Us Stingy Foreigners

What do Chinese people “know” about us foreigners. First, foreigners have money. Second, foreigners are stingy! Not always true, but that is the image my Chinese boyfriend and many other Chinese have of us foreigners.

Chinese generosity means the one who invites is the one who pays the bill. The birthday girl or boy will treat others to dinner. A guy will pay for his girlfriend. Everyone knows this rule in China, being generous gives you face. Being stingy makes you lose it.

And us foreigners then? We go Dutch! Or AA制 like they say it in China. Every time I go to eat with someone my boyfriend will ask later on who paid and then roll his eye and shake his head if I say we all pay for our selves. He just can’t understand how us foreigners can be so stingy! He considers it bad manners.

What is even more unbelievable for my boyfriend is that I don’t pay for my sister or brothers if we go to a restaurant together. I might sometimes pay, but often we go Dutch. According to my boyfriend I should of course pay because I’m the big sister!

My boyfriend is already planning to treat his family for dinner when it’s his grand mothers birthday in a few weeks. But the last time I tried to pay for my own grand mother she got upset and insisted seeing the bill so she could pay me back!

I think both ways of paying have their time and place. Towards family members it’s of course better to be as generous as possible, something I could learn from the Chinese. But in a big group of friends it’s much easier to go Dutch.

What do you think? Do you prefer paying and treating others or you do want to pay separately? Are you already used to the Chinese way of being generous?