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Saying “Yes” To Generosity. How Many Rounds Do You Go?

My friend Tim loves the idea of a two-round rule.

So you’re out for drinks, dinner, brunch, whatever, and the check comes. All parties reach for their wallets, but one magnanimous soul says, “I’ve got this.”

Cue the obligatory back and forth:

“No, no, let me.”

“No, no, I insist.”

“At least let me get the tip.”

“No, really. I want to.”

and on and on it goes.

I especially dislike being on the giving end of this merry-go-round because when someone argues against letting me treat them, it dampens the moment. I can’t do it often, and if I’m trying to be nice, who are you to block my mojo? What we all really want is for the receiver to say, “Wow, thanks. What a nice surprise.” Or something to that effect.

But when the shoe is on the other foot, I’m just as guilty as anyone. So, a few years back I decided that I needed to get better about accepting generosity when it comes my way. I adopted a two round rule. When I’m on the receiving end of someone else’s generosity, I give it two solid, back and forths, after which I smile and love them up with a warm and heartfelt thank you.

But I want to know about you. How many rounds do you think is reasonable?

(I know all of us have encountered a special someone who never reaches for his or her wallet—those cads who expect the world to cover their bar tab. Let’s not talk about those people. They’re tools. This is about acknowledging generosity.)

6 comments on “Saying “Yes” To Generosity. How Many Rounds Do You Go?

  1. my general rule is…let somebody treat you. Next time, you treat them. Thats my back and forth.

    I give a simple, “are you sure?” or “can we split it?” and then I concede. But I always insist on paying for them the next time.

  2. I’m a firm proponent of check-splitting and think the answer to situations like these is to avoid them altogether.

    As a child, during summer camping trips with a large group of family friends, I experienced countless breakfasts and dinners concluding with all the men arguing for MINUTES about who would pay the bill. At least 2 or 3 heated ten-minute arguments per trip.

    It left me scarred, and I swore then that I would never be that way. Now when I see people argue over paying a check, I feel a deep guttural revulsion to it all.

    If someone offers to pay for me, I say okay first time out. And if they expected some fight back, that’s their own fault. And if it means they feel taken advantage of and stop offering, GREAT. I don’t want them to offer.

  3. My dad always taught me that it is rude to basically question someone’s generosity. He said to give a heart felt “please, lets split it” followed by a sincere thank you.

    Anything more and it becomes a scene.

  4. I’m also a single “Are you sure?” before accepting, and making sure that I pick it up next time. And I don’t insist on the next time. I’ll argue over it if someone tries to pick it up 3 times in a row — but they rarely argue once I point out that they’ve gotten the last two. Similarly, the rare times when I’ve picked up two and they’re not offering on the third time, I split it and don’t bother going out with them again.

    I don’t mind evenly splitting a check, but on the occasions when I think I’m getting screwed in the “split”, I’d rather just pick up the whole check than give the impression that I’m fooled by the “split”.

    Oh, and I always pick up the entire check for someone I don’t want to deal with again — it’s a small price to pay not to have an expectation of repeating the meal.

  5. This always stresses me out. I appreciate people wanting to be generous, but then I feel anxious thinking, OK, next time I need to offer to pay for them – but what if I don’t remember who paid last by the time we get together again? I have some old friends I only see a couple of times a year … no way I can remember who paid last time.