Q: I am so mad because once again I was taken advantage of by my girlfriend Jenny. First let me give you a little background. We have been together as a couple for three years. Before that we were good friends. We both have good jobs and make good money. Jenny makes a little more than I do but not that much. We live together in a house that we rent and we share all household costs. We have separate bank accounts for the rest of our individual expenses.
The problem I am having is that I usually end of paying for all of – or more than – my share of the cost when we go out. Jenny seems to have to go to the bathroom when it comes time to pay, or when I order tickets she doesn’t bother paying me back even though she says she will. Also, she likes to do the expensive things I like to do, but she doesn’t want to pay for it. I’ll find something that sounds like fun and ask Jenny if she wants to do it. She’ll say yes but she can’t afford to do it. So if I want to do it with her I end up paying for it. It doesn’t seem like there is anyway for me to feel ok about this situation because if I don’t say I will pay for her, then we don’t go and I resent it. If I do pay for her, we go and I still resent it. I’ve discussed this with Jenny and she just says she chooses to spend her money differently than I do, and I could go with some else and not pay for her.
When I bring up what she owes me for something we have done, she says she will pay but I never see it. The only way I could collect is if I keep nagging her, but I just don’t want to be like that. It’s not that I can’t afford to pay because I can; it’s just that it makes me feel taken advantage of when I always end up paying. I’ve talked to Jenny about this, but she just doesn’t see the problem. She says I need to decide if I want to pay for something for her and if not, then she just wouldn’t do it. I don’t want to stay home all the time because I want her to pay her own way. Can you think of any way I can help Jenny understand how this feels to me so she will change?
A: If you keep paying for her she is not going to pick up her side of paying. I do have two suggestions that might work: One idea is that you start by deciding what you are willing to pay for and stick to it. Find others to go with you, those who pay their own way. Staying home, Jenny may change her mind about what she is willing to pay for if she ends up not attending some of these events.
Another plan that might work is for the two of you to make entertainment a household expense. Then the two of you decide how much each of you is willing to spend a month on entertainment. Each of you would put the money in an account up front at the beginning of the month. Then whoever pays for the tickets, dinner, etc. takes the money out of that account. That way, Jenny will not end up owing you, and you won’t have to nag about getting her to pay you back. If there is something that is over and above your joint budget, then you can make a decision whether or not you want to pay for her – not expecting to be repaid. Or, you could go with others. Hope one of these suggestions work.