Even though it’s 2016 and gender equality is a thing now, men are still expected to pay for the first date. It’s just one of those unofficial rules of dating it seems. It does leave men begging the question “how much should I spend on a first date?”

Men are always left walking the line of spending too much and too little on first dates. Spend too much and you put yourself on an instant-ramen-for-dinner week, spend too little and you come across as a cheapskate. There’s so many things you need to ask yourself, it can be a minefield if you’re unprepared.

My biggest tip for first dates is to pick somewhere casual. A really quaint coffeeshop that does 50 types of teas and home-made cakes, for instance, is perfect because it’s a relaxed atmosphere that also generates several talking points. Of course, tea and cakes are fairly easy on your budget.

First dates are special. They’re the only one of their kind, and you only get one first date per person. You don’t want to make a bad impression on the first date because then you might lose a chance at a second and third date.

If you really like the girl and want it to be a bit more special, there are other good first date options. A lot of people like to go out for dinner, and as a foodie, I love this option. Research the restaurant you want to take your date though, don’t just go for some fancy posh one because you think it’ll impress her. Instead, pick an interesting or fun cuisine, such as Mexican instead of Italian, Vietnamese instead of Chinese, Moroccan instead of Indian. Obviously these are all vastly different types of food, but the point is you’re picking places that aren’t the norm.

There are also good food events like special food markets, and you can plan your date around some street food and a walk in the park. If you want a non-food related first date, why not buy tickets to a local comedy night? These are all fun but inexpensive options.

When planning the first date, check your account balance. You have to know exactly how much you can afford. You might want to splurge out, but if you can’t afford it then it’s not going to be good for anyone. Check your budget and work around that. You don’t need to be counting every single penny that the date is costing you, no need to do mental arithmetic every time you order a drink. Instead, just be aware of your budget ball park, and when you give yourself a number, take it down a little so you have a bit of breathing room.

Start small, build up. If you go big on your first date, you’re setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and your date. The second date should always top the first date, because it shows the girl “wow, this guy keeps getting better!”, so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by going all out at the start. Save the candle lit dinner on a horse and carriage for later.

Remember the extra stuff. If you’re going out for dinner, then yes, you might have taken the bill into account. But have you thought about any pre-drinks you might be having? A flower offered to you on your walk by the old lady? Her taxi fare home? There’s lots of little things you might forget about when you’re planning your budget.

I have to say though, the guy paying for everything isn’t set in stone. There are a lot of women, myself included, who insist on splitting the bill. They can be quite insistent on it in fact. I however have always been flattered when the guy firmly takes charge of the bill, even when I’ve offered to split it. As my cameraman has told me, he only splits the bills with girls he’s decided he’s not actually that interested in, as a way to subtly indicate to her his feelings.

It really all depends on the girl you’re meeting. Some girls will want luxury and being spoilt straight away. Some girls will take offence if you continuously insist on paying. You just have know your date well enough to judge, and hopefully by the end of the date you will know.

So for first dates I think a budget of up to £80 or $100 is fine. Not saying you need to spend $100 on your first date, it’s a good ball-mark to put your limit at. If you really, really like the girl and you want to take her for dinner and a movie and some cocktails then you’re looking at maybe £160 or $200. If it sounds like a lot, then just remember, this is the budget limit, you don’t have to spend that much. It all comes down to what you want and feel comfortable with paying for at the end of the day.