Dutch Awkward

by admin on March 10, 2011

Several years ago “Dave” and I were living in the same city. He worked at a local junior college part time. I was struggling with work and school. We met through a friend. And that’s how we started off. Since money was tight for both of us, mostly when we went out it for just for coffee. Or if dinner was involved we went Dutch. I never had an issue with this.

Now I know that he wanted to move the relationship to the next level, but I didn’t want to. He seemed fine with being friends. One year, he said that he wanted to take me out for my birthday and made it a point to let me know that he was “going to take me out.” Now, I did take that to mean that he was going to pick up the bill. Also he said that I could pick any place that I wanted to go (so no burget restrictions. And I wasn’t going to choose the Ritz). I wanted to do an Indian resturaunt. One that we usually walked by. The menu was on the outside with prices. The cost of the place would not have been a surprise. Granted this wasn’t the cheapest, but I didn’t choose the priciest either. As we were planning this ahead, he could have/should have known that dinner for two would probably run about $30 dollars (I would have stuck with soda or water to keep the tab down).

Again I will mention that money was tight for Dave. Dave postponed the birthday dinner saying that it wasn’t in the budget at a particular time. Fine, some bills come or there could have been some surprise. Having also forgone things because of no money I can understand.

Finally birthday dinner night arrives, actual birthday is long since past. We go out. Order reasonably priced items on the menu. No booze. Remember he had said that he wanted to take me out and postponed until he had some money. The check arrives. Dave looks at it, then at me and says “go dutch?” The bill was close to $35, but still. What annoyed me most was don’t make such a big deal about taking me out and then asking me to pay for my own birthday meal. Yes, I did pay half. Even if I had been the least bit interested, this would have killed any chance for him moving onto a higher level.

We did go out again as friends. Always dutch. That was fine with me. FYI he has since gotten married and is quite happy with two kids. A nice guy, just a little clueless.   0308-11

{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Aje March 10, 2011 at 7:19 am

Oh my gosh, that IS clueless! You can’t tell someone you’re taking them out for their birthday and then flinch when the bill comes. If he didn’t have the money he should have graciously excused himself and talked with the waiter and waitress and explained that he would pay whatever the bill was and be back later with the tip or whatever. Or pay with a card. At least the end of the story is a happy one.

It reminds me of a story of my own. My Mom’s best friend had stage 3 cancer and was expected to die within six months. She had medical bills out of the wazoo- obviously because she couldn’t work while receiving treatments. She wanted to spend some time with her daughter during her last days, but her daughter wouldn’t go out with her to a restaurant or whatever unless she was paying. That’s right- she made her dying mother pay for the honor of eating with her. Tacky tacky tacky.

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Dear! March 10, 2011 at 7:24 am

This is a pet peeve of mine.

I have a good job and one a first date, I always bring enough to cover the entire check. I decline if I can’t afford to do so. I’m old fashioned, and I won’t offer at first because this can offend a man’s ego, but if you leave it just sitting there like a pest, I’ll pick it up, pay, and say my goodnight, not to go on a second date. You asked me out, and this is a huge clue of how things might go down the line should there be more dates.

As for birthdays, I always treat the birthday person, or the group collectively pays for their meal. I’ve been invited out by, non-romantic friends/girls and they have yet to do the same- always dutch. I even had to pay for a friends meal on my own b-day twice. This was not prearranged. I eventually realized I was the emotional/financial doormat for many of my friends, always there with food, a shoulder to cry on, or a good joke…..To this day they always call me the sweetest, funniest, nicest of their friends and write on FB how much they miss me, but do they ever call…Nope. Guess I’m not worth the international dialing. (Which is why I’,m starting to see why I have so many EHell stories or my own. I’ve grown a backbones since, but people’s old habits of treating me poorly haven’t died and they feel offended that I talk back)…But I don’t think that applies to this situation. (Excuse my vent)

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The Elf March 10, 2011 at 7:32 am

My husband and I started our relationship as broke high school students, moving on to being broke college students, then to being broke college grads without professional jobs. Thankfully, we both finally managed to break into our careers, but I remember those broke days! Going Dutch was a given, because that was the only way we could go out. Sometimes one of us would cover for the other if they had a little extra. But when one or the other of us made a point of “taking you out” like for a birthday dinner, it meant that they’d cover the check. You ask, you pay. Yeah, that would have annoyed me too.

