Going Dutch… or British?

Went out for our antenatal reunion. It was… okay. If only for the sake of getting a complete set of pictures. (Bumps, babies, and now toddlers.) I suppose maybe we’ll do it once a year or something, but everyone is caught up in their own lives now and doesn’t really make the effort to meet up any more.

The entire do was 12 adults (7 couples in our class and 2 came without their partners) and 7 children (were babies, now toddlers). The Queen Bee of the group had booked a pub… at 11:00 for Sunday roast. Firstly I am not eating roasts due to vegetarianism and secondly, nobody gets to the pub for 11 in the morning because you risk looking like an alcoholic, and it looks even weirder with a baby in tow!

Anyway, we got there, quickly established that the pub really was not set up to accommodate a party of 19, let alone 7 little kids… They hadn’t set out high chairs or anything like that so we had to rearrange the furniture before we even sat down. They hadn’t put us on a long table but four smaller tables arranged perpendicularly to each other, so really it was just like four tables each eating in close proximity.

It was kind of stupid, tbh.

(I was merely thinking without saying anything that I had found a child friendly venue that was able to cater to children and have an afternoon meal and space for the kids to play, but everyone wanted to do what Queen Bee wanted.)

The children, predictably, did not want to spend two hours restricted in a high chair so they were running about all over the place, no doubt ruining other people’s nice Sunday lunches.

The food – that we’d all been forced to pre-order and pay a deposit for – arrived in dribs and drabs so they had some food first and others had to wait for about an hour before we got anything to eat.

Also slightly weirdly all the white people sat on one side and all the POC sat on the other side (two separate sets of tables) which was possibly coincidental but also kind of funny.

When my (vegetarian) food arrived it was a bit of a joke… It was literally a bowl of peas and beans topped with a bit of mozzarella and asparagus. Meanwhile the others inc Queen Bee (let’s call it the White Table) had children’s meals (we didn’t bother as B doesn’t eat meat), starters, mains and desserts. Funnily enough there was another gap here because all the POC brought food for their own babies rather than feed them pub food. (I wasn’t being snobby here – there was literally only mac and cheese that B could eat, and I didn’t think he would really want to.)

So when the bill came at the end, the White Table said, “Let’s split the bill. Everyone owes this much…”

And I said no.

Now, maybe I’m just being petty here but I am not into splitting the bill equally when you had a starter x2, roast dinner x2, dessert x2 and a children’s meal, and we had two mains (inc one vegetarian meal which costs a fiver less than a roast and was kind of awful) and a side order of fries…

And I think there are two types of people when it comes to bills. (Checks!)

  1. Let’s split the bill and everyone pays the same.
  2. Everyone takes a look at the bill, adds up roughly what they got, rounds up and adds some for service.

Now, that’s not to say I never split the bill. I really do. With good friends. We also often pay more because I might go out with friends who earn less (eg my best friend is a teacher who always earned a pittance… and it was usually me who added in vast quantities of alcohol to the meal, so it’s only fair I’d pay more, or even pay for her dinner). I have several friends who I take out occasionally and will end up paying the entire bill because I know I earn more than they do. But that’s not something I’d do in a casual arrangement.

I still kind of resent some friends who seem to take the p when it comes to going Dutch… One couple we know always has a bottle of wine on the go by the time we get there, and then expects us to split the bill…

But I’ve also been out with massive groups of friends and we all just tend to figure out roughly what we owe (round up and add something for service) and we’ve never been short.

Well…

The White Table looked at me as though I was some sort of criminal.

How DARE I question their bill-splitting?!

I mean seriously I think my questioning it was the nail in the coffin for our “friendship”. They were horrified.

(Needless to say, the person who suggested it would have benefited from the bill splitting arrangement as they had All The Things.)

So – to split or not to split? That is the question…

Do you split? Do you judge people who don’t split? Perhaps it’s a cultural norm… Most of my friends are pretty laid back about it and even in large groups we seem to manage it just fine. I just never had the situation before where someone was so horrified at the idea that we wouldn’t all be subbing.

 

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27 comments

  1. Maternally Optimistic

    I would say I am like you in the sense I would do both depending on what the situation was.
    I am perfectly happy to split the bill most times. As you said though there are times when in my group of friends we have all had such differnet quantities when it comes to the food and drink that we will just roughly pay for our own.

