Going Dutch

Going Dutch is a slang term that means that each person eating at a restaurant or paying admission for entertainment pays for himself or herself, rather than one person paying for everyone. It is also called Dutch date and Dutch Treat.


There is a delicate etiquette surrounding going Dutch. It may be accepted in some situations, such as between non-intimate friends or less affluent people, but considered stingy in other circumstances, such as on a romantic date or at a business lunch.

The traditional way to handle a bill on a date in the West has been that the one who invited the other takes the bill and the invitee may not even know the actual price of the meal. Some restaurants keep "blind menus" (less commonly known as "ladies' menus"), which do not display prices.


The phrase "going Dutch" probably originates from Dutch etiquette. In the Netherlands, it is not unusual to pay separately when going out as a group. When dating in a 1 on 1 situation however, the man will most commonly pay for meals and drinks. English rivalry with The Netherlands especially during the period of the Anglo-Dutch Wars gave rise to several phrases including Dutch that promote certain negative stereotypes. Examples include Dutch courage, Dutch uncle and Dutch wife. The particular stereotype associated with this usage is the idea of Dutch people as ungenerous and selfish.

In Spain, "going Dutch" is attributed to Catalans, due to a stereotype that they are somewhat penny-pinchers. A stereotypical non-Catalan Spaniard would compete to pay the bill for the group. However, the common term for "going Dutch" bears no relationship to Catalonia: "pagar a escote" ("cleavage paying").

In Italy, the expression pagare alla romana can be translated as: "To pay like people of Rome" or "to pay like they do in Rome". It has the same meaning as "going Dutch".

Some South American countries use the Spanish phrase pagar a la americana (literally "To pay American style") which refers to a trait attributed to people from the U.S.A. or Canada.

In Argentina specifically, 'a la romana' (exact translation of Italian's 'pagare alla romana') is widely used and 'pagar a la americana' (pay American style) doesn't exist.

In Thailand, the practice is referred to as "American Share."

The gambling term dutching may follow this same route as it describes a system that shares stakes across a number of bets. It is commonly believed, however, that the Dutch reference here was in fact derived from a gangster (Dutch Schultz) who used this strategy to profit from racing.

Feminist support for Dutch date practice

During the advent of second wave feminism, the late 1960s and 1970s, the women's movement encouraged women to understand aspects of their own personal lives as deeply politicized. Many feminists investigated the framework and assumptions of traditional courtship roles. They subscribed to the idea that there should be equality of the sexes, not just legally, but socially and sexually.

They held that it was mature, empowering and self-respecting for women to pay their own way in romantic dates. They were rejecting traditional gender role assumptions that men should make more money and should pay for affections through dinners and other date costs. In this way, women were making an equal investment in the cost of courtship.

It became more common for women to pay their own way or to pay for men's meals. Some women were offended if their male dining partner "grabbed the check."

Opposition to Dutch Practice

Since the 1990s, many women have abandoned 1970s feminism's ideals for equality of gender roles and relationships. Many have reverted to adopting 'traditional' investment in the courting relationship, and assumptions about men's responsibility to spend money to express affection. The feminist view point is that the other result of this is the creation of a debt or a feeling that female now 'owes' the male something, redeemable through the offering of sexual favours. Women began to choose not to put themselves in this position and thus empowered themselves by paying their own way.

Social custom also varies among same-sex couples. Most often, it is the inviter or the one whose financial situation most lends him or her to pay who does so. The lack of rigid tradition, however, leaves no widely adopted custom.

International practices

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, 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.

In Britain, the practice of splitting the bill is common. On a dinner date, the man may pay the bill as way of overtly stating that he views this as a romantic situation and that he has some hopes or expectations for a future development. Some women find this offensive (per Feminist support for Dutch date practice above) so it is a judgment call.

See also

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This article is based on "Going Dutch" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Going+Dutch&action=history