To tell you the truth, I have not dated much in my life. The rule growing up was that I was not allowed to date until I was 16, but by that time I was living with a foster family who wouldn’t allow me to date, period, because they wanted me to marry their son. Of course he always picked up the tab. Can you say #awkward?
Decades ago it was so simple. The man always picked up the check, and he expected nothing in return. He was thrilled at the prospect of simply spending time together. It has become much more complicated. Nowadays a couple has many options, which depends on a whole host of factors (duration of relationship, each person’s financial situation, etc.).
So I decided to list some options with pros and cons. I am not really critiquing them, since I don’t think one size fits all, but thought it might be fun to dissect them individually.
Possibility One: 50/50
-Pros: Obviously going Dutch does have the pro of being an even split – both parties involved pay the exact same amount regardless of what they ordered. When splitting an entree, this option makes particular sense, as it would be rather hard to proportionally divide the check (and makes for some funny mental pictures with a food scale at a restaurant). This option is quick, easy, and thoughtless for you and the waitstaff.
-Cons: Is this option really fair if one person orders three times the amount of the other? Not only does this option ignore or even encourage uneven ordering, but it also fails to account for either person’s financial situation.
Possibility Two: Pay for what you order.
-Pros: Again, this option seems very fair since you control directly exactly what you will pay. The other person can feast or not, and financially, it doesn’t matter.
-Cons: I am not sure why, but emotionally this option seems selfish. You aren’t sharing a meal, just eating it at the same table. That’s not a problem in itself, but does it symbolize the way money will be handled in other situations?
Possibility Three: The guy pays 100%.
-Pros: Tried and true, very conventional, and has that old-fashioned date feel.
-Cons: Again, does this symbolize the way money will be handled? And will having one party always pay discourage future dates at nice places? And should it? I have always wanted to be taken seriously as an equal, not a dependent, so I worry about how this one looks. Not to mention those jokes about expecting something in return.
Possibility Four: Both people pay roughly in accordance with how much they make.
-Pros: I need to explain this one – if one person makes ten times what the other does, then that person contributes ten times more than the other. That’s an extreme case, but a really probable one is one person earning twice as much as the other. The higher grosser in this case would pay 67% of the bill, while the other would pay 33%. To me, this is the most “fair” option in the sense of fiscally logical. You pay your share according to your own means, taking into consideration both sides’ ability.
-Cons: I don’t think crunching bills on a calculator at dinner is very romantic.
Like I said, I don’t really have the answers on this one. How do you split checks on dates?