    Sounds like a horrific day out though from start to finish.x

    Like

    • Nara

      It wasn’t that great! I mean it was nice…ish to catch up with people but I just didn’t find it a nice environment – it was quite incompatible with kids and sort of stressful, and also weird that we all got our food at different times. There wasn’t any actual bonding other than the people right next to us. It wasn’t the kind of place I would book if I wanted to catch up with people.

      And yeah I think the bill splitting was the icing on the cake! To be fair maybe they didn’t realise we had less. But that’s because they didn’t really speak to us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. pinksnow78

    In general, if everyone is drinking/doing starters/desserts etc, we just split it. If someone has their child with them and they have a meal, they pay more. But if some people aren’t drinking, have dessert and others don’t, we tend to tot up our own and throw that in rather than split equally. Is only fair??? How did it all pan out then?? Did the day end badly?? X

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    • Nara

      Yes, I’m like that! I think it makes sense. I kind of thought everyone did that.

      The day didn’t end badly… I just got a feeling they didn’t like me not agreeing to sub their meals. The other person who probably had less than we did said they wouldn’t worry about it as they couldn’t be bothered to get into an argument. I suppose I had just had such a bad meal I didn’t feel like paying over the odds?!

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  3. RJ

    I usually suggest splitting the bill equally as long as everyone owes roughly the same amount of money. But in a case like yours I would have not expected that bc you got so much less. It’s a case by case situation and I’m sorry this happened. Not cool!

    Like

    • Nara

      Yeah, I think it probably makes me sound super miserly! Haha. But then some of them were suggesting they should be paying less because they had only one adult even though they probably had just as much / more!

      Like

  4. sbach1222

    Usually we just separate out our meals or pay the whole bill. We are treating or we are not and in a situation where there are that many people and people are paying her selves anyway, they should pay what they owe, especially if they order that much more! Starters and kids meals aren’t a small thing!

    I would have said something as well.

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  5. Betty

    My husband and I don’t drink so usually we’re willing to split and the people with multiple drinks are courteous enough to say, “No, we had 30 dollars in drinks, you owe this much.” I tend to eat out with people who know when to split – when we all eat the same things. Did my or your dinner cost 3 dollars more? Who cares, we all had an entree and a dessert, or whatever. BUT my husband and I did go out with my extended family once and they all had many many drinks and bottles of wine and when it came time to pay the tab, my husband and I were stuck with $160 for two $25 entrees and a coffee. We were horrified and didn’t have enough cash on hand and had to use a card.

    Like

    • Nara

      Oh yes exactly! That’s so awful. I’m always really conscious that there are drinkers and non drinkers and it’s not fair if they pay the same. I once got stung for £120 for two at a relatively cheap chain restaurant because we were there for a birthday dinner and some of the friends were doing shots! Was worse for my friend who was on water!

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  6. waitingbetweenthelines

    We spilt the bill when it is fair to do so… When we’ve all more or less had the same amount in terms of food and alcohol. But we’re very sensitive when the situation is unequal. Good on you for saying no. I’m south African and my husband is Italian so not sure it’s cultural?

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    • Nara

      Yeah, I don’t think it is nationality based… I think it’s funny how it’s called “going Dutch” when the Dutch are generally known for being very pragmatic! I think most people here like to split the bill when people have roughly the same thing. But there is generally a rule among my friends anyway that if there’s a big difference (like drinkers vs non drinkers) we wouldn’t split equally!

      Like

  7. Courtney

    I am with you on this 100%. I will happily split the bill with friends who I go out with often. That is never an issue, and I’m happy to do it. I like to be the one to throw in extra money because sometimes I tend to order a soup when others don’t, Etc. But in a large group like that where your party size may not match everyone else’s party size, or eating habits are so vastly different like you described… Absolutely not!

    We spent our trip in Hawaii constantly trying to figure out who owed what for meals when all I wanted was to ask the server to split the bill for the two groups traveling together. Being in America, this is something that’s common and most restaurants don’t even think twice about. They’re happy to do it. My friend traveling with us refused to ask them to split the bill, and let me tell you… We took it big time. I estimate that we probably covered $400 of her and her child’s meals over the course of 10 days. As you can tell, it’s a very, very sore subject for me. 😂

    The way I see it, if this was a friendship breaker… So be it.

