Thursday , June 13 2024

Couples reconsidering who pays the bill


Vinh Ha, a 24-year-old Hanoian, splits the bill in half every time she goes out with her boyfriend.

She always transfers money to her boyfriend’s bank account after calculating how much he spent buying things for her.

“Women are working and having incomes, just like men. So why do we need to rely on our boyfriends?” Ha asked rhetorically.

Her boyfriend, Tuan Hung, responded to her with another question: “Is it that hard to let me buy you a cup of bubble tea or a meal as your boyfriend?”

Hung’s perspective is different from Ha’s.

He believes men should be responsible for paying every time a couple hangs out. He says he understands that Ha simply wants to share the financial responsibility with him and show her independence, but he says he’s gradually turned indifferent towards their relationship because of her overly-clear boundaries.

“I feel looked down upon whenever she does that,” he said.

Ha explained that she wanted to make sure that everything was clear from the beginning as it was not guaranteed that the couple would get married. In case their relationship eventually ended, she believed both sides would appreciate this division of money.

Many couples choose to split bills whenever they hang out. Illustration by Pexels

Many couples choose to split bills whenever they hang out. Photo by Pexels

At first, 26-year-old Ho Chi Minh City resident Thu Mai was comfortable splitting bills because she and her boyfriend weren’t financially stable and sharing expenses made sense. She was against the belief that paying for the check was men’s responsibility, and she was even glad that she could handle some of the bills herself.

“We’re heading towards more civility and gender equality. Thus, I don’t see any reason for men to always be the ones who give and women to always be the ones who take,” Mai said.

However, after a while, she grew weary of the way her boyfriend imposed the rule all the time.

Her boyfriend asked her to share the bills every time they went out, mansplaining that both of them are young and thus need to be financially independent.

He promised that after marriage he would give Mai all the money he made. However, Mai says she’s slowly come to feel disrespected by not being given any wiggle room.

Among over 1,000 people asked by VnExpress “should couples split bills in half?” 84% of female participants chose “Yes.” Only 16% thought this was men’s responsibility.

“There’s nothing wrong with letting women pay half the check,” said Do Minh Cuong, Deputy Head of the Institute of Business Culture at the Vietnam Association for the Development of Corporate Culture.

He believes that men, especially those who haven’t achieved financial stability, are put under pressure if they hold all the financial responsibilities for two people.

Cuong added that the majority of women in modern societies are working and wanting to contribute their part to stronger relationships. At the same time, the belief that men are responsible for taking care of women is weakening. Therefore, splitting bills is actually an act of evolution and social development, he said.

However, couples should not stick to the “hard rule” of splitting everything in half all the time regardless of the situation or circumstance, he said. Instead, the proportions should be decided based on several factors, including the depth of the relationship, and each partner’s specific income and personality, Cuong argued.

“Answers to questions like whether to split bills or not, how to split, and when to split should create a feeling of sharing, not over-calculating,” Cuong said.

Love between the numbers

Ha and Hung broke up after dating for a few months as they could not reach a mutual agreement on the issue. Hung said he felt that Ha didn’t love him enough, and had always been prepared for their breakup, which is why she had to always stick to her rule of splitting the check.

Dr. Nguyen Thi Minh, a professor at the National Academy of Public Administration, said the point of a romantic relationship is not who has to bear the responsibility of paying bills. Instead, couples should consider the way in which they deal with money-related issues, as a clear-cut rule about splitting bills may sometimes harm romantic feelings.

According to Minh, in a relationship, there are countless chances for a woman to take her boyfriend out to an event and pay for it. For example, when the couple goes to a concert, if the man pays for the tickets, then the woman could pay for dinner or buy her boyfriend some gifts.

Another solution to be considered is having a mutual “fund” in which the girlfriend and the boyfriend regularly contribute based on their financial capabilities. This fund could then be used whenever they spend time together.

Applying this solution could also help the couple better understand their partner’s spending habits and better manage their relationship.

“The thing is whether couples want to have such a chance. Splitting bills in half doesn’t always work,” Minh said.

Hai Phong resident Tuan Tu counters the idea that splitting the bill is a way to show respect towards one’s partner. Tu always takes the responsibility of paying every time he and his girlfriend hang out, as he believes that is the way a gentleman should behave.

However, sometimes his girlfriend expresses her desire to pay, and Tu is happy with that as well. His girlfriend often gives him surprise gifts as a way to show her understanding and appreciation towards him.

“That’s how we maintain romantic feelings without feeling that we owe each other, and without drawing a clear boundary between ‘my money’ and ‘your money,’” Tu said.

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