But a few months ago, I went out to dinner with two couples. I'm friends with both the women and friendly enough with the husbands that it made sense for them to be there (but unlike my San Diego couple friends, I am definitely friends with the women and the guys are 'just' their husbands). These two couples live in the same town and hang out often as a foursome; I was visiting from out of town. When the check came after dinner, the two guys pulled out their wallets and were discussing the check, and I pulled out my wallet and asked what I owed. What struck me was how aware I suddenly was that I was the odd person out. I'm not sure if it was because there were now two women sitting there, each letting her guy take care of the check for her, or because splitting a check five ways is more confusing than splitting it three ways so one of the guys was actually looking at the specific items to figure out what I owed, or simply because I'm not really friends with the two guys I was having the money discussion with. But whatever the reason, it felt odd. And it felt even odder when we then went to a nearby bar and while my two female friends grabbed a table, I went to the bar with the two husbands to get drinks - that is, I got a drink for myself and each of the guys got a drink for himself and his wife. This time, I knew exactly what was odd - with my friends at home, one person would have just bought drinks for everyone.
I'm thinking about this now because this weekend my significant other* and I went on a double date with a friend of his and that friend's wife. Before dinner, my guy bought a round of drinks for everyone; when the dinner check came, my guy and his friend dealt with it; then we went to a club and his friend bought a round for everyone. When it came time to buy another round, I was going to pay but the friend beat me to it. It wasn't a big deal - it was loud in the club, he was closer to the server who brought the drinks and I think he didn't realize I was trying to pay until he had already given money to the server. But the whole evening got me thinking about how the dynamics of paying for stuff is different when you're part of a couple versus when you're single. When it's just me and my guy, he pays a lot of the time; I also pick up the check quite often but when we went out this weekend, I felt like it would have seemed weird if I had tried to pay for my own dinner. But what if we had been out with a single friend, instead of a married couple? In that case, I'm pretty sure I would feel just as weird if I didn't pay for myself.
I'm not sure I really have a point about all this, it's just something I've been thinking about. I've had many conversations with people about paying on a first date (and Zandria has a recent Blogher post that pretty much sums up how I feel about that issue) but I haven't talked with too many people about the dynamics of paying for things once you're in a steady relationship, or when you are out with other people. So I'm curious, for any single readers: when you go out with couples, does paying the bill ever seem awkward? For coupled readers: who pays, and does it matter if you're out with other couples or singles?
* We've been dating for almost four months but I'm still having issues with using the word 'boyfriend' so I don't really know what to call him...