My boyfriend and I both work in the restaurant industry. He is a kitchen manager and I am a server, but we both work at different restaurants. This means we don't get to go out to eat that much.
But when we do, it is special.
One thing I've noticed, at almost every restaurant we go to, that when the server brings our check, he or she almost always drops it right next to him. They assume that he will pay the bill because he is the man.
I am a server, and I never make this assumption. I always place the check in the exact center of the table, unless one of the customers discussed with me beforehand that they would like me to hand them the check. This doesn't happen too often, but when it does, it's always in a group.
For example, one man at a table of 12 people whispered to me at the beginning of the dinner that he will be taking the check. Then, I hand him the check at the end, and he handed me his credit card. Everyone at the table graciously thanked him for doing it.
This has never been the case, in my experience, for two-tops of couples. Usually, neither of them tell me beforehand that they will pay the tab. Very rarely will a couple ask for a split check, so when I drop the check, one of them picks it up. Most of the time, I notice, it is the man.
I realize this is the result of cultural expectations that tell men that they always have to pay the bill on a date. So, let's get something straight:
Gender doesn't define power in any situation, including relationships.
One of the many things I was taught regarding manners is that if you ask someone to go out to eat with you, whether this is a friend, family member or potential love interest as a date, you pay the bill because you invited them to go out with you. This is often a first-date-scenario. After the first date, things can get tricky.
My boyfriend was the one who asked me on our first date, not the other way around, so of course, he paid. He was the one who invited me out. But, once you are frequently going on dates with someone or you enter into a relationship with that person, it isn't so easy to discern who was the person who actually asked the other one to go out.
It becomes a much more mutual decision. So once you are in this place with someone, I believe you must have a conversation about your beliefs regarding who picks up the check.
It's no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a feminist. I believe in the equality of the sexes. That means that I don't believe it is solely the man's responsibility to pay the bill, on any date. I think it should be split equally between partners, and I don't mean splitting the check. My boyfriend paid last time we went out to eat, so I'm going to pay the next time we go out. Of course, the price of each date isn't going to be exactly the same. But that is not what matters, it is simply the gesture of doing something for someone else.
For example, every time we visit our favorite restaurant, our bill is relatively the same price. And we know if we go somewhere a little more upscale, we are prepared to pay a little more. These things can be discussed beforehand, or not. It is up to you and your partner. Personally, I have no problem at all footing the bill and treating my boyfriend.
He's treated me so many times, so why wouldn't he deserve the same?
This is why it bothers me so much when the server hands the bill to my boyfriend. It is not his responsibility to pay for our date night. It is our responsibility as a couple who chooses to go out and patronize a restaurant. So servers, don't hand the man the bill. Put it in the center of the table. And couples, if you haven't already, ask your partner about their beliefs on this issue.