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I went for a drink with my girlfriend yesterday. I don't see her very often - it is a one-hour drive for me, she's coming to my town in a few weeks for her first time. I always spend around 15€ on a drive there (this is quite expensive for average student income in my country).

When there was time to pay the bill, she did not even bother bringing out her wallet and offering paying her share. I would pay anyway. It is not like I am totally broke or completely stingy and raised without manners, but it just bothers me that a "rule of gentleman" is present even when a guy makes less than his girl and is invited by her.

I do not want to look impolite if she thinks about paying in the way that I have mentioned above: how to politely ask or allude to going dutch on the bill?

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    How long have you been seeing each other? – apaul Feb 4 '18 at 14:53
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    Since this is handled differently in the world, it might help to add your location. Further question: is ...a guy makes less than his girl about you two or just a general remark? In the latter case, it might be relevant to add your girlfriend's income in relation to yours: does she have less/more/comparable amounts of money available, considering income and necessary expenses? – Arsak Feb 4 '18 at 15:25
  • We can't answer "should I.." or poll-type questions ("what do you do?"), so I've edited those parts out to focus on how to suggest you split the bill. If I've changed your intent please feel free to edit again yourself! – Em C Feb 4 '18 at 15:34
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Talking about finances can seem like a bit of a 'romance killer', but actually if you are dating someone seriously with a view to a long-term relationship (and I assume you are, otherwise you wouldn't be so concerned with what she thinks of you) then it is a very practical and sensible thing to talk about.

If she is the sort of person that will expect to rely on you financially for the entirety of your relationship then this will reveal itself when you make it apparent you can't pay for every date. On the other hand, if she has a healthy attitude to financial matters then she will actually respect you for being practical with money.

You could say either:

I'd love to come see you this week/month but I can't afford it. It will have to be next week/month, unless you can come this way instead?

or...

I could come up and see you but it will use the last of my spare money and I probably won't be able to see you next week/month. How do you feel about sharing the cost of our dates so that we can see each other more often (or keep seeing each other as often)?

Just remember that dating is a process whereby you both get to know the other person. Whatever comes out of these discussions is good for you in the long run. A decent woman will both understand and appreciate your frugality. In fact just as you are hoping she isn't just interested in spending all your money, a decent woman will be looking for a man that can control his finances too.

19

You mentioned that she invited you. Next time she invites you, you could respond like this:

Yes, I would love to see you and spend some time with you. My money is tight right now, so I can't afford to travel to [her location] and pay for dinner for both of us. Can we split the cost of dinner, or is there something we can do that doesn't cost much? What I really want is to spend time with you.

When she comes to your town, you have more control over where you go and what you do. Don't go to an expensive restaurant without establishing who will be paying. You can construct a great visit with less expensive options. If she says "I don't want to eat at X, why can't we go to somewhere like Y instead?" you can easily reply

On a student budget I can't afford to eat there.

If she has a lot of money she may reply that she can pay, or she may suggest another place or agree to the place you suggested. I suppose it's possible at some point that she will think to herself "if Gasper isn't going to take me to expensive restaurants and pay for everything, I don't want to date him" but I only ever met one woman like that in my 50+ years on the planet, and she wasn't looking for long term relationships anyway, just fancy meals in expensive restaurants. My point is if you are broken up with over not buying a lot of expensive restaurant meals, it's not much of a loss.

Now, disclaimer. You say 15 euros is a lot for you. If you can't afford any of the traditional date activities, not even some street food or 5 euros admission to something, then it's going to be really hard to construct activities the two of you can do on your dates. She may not be interested in sitting home and watching TV (or Netflix on the laptop or whatever) because it's free. You'll need to put some real effort into setting up hikes, visits to parks, going to museums on the free days, going to that cliff top lookout that overlooks the town at sunset, cooking a nice meal at your home and so on to show you're willing to put effort into the relationship, you just don't have cash.

  • I think that our countries have different definitions of date and where and how to spend time with. I certanly was not talking about traditional dates :) 15 € is alot when looking at public transit. This is typically cost of a month pass - looking at transit rates here it's expensive. It is not alot when you're looking at food and so on :) Thanks! – friderik Feb 5 '18 at 18:14
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Take your wallet out and put a generous amount on the table to cover half the bill and tip. Don't say anything about your expectations. Then you see the reaction. If she takes it for granted that you pay, and you don't (I wouldn't), then maybe you are better off if she becomes your ex-girlfriend.

There were times when the gentleman would pay the bill and expect non-monetary compensation later. These times are over. Men and women are equal, there is no reason for you to pay for everything.

There would an exception if one of you joins the other going to some venue mostly to please the other (like if your girlfriend joins you at a football game even though she has not much interest, then you pay for both tickets), or if one of you has a lot more money than the other and picks more expensive places than the other can afford. So if your girlfriend can't afford more than McDonald's and you want to go to a Michelin star restaurant, then you pay. And if the girlfriend has more money, which isn't entirely unheard of, then she can pay.

PS. "Man pays for everything" is not a status. It's an anomaly. There is no discussion needed to change an anomaly.

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    Can you explain why this solution is good? If the OP has been dating his girlfriend for a while, why is it acceptable to immediately change the status quo without even discussing it first? – Catija Feb 4 '18 at 19:57
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    @RandolphCarter I think what Catija was getting at is that this answer suggests OP does something other than what he is asking about how to do. Which is fine but he really needs to relate the answer back to OP's situation, with some context as to why this alternative solution is good for OP specifically – Jesse Feb 5 '18 at 1:37
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    Do people typically pay with cash in Europe? Just curious - I only have US experience and we almost always pay with cards (which wouldn't work too well this approach!) – Em C Feb 5 '18 at 16:01
  • @EmC , we usually pay by cash to avoid surcharge (in bigger cities). – friderik Feb 5 '18 at 18:16
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Some cultures and some families just feel like a girl should never pay. In the US I know two girls whom their mother told them a girl should never pay.

I would just approach her about going dutch before you leave for the meal or drinks to avoid an awkward situation at the table. I think it could be as simple as "Would you mind going dutch?" Don't even say "dutch tonight" - put dutch on the table.

I would not give your reasons or try to present a case. She is going to go along or not.

  • I am not American at all. I am Slovenian - European. I have used this phrase because we taught it at English lecture a few yeas ago. I do not think that there is anything wrong with this phrase - if it would be culturally inappropriate, we would not bother learning it :D Thanks for the reminder anyway. – friderik Feb 5 '18 at 17:57

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