A friend of mine (male, early 30ies, laowai) expressed a small concern the other day over dinner. He had been invited to meet up with two of his Chinese female friends the next day for a game of pool.
However, the game of pool had suddenly snowballed into a game of pool followed dinner (which he was OK with), until it became a game of pool, dinner, AND karaoke.
For starters he wasn't into karaoke.
Second of all, he wasn't keen to pay for it all.
-Well, why don't you just split the bill then? I asked.
-They are Shanghai girls. They expect me to fork the bill.
-Yeah, last time we went out for dinner and drinks. They even brought an extra friend. All of them have boyfriends so it wasn't like a date or anything. Still, when the bill came no one did an even slight attempt to reach for their wallet. All was paid by me.
-So why didn't you say anything?
-I don't know... I guess I am just bad at that sort of things. I feel so uncomfortable asking them to chip in. Mainly because they are all expecting me to pay.
I have heard similar stories to this one before, although that time from my Taiwanese male friend who asked a girl out for a date. When he turned up for dinner, however, he realized that she had brought her 2 girlfriends and he ended up having to pay the dinner for all of them. When my friend told me this he said it was nothing strange about that, but rather, that it was the common standard over here.
(really? Going for a date and bringing your two girlfriends? Ladies -anyone- have you done that?!?)
But back to my laowai friend.
He felt it was 'rude' of him to ask them to chip in for the bill, as they believe it is the man who should pay. Always. Friendly dinner or date.
But I have to say that I personally find this sort of thinking kind of.... out of date. Sure, if the guy asks the girl out on a date. Then many men and women consider it to be the guy's job to take care of the bill. But when going out with a friend, who already has a hubby/boyfriend back home, and who in addition to getting a free dinner herself brings some girlfriends who wants to eat too? Then I reckon going dutch is the thing. I mean, if you don't even know that third person, then why should you pay for her food? Just because she is a girl? Not every single guy is loaded -Chinese or laowai.
I told my male friend this, and even though he nodded in agreement I could see in his eyes that he wasn't likely to ask the girls to split the bills with him the next time he ended up in a similar situation.
Gosh, sometimes it is good to be a girl and not to have to worry to be considered 'rude' when you ask to split the bill. I always go dutch. Female or male friend -why should they pay for my dinner? (or why should I pay for theirs -I am far from the loaded laowai). Unless they have specifically invited me out for a dinner treat I reckon there is nothing wrong with AA制 as it is called in China. (AA制 means 平均分担帐单 -each person in a group of people equally shares the bill of a dinner/ a drink).
What do you guys think? Is it considered rude by a guy to ask his female friend to AA制? Or shall he just pay, every single time, with a smile on his face?