To Go Dutch or To Not Go Dutch… That is the Question

In previous posts, I discussed how one should pay for date nights. Do you go dutch or does one person pay for everything? In all this talk, I failed to explain the concept of going dutch; foreign to both the Swedes and the Dutch.

What is this funny idea from the lower country called The Netherlands? First, I did a little research on the history of going, the popularity of it in different countries, and then what people think of it. I went to Wiki, Yahoo Answers, Facebook status message, and even Twitter.

According to the Wikipedia entry, which unfortunately has been marked as full of weasel language, the definition is a bit nebulous. The phrase did probably originate in Holland because people pay for their own share when going out in groups. Makes sense to me. But on dates, or one-on-one events, the man usually pays for the meal (food and drinks). Standard etiquette says that the inviter pays for the meal. Equality etiquette states that the man and woman pay for their own share. Somewhere in between, some pissed off British blokes decided to insult the Dutch by coining the term “going dutch.” The phrase originated somewhere in the 1870s though it is unclear.

There was also an explanation of what happens in Sweden:

In Sweden, the practice of splitting the bill in restaurants is common. In a courtship situation where both parts have a similar financial standing, which is commonplace in Sweden, the traditional custom of the man always paying in restaurants has largely fallen out of use and is by many, including etiquette authorities[who?], considered old fashioned. Generally a romantic couple will take turns paying the bill or split it. It is generally assumed that everyone pays for himself or herself in restaurants unless the invitation stated otherwise.

I asked this to everyone: What does “going dutch” mean to you? And do you ‘go dutch’ on dates?
From Twitter:
@souldate: to split a restaurant bill by only paying exactly for what you had.
@pontusolin: That you split the costs at a social engagement.
@Ingyplingy: I thnk for Swedes it’s normal. But then, the majority of women here have been part of the work force since the 70s. At least. [Well] I actually don’t really care :-) We can go dutch, he can pay, OR I can pay!!! How about that, huh? ;) I still think there seems to be a cultural diff, since it seems like men r still expected to b able to provide for a family in US

From Facebook:
AN (American girl in the US): splitting the bill? walking around naked? plan a trip to the netherlands? ?
Sapphire: wee! i like the walking around naked part. do you think people should go dutch on the first date?
AN: do i think they should walk around naked on the first date? I mean…maybe…if its hot outside.
do i think they should split the bill on the first date? hell no! but, of course, i do live in the south…
RF (American girl in the US): hahhaa, You are hilarious!! I totally agree though- I share these impressions of going dutch;)
Saf (American girl in the US): Going dutch on a first date means that whoever invited you is cheap, wasn’t raised to be a gentleman…AND probably walks around naked ALL the time. But, of course, I’m from SF, so this is normal.
CM (swedish/american dude): I’m against it. She pays.. or I’m not putting out :P JK
Seriously, but no.. dutch is a bit of a hassle.. but I don’t mind if the girl pays.. once in a while.. that’s how swedish I am.
LBO (american girl married to a Swede in Sweden): i like it. It makes everyone equal. I enjoy myself more if I pay my share. =) We used to do it in the US [go dutch] , we don’t now. now I either pay all or he pays all.
Þorbjörn (the poor chap attached to me): I dont like it [going dutch], just don’t really like it. It is ok if none of you really have money; like if you’re a student. But well, if a guy brings a girl on a date, i think the guy should pay.

To sum it up: there is no good answer to it. Going dutch depends on the guy, the girl, and the circumstances around the date. Seemingly normal girls can go insane if they must pay their own way. Chivalrous attitudes required by men are neither arcane nor unnecessary. Women should truly take pity on men, as they have no idea what is acceptable and what is not. If I were a man, I would take her to a good restaurant (nothing fancy) and pay for that first date. If she seems like the type that wants everything paid for, then be prepared and face the wallet consequences.

Otherwise, if you are girl on a date, make the effort to take part in the expenses. Sometime I pay for ice cream or drinks if we go to another place after dinner. Whether America or Sweden or somewhere in between, there should be some equality between the sexes.

But men can still hold the door. ;)