The Moneyist

Is it OK for my new boyfriend to ask me to split the bill? ‘I don’t want him to get used to me paying for my own meals.’

“I am starting to believe he is a cheap dude.”

“I am starting to believe he is a cheap dude.”

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Dear Quentin,

Do you think it’s OK for a guy to ask his new girlfriend to split the bill when they go out to eat? We have been dating for a few months. Neither of us has ever been married before.?

I am 28, he is 29, and we both live in San Francisco. We both work full time. The previous guys I dated never asked me to split the bill.

I also have very high student loans. He does not have a student loan, and he lives in the best part of downtown San Francisco, so I don’t think he lacks for money.

I understand that once you’re married and you both work, it is reasonable to split the household bills, but we are just dating right now, and I am starting to believe he is a cheap dude.?

I am confused, and I don’t know what to do. I really like him and I think he likes me too, but I am not looking for a roommate with benefits.

Should I start a conversation about this topic and let him know that it is not right to ask me for money to pay for what we eat? I would appreciate any advice.?

I believe that once in a while, it’s OK to split the bill, but I don’t want him getting used to me paying for my own meals and drinks every time we go out.?

Please be kind.

The Girlfriend

Related: My wife received a $1 million payout from her employer when she retired. Am I entitled to 50% of that if we divorce?

“When it comes to who pays when a man and a woman go out for dinner, there’s a fine line between chivalry (‘I should pay for them’) and sexism (‘they should pay for me’).”

MarketWatch illustration

Dear Girlfriend,

You may have to get used to it. Or find a new boyfriend. There’s no one way to pay for dinner, and no right or wrong way, so if you do bring this up, do so in a way that does not pass judgment on your boyfriend.

In other words, it’s better to say, “I don’t usually go Dutch when I am dating,” instead of, “I think it’s wrong of you to ask me to pay.” You are raising the topic, but in a less provocative way.

With that in mind, be prepared for your boyfriend to be taken aback or even to be offended or hurt. By raising this topic, he may think you are implying that he is a cheapskate.

If you want a fellow who treats you to drinks and dinner every time you eat out, you may need to choose a different man. This guy believes in equality of the sexes while dining out.

Such discussions can be productive, if handled with tact. I know a guy who told his girlfriend he could not afford to pay every time. They have now been married for 20 years and have two children.

Another perilous path is to leverage your student loans as a reason for not paying. It’s not your boyfriend’s fault that you have student debt and he does not. He should not be penalized for this.

If you can’t afford to or don’t want to pay for dinners out, offer to cook dinner at home. It’s your responsibility to cut your own cloth according to its measure, to use an old phrase.

When it comes to who pays when a man and a woman go out for dinner in 2023, there’s a fine line between chivalry (‘I should pay for them’) and sexism (‘they should pay for me’).

There is no rule

Just because your boyfriend expects the two of you to split the bill does not mean he’s looking for a roommate with benefits. There is no rule that says the man should always pay.

Some men like to pay for dinner and believe that’s more respectful to their female partner. The girlfriend or date might say, “I’d prefer to split the bill and pay for my own meal, but I appreciate the gesture.”

Other men decide that it’s fairer and more equitable to split the bill. That’s their choice. However, it would be churlish for either person to insist that the other person pay — whether it’s the whole bill, or just their half.

Social mores are constantly evolving. If Flash Harry chooses a very expensive restaurant, it might be polite for Harry to pay, knowing his partner would not normally be able to afford to go to such a place.

I am reminded of this letter about a man who invited a woman out for a first date, and the bill came to $600. He asked her to split the bill. But as he chose a five-star restaurant, he should have picked up the check.

Friends also struggle with your dilemma. Recent research shows that one-third of people don’t believe in splitting a bill evenly if other members of the party had more expensive dishes. That’s their prerogative.

And romantic partners? Over 60% of men say it’s their responsibility to pay for dinner on a first date, this online survey found, but less than 50% of women agree with that. So there is little consensus.

Let no man or woman have the upper hand financially. Expectations can lead to disappointment, so I believe it’s better to enter a relationship with an open mind, an open heart and, yes, an open wallet.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on X, the platform formerly known as?Twitter.

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