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Harley Granny March 10, 2011 at 8:28 am

I don’t know why this is so hard to comprehend for some people.

If it’s stated “I’d like to take you out for your birthday.” That means the one asking is paying.

If it’s stated “Hey let’s go out to dinner for your birthday.” That’s leaves it open to interpretation.

I also like to make sure I have enough to cover a reasonable bill with me just in case of emergencies but he who asks, picks up the bill.

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Sandy March 10, 2011 at 8:33 am

Yep – while “go out” may be ambiguous, “take out” is the generally agreed signal of “I am paying”

There is no excuse that he may have had money problems, this is Communications 101. The best interpretation in this type if situation is that he is clueless about how to communicate, and expected you to ‘read between the lines’ – never a good sign when starting a relationship, the worst interpretation is that he manipulates people by pushing assumptions and then makes you feel bad if you fall into the trap – poison for any relationship.

From your definition of him, he really does seem to fall into the first camp, and fortunately has found himself a mind-reader, or someone who has helped him to learn to communicate better.

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Xtina March 10, 2011 at 8:38 am

How in the world did Dave think he would be perceived, after making such a big to-do about taking the OP out as his treat? You’d have thought he would have checked his money before he left and had some idea of what the cost of two dinners would be. Methinks he just couldn’t bring himself to part with the cash at the crucial moment and laid it on the OP to split the bill–that’s kind of dirty.

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SHOEGAL March 10, 2011 at 8:39 am

I had a cousin who took her mother (My Aunt) out for lunch for her birthday and my Aunt ending up paying the tab for the entire meal – we still talk about how incredibly rude that was. This guy had no business saying he would take the OP out in the first place – he obviously didn’t have any money and I suppose couldn’t bear the blow of paying all of it. If that was the case he should have apologized profusely for this – it would have made him look a little better.

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L. March 10, 2011 at 9:12 am

I always paid my portion of the bill on dates. Women can’t expect an equal relationship if we’re not willing to set the pattern for it early on. It would have been nice to have had the extra pocket money in my teens and early twenties, but now I’m almost ten years into a marriage where my husband willingly does his half of the household chores :)

free meals now = dishpan hands later
equality when dating = an equal partnership when married

Having said that, if someone (male or female) says it’s their treat because of a birthday or something, they should pay that once.

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DGS March 10, 2011 at 9:40 am

He IS completely clueless, although it sounds like he was a nice enough guy. But yeah, when you say you’re going to take someone out, that usually implies that you pay.

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kjr March 10, 2011 at 10:24 am

I was a bridesmaid for a friend’s wedding which I had to fly across the country for and pay part of a house rental for the weeklong stay. I was glad to do so – she is a wonderful person, but it was early in my career and I was very tight in money (literally budgeted every dollar I could spend while there). Once there she told me she wanted to take me out to a nice lunch to say thanks for everything I was doing. She brings me to this nice restaurant, we have a wonderful gourmet meal, and oops! She forgot her credit card. I had to use mine which I was ok as I knew it was a mistake. She eventually paid me back about a month later, it just really put me in a hard spot while away. People really do count on when someones says “I want to take you out” as them paying. My friend honestly left her card at home, so I wasn’t mad, just in my scenario I had wished she realized I needed to be paid back asap as I didn’t have extra money to work with. But, as other people have said, it is always best to be prepared, as you just never know.

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Hal March 10, 2011 at 10:57 am

I agree, he made the invitation and should have paid. But, OP made that decision which has triggered so many etiquette disasters. She assumed. When making or accepting invitations tell/ask about the arrangements. I would rather be embarrassed in private than later in public. I also agree about having enough cash to pay if you are blindsided with the bill at the table. Smart.

