You get to the end of the meal, the waiter brings over the check, sets it between you, and . . . she sits there pretending that the check isn't there-making it obvious that she has no intention of paying for this date. You're a man,' so that's your undeniable obligation, right?
Let's take a look at this problem from the point of view of a friend of mine who recently related the following situation to me: "I am currently dating a woman who makes a very lucrative income, but it seