“Going Dutch” (Splitting the bill)
Going Dutch(sometimes written with lower-case dutch) is a term that indicates that each person participating in a paid activity covers their own expenses, rather than any one person in the group defraying the cost for the entire group. The term stems from restaurant dining etiquette in the Western world, where each person pays for their own meal.
In the United States, the practice of “going Dutch” is often related to specific situations or events. During meals such as birthdays, first-dates, or company business lunches, an expectation develops based on social traditions, personal income, and the strength of the relationship between the parties. While “going Dutch” remains to be the default practice, it is also common to split the bill evenly to save some trouble if individual expenses are similar. Also typical: if someone is willing to pay the whole bill, friends and acquaintances often use Venmo or Zelle to pay back what they owe or split evenly. Splitting evenly can be unfair, though, if someone orders 3 drinks and a steak dinner, and another person orders 1 drink and an appetizer.
An American’s perspective:
In Massachusetts, they won’t often automatically do separate checks. I recommend that if you’re with a large group and you’re not all close friends, it might be easier to request separate checks upfront (as soon as you first talk to the server). Not all restaurants are willing to do this, but it’s worth asking! Otherwise, you are left to figure out who owes what (and you can’t forget tax or tip!). It gets complicated, so I tend to avoid going out to eat with big groups unless I know them well and don’t mind splitting the bill evenly. Otherwise, it might take just as long to figure out the bill as it did to eat the meal! ~Dana