I Always Offer To Split The Tab, But Here’s How I Really Feel

I Always Offer To Split The Tab, But Here’s How I Really Feel iStock/lechatnoir

While I make my own money and am happy to pay my own way on dates and in life in general, I’m still not quite sure how I feel about going dutch. I always offer to split the check, sure, but I’m always hoping he’ll wave my card away.

  1. I do believe in equality, which is why I feel so torn about the fact that I secretly want the guy to pay. It’s a struggle because equality seems to be at the forefront of my driving instincts, so it seems slightly archaic that I do expect the guy to pay. Why should he make the first move, take charge of the date, and pick up the tab? Traditional gender roles are outdated and in many ways, super wrong, and yet I keep falling back on them.
  2. I don’t make that much money. Unwisely, I chose a career post-college that’s not the most lucrative. Perhaps it’s the fact that I went to college in New York City, which is really expensive and doesn’t really give you the most bang for your buck. Perhaps out of forced habit, I jump at the chance for a free meal whenever I can.
  3. This doesn’t mean I can’t support myself. I’m not expecting a guy to pay because I can’t afford to pay for myself. I do have it together; I live alone, I pay my own bills, and I have the cash to go on vacations and treat myself here and there to dinners and actual manicures. However, there’s something nice about being treated by someone else. It’s a gesture of effort and kindness, and it’s a serious turn-on.
  4. If I make more money than him, I’m totally down to pay. I’m no stranger to financial struggles and I know they happen to the best of us, so I don’t mind paying the check myself if the guy I’m with is in that position. That said, if I’m planning to front the bill, I would ideally like more control of where we would go for drinks or dinner to make sure that it’s within reason, money-wise. If he picks a fancy place and expects me to pay for it, I’ll leave that date feeling bitter and used. I don’t mind it if a guy makes less, but I don’t like freeloaders.
  5. I’m pretty cool with going dutch too. Splitting the tab is only fair. We both ate/had drinks/got coffee, so it makes sense if we both pay. Still, when this happens, there’s always a part of me that’s wondering if it was a date or we were just hanging out as friends.
  6. Most of the time, the guy will turn down my offer to split anyway. In that moment, I breathe a sigh of relief. I would’ve split, I really would’ve, but in a way, the act of chivalry feels damn nice. This also cements the fact that it was a real date to me. Perhaps it’s because I have such old-school notions of what a date actually is. Nowadays, it seems like what counts as an actual date is so elusive and hard to define. A guy picking up the tab really makes it clear.
  7. Sometimes I’m scared I came off as high maintenance. Did I put my card away too quickly, making him feel like I didn’t try hard enough in the polite game? I hope he doesn’t think that I just assumed he was going to pay. I thanked him, right? Did I say it enough? All these thoughts swirl through my brain when my date pays.
  8. I also don’t want to be annoying. What if he really does want to pay because it’s a date? Is it annoying if I argue with him a bit about at least letting me pay my half? Will he think I want to be friends? Will he think I am too intense? Or does he think I don’t go on dates often and I’m not used to this type of behavior? It’s maddening.
  9. It’s not like I went overboard ordering. I always try not to put a lot of things on the tab. I always refrain from that second drink unless he orders one first. The idea of appetizers is almost always his and I’m usually too full for dessert. I always order in moderation so that I don’t come off as a freeloader and so that I’m not surprised with a heavy bill in case I do end up paying.
Born in Miami, raised in Lima. I currently live in Brooklyn, and have a love-hate relationship with the city.