Dear Ms Wai – Who Should Pay the Bill?

Posted by

Dear Ms Wai,

This is a little problem, I know, but it’s really annoying me. I make more money than my guy and yet he INSISTS on paying for everything! When we were first started dating, I thought it was kinda sweet, but now it drives me crazy. I’ll be hungry, I’ll ask him to a place I like, I’ll get what I want and then he ends up paying! It’s so stupid and I tell him not to but all he says is, “I like paying.” Now I’ve been self censoring what I order at restaurants or what we do together because I just don’t want him spending all his money on me. (Like I go by myself or with friends to get a massage because I like a good place and I don’t want him spending 600+ RMB on the two of us.)

How can I get it through his thick skull that I want to pay for things sometimes too? I want to take HIM out to dinner, or pay for tickets to a play myself as a expression of my feelings for him. I’ve told him this before and he just nodded in agreement but then he never lets me.


Your guy sounds a bit traditional, but be glad for it. I once dated a guy who slowly stopped paying for any date without me realizing it. (Like you, I am also happy to pay–but not all the time.) Once we went out and on the way to a nice restaurant he said, “so you’re gonna pay, right?” I was willing to a second before but his demand just felt like he was using me and I thought back and realized I had been paying for months. We stopped dating soon after.

But I know what you mean. You want to feel like an equal partner, not some princess on high, and you want to pay for things to be more fair and to express your feelings. I get it.

Traditional Chinese culture have people literally pulling at the bill or throwing cards at the waitress to pay the bill. You don’t want to make a scene like that. So how can you pay?

Chinese culture is dictating your guys actions, not your personal feelings. If you finish a meal and you go to the cash register to pay you might be oblivious but your guy will probably stand there squirming a bit. That’s because in traditional culture, the guy needs to pay or there is something wrong with him (he’s too poor, he’s a kept man etc.) While none of these things are true, he feels the pressure of societies expectation and he loses face in front of everyone. Accepting your generosity feels like the wrong thing for him to do.

So what’s a girl to do? You could “go to the bathroom” and pay the bill first but that will only work once and he will be on high alert everytime you are out and you need to pee.

In face-to-face paying, like at a restaurant or a store, it’s best to just let him go ahead and pay. He saves face and everyone is happy even if the dish you ordered is cheaper than the one you actually wanted. But what about when it’s not face to face payment?

These days paying for something at a clerks checkout it happening less and less. So find the places where you can pay online beforehand and don’t even give him the option of paying. If it’s automated he can’t stop you. Such as…?

Next time you need to call a cab, use your didi (Chinese uber) which will automatically deduct from your account. Or when you call for food delivery, order it on your phone so you pay. Ask him on a movie date and book the tickets yourself on your phone. Plan a sexy weekend getaway at a local hotel and book it yourself.

Find ways to pay for things on your phone, indirectly, and it will be easier for him to accept. Another trick is pay for something yourself, but let him pick it up. Like, the movie tickets. Order them on your phone but give him the QR code to pick them up from the machine so he can give the appearance of having paid and save face.

Your guy might STILL not accept this and try to transfer money to your account but you don’t need to accept it. Wechat and Alipay have countless benefits in daily life, and forcing your significant other to accept you paying for things is another one not everyone knows about.

What do you think? Do you have experience with this? Tell us what you think in the comments! If you have a question for Ms. Wai leave a comment or email her at

Ms Wai

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.