How to: Eat Dinner With Other Adults (Part 3)

For part 1 click here.

For part 2 click here.


Obstacle 3: Who pays.

By far the most awkward part of any dinner, deciding who is footing the bill, whether you are splitting equally, or paying for exactly what you each had. As well as considering who you are with you should also consider what you ate. It’s really only cool to be the one suggesting an equal split if you had a side salad and water and the other person had a 18oz steak and a bottle of red. The other way round is a pisstake.

  • A friend of equal passable-ness to you: This is the reason you eat in pubs and ‘restaurants’ with a pay before you eat system. Neither of you is faced with a bill at the end to split or pay. However if you do end up in this situation there will be an unspoken understanding that neither of you is flush enough to pay up and you will end up paying for your own food.
  • A successful friend: Bad news. Successful friends love treating you. This is bad for several reasons, the main one being the guilt you feel for months after until you meet up again and end up paying for the meal on your credit card. There’s also this tiny voice that will tell you ‘they are doing this because they pity you’. If you don’t feel any of these emotions then congratulations, a quick “Oh, you’re too kind. You shouldn’t have” will be enough of a protest and you’ve got a free lunch.
  • A date: I’m not big on anyone paying for my dinner, even on a date. It’s the guilt thing again. In the olden days the honoured gentleman paid, but now there might not even be a man on the date. As far as I know this doesn’t mean lesbians can eat in restaurants for free. I advise going dutch, whether you are a lesbian or not.
  • An employer: To be honest, I’m not sure why you’ve gone to dinner with your employer (/why I put it on this list) but they should pay. They know how little money you make and chances are they can expense it. Order from the pricer end of the wine list and let them pay.
  • An older family member: Having probably fed you for the majority of your childhood, every now and then you should fork out for an older family member, however they are also likely to have more money than you and potentially screwed up your life by voting Brexit so let them pay most of the time. You should protest a little bit, but not too much (mainly because of Brexit).
  • A more successful sibling: The rule is, if they have kids, split it. If they are free and single and earn way more than you, let them pay. However watch out, if a parent has given you a tenner to get a drink, you should probably throw that in at the very least.
  • A less successful sibling: If you can afford it, treat them. If you can’t downgrade from Nandos and go to Maccies to treat them. If they are struggling with life even more than you, then they must be in great need.
  • A friend you have never hung out with alone but they were the only person free when you addressed your group of friends wishing to hang out: I think this one probably comes under the umbrella of ‘pay your share’. Due to the complex nature of your relationship and the potential that you will never hang out alone together again, avoid a situation where one of you pays at all costs. Who can tell when you will be able to return the favour/have the favour returned.

Some stock phrases to use when someone is offering to pay and secretly you know that would make your financial life much easier, but you have to pretend you don’t want to take their money, are as follows:

“Are you sure?”

“Okay, but the next one is on me!”

“You really have to stop doing this.”

“Can I at least pay for the drinks?”

Alternatively, go to the toilet as soon as you see the waitress bringing over the card machine.



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