Q: Hi Meredith,
I need some advice that I am sure many other male readers could benefit from. I've been dating a great girl for over two months but I need some help in the "money & dating" department. My problem is that every time we go out I pick up the check and don't even get a "thank you" in return. So my issue is twofold. One is the lack of the words "thank you," and the other is -- how long is it appropriate for the guy to always pick-up the tab? I am 30 years old and probably make two or three times as much as she does. She is 26 years old and has a good job but doesn't make much money. On average we see each other 3 or 4 times a week.
Admittedly, I enjoy going to the nicer places in Boston so each date runs around $150-$250 with drinks, cabs, etc. Multiply that by 3 or 4 and you get the weekly expenditures. I've dated a lot, the training wheels were off quite a while ago, but I've never really experienced this issue. First 8 to 10 dates is totally understandable, of course the guy pays. My thought has always been that after that period things don't need to even out but once in a blue moon it really would be appropriate for the girl to at least pay for a round of drinks, maybe a cab ride, maybe for lunch. I've got no issues paying for dinner all the time if I saw at least some minimal hint of reciprocity. Do you think I am being unreasonable here? I'm not asking to split the tab every time ... a simple "thank you" and "let me get this round" would be enough.
This issue is really starting to be on my mind a lot when I am with her. Is this an appropriate subject to bring up with her? What do you think is the right way to approach it? Maybe my time frame is off and it's really the first few months of dating that the guy needs to bankroll? Again, I've been around and never had this issue. Every other girl I've dated said "thank you" and at least covered a lunch tab after some time.
– Tired of Paying All The Time, Boston
A: I wish you had told us more about why she's so great, TOPATT. Because without having that information, my gut tells me that you have to let her go. The "thank you" thing really bugs me. And while I absolutely empathize with her for being too overwhelmed to even speak when you drop more than $500 a week on dates, she should have said something nice by now. Like, "I want to take you to this cute coffee shop by my place. It's nothing fancy, but it's my treat."
There's something wrong here. She's either too uncomfortable around you to speak up about financial reciprocity (which is pretty much a deal-breaker), or she's the kind of person who's happy to eat $150 meals all week without ever expressing gratitude (also a
If she's really that wonderful otherwise, explain to her that you're happy to go to less expensive places so that she can feel like a financial equal in the relationship. See how she responds to that. But honestly, only pursue that conversation if her behavior at dinner seems out of character. She's a grown-up and should say "Thank you." She should also want to contribute.
There's no gender issue here, by the way. If you ask someone out because you want the pleasure of their company, you'll be expected to pay. But after a date or two, there are no rules.
Readers? Is she just in shock by his lifestyle? How should she be contributing? Are men still expected to pay for more than a few dates? Should he bring this up with her? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.