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Teapot March 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

Sounds like Dave may have actually meant to pay for both meals when he first brought up the subject. He said ‘take’, he let the OP choose the place and he postponed dinner until his finances were (supposedly) in better order. Then when the bill came, he didn’t say ‘your share is $15.75′, he asked (probably hopefully) if they could go dutch. If he knew that he still couldn’t afford to pay for both meals after the extra time, he should have just been honest and explained.

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Dorothy March 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

There doesn’t seem to be a chance for a communication problem, as the occasion was talked over several times and postponed because of his lack of money. I think I would have said something like, “But didn’t you say this was to be my birthday dinner?” and asked for an explanation. That they could be friends for so long and still she didn’t feel she could ask tells a lot about the friendship. I would have wanted to know what the heck he was thinking. In fact I would like to know right now!

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Ashley March 10, 2011 at 12:13 pm

If he really made a big to-do about taking OP out for her birthday, yes, he should have paid. A similar situation happened to me. There is a couple that my fiance and I hang out with quite frequently. Usually when we go out to eat, we split the bill. They pay for their food, we pay for ours. Simple enough. Her birthday rolled around, we ended up at her favorite restaurant. My fiance and I had not had time to pick up an actual gift, so right when we got there, I made it clear that we intended to pay for their half of the bill. We love them dearly and I did want to show them somehow. So the bill came, fiance and I paid for it all, they thanked us, and we continued on with our night. Fast forward a few months to my birthday. We ended up at the same restaurant after they had made a big show over wanting to “take me out” for my birthday. Then the bill comes, and they bust out a calculator and start dividing things up. I am not saying this should be a tit for tat thing, but you shouldn’t say you are going to “take me out” and then divide up the bill, especially if we paid for you the last time we were there.

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Jillybean March 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm

kjr – She thanked you by making you pick up the bill (“accidentally”) and not paying you back for a month? That’s insanely rude. Accidents happen, but you should have been reimbursed by the next day at the latest.

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The Elf March 10, 2011 at 12:38 pm

I understand what you’re going for L, but things aren’t really so hard and fast, especially once a relationship developes past the initial dating stage.

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gramma dishes March 10, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Maybe at the time he originally told her that he wanted to “take her out” (implying his treat) for her birthday he still was harboring some hope that the relationship might indeed rise to the ‘next level’. But by the time the actual dinner took place, he may have realized that it just wasn’t going to happen — ever. That may have made him feel he didn’t really want to invest a substantial outlay of his money into a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere.

Of course, by handling it the way he did, he pretty much insured that his suspicion was going to turn out to be correct. ;-)

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CatsWithThumbs March 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I think Dave sounds well-intentioned but ill-prepared. He probably felt uncomfortable that he still couldn’t afford to pay for the OP, but wanted to recognize her birthday, and felt embarrassed to explain why he couldn’t pay for her.
I can relate to the OP, something similar happened to me a few years ago. My birthday arrived, and a friend I saw semi-regularly who lived an hour away said she wanted to take me out for my birthday, as she usually did. We arranged to go to dinner a month or so after my birthday had passed, at a fancy restaurant we hadn’t been to before. A few days before our dinner, my friend got a huge promotion, and I lost my job due to downsizing. When we met at the restaurant, the server came over and asked for drink orders, and my friend said ‘Let’s have cocktails! We’re celebrating my promotion!’ I thought wait a minute, what happened to my birthday? When the bill came, she told me how much my half was. So I ended up paying half of her promotion dinner, formerly my free birthday dinner, though I had no income anymore. I did not speak up at the time, or since, so that is my fault, but I didn’t know how to approach it with her without sounding selfish. I was loathe to make plans with her for a long time after.

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Timothy March 10, 2011 at 1:26 pm

@Aje: Your sister did what?! I’m sorry, that’s a bit beyond an etiquette breach. That is undeniably cruel, and if someone I knew had done something like that, I probably wouldn’t talk to her much after the dinner, if at all. I apologize to any etiquette-knowledgeable out there who is offended by my reaction. I’m a bit clueless with etiquette, but I know when something’s not right.

