A favourite topic of the personal finance blogging world is the issue of splitting the bill when eating out with friends.
It’s not something I usually have a problem with. It seems straightforward enough to me: If I’m eating out with close friends we usually just split the bill equally, despite who had what. If I’m eating out with people I know less well, like work colleagues for example, it’s usually a matter of putting in the money for what you each ordered and splitting the tip. Yes, there’s always going to be one cheap person who tries to get out of paying their share, but, that’s life, you know? It’s not worth getting worked up about for the sake of a couple of quid, in my opinion.
However, I have noticed something a bit weird when eating out with a certain friend lately.
I will prefix this by saying she is one of my best friends, and we see each other probably once or twice a week, either for a meal or just for a few drinks and a catch-up. When it’s just the two of us, we split the bill on a meal equally; or if we’re in the pub, we take turns buying rounds. A pretty regular set-up, that I have never really thought about before.
Until now. A few months ago, her contract ran out at work, and she was feeling pretty low, unable to find work for a couple of months. During that time FruGuy and I took her out a few times. She has since found a new position and, so she tells me, all her money worries are over.
However, ever since, I have noticed that whenever FruGuy is also out with us, my friend never offers to pay for a thing. FruGuy is the sort of guy who automatically reaches for the bill when it arrives, and doesn’t think twice about paying for her as well. He’s not the type to worry about who ordered what, and is generous enough to happily buy by BFF dinner every now and then.
Which is really nice. Except that now, she seems to expect it to happen every time. She doesn’t even make a show of reaching into her purse when the bill arrives. And if we’re just in the pub, she never offers to buy a round.
It’s got me a little pissed, to be honest. It’s hardly breaking the bank, but it’s the principle of the thing, surely! She doesn’t even offer to pay her share, seems to just expect us to pay for her. I really hate to see generosity to be taken advantage of. But what to do? I don’t want to do anything to make her feel weird or uncomfortable… but at the same time I don’t want her to see eating out with us as a free meal for the rest of time. Should I say something? Is there a subtle way to go about this?
I hate dealing with stuff like this!