The Dinner Bill

posted 1 week ago in Relationships
Post # 16
289 posts
Helper bee

beedot :  I’d talk to him and be honest about your financial situation. Perhaps when it’s your “turn” you can opt to cook a nice dinner at home and pick up some beer for him, that’s much more affordable than going out.

My husband makes more than me and when we first started dating he lived with a roommate in an inexpensive area, I lived by myself in a super expensive area and usually didn’t have a lot of extra spending money at that time. I got kind of lucky because he didn’t “let” my pay for anything until we were several months in, and even then it was once every maybe 5 times that we went out and it was always when we went to a less expensive place than we normally would.

Post # 17
592 posts
Busy bee

I had just graduated law school, was making $40,000 as an articling student, and had massive amounts of student debt to pay back. I was dating someone a bit older than me, established, no student loans, and about $200k income.

He paid for all our dates, I made dinner at home sometimes, and always brought over a bottle of wine when I went to his. 

I remember offering to pay for something a couple months into dating and he asked if I was sure. I told him I had just got the GST cheque, so had some spare cash. His response “You get the poor person cheque?” While not a sensitive way to say it, I hadn’t realized that everyone didn’t get a GST cheque and it was just low-income. After that he brought up he didn’t realize how little money I was making, and I honestly didn’t have to pay for anything.

I think he was fairly sensitive to it. I remember another conversation about how whenever I was having drinks with my roommates and he came over it was always super cheap wine, but that he noticed when I went to his house I always brought over a $20 bottle. He told me I didn’t have to bring over a $20 bottle if I couldn’t afford it. 

I wanted to go to the art gallery and they had a free event, he didn’t want to go because it would be too crowded. He just said “I really don’t mind paying the money, I know you don’t have it.”

I did want to contribute but appreciated that he was willing to take on the financial burden since he could. Another option I would have been fine with was both of us doing inexpensive dates (which is what I did with my ex when we were both broke).

Post # 18
668 posts
Busy bee

When my husband and I first started dating I was in graduate school and he was a consultant. We developed a norm where if we went somewhere expensive or somewhere he wanted to go, he paid. If we went somewhere cheap (diner egg sandwiches, whatever) I paid. Also I cooked more (I like it, he doesn’t). Open communication is key. If he can’t openly communiate about finances when what you are asking for is a reasonable demand, then he isn’t worth a relationship. 

Post # 19
668 posts
Busy bee

Also if it calms you down and prepares you for the conversation, when he says “you can get the next one” he may not have meant the literal next one. I say that when I just mean “eh– you’ll cover something reasonable at some point.” 

Post # 20
853 posts
Busy bee

I don’t see any red flags about his behavior…yet. Ok so he knows you’re in school and working a few jobs, but if this is a new relationship he likely doesn’t know what’s in your bank account. If you’ve offered to get the check multiple times then he’s probably assuming it’s no big deal for you to continue taking turns. I agree with pp that you need to have a convo with him during a calm moment/not when you’re out to eat. Just be yourself and be matter of fact. It’s good to get this out in the open sooner rather than later.

Post # 22
152 posts
Blushing bee

I would be honest. Tell him you are financially conservative and want to come out of college with little or no debt. That is important for your future.. Most people in college go to cheap taco nights, etc.. He can afford more. That is fine. I would simply ask him to always handle the alcohol portion of the bill until you have a full time job and are out of school. How about putting together a simple piggy bank for dinners out. Due it based on your income. Say you put in 25 percent, he puts in 75 percent. When the money is there, you go out wherever.Drinks he should pay for.  Even with friends, I think it is unfair to expect someone to pay for drinks that can cost between $5 and $15. when you are splitting the bill for dinner. but you don’t drink. After the initial stages of dating, hardly anyone can afford to keep going out for dinners.

Post # 23
2160 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2018

“I feel he ought to be mindful of the obvious discrepancy in your finances without having to be told. You are simply not in a position to afford it and expecting you to pay for his alcohol is particularly tone deaf.  I’d explain the situation and reciprocate in other ways and within your actual budget. If it’s that important for him to go out to expensive dinners it’s going to have to be on him or a lot less frequently.”

Exactly. If he knows your situation, he should be paying almost every time. Once you are doing better financially, you can reciprocate.

Post # 24
27 posts

I would definitely be open and honest with him about your current financial situation. It’s not worth ruining your finances to keep up with him and ultimately if you plan on the long haul together then damaging your finances in order to keep up will negatively effect him too! My SO makes more than I do and due to a multi year custody battle and despite and making decent money a large portion of my check goes to old legal fees. My SO understands this and usually does not allow me to pay for things preferring I take care of other bills so we won’t have them to pay off later on down the road. If he takes the conversation negatively and doesn’t understand your situation then I would just move along! 

Post # 25
866 posts
Busy bee

Well, it seems like he’s more or less following YOUR lead when it comes to alternating the bill. It’s also unclear to me how much this has actually happened and how much more it’s like a thing that’s been mentioned that you’re now feeling anxious about. 

to me it sounds like you were out with friends, he wanted to get the bill and made the “oh you get the next one” comment in order to move off the topic quickly. Like he didn’t want to make paying the check a big thing. 

it’s totally fine to renegotiate the terms and be honest! I would let him know dinners out just aren’t in your budget right now, but you’d love to cook for him, and you’re happy to pick up the bill once in awhile when it is (like if you go out for ice cream). To me I think the “alternating” in dating is less about splitting everything to the dollar and more about both partners contributing to the relationship and feeling valued. 

Post # 26
8957 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

beedot :  

Agree with everybody about the telling him honestly that you can’t afford taking turns, or paying for alchohol. I also agree he should know that, but l will give him the benefit of the doubt . 

Cooking occasionally sounds fine, but don’t get into the habit of doing more than you want, esp if it means you are shopping and paying for all the stuff then rushing home and cooking it and all that entails. He could cook too maybe. 


Post # 27
1195 posts
Bumble bee

He knows you’re a student right? Hmm…I’m surprised he hasn’t picked up on the income disparity but I’ve been out of the dating game for ages and maybe things have changed lol. I agree with PPs, don’t make a big deal of it and just casually mention some time that you’re a university student. Even start out as a joke if that makes you less nervous “ugh I’m such a poor uni student at the moment” which can then stimulate a conversation. Good luck! x

Post # 28
264 posts
Helper bee

Cook together. It can be fun and takes the pressure off either of you to be the better chef. 

Post # 29
465 posts
Helper bee

weddingmaven :  

This. If there is a huge discrepancy in income, then the partner who earns more should be prepared to shoulder more of the financial burdens. It’s only fair. 

I also think it’s terrible that the OP is being made to pay for her boyfriend’s liquor when she doesn’t even drink. I’m getting a cheap and selfish vibe from the OP’s boyfriend. 

Post # 30
6705 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 1997

OP, how did things go? Did you discuss it with him, and what was his response?

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