The food was well prepared, the drinks mixed just right, the conversation easy and fun. Overall, it was a great date. And now the waiter comes with the bill. Do you catch yourself instinctively reaching for your wallet or giving your date a look that says, “How do we do this now?” Are you the type who always pays for your date, or the type who prefers to split the bill, also known as “going Dutch”?
For many men, this question doesn’t even arise, and that’s because the traditional “men always pay” rule still largely shapes today’s dating culture. Of the more than 650 Millennial women who participated in a 2016 survey, 54 percent said they “sometimes” or “always” expect their date to pay for them, while 59 percent said they feel appreciated when their date pays.
For whatever reason, it’s a social norm for the man to pay the bill, and many are reluctant to break away. There are several possible reasons why this old-fashioned approach still persists. Some still believe in the chivalry of a man being a gentleman and taking care of his date, while others believe that splitting the check indicates that something didn’t go right, suggesting that perhaps there is no interest in dating again.
With these thoughts in mind, going Dutch from the start can seem like a scary proposition, but it doesn’t have to be. When potential partners pay their own way, there’s no hassle if things don’t work out, and no one has to feel pressured that they somehow “owe” the other person for picking up the tab.
The term “going dutch” refers to the practice of everyone paying for themselves on a date. So instead of your date picking up the tab, you pay your own share.
The Origin Of “Going Dutch”
The term “going Dutch” or “Dutch treat” goes back to a British slur against the Dutch and derives from the stereotype that the Dutch are stingy or cheap. Thus, a Dutch treat was not a treat at all. The term was used in the nineteenth century, when Dutch merchants played a major role in European trade and disputes arose over the lucrative sea routes between the two countries.
Holland in particular, with its important trading city of Amsterdam, was an economic and maritime powerhouse. However, since this power was not based on land or military might, was fairly new, and the Dutch Republic was divided both socially and politically, the British had no reason not to challenge their trading power. Thus, in 1652, a series of three wars called the Anglo-Dutch wars began. These conflicts, which ended in 1674, were based primarily on commercial jealousies.
During this period, there was much anti-Dutch propaganda in England. Some of the statements against the Dutch published in pamphlets, poems, and books were so vile that the insult of the Dutch treaty seems mild in comparison. One poem referred to Holland as the “undigested vomit of the sea,” while a pamphlet claimed that the Dutch were “the first bread and descended from a horse’s tail.”
In addition to the Dutch expressions still in use, there are also Dutch widow, Dutch uncle, Dutch auction and Dutch courage from this period. The terms booby and moron also came from this conflict.
Since the Anglo-Dutch wars were so long ago, most of us no longer know of any animosity between the British and the Dutch. We say “let’s go Dutch” simply because it is a short and unfortunately traditional way of expressing the intention that all parties will do their own part. We mean it quite innocently and most of us have probably never really thought about it, let alone that it could be a negative and insulting expression.
More on “Going Dutch”
The idea of “going Dutch” is causing a lot of discussion and speculation in today’s world. We live in exciting times, especially when it comes to partnerships and relationships. Role shifts, the importance of partnerships, and even the way we interact with each other have changed from what we were taught by our parents and elders.
In many Western cultures, men are no longer automatically seen as the primary breadwinners, with some men even giving up their jobs to be stay-at-home dads while their moms go to work!
For some, the idea of sharing the bill seems not only progressive, but a natural shift, considering how the tides have changed with the growing power and success of women. On the other hand, there is still an underlying attraction to the traditional way of courting and dating. Many women love the chase, and the idea of sharing the bill could work against that desire. For women who prefer more traditional roles, the idea of paying for their share of a date could seem like a game changer.
Did you find this article insightful? Read more on who should pay on a first date here.