Dating Advice: Should You Split The Bill?

When it comes time to pay, should you split the bill?

On my drive in to the ol’ job on Thursday morning, I was listening to my usual radio station. They have a bit each week that they call “Group Therapy” (and have lately been calling it “Other People’s Problems”, haha). The topic each week normally is some sort of work or relationship-related thing, and is relatively inapplicable to anything in my life.

This week, however, was different. It was actually something I cared about!

The Dillema

So here’s the situation. The caller was a female, and had been dating a guy for several months. She liked him and was having a good time, but something just wasn’t sitting well with her.

On all of the dates they went on, they split the cost on everything. Dear Caller was upset that the guy she was dating never once offered to pay for her. She thought maybe something was wrong, he didn’t like her, or he was just rude. Even when they were out with other people, it was always a split bill.

Why Is This An Issue?

A question that actually pertained to money, something I am semi-interested in! It really got me thinking.

I don’t get why this is really an issue – at least in the way she framed it up. Social norms perhaps have dictated in the past that the guy should pay for everything.

The fact of the matter is, it’s expensive to do so! She even commented on how it was expensive for her – imagine if his costs were doubled!

Some people aren’t comfortable with shared financesever. Others think it’s a necessity for a successful marriage. Kristin and I fall somewhere in the middle. And I’d never expect anyone to fully align with any one specific approach. That’s a huge point of personal finance, right?

But if it’s bugging her, then clearly she has some conflicting ideas on money.

How Should She Confront It?

If she feels strongly enough about it and wants to confront him, she’s got to do so with some degree of caution. Clearly he’s got some strong opinions on how to handle finances (or he’s just oblivious to the fact that this irritates her).

A few ways she can bring it up:

  1. Offer to pay for him. By offering to pay, she’s taking the burden off of him to make the first move and is initiating at least the thought of shared expenses. Besides, it seems a bit ridiculous to me to expect that one person pay for everything in a relationship (unless that was agreed upon…). When Kristin and I dated, we each took turns paying for our date nights. Some nights I would pay, while others she would. This to me seems like it may be the easiest way to approach the subject.
  2. Point blank. Just flat out ask him what gives. If this is a big enough sticking point with her, they’ll at least air their dirty laundry. At the end of the day, they may part ways for not seeing eye-to-eye, but if it’s a big enough issue, then so be it.
  3. “Recommend” he pick up the next bill by “forgetting” her purse. Like a true Minnesotan she could take the passive-aggressive stance and “forget” her purse. This will probably lead to a bad outcome, but it’d at least force the subject.

Issues like this highlight how taboo money still is. They showcase how much people differ in their opinions. Money issues are a commonly-cited reason for divorce. If you can’t openly talk about money with someone you’re in a relationship with, it’s probably worth taking the time to learn how to approach the subject.

Hopefully they can work things out.

Question:

What do you think she should do? Is this a big deal, or is she blowing things out of proportion?

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8 Comments

  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with splitting bills. In fact, I firmly believe in going Dutch while dating. Pay for yourself and don’t put it off on one person to cover for you. Mr. Picky Pincher did buy me food sometimes; and I returned the favor, too. It’s about showing you can take care of the person and doing a nice thing for them. It shouldn’t be expected each time because of a Y chromosome.

    1. Totally agree! We split the bills all the time, or sometimes one of us would pick it up, but it was NEVER expected and it was always reciprocated at a future date. I just got a bit uneasy listening to this question on the radio because clearly the guy has some strong opinions on how he deals with his money, and this girl (and a lot of the callers who commented) were judging him on that. Lame.

  2. Heck with the food bill, we split the bill for the engagement ring. Ha ha. Even though the ring was not expensive, she knew that it would wipe out my little savings account so she suggested splitting it. Almost 20 years later the ring symbolizes that we are in this together. Now my little savings account has grown to our FI.

    1. Hahaha, splitting the engagement ring isn’t unheard of! Especially if you’re both involved in actually picking it out. You can get pretty inexpensive ones too so they don’t HAVE to break the bank. 🙂 Great that your wife was aware of your money situation and even better that you two saw eye-to-eye on what was important to you both in your relationship. 20 years is a long time! 🙂 Congrats on FI 🙂

  3. Personally, when I was dating my wife I generally picked up the tab as I thought that was the right thing to do at the time. I also had a full-time job during college and she didn’t.

    That being said my wife likes contributing so I would let her pay for other things like movie date nights and so forth. But when it came to going out to eat I generally picked up the tab.

    I personally believe in blunt conversations and beating around the bush can and almost always leads to a much bigger problem in the end. How are these two going to talk about money issues they might have later on if they cannot discuss something as simple as paying a meal. Just my opinion.

    1. Totally agree! This seems like the most fundamental of money conversations, in my opinion. And being able to have the tough conversations is really important for a strong relationship.

  4. “Like a true Minnesotan she could take the passive-aggressive stance” hahahahaha when I moved to Minnesota I did not people could be so passive aggressive

    My husband and I started dating in college so for us it was more whoever had money just paid for it, it probably came out to about equal. I personally like switching off better verses worrying about splitting each bill, just less hassle in my mind

    1. Haha it’s so true though!

      And each switching off is fine especially if you’re not doing anything super crazy expensive. Ultimately whatever makes both parties comfortable…

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