As for the story at hand, that was definitely a bit off. You don’t take someone out for their birthday, then make them pay for the meal at the last minute. It’s still murky water to ask them out, then inform them ahead of time that it’s dutch, but definitely better than the story’s events. Of course, if there are extenuating circumstances, as in Aje’s story, then it’s a different story.

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Timothy March 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Whoops, forgot to fix the opening to my post. I know, it was the best friend’s daughter, not the poster’s sister. I caught that at the last minute, but only corrected part of my post.

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LolaKat March 10, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I agree with the other posts about the understanding about the word “take”.

I have an ex who offered to “take” me out for my birthday. I had suggested a restaurant that I knew would fit into his budget restrictions. However he proceeded to insist that, because it was my birthday we had to go somewhere nicer. So I picked one of my favorite restaurants.
Only after we ordered, did he let me know that he didn’t know if he had enough money to cover for the food and wondered if I could pick up the tab and he’d get me back the next time.

Hmmm ex’s are ex’s for a reason.

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Kat March 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Why is this practice called “going Dutch?” I’ve always wondered. Do they do this a lot in the Netherlands?

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Ellie March 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Hal – There was nothing wrong with what the OP did here. When someone says they want to take you out for your birthday, and postpone the date until the dinner “was in the budget,” you pay. It’s that simple. For whatever motivation Dave had, he took the OP out with the intention of paying, and then didn’t follow through, springing it on her at the last minute, which is an etiquette violation. There’s nothing to show that the OP erroneously assumed something, and it would have been rude of her to make a big deal out of inquiring about who’s paying. “So you’re taking me out? How nice! You are going to pay and everything, right?” How crass!

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winter March 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Since the OP started out talking about going out with this guy who wanted to “take it to the next level” but she said no, I wonder how this works into the story (many stories on here have way too much ‘back story” which doesn’t add a thing and actually bogs down the reading). Perhaps she told him just prior to the birthday dinner, so then he felt like he didn’t need to pay? That it was just back to dutch? Certainly don’t agree with it, but I can see a someone thinking like that.

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Chocobo March 10, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I also have no qualms with going “Dutch” on first dates and do not expect it of men, especially in the beginning of the relationship. I have my own funds and take pride that I can pay for myself. Still get points if they offer, though, and I would usually accept (unless I was trying to send a signal that this is not a date). It is a nice gesture whether they are a romantic interest or just a friend; paying for one another shows that you care. I switch back and forth with my best friend on paying (“I’ve got it this time!”) for dinner when we see each other. But if offering to pay my share turned a man off, then that never bothered me — that’s a pretty clear signal he’s not the type of guy for me, and I’m not the type of girl for him. Not that there’s anything wrong with the more traditional men-pay setup, but clearly we were socially mismatched.

But if anyone — date, boyfriend, or friend — offered to “take me out” and then I ended up paying, I’d be really taken aback and offended. From the way the story is written it sounds like he intended to pay and then thought the bill was too big. Perhaps he couldn’t fess up that he was unable to pay. He was ill prepared and I wonder if he learned his lesson to better plan ahead for these things in the future.

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Julie March 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Total agreement with all of the OP’s feelings on this.

Furthermore, it makes me very sad how the financial situations between friends, let alone love interests, can really mess things up. I recently had to deal with husband’s deployment…a year alone in a place where I have no family. At least I have a job and work friends, and a contact or 2 outside of that. But during that time a couple of these people really, really took advantage of the fact that I had money to spend and needed company. Look, if it is on my terms and I’m asking, I’ll be clear. I want someone to go to a concert w/me so I don’t have to go alone. I have plenty enough money to catch the ticket just to have a companion, assuming the only reason they say “no” is money. Fine. But when said person(s) begin to look upon me as a resource because they have issues, asking for loans or even asking me to buy foodstamps from them!? No! That just kills it, and it’s sad because these were nice, interesting people I would love to have kept as friends. I don’t want to be elitist, classist, or judgemental, but I can’t let myself be a doormat either.

