… you can find scholarly explanations for your weird quirks.
For example, while the prevailing culture here is to go Dutch and many
women might even find it insulting if men offered to treat them, I
prefer owing and overpaying in a constant back-and-forth, exchanging
things that are harder to quantify.
I remembered reading a book that mentioned a culture where exact
repayment of debt was seen as a precursor to the end of a
relationship, whereas the cycle of debt/overpayment continued it.
After a couple of keyword searches, I turned up a related paper.
Schwartz, Barry. 1967. “The Social Psychology of the Gift.” The
American Journal of Sociology. On p.8:
Distributive justice is particularly interesting in view of the rule which prohibits an equal-return “payment” in gift exchange. This suggests that every gift-exchanging dyad (or larger group) is characterized by a certain “balance of debt” which must never be brought into equilibrium, for a perfect level of distributive justice is typical of the economic rather than the social exchange relationship. It has, in fact, already been suggested that the greater the correspondence in value between gift received and gift returned, the less the sentimental component in the relationship is likely to be.
The continuing balance of debt—now in favor of one member, now in favor of the other—insures that the relationship between the two continue, for gratitude will always constitute a part of the bond linking them. Gouldner, in this connection, considered gift exchange as a “starting mechanism” for social relationships. Simmel likened the phenomenon to “inertia” in his essay on “Faithfulness and Gratitude”.
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