    Like

    • Nara

      Omg that would not make me happy! That is crazy! Especially if you only had two groups! I think the issue we had was that it was in effect 7 groups, but still, the kind of place that asks you to pay to pre-book should at least have the facility to split the bills. I can’t believe you subbed so much – that’s crazy! I’d be hopping mad!

      Like

  8. whymeivf

    Haha a firey topic!!! If someone has had significantly less we usually figure out what they owe and split the rest evenly. I think different circles of friends do different things, and more interestingly have different standards of what is ‘polite’ to do with acquaintances!

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    • Nara

      Yes, it is a bit of one! The funny thing is I would never think I’d be one to quibble over bills, but I think that now I’m older I’ve been stung a few times (usually with acquaintances) when they’ve just split everything equally, because I tend to have less to eat than others quite a lot. I think when I was younger and it was like £20 a head that was fine, but now when it’s like £60+ on a meal out that seems like too much to sub others when you’re eating a lot less! Especially when we don’t have much spare cash at the moment.

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  9. Amy M.

    I’ve totally been in this situation before…more than once!!! One of B’s best friends…who I tolerate, I don’t really like him at all, and B knows that…does this all the time. Orders the most expensive things, and appetizers and drinks and dessert…then wants to split evenly when everyone else drank water and got cheap food. SOOO annoying! He tried to pull this at one of B’s birthday dinners years ago. One of our sets of friends had really no money at the time, so they drank water and shared and entree. Meanwhile, B’s friend ordered a bunch of apps to share, a few drinks, expensive food, etc. He then said we should split evenly. I could see our other friends were distressed, so I spoke up. It didn’t go over well, and ended the night on a bad note…but it wasn’t fair in the least.
    Anyway…if someone is going to get that bent out of shape over wanting to pay fairly, maybe it’s someone you don’t want to hang out with anyway!!! I’d just keep in touch with a few that you maybe actually like in that group, and let the others go!

    Like

    • Nara

      Oh that’s completely unfair! I agree that I’d have to have said something. I’m always very conscious that there might be others who feel pressured into paying too much. It’s crazy really – I have no idea where the others get their money as the mums don’t work, in the main… They seem to spend a lot more than we do!

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  10. Hufflestitch

    With friends when we have had roughly the same thing, split bills. In a group like that? Hell no.

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  11. RC

    We will spilt the bill, but then pay more if we have had drinks, or more exy meals. So if the split is 50/ head, we will round ours up to say 65, and our non drinking vegetarian friend down to 35. But if someone wanted an exact split, I’m ok with that as long as the last person doesn’t get lumped with the extras that no one else claimed

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  12. FlatWhiteToGo85

    I am with you 100% on this. I generally like to split the bill 50/50 if we’ve all ordered roughly the same amount. If however there’s a big difference, I resent spending loads more than I should and would equally be extremely embarrassed if someone else had to foot my bill. I have been stung numerous times by people being grabby (e.g. the hen do I went on where I had to leave early so wasn’t having pudding or drinking, yet I was expected to split the entire bill!). Unfortunately I think there are quite a few people who set out to get as much as they can at the expense of others. One of my “friends” was complaining a few weeks ago that she thought everyone would be splitting the bill, so she and her partner arrived early and ordered an expensive bottle of wine to “treat themselves”, then at the end it was agreed everyone should pay their way. Apparently some people weren’t drinking, which she had a whole separate rant about. She was actually livid that she had been made to pay for what she had.

    It sounds as though the whole event was pretty miserable from start to finish! Hopefully, from now on, you can just meet up with the few people that you do get along with.

    On a total tangent, how come you have become vegetarian? Sorry if I have missed a post on it before. I have been awol for months!x

    Like

    • Nara

      Thank you! Yes, I think that the not wanting to split the bill comes from bad experiences where people have taken advantage! The bottle of wine people are just annoying!

      I haven’t posted about being vegetarian really… I have gone mainly veggie because of B being vegetarian, and the idea that I shouldn’t eat meat if he isn’t! That’s a whole post in itself I think… I just never seem to get round to posting so you haven’t missed much! Hope you are well! X

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