He has, on occasion, said, “I’ll buy you lunch/breakfast,” but more often than not his line is, “How do you want to pay for this?” (Which, to me, is him basically setting the situation up so he doesn’t pay for the entire thing because, if my response was “Well, it would be nice if you bought us dinner” or “I bought dinner last time, so it’s your turn,” I become kind of embarrassed and feel like a gold-digger). He doesn’t make a lot of money, and we’ve been together long enough for both of us to know I’m not using him to buy me things, but it’s embarrassing sometimes and frustrating when he conveniently “forgets” that I paid for dinner last time we were together and that it’s his turn to pay now.
It would be really nice if he picked up our bill more often. I know he isn’t rich, and I wouldn’t mind cooking our own meals at home more often if he bought the supplies himself once in a while, but him just plain forgetting that I paid for his meal last time hurts my feelings, especially when we are discussing our next meal and he makes a statement that he has NO intention on picking up the bill. It makes me feel like he isn’t even trying to make the bill-paying fair between us, he’s just hoping we’ll both lose track and I’ll keep paying for both of us, or at least just myself.
How do I bring this up with him? Are there any compromises you could suggest? I’m really nervous that I’m going to sound like a total bitchy gold-digger, but after five years it’s just really unromantic to hear “So, how do you want to pay for this?” every time we eat together. I buy him dinner because he deserves it and it’s nice to treat someone, but when he doesn’t reciprocate as easily, it’s hurtful. — Dating a Cheapskate
Jesus, you’ve been together for five years; that’s MORE than enough time to prove you aren’t a “gold-digger” just because you want your boyfriend to step up and treat you to a meal as often as you treat him. And if you honestly believe he would think you’re a gold-digger simply for pointing out that he doesn’t cover the bill as often as you’d like, you have bigger problems than having a cheapskate for a boyfriend.
But, assuming you’re just feeling awkward about bringing up the topic of money because you aren’t used to discussing finances and bill-splitting and not because your relationship is actually in trouble, I have a few tips I’d suggest (all of which involve COMMUNICATING, so get ready):
1. Decide together on an amount you’re both comfortable spending on dates and groceries (including travel expenses, gas, etc.) every month. Each of you will need to keep track of your own spending and, when you max your budget, you are done treating for the month.
2. Alternate weeks and/or weekends that you treat. Say, you take the first and third week/weekend of each month and he takes the second and fourth. Obviously, this only works if you see each other regularly. You may run into trouble if you take the first and third week of each month and then, huh, he finds a way to only see you the first and third week of every month. Or, when it’s his week to treat, he suddenly only wants to go to McDonald’s. On second thought, if you’re dating a cheapskate like it sounds like you are, this probably isn’t the best option, but I’m including it in case it might work for someone else reading this…
3. Open a joint bank account that you use strictly for relationship finances, like dates, groceries, and vacations. After five years together, it wouldn’t be premature to start merging finances in this kind of way, but I’d only do it if you’re serious about each other and if you think there’s potential for a future together. If you do go this route, you’ll want to decide how much each of you will contribute to the account each month. You will also need to TRUST each other and not have any worry that the other might take all the money in the account and run off to, like, Vegas. This is similar to Option 1, but more advanced.
4. You pay for anything that’s closer to your home and he pays for anything that’s closer to his home. If you live far enough apart and spend an equal amount of time in each other’s neighborhoods/towns/homes, then this could work pretty well (as long as you both have say in what you do/order/eat and it’s not just home town person’s choice all the time). Having dinner at your place? Then you pay for the groceries or takeout. Dinner at his place? He pays. Of course, if your boyfriend is such a cheap bastard that he never invites you over anymore or he always chooses movie theaters or restaurants or bars that are a mile closer to your place to avoid footing the bill, then obviously this option won’t work so great either. But, honestly, if he’s that sort of fellow, it’s probably best that you learn that as soon as possible so you can MOA if you don’t want to spend your life tied down to a cheap bastard, you know?
5. Go dutch on everything. Split all bills down the middle. Stop paying for your boyfriend. This is annoying and feels sort of juvenile for a couple who has been together so long, but if the other options don’t work for you or if your boyfriend just isn’t responsible or mature enough to deal with merging finances on any level, this is probably your only choice if you don’t want to be stuck paying for 75% of everything.
6. Accept that your boyfriend is cheap, decide whether that’s a deal-breaker for you or not, and proceed accordingly. If it isn’t a deal-breaker and you’re willing to put up with having a cheapskate boyfriend, focus on the qualities he brings to your relationship. Abundance and generosity come in many packages and just because someone isn’t abundant in wealth or financially generous doesn’t mean he isn’t abundant and generous in other ways. But if those ways aren’t enough for you or if being cheap is a deal-breaker and there’s a chance your boyfriend’s just cheap, then figure that out now and move on already, because five years is already enough time to spend with someone you don’t have a future with.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.