Dating Culture Across the Globe: To Split the Bill or Not?

April 14, 2023

Let's take a trip around the globe and explore how couples from different cultures split their expenses. Money is often a taboo topic in relationships, and cultural expectations can add an extra layer of complexity. We talked to young international students in Europe to get their perspectives on how they handle money in their romantic relationships. Here are some of the themes that emerged from our conversations:

Equal Splitting

Many of the students we talked to said that they split expenses equally with their partners. This was true regardless of gender or nationality. They found that it was the fairest way to share costs and to avoid any tension or resentment that might arise from one person paying more than the other. For example, one Greek student shared that she and her girlfriend follow this method, and they split expenses 50/50, with no one paying more than the other in total. She mentioned that this approach is culturally accepted, particularly among students, since they recognize the different economic situations of each person.

In a similar fashion, a Portuguese student told us that it is quite common and culturally accepted to split bills equally, especially when your partner or your group of friends are on a tight budget. 

Traditional Gender Roles

In some cultures, traditional gender roles still play a role in how expenses are split. For example, one study shows that among Chinese college students, men are more likely to be expected to pay the bill, especially in first dates. Similarly, a Russian student told us that in heterosexual relationships, Russian women expect partners to pay for them. 

Even some feminist voices argue that splitting expenses equally is not necessarily a fair way to handle money in relationships. In an article by news.com.au, writer Kasey Edwards argues that given the gender pay gap in Australia, "splitting the bill on dates makes no sense". Edwards point out that there is it is not as empowering we think to split the bill when it is financially disempowering for women earning less than men doing the same job.

Age and Stage of Relationship

Another factor that came up in our conversations was age and the stage of the relationship. Many students said that when they were younger and had less money, they were more likely to split expenses equally with their partners or use budgeting apps. However, as they got older and their relationships became more serious, they were more likely to have a joint budget or take turns paying for things. The same study that talks about contemporary dating behaviours in China points out that couples in more serious and stable relationships are more likely to challenge traditional gender norms and split bills evenly. 

Informal Arrangements

Finally, some students told us that they didn't have any formal system for splitting expenses. Instead, they relied on verbal agreements or implicit understandings that they would take turns paying for things or that the person who had more money would pay. For example, a Turkish student said that it is not very common for people to use apps or split things to the last cent in Turkey. Instead, they rely on verbal agreements to even out costs. If everyone can pay separately, they do so, but if not, they agree to make it even the next time they see each other, or they simply let it go. For small amounts like 2 or 3 euros, it's not even worth discussing.

At Cino, we believe that everyone should have the freedom to choose how they split expenses, and that's why we've created an app that allows you to set the ratio that works best for you. So whether you prefer to split 50/50 or use a different approach, Cino can help make the process smoother, quicker and more transparent for you and your partner.

Elena Churilova
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