Don’t force me to split a bill just because it is your believe of how a group should work.


There has been an interesting I would say cultural discussion about splitting a bill or not on a birthday which I left comments but I also wanted to share, for the simple reason that I think this is a topic to pay attention to.

It seems trivial but yet it is one which implies a lot of emotions on both sides. You need to read the ‘history’ first to get an idea what is is about, but if you do not want to, this is my conclusion on the argument “individual vs. collective”.

A collective or let’s say the group thing is not about one person saying “this is how this is a group”. It is about a group agreeing by free will on what they think is appropriate for them, how they want to conduct their lives etc. It should be inviting to outsiders or as I like to say “don’t force me, but seduce /attract me”.

Being a first born, this forcing me to do something is a thing which runs high on the emotional push button side, because if you have a sibling, I see it over and over again that first borns especially, but older ones in general are forced to do something they don’t want “for the greater good” as in “for the younger one” because “it is the right thing to do and you want it too”. No I don’t. Was forced to back then, but am free now to choose who to work or deal with.

Now note, that it is not about me not wanting to contribute and stay singled out all the time. It is about forcing me to do something without consenting into what I think is reasonable, what I think should be done as a compromise.

And after all, I really think that the reason “easy splitted bills” is not done because we want it so, but because waiters introduced the concept to make their live much easier! :o)

The comments below I left on both Tara’s and Stephanie’s post reflect the above; and this whole thing is also again a reminder not to assume that everybody thinks alike. This needs to be sorted out. And if you for example feel uncomfortable with someone being the way like I am that is fine as well. It is also about you then not being forced to run my way but be asked what to do. It is again and again about communicating with one another and find a common ground we can agree on.

My comment at Stephanie:

I don’t like splitting the bill evenly for the very simple fact that I usually never consume the kind of thing others do and while I may feel like inviting somebody else, I am not comfortable doing that in a normal condition.

I don’t drink wine, I don’t drink alcohol, but I do drink a lot of water, usually at least one or two, and if I find something nice on the menue I like to order more – but as I am picky too, it may very well be that I choose only a very limited small selection. Or something really expensive.

Either way, I am usually always NEVER with what the rest of the crowd does, either I am using up much more, or much less than the rest.

I could make a smiley face and say I don’t care, but I do. I could “be nice” and just swallow it up, but I won’t because I see no reason to.

I agree with Stephanie on that if everybody pays, that is taking advantage of, and more than once I have overheard those happy “yeah we like to share and it is great!!!” people afterwards grumpling about how X did have so much more. It is fake in many cases.

It is a good reminder though to pay attention to ‘group’ habbit and make things clear in the beginning.

Something I feel comfortable with for example is a combined thing – I pay my share first (remember, this being either much more or much less) and the rest can go for a shared meal if they like, I do not mind that at all.

If this makes the rest of the group uncomfortable I am sorry, but I rather am at peace with myself than just make somebody else comfortable. Tara’s argument of “oh but that is just greedy individualism whereas the other one is cool collective” does not go with me either IN THIS SPECIFIC case.

Collective for me is not about being made equal all the time, but for me to have a choice and an agreement with the group I am in that this is the direction how we all think is good to go. There has to be compromise on both side usually, which is fine, but that is about it.

In this specific case just reading how it worked I would have expected from you to pay for the starters, since you ordered it (my perspective: usually resulting in a lot of stuff I have no interest in eating) and after that it is up to everyone to organize themselves.

The cultural side of it being that you pay for the birthday girl – over here it is more responsibility for the host to invite everybody is another dimension to it.

To sum it up – it is not easy and needs talking. But there is not the case of “my way is the only one which is the correct one”.

And on Tara’s:

I have left a longer comment over at Stephanie’s blog, and would like to add a part here as relevant for this discussion:

First, it is a cultural thing again. Paying for the host on a birthday is not usual over here, but the other way round. Walking in an international environment, this has to be though about as well, it is the same with tipping for example.

Second about the cheapish person who dares to stay an “individual when it is so much cooler to be the collective!!!” This is a star gazing hippie argument. Could we come down to earth please for a moment?

It is fine with me if I have a group around me which is my friends even barely friends, and to a certain degree I also do this with strangers. But my believe in Karma is not that I have to be generous to the world no questions asked. The relevant part in this is the “no questions asked” argument.

Splitting the bill for me has a very simple reason as I explained in the other comment as well – I am *never* at what the group is at. I am either much over or much under what they are having and as there is the talk of “it will equal out” – yes, in the long run and over all my dinner bills.

But if I go out with the same crowd of people the pattern with them will not change. And as I said, it can run both ways. I do not want to pay much more than I had nor do I expect anyone else to pay for me much more than they had.

And I find myself grouping up with some people as in the non wine people, or the ones having a full meal versus only some little thing.

The argument “then don’t go out” does apply here, but it needs an addition “don’t go out with those people”.

There is not just one situation, and not one solution. But out of the three, me pay /we pay and everybody pays what they had aka Stowe, the we pay does sound like dictatorship to me. Because it forces me to do something.

“You contribute to what you had and maybe even a bit more to not go into details” is much more about collective than a decision “we do all want to pay the same, right?!”.

Bottom line: Clear these things before you start ordering.

Usually also something to be done so the waiter can set up separate tabs and probably where this whole “we pay together” things comes from: Because they are to lazy to run separate bills and it makes their life much easier just to lay the burden on the guest to split it up …


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