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When is it the Right Call to Go Dutch on a Date

by eharmony Editorial Team - November 22, 2023

So, you’re having a lovely evening with a date at a restaurant. But it comes time for it to end and ask for the bill. Now comes the awkward part. Who’s going to offer to pay? Should you both offer? Should you just split it evenly?

A common practice in the modern dating scene is to go Dutch on the date. What does Dutch mean on a date? It’s just about splitting the bill based on who had what. But in the modern dating scene and the radical changes we’ve seen to gender roles and the spectrum of sexuality, going Dutch has never been more relevant. 

What is going Dutch on a date?

‘Going Dutch” is from the Netherlands, where dates or just friends to split the bill when dining out is common etiquette. It’s since become a common global phrase, used in many countries to describe the act of dividing expenses evenly between a group.

In the context of the modern dating scene in 2023, a Dutch date is becoming more of a standard in dating etiquette. This is particularly true in opposition of the old-fashioned notion that the man should pay. Not only is this outdated – and doesn’t make sense in a same-sex date – but it also stifles the mutual respect that will come to undergird your growing relationship.

It also makes dating actively to find the right person less costly, opening you up not just to more dating opportunities but also letting you more readily go on dates with the person you’re interested in.

How to approach the subject of going Dutch on a date

When looking at the question of, is it OK to go Dutch on a date, it doesn’t need to be an awkward situation. Try broaching the subject in a straightforward, matter-of-fact kind of way early on in the date or perhaps even before arriving at it.

But there are also different ways to go Dutch on a date to make it feel like a more equitable situation.

  • Everyone pays their part – While this is the fairest way to handle things, sometimes this can come across as a little petty, and individually checking and making a sum out of the bill’s items can also take a lot of social momentum out of the occasion. But if those are your values, you don’t need to compromise them. Say something like, “I just think it’s fair this early on in connection for us to both feel like we’re contributing our part.” 
  • Split the total amount down the middle – This is often the most popular method as it doesn’t involve you scanning a receipt, with your phone calculator out. As long as you both generally drank and ate the same kinds of things in a similar volume, it should even out as your relationship continues. Even something as simple as text saying, “Hey, so is it okay if we split the date?” can help ease the situation and give you a good idea of their values in their response
  • You each agree to pay for parts of the date – This is probably the most effective method as it comes across more naturally. When wondering, what does Dutch mean on a date, it’s about both people being willing to come to the table on a date and contribute. So just say something like, “So is it cool if I pay for dinner and you pay for the movie and snacks?” 

But let’s look at some of the positive psychology of going Dutch on a date.

Why a Dutch date is a good idea

Going Dutch can seem like it’s all about money, but that’s actually not the route of it at all. What it’s about is creating a structure of how your relationship roles and behaviors can positively contribute to each other when it comes to finances. Here are some other good reasons for going Dutch.

It sets up a more solid notion of equality from the start

It’s something we don’t often consider, but letting one person pay every time can create a power imbalance in the relationship. By starting with the idea of you both putting in your equal share, you can help establish your agency and generosity in the relationship. And how you approach it may change as your relationship develops. 

It gives you more financial freedom to go on more dates with them

It’s just a basic fact, dates cost more money than other social activities. You want to create special moments, not just take them to the same restaurant or bar every weekend. So, you both agreeing to share the costs gives you more opportunities to bond and have new experiences.

A Dutch date gives each party a sense of independence

It can often develop that partners will use the fact that they’re paying for everything as a way to establish an unhealthy and domineering relationship dynamic. When both parties pay their share, there are no other expectations or pressure to rush the process of intimacy or compromise your identity.

It gives you an idea of your respective values

If you message the person, ‘Is it ok to go Dutch on a date?’ and their response is negative or apprehensive, this can tell you a lot about their attitudes towards gender roles, financial expectations and just their general outlook on relationship fairness. So also look at it as a litmus test for compatibility.

Sometimes just be more relaxed about Dutch dates

If you and your date are at different earning levels or one of you just has more excess income, it’s also nice to offer to treat them, particularly if it’s quite an expensive date idea that you suggested. It doesn’t have to be every time but just sometimes as a romantic gesture.

Dating rules: 8 Keys to finding someone special

If you haven’t dated in a while, you might wonder what the dating rules are in 2023, or if how to date has changed since the last time you were single. In this article, we’ll look at eight essential dating rules to help you in your search for that special someone.

Dating is also about respecting your value

The issue of who pays for a date and going Dutch on a date can often feel like a gendered argument, and in certain cultures it could even be considered rude, it’s important to stick with your values though. Because the journey to finding the right person for you is really about compatibility in these kinds of perspectives.

eharmony has over 20 years of experience in the science of compatibility, helping relationship-seeking singles find people with complementary personality traits and values. So come try us out today.    

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