I like the topic. My answer will be relative to me in the way that I don't just pick up girls that I don't know. My dates have been with girls I was already friends with for some time. At that point, I have already ascertained what the girl is like, generally, around the topic of sharing. If the girl is stingy or doesn't like to share then I would never end up on a date with her. So, we are left with a girl (of relationship interest) who is not afraid to share which to me, says that I will pay for as many things as is viable. Don't take this the wrong way. I haven't ever really been hard up for cash, never had any debts (don't plan to either, not even mortgage). So if we are going to the theatre, getting coffee, renting a movie, or some recreational activity or sport - then I pay. I guess it has much to do with the sharing, cause I have never had a problem with money. My girlfriends have always been willing and able to pay for a fair share.
If I didn't have the money to spend, then I would be upfront with the girl and tell her that I didn't have the money to spend on going out or buying her things. It would be up to her to decide whether that would pose a problem or not.
I do believe women should be treated as the diamonds many of them are, but there are those who are only out to take advantage of that, and those I can sense a mile away. Be careful men, I have heard some serious horror stories...
I think it's good to treat a girlfriend with flowers, dinner, chocolate, or just something special once in a while. This rarily has to cost money. If the second date is making you judge your finances, you might want to consider some creative ideas for having a good time on a second date. I have found that the traditional go out to a movie or to dinner...kind of date...to be boring. Try something that will really open her up to being herself, to see the real her. Heck, take her fishing out on a lake. Tree climbing, strawberry picking - or - if there is one around your area, take her to a haunted house where you pay to be scared by actors, effects, and other such designed entertainment houses - we have some really good ones here in Toronto - they're quite the attraction. It'll get her holding on to you tighter, possibly even, then you hoped for.
Who should pay for the second Date?
To answer your original question directly, I pay for the second date. Every girlfriend I have ever had, I paid for the second date. But what I have tried to exemplify throughout this post is that it all depends on how the two of you are together, what vibe you have about her, as well as what you know about her. Secondly, if the girl should offer to pay on the second date - whether you accept the offer or not - you know you got a good one on your hands (unless she is not being sincere).
Equality is an important aspect, a very important aspect of a relationship - but there is also custom, courtship, and to be honest - I like to pay. Try to find out whether she is for equality or not, if you know she is all about equality then you know that she won't turn into a money grabber, and she will be sensible about your finances - this usually entails being aware of whether she is good with HER OWN finances.
But I do know plenty of guys who keep bumping into the kind of women who just use them for a short...but good...though expensive time. Of which they are sick of doing and have sworn to not spend anymore money on women. Both extremes are wrong, in my opinion. Swallow the ego and be honest with the girl about your finances, in my experience women are great with money (no I don't mean spending it) - I mean managing it. I am honest with my girlfriend, as well as previous ones, about how much I make. They are just as honest with me.
One other thing is, that many guys get so excited about the high level of attractiveness.....ahem...I mean about the girl - that they go all out and buy everything for them except the kitchen sink(term of phrase). This is wrong men, very wrong. You not only make the girl feel uncomfortable, but do this long enough and you make them believe that this is normal and this is what is to be expected. Guess what you do for the rest of the men out there? What if your the one out there?
To me creativity always wins over the currency sum. My girlfriends have always been creative and done things for me that were very nice and took a good deal of time to make, while being very inexpensive or not costing them anything at all. Do the same and you may receive the same in return.
What's your take?