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Can You Use a Coupon on a First Date?

It's Valentine's Day and love is in the air! And if you have a first or second date tonight, be careful you don't fall into a trap that can squash the romance before it begins. 

By
Richie Frieman,
February 14, 2014

Can you feel the romance in the air already, folks? Valentine’s Day is here in all its red and chocolatey glory. 

Many people choose Valentine's Day as the first, second, or third date with someone they recently met. And with that, everyone is trying to make a good first impression. First impressions are make or break moments in a budding relationship. (Check out my article Make a Great Impression on a First Date for more tips).

Inevitably on a first or second date, you act smoother, your manners are better, you dine at fancier places, bascially you do what it takes to make the person sitting across from you realize that you're a catch -- those first few dates are clutch. Am I saying to put on a front or not be yourself? No way! Of course you should be yourself...however, there is a certain code of conduct that everyone should abide by when trying to win someone’s affection. Sadly, you don't realize someone has broken that code until it's too late.

Take my friend Meredith. She was on a first date recently with a guy who paid for their meal with a Groupon certificate.  I couldn't help but chuckle when hearing this story, which solidified her initial impression -– he’s cheap.  

Let me first say that I use sites like Groupon or Living Social all the time!  In fact, finding deals on any of those sites will change my mind about where to go and how much I’ll spend. For example, I recently bought a package of four oil changes at a station I usually don’t take my car to five miles farther away, solely because the price was too good to miss.  How could you resist saving over $100?  So when a guy wants to save a couple of bucks on a nice night out, it should be rewarded not ridiculed. But on a first date?...Well, that's where it gets tricky.

Allow me to paint a picture: You're on a first date with the person of your dreams. You spend the entire meal laughing and talking non-stop. Things are going great, until the bill comes and instead of plonking down the plastic, you unfold the crinkled piece of paper you printed off at work, and hand it to the waiter.  Not exactly Joe Cool, right?

When you’re on a first date, you're trying to bring your A-Game. You wear you favorite clothes, you may get a haircut, or treat yourself to something nice to make yourself look better (like new shoes or a jacket).  So, when you pull out a coupon or “gift card” to pay, you'll inveitably leave your date with a bad taste in their mouth.  What if the coupon isn't valid that night? Or maybe it's for a differnt location (if it's a chain)? Or maybe you didn't order exactly what the coupon said? These "deals" always have catches. So now, you're in a standoff with the waiter, each not sure what to do. 

Nothing is wrong with saving money, and nothing is wrong with utilizing the deal sites, but here’s the rub – it’s awkward. There's a good chance your date will think one of the following (like my friend Meredith):

  1. He's cheap.

  2. Did he only take me here to save money?

  3. Will we always have to dine at places where he gets discounts?

  4. Should I offer to pay now?

And this is what using a coupon looks like on a date. Deals and steals are not romantic. When you go to pay the bill you don’t want anything to slow the process down (a declined credit card, not enough cash, they don’t accept American Express, etc.). My advice is to save that 2-for-1 deal for another date down the road when you're more comfortable. 

Date image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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