Dear Wendy: “My Boyfriend Refuses To Pay For Our Dates”

I recently started dating my best guy friend at school. We’ve had feelings for each other for months, have been together for about two months now, and are very much in love. I only have one qualm in the relationship, and I’m not even sure I have the right to have it. I’ve been raised with a more traditional view of dating, where the guy pays for dates and sort of “woos” the girl — at least in the beginning. All of the other guys I’ve dated have subscribed to this, and I feel pressure from my family and friends to be in a relationship with these roles. While I’m okay with the guy not paying for everything, I feel like at the beginning of the relationship, at least, the guy should take the girl on dates. But my boyfriend strongly disagrees with this point of view, and whenever we go out, we split everything. I’m okay with this being the norm eventually, but it sort of feels like how we used to go out to dinner and do things when we were just friends. It’s not about me not wanting to spend money; it’s more of a respect/chivalry/tradition thing that I want. Does it seem entitled or wrong that I think maybe he should be taking me out on dates? He’s explicitly expressed his point of view, but I haven’t had the guts to tell him I disagree. Should I bring it up? How could I approach it? — Traditionalist

This is one of those questions that pops up in my inbox in some variation or another every couple of weeks. Some readers may remember seeing the question from a male’s perspective back in February. What I said to him then and what I’ll say to you now is essentially: if this is a dealbreaker for you — if this guy not taking the traditional role in the early courtship by paying for dates says something about his character and values that doesn’t appeal to you — it’s better to know that now, before you’ve invested too much, than later down the road when you’re more likely to get hurt. Because, Traditionalist, it doesn’t matter what I think about who should pay on dates; it doesn’t matter what the readers think or even what your family and friends think. This is about what’s important to you and how you prioritize the things you’re looking for in a significant other.

If it’s not enough that you’re “very much in love” with your new boyfriend — if you know you need him to also pay for dates to show respect and chivalry and he’s simply not doing that and doesn’t feel like he should, then this probably isn’t the right match for you. But before you chuck this guy you’re very much in love with to the side, why not express to him how you’re feeling? If you tell him that you need him to foot the bill in order for your dates to feel more like dates and not just like two friends hanging out, he may not agree with you or like what you have to say, but at least he’ll know why you’re not meant to be together.

I am unhappily married to a police officer who works long hours. I feel like a single parent, working full-time and caring for our child, and have resigned myself to doing a lot of things alone. This has gone on for two years and it’s gotten to the point where we have little to talk about, and I feel lonely and unhappy. I make the best of when he is home, except he will spend hours on his laptop working, and then, right as he gets into bed, he’ll attempt some quality time. I want to make it work but I don’t know if it’ll ever get better. I have asked for marriage counseling but he canceled the second appointment saying there was a work conflict and now, three months later, still hasn’t rescheduled. He says he wants to stay married and doesn’t want a divorce. He is a great father when he’s home, just not a good husband. We have affection for each other, but we’ve lost the connection we once had when we were in love. How do I know if this is just what happens in every marriage? How do I know when it can not be saved? — Tired Wife

What you’re describing is NOT what happens in every marriage, but even if it were, being unhappy isn’t something you just settle for simply because you think it’s normal or what everyone else does. If you really want to try to make your marriage work, you need marriage counseling. Give your husband an ultimatum: counseling or divorce. His answer will show you where his heart is, and if it isn’t with you and working on your marriage, it’s time for you to talk to a lawyer.

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