An angry, crotchety man is making the rounds on Daily Dot and other websites this morning after venting on Facebook following an unsuccessful first date. Grouchy’s upset because he thought he was meeting his date for drinks at the Ruby Tuesday’s, possibly with a trip to the salad bar. His date, though, went ahead and ordered a $17.99 salmon dish, resulting in a $65 overall bill that he is considerably steamed about. He ranted, “As you can see from the receipt, she ordered the highest item on the menu and STILL made a $2.49 substitution for some damn sweet potatoes fries… HER ACTIONS SHOW ABSOLUTELY NO CONCERN FOR MY WALLET.” Sweet potato fries! The cheek!
Obviously, the man possesses antiquated beliefs about entitlement and should be blasted back into the Ice Age where he belongs. But this story brought to mind another recent incident wherein a student refused to pay for his date’s meal after she ordered lobster and a $90 bottle of wine. The two then got into a public back-and-forth conversation on—where else?—Reddit. She was mad because he made her pay for her meal, while he responded, “And you were really expecting me to pay that?… I’m a student not your sugar daddy.”
These squabbles sparked a conversation among the Takeout staff, even though we collectively haven’t dated in many years (I got married in 2004, so…). Even back then, I remember frequently offering to pay my share of the bill (hopefully, my now-husband also remembers this), and my colleague Kate Bernot agreed with me. The issue was not only basic politeness, but a desire to be on an equal footing with our dining partner, bypassing any sense of entitlement, whereas the chivalrous Kevin Pang recalls footing the entire bill on a first date.
Let’s toss gender out of this equation, because dates occur in all kind of combinations, and the idea that the man should pay is a throwback. We believe that Miss Manners would opine that whoever extended the dinner invitation (“Would you like to have dinner with me on Friday?”—do people still do that?) should offer to pay the bill. But much as we are loathe to agree with Mr. Grouchman above, we also feel that the other person should at least offer to split it. If Diner A makes a big stink about paying the whole thing, Diner B should at least make a move to get the tip (an offer that Grouchy is fuming over the fact that he did not receive: “She didn’t even leave the tip. News flash for you suga. You’re not 29 and hot anymore.” Wonder what this guy sees in the mirror?) Dates arranged through apps and online seem to be co-initiated, so in that instance, splitting the bill seems like the best option.
Furthermore, what should a dater order? Even if you’re splitting the bill, granted, ordering the market-price lobster while your partner eats a Cobb salad does seem like a dick move. And if someone is footing the bill for your dinner, avoiding the priciest option would be a kinder way to go. I vaguely remember this dating advice from my mother (who was a teen in the ’50s), that chicken or pasta would be an agreeable, not ostentatious choice for your date dinner. Sure, if you want the lobster, get the lobster. It’s 2019. In that case, make sure you get the bill as well.
But this is coming from an old person yelling at clouds with an onion tied to her belt. Young people, what’s the bill-paying etiquette these days? Please add your opinions in the comments.