I think these tough times must be messing up a LOT of human interactions nowadays. :(

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Fox March 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Wow. This is not a case of communication breakdown to me.. he even postponed it so he could save up! You have to be BEYOND clueless to offer to “take” someone out for their birthday, make them pick a place, put it off to when you can afford it, and then ask them to pay for their own meal! Ugh. Tacky.

L., I totally agree with you. Insisting on going dutch can be awkward and some men do take it as an insult, but I don’t like to feel as though I “owe” him something at the end of the night, and neither do I want him to resent me if we don’t go out again for making him “waste” money on a dead-end date. It may be 2011, but sadly some guys do still feel as though they’re entitled to something if they buy you dinner. I prefer to sidestep that entire issue, and honestly, if a guy insists on paying just because he’s the guy it tends to set off some red flags for me. Typically if a guy insists, I’ll then make sure I beat him to the window and pay for the movie tickets afterwards. ;) I’ve also paid a few times and then HE’s bought the movie tickets/coffee/whatever. If he’s going to be offended and act like I’ve emasculated him by buying his dinner (or even just my own), what else is he going to feel emasculated by later? I’d rather not have to worry about offending his fragile male ego by not conforming to stereotypes or overstepping my bounds as a “lady.”

That said, with friends and with a guy I’ve been dating long enough that we’re comfortable, we can either go dutch or take turns and it’s no big deal. But if someone says “I want to take you out for XYZ occasion,” that’s an *invitation* to a meal *provided* by the person offering. It’s not an invitation to simply join them for a meal. Hopefully “Dave” has since matured and been clued in to the real world!

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Angeldrac March 10, 2011 at 4:09 pm

My sisters and I are CONSTANTLY trying to take my mother out to celebrate her birthday/Mother’s day etc. And by “take her out” I mean “pay for the meal”. But, the sneaky lady always pretends to go off to the bathroom and pays the bill for us when we’re not looking!

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Miss Raven March 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I agree with gramma dishes… it sounds like in the interim he could have come to the conclusion that OP was never going to see him in a romantic light, and his motivations changed. It’s not an excuse, and he handled it terribly but it seems quite likely.

BF and I started out going Dutch, but quickly enough he would start just dropping a card on the check. And then I started doing it. We fell into a rhythm until I had money and he didn’t, when I started paying a lot more often. Now that he has money and I don’t, the opposite is true. I think with the right person it just works itself out. And yes, he helps with the housework (I hate laundry; he’s not much of a cook. ^_^) But between friends the situation can be much trickier, and I think the fact that the relationship between OP and Dave was never cleanly defined exacerbated things. (Even though it was clear in her mind that they would always be “just friends,” she and he both knew that he wanted more…)

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Eisa March 10, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Well, he was a bit of a clueless idiot, wasn’t he? I’m glad it turned out all right in the end [and that SHE had enough money on her to even go half!], but he should not have taken her out for her birthday dinner, after telling her that he had to wait until he had more money, insinuating pretty strongly that he would be paying [and she took great care in choosing an affordable restaurant, no less]…..and then not being able to pay. If he’d said in the original invitation that they should go Dutch, that would be one thing. But he didn’t.

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Wink-n-Smile March 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm

When I was young, before I ever started dating, my parents told me that whenever I accepted a date, I should always bring enough to cover the price of the entire date (for both), plus cab-fare home. If I couldn’t afford that, I should decline the date, or redirect it to something I could afford. While we lived with the “you ask, you pay,” rule, we also lived with the reality that the person inviting me out could turn out to be a flake, or worse. If he came on too strong, saying he paid for the date, and now I had to reciprocate (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), I was to throw down the money for whatever the date was, and get a cab home. If he just flaked out, like the guy in the story here, I would still be covered.

Fortunately, that particular situation never happened to me, but I’ve always kept it in mind. And I’ve always made it clear that when *I* asked a man, that *I* would pay, because of the “you ask, you pay” rule. They were invariable shocked, but that’s what you get for dating men whose old-fashioned values have morphed into “the man always pays, so there.” Interestingly, I never got a second date with such men, although they accepted the first one. These men now complain that women take advantage of them, and expect them to pay for everything. *rolls eyes*

When I was a broke college student, I kept my dating to within walking distance of home, and free campus activities, whenever possible.

