It’s time to start splitting the check
When I opened the menu at a fancy Italian restaurant during a blind date, my heart sank when I realized how expensive it was. I chose the place, but it was not intentional. At the same time, a look of contempt and embarrassment appeared and quickly disappeared on my date’s face - as if I had done something wrong.
I chose the least expensive dish and thought, “I will pay for my order.” When the bill arrived, I said, “Let’s split the check,” only to find the same look on his face again. He must have been thinking, “Does she think I can’t afford this dinner?”
I may not be the only one who has gone through such an experience. Blind dates have been a common way to meet a partner for decades in Korea, but the lack of social consensus on who pays for the date often puts us in an awkward situation. Many ask on forums, “If I have a blind date, can we go Dutch?”
It always follows with various opinions. Some say going Dutch is cool while others think asking to split the check sends a message that the date is not going well. There are people who compromise and let the men pay for the dinner, while the women get the drinks. As in most relationships, especially in dating, things are not always logical. Many men say, “I will pick up the check to meet pretty women, but I don’t want to waste my money meeting unattractive ones.”
In fact, women have the same problem. Who actually goes on a blind date for the dinner anyway? It is far more comfortable to pay for what you eat. But women are reluctant to hurt the pride of men, especially when they think the date has potential. Women often don’t want to be seen as “too independent.” While social consensus reminds us that men and women are equal, women may submit to the convention that it is better to let the guy lead. So the woman may end up paying for coffee and dessert, which often costs as much as dinner, and recovers the divided ego.
Recently, a man in his 30s was sentenced to prison for cursing at and assaulting a woman he met on a blind date because she didn’t pay for anything after he had spent 400,000 won, or $370. The story is bitter. More women need to initiate going Dutch on blind dates in order not to fall victim to a crime while letting the man lead the relationship. According to the National Institute of the Korean Language, it is better to say “split the check” rather than “going Dutch.” Whether the blind date goes well or not, let’s split the check and pay for what you eat.
*The author is a culture and sports news writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 4, Page 35
by LEE YOUNG-HEE