain, even on a first date. In America, this sort of thing would ring the abort signal, but here this is just something you do. First dates often include dinner or tapas, drinks and coffee, and the night very well might end at sunup.

So, who pays?

The man usually pays because he’s too macho to let the girl pay, even though he’s 30 and probably still has his mommy doing his laundry for him.


(also known as Gypsy)

Traveller girls aren’t allowed to date until they’re married, but that doesn’t stop them from rockin’ the type of outfit you might see in a burlesque show. So, what’s a Traveller boy to do? Grabbing probably wouldn’t be your first instinct, but that’s what many Traveller boys do. ‘Grabbing’ is a courtship ritual where a boy grabs a girl, and this can get downright physical. Girls are strictly forbidden to approach boys, so the boys try to tempt the girl away from her friends. Perhaps tempt isn’t a strong enough word: Pushing, pulling, arm twisting are all fair play. The goal is to steal a kiss from the girl, which may lead to getting her number.

So, who pays?

The father of the bride typically pays for the wedding.

(Note: The first day is set aside for the church wedding. On this day there is a mock negotiation of bride-price, or sometimes a mock abduction: the groom’s friends and family storm the bride’s home, which is barricaded by the bride’s family.)


Group dating, or gōkon, is how a lot of Japanese people are meeting nowadays. Basically, a guy and a girl organize an event and invite three or four single friends (same guy/girl ratio). The venue is usually a restaurant where people can eat, drink, and get a bit loud. At its heart, gōkon is a social activity, but it is structured more like a town hall meeting. The guys arrive first, followed by the girls. Seating is organized boy-girl-boy-girl. The hosts make a toast, “Kanpai!” and then each guest gives a brief self-introduction. Drinks follow, and when everyone is loosened up, the hosts suggest party games that involve both chugging and divulging of embarrassing secrets.

So, who pays?

Girls typically pay a little and then the guys split the rest of the bill. Then it’s off to the bar or karaoke joint. A successful gōkon will earn you a phone number.


In Brazil there is a highly sophisticated classification of romantic relationships. Ficar is first, and might include anything between a make-out session and a one night stand. The key distinction here is that happened one time. Ficante is the term used when either the girl or guy decides to meet back up with a ficar. Here, they’re edging toward booty call territory. Next is paquera, which is a frequent ficante that has boyfriend or girlfriend potential. This is where the girl decides if he’s worth laying groundwork for the future. Namorado is your classic boyfriend/girlfriend status. Kids tend to live with their parents until they get married, so at this stage the boy can finally expect to meet the girl’s family when he comes to pick her up and take her out to dinner and a movie, or whatever.

So, who pays?

Guys pay for all of the date, as well as the pay-by-the-hour motel where they became ficars and ficantes and paqueras.




About The Author

C Noah Pelletier

C. Noah Pelletier is working on a series of essays about growing up in the American South, marrying young, and living abroad. Having spent two years in China, he has traveled extensively throughout South East Asia. A native of North Carolina, Noah now resides in Germany with his wife, where they have once again come to terms with metal cutlery. Follow him @flyingknuckle.

  • EHA

    This had me laughing out loud. The perfect mix of truth and satire. And I have to say, you were SPOT ON about German men and their longing stares.

    • flyingknuckle

       Thanks, Emily. LOL!

  • Guest

    Hilarious. I love the bit on Australia!

  • Pablo77

    The dating scene in Mexico was wrecked long before soap operas, mi amigo

  • Airlie Pelletier

    funny stuff! really liked the part about the german stare, it’s so true! i had a class in college about vampires in cinema and my professor was german. he stated that this “gaze” was classically german. he was so right :)

    • flyingknuckle

       Yes! I could see a vampire eating a bratwurst!

  • Charlotte Landini

    Not too sure about Australian girls being happy to pay for the first few dates….I would say we’re happy to pay AFTER a few dates!   :)

    • flyingknuckle

      Nice. Thanks Charlotte!

  • Rosie Hilder

    Here’s is my analysis of the Argentine rules:


    Argentina – Soap operas have also infiltrated the
    Argentine dating scene. Women spend hours preening their long hair and perfect
    nails in order to attract jealous flaky men who they then “date” for
    months or even years without being officially boyfriend and girlfriend – novios. People actually congratulate you when you become novios in the same way they would if you announce your engagement. Argentines also
    tend to live with their parents till at least mid-twenties so sex hotels – telos
    are essential for the non-relationships and all other affairs. Both women and
    men accuse each other of being histericos – hysterical and tales of
    envy-crazed lovers (past or present) playing incomprehensible mind games are not uncommon nor unacceptable.


    Who pays?


    The guy pays for the dates and the telos, though the girl often offers to pay for the dates – knowing she won’t have to.

    • Rosie Hilder

      Sorry about all the weird spaces, I had to copy it into word and back again as my computer messed up. Forgot to say I really enjoyed your article – particularly the bit about Mexicans.

      • flyingknuckle

        No problem, Rosie. Muchas gracias. 

  • Sick-of-French-Boys

    I disagree with what you said about france. It is true that dating doesn’t really exist. I live in France and have lived there for the past 3 years. I have been on dates with a number of French boys and they do not pay. They halve it. One boy I was seeing even called the barman back and asked for the rest of his change because I was paying for my own drink (apparently). is the world's first dating site for travelers.
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