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Wink-n-Smile March 10, 2011 at 4:44 pm

If he really intended to pay for her birthday, but truly couldn’t muster the cash, it would not have been unreasonable to ask her IN ADVANCE to choose a different venue. “I’ll take you out, you can choose anything” might have to go by the wayside, but at least he’s taking her out! She’s broke, too. She’d understand.

“Honey, I know you had your heart set on that Indian place, and I promised I’d take you anywhere you chose for your birthday, but I find myself financially strapped. By the time I save up the money for that place, it will be months past your birthday. Why don’t we do something else for your birthday, and we can save up to try that Indian place together at the end of term?” Follow this up with suggestions of what you CAN afford, and try to be creative and think of something new.

Even if you’re not a student, there are still lots of opportunities for free or cheap dates on a college campus, if you live near one. I’ve seen many non-students taking advantage of the college theater, student art displays or performances, and the like.

In short, being broke does not excuse this rudeness.

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Wink-n-Smile March 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Kat – in the Netherlands, they call it “going American.” Truly – I was there and that’s what they called it. They were very confused by me saying “going Dutch.” It led to some interesting conversations.

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Anonymous March 10, 2011 at 5:22 pm

This is just one of the many reasons why I don’t like to eat out.

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karmabottle March 10, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Ha, ha! Definitely clueless. Do you suppose he came off for the night with only $40 in his pocket? Perhaps he was worried he would not be able to pay and tip.
Oh well! So much for him “taking you out”.

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Emmy March 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

When somebody offers to ‘take you out’, the wording itself is pretty self explanatory. Pretty much everybody knows that means the person making the offer will pay for the meal or activity. I don’t think the OP wrongly jumped to any conclusions when she did assume Dave would pay for the meal. I do agree with the poster who said clarifying the statement by saying something like “that means you pay, right?” can seem forward and rude.

Somebody stated that Dave may have changed his mind when the moment to part with the money actually happened and I think that is very probable, especially since it seemed that extra money was hard to come by for him. As others have said, it might also be linked to Dave realizing the OP was not interested in taking their friendship to the next level.

Making a big song and dance about taking somebody out, then changing your mind at the last minute is wrong. If Dave changed his mind about taking the OP out for any reason, he could call her, explain, and apologize before the date. I’m sure the OP was aware of Dave’s situation and if he had said, “we can eat at the restaurant of your choice for your birthday”, it would be a much better memory than him promising to take her out and not delivering.

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ellesee March 10, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I don’t think the guy really thought things through. But it’s nice that you guys are still friends (and will probably laugh about it later). When I was a high school student, sometimes I was used to getting cheap food that when I eat at a nicer place, I’d have to pay with card because I didn’t have enough cash. Eh, now I am better prepared.
I agree with the “you ask, you pay” rule. “Taking out” means paying the bill, but I always add “my treat” or “it’s on me” to be super clear when I go on dates. “Wanna go out” is very ambiguous on how the bill will be paid.

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Rug Pilot March 11, 2011 at 12:06 am

I had a friend who I regularly took out for his birthday each year at a local German restaurant. One year he refused to speak with me for several months, so I asked him about it. He said “You know….” I didn’t have the slightest idea. I finally convinced him of this fact and he told me that it was because I had made him pay for his dinner on his birthday. I told him that I didn’t remember that and when home to check my records. There as plain as day was the credit card receipt for $36, the price of 2 dinners at this restaurant. I reported this back to him and he said “oh well…” Needless to say I am not speaking with him because he is a narcissist and I have put up with enough of this.

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Soph March 11, 2011 at 8:09 am

I have a story similar to this, but perhaps not as bad. I went out to coffee with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while, and we were both deciding what to order. Now on the menu you could get one waffle (with ice cream etc) for $13.50 or two for $17.50. I had already decided on my order and asked for one waffle, when my friend chimed in and asked if we could make it two so we could share it. I agreed, assuming we would share the bill as well but then she only gave me $4. Her reasoning was that the extra one only cost $4, and I would have spend $13.50 anyway. At the time I was so taken aback I didn’t know what to say and just paid it. Should I have said something? Was I in the wrong to assume that we would be splitting it? I don’t think she meant to be malicious, she was just a little clueless as well. But I am awkward in those situations and find it difficult to find what to say.

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Yvaine March 11, 2011 at 10:22 am

Yes, Soph, your friend took advantage of you–if you and she were intending to go dutch from the beginning, when you ordered the two for 17.50 deal, the two of you should have paid equally and benefited equally from the deal.

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Kitty Lizard March 11, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I had a doctor friend of ours pull a true dirty trick on us. We were out at dinner with friends and saw him and his wife come in. We invited them to join us. We had just sat down. It was a group of attorneys and their wives from my husband’s law firm. Since we were fairly good friends with this couple, we just added them to the check. (Don’t EVER do this.) They had several cocktails, appetizers, expensive entrees, etc. They suddenly decided they had to run, as we were sitting talking, over coffee. Dr. —– threw a wad of bills on the table, told me that the bills would certainly cover their share of the tab, and left. Their share of the tab was $80.00. What he had left on the table was a $10.00 bill and 5 $1.00 s, all wadded up. You could have heard a pin drop. I put their share on my credit card and showed up at his office the next day, seething, at 8:00 a.m. Didn’t say a word, just stood there at his front desk with an icy stare and a copy of the restaurant receipt with his order highlighted and handed it to him. When he started to write me a check, I said, in an icy voice, “I want it in cash.”
I got it in cash, walked out, and never spoke to him again. I heard the same story from God knows how many other people in town- I don’t think anyone else would go out with them. We were the last people they fleeced.

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DRS March 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I did that once! A co-worker and I go out to lunch sometimes and get separate checks. When her birthday came around I told her I was taking her out and we scheduled it a couple weeks in advance. We went out and when the waitress stopped by at the end of the meal I said “separate checks” out of habit. My co-worker got a funny look on her face briefly then paid her check. It was about 2 hours later I realized what I did! I went to her office, my face glowing red and apologized profusely. I had simply forgotten! Oh how I wish she had said something! She just laughed and said she now had something to hold over my head. :) I brought her to a nicer restaurant the next week and paid!

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inNM March 11, 2011 at 7:25 pm

I had something similar happen to me.
A group of us went out for drinks and karaoke to celebrate a friend’s move for her master’s degree. I always budget my drinks according to how much money I have on me, plus tip. Just as I’m finishing my drink, one of the guys in the group says, “Would you like me to get you another drink?”
(I should point out that we’re of different cultures; I don’t exactly know what that means in his culture, but in my culture, that statement means it’s on the asker’s tab)
I accept, I get my drink, and the night goes on. As we’re settling the tab, I ask him discretely but point blank, “You offered to get me a drink. Does that mean you’re buying it for me or do I pay for it myself?” I had the cash to cover the drink anyway, but I wanted to make sure. He says don’t worry about it, it’s on his tab. I assume it’s over.
I get home and an hour later there is a scathing email from him saying that I basically forced him to buy me a drink and he didn’t really want to, but he didn’t want to make a scene in the bar about it in front of our friends but he did not appreciate me taking advantage of his kindness and if I can’t afford to pay for my drinks I need to drink less. Mind you, this is not the first time I’ve gone drinking with this man, nor is it the second, and every time I’ve gone out with that group I’ve paid for my own drinks on a separate tab. I am also not an excessive drinker, having averaged about 1 drink per hour that night.
I sent a response reminding him that I had asked him if he was to pay for the drink or was I (and I had leaned into his ear to ask him, so no one else had heard me ask), and that he had accepted. I apologized, but told him that he should also consider that it may have been a cultural misunderstanding (as both of us are from different countries from each other and the U.S.) but in my country, to offer to get another drink means that you, the asker is paying for it. I ended by saying that I did not appreciate his statement about me not affording my own tab, and I was offering to pay him back for the drink because I didn’t think our friendship should end over the cost of an $8 drink.

In the end, I found out through a mutual friend that he thought that by paying for the drink I would have felt obligated to sleep with him. When I did not, I suppose that’s when the payment for the drink became an issue.

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Kennedar March 11, 2011 at 8:07 pm

My husband always says that his sign of if a girl is worth a second date is how they handle the finances on a first date. While he always expected to pay on a first date, after all he invited, they should at least offer to split it. His logic was that he didn’t want to be with someone who was just in it to be taken care of, he wanted an equal partner. Whats funny was that I beat him to the Starbucks on the first date, so I bought a coffee. I was just waiting to get it when he walked in. He claims that was a very good sign. I didn’t realize how he thought, and offered to pay for my half on our second date as well. He paid the whole bill for our first few dates and then we started alternating.

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Linnie March 12, 2011 at 1:06 am

Oh god, this story reminds me of my 18th birthday when my best friend of ten years made a big deal about wanting to take me out to lunch (knowing I was having family issues and wasn’t going out otherwise) and then on the way over picked up Subway for herself! When I got in the car she asked if I wanted to go to a drive-thru and when I awkwardly said “Uh, I’m actually a little tight on money right now..” she just nodded and kept driving! I ended up not eating until I got home that night.

Sorry for the ranting, it just still irritates me..
Don’t offer to take someone out if you’re not going to pay, or at least be clear about splitting the bill when you ask them. My friend and I split the bill every single time we go out together, and I get that the first conversation about it is ALWAYS awkward, but it’s even worse if you don’t discuss it before actually getting the bill.

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ellesee March 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm

@ Soph,
she should have paid 50%. The whole point of the combo deal is so that each waffle/ice cream do not charge as full price. If you pull that trick on her, what will her response be?

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Michelle P March 13, 2011 at 12:10 am

@inNM, I hope you’re not friends with him. Culture difference or not, he was rude.

I had a similar situation. It was my birthday not long ago. I am living temporarily with my father and his wife, and she and I go out to eat for lunch pretty regularly. The morning of my b-day, my father said his wife wanted to take me out to lunch that day. I told him that was nice of her, and didn’t think too much of it. She usually called, or I did, and arranged the time due to her work schedule. We had the unspoken rule, whomever asks, pays. Well, noon rolled around and she hadn’t called. My father asked me at least twice, why didn’t I call her??? I calmly responded that I’m not going to call HER and ask her to take ME out on my birthday! I believe that would be rude. God love him, the man’s clueless. He honestly didn’t get why that would be rude. I was brought up that you don’t ask someone to do things like that for you. She never mentioned it or took me out; I didn’t care, she didn’t have to.

Anyway, I’ve been in similar situations that the other posters have. Just don’t go out with them again.

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Cat March 14, 2011 at 12:40 am

Same thing happened to me. Friend made a big deal about taking me out for my birthday dinner and paid for his son and for himself, then turning to me he said, “I don’t have enough money to pay for this.” My birthday meal cost me twenty dollars.

Another birthday, same friend brought his son and his son’s friend to my birthday celebration. He paid for their entrance to a park and I paid for my own. I paid for pizza and drinks for the four of us, and he insisted that the boys eat all the leftover pizza that I said I wanted to take home for lunch the next day.

Now I celebrate birthdays iwithout him. It’s cheaper and I don’t go home with ill feelings about being taken advantage of by this friend.

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Enna March 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Taking someone out for their birthday as a treat and giving the impression that you will pay and then don’t is rude and a let down. As a woman who has always worked and with equal pay laws unless it is a “gift” meal e.g birthday, valatine’s day, mother’s day, etc etc I like paying for my own food since I’m earning (I’m also a Diabetic so food is very important to me – I bring enough money to buy my grub even if it is a gift meal). I would also like to treat my b.f. back with meal gifts too, because I want to treat/spoil him too.

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PrincessSimmi March 14, 2011 at 9:26 pm

My partner and I share the bill on a night out. He pays once, I pay once, and we alternate. He normally takes me to a slightly cheaper restaurant to educate me about his food and his culture and I take him somewhere slightly more expensive so we can enjoy the atmosphere and he can understand me and my culture. And when we go to the movies we go halves. Easy!

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