Paying the bill is something I’ve debated at length with Ryan – not the act of paying it, but how to do it. For instance when I first started dating him, I never knew if he was picking up the bill because when it came, he would just let it sit there. And while I always offered to pay or split the bill, he would always brush me aside and end up paying it. Mystifying.
Later, I asked him about why he let the bill sit on the table and he argued that by paying right away when the bill arrived, we had to leave shortly thereafter. I argued the opposite. By paying when the bill comes, we’re free to stay as long as we want with the added benefit that both myself and the waiter aren’t confused and anxiously awaiting whose credit card will be placed in the black folio.
During hard times however, who pays the bill can be even more confusing when you’re dating, out with friends or on business. The Guardian offers some tips:
Unless I know that someone around the table is really hard up, and has chosen accordingly, I favour just splitting the bill equally – after all, everyone had the option of choosing whatever they wanted, and to nitpick about your risotto being cheaper than his steak can spoil the atmosphere remarkably swiftly. Non-drinkers, of course, should be automatically excused the cost of the claret.
If you are trying to save money (and let’s face it, if you’re going out to dinner, it’s probably not a question of being on the poverty line, more that you’d prefer to spend your cash elsewhere), you can do it subtly.
Economists suggest that people are more likely to order extravagantly when they think others will be sharing the cost, so it would be sensible to explain early on (without fuss) that you’re on a bit of a budget, so you’re only going to have a main course, and then put down what you owe, plus a reasonable tip, as soon as the bill arrives, before anyone can mention splitting it. But unless you’re in dire straits, don’t be mean about it, and ask for the 50p change you’re owed – leave it for the waiter.