Friends With Money: Should You Let Them Pay?

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I think it’s safe to say that we all have friends who are more financially well endowed, so to speak, than we are, but we can also say that the converse is also true. For the most part, I don’t think about this. I’ve never been one to count anyone’s money, because I prefer that people don’t count mine, and I like to keep my eyes on my own paper.

However, sometimes the disparity rises to the surface and just like that, you are face to face with a “you have and I don’t have as much” situation.

Picking Up The Check In Restaurants

This can be a source of angst and awkwardness for the parties involved. When men are involved, it is usually about dick size and power tripping.  When it is a mixed gender meal, things aren’t as clear cut. Who pays when it’s you and your wealthier married couple friends?

I went out to dinner last week with my married couple friends, who I’ve known for over twenty years. They’re very successful as well as generous, thoughtful, modest and they’ve never flaunted their material wealth around.

When we’ve gone out to dinner in the past, they have always insisted on picking up the check. Like I said, generous. I always offer but it is always denied. Last week, however, it really affected me. I am a grown independent woman, who can afford to pay for her meal. If I couldn’t afford it, I would not have accepted the invitation. This made me feel like a charity case and a child. A poor child.

How do I tell them how it makes me feel, without it sounding like a therapy session? The older I get, the more troubling this becomes. Is it a comment on how others see us? I started to wonder why these friends feel compelled to constantly pick up the check. Is there something else going on besides generosity? Is it a control issue? Is it simply easier than dividing the check?

I didn’t want to make a scene but I also had to put an end to it. I am your equal. I’m not living on the streets and singing for my supper in the subway. Let me pay for my salmon.

When the bill came, we exchanged the cursory, “No, let me get it.” “No, don’t be silly, how much do I owe.” “Really, it’s fine.” And on it went until we were both a bit embarrassed. We settled on me paying the tip. Maybe these innocent transactions are metaphors for where we stand in the hierarchy of our friendships and relationships.

How can everyone be happy?

1.    Discuss the parameters before you go out. This isn’t always possible and it depends on how close the individuals are.
2.    You can tell them that dinner out is your treat and pick out the restaurant.
3.    Give the hostess your credit card before you sit down at the table.
4.    Insist on going dutch and throw a wad of cash at your friend’s head and then get up and walk out. They’ll be too flummoxed by your behavior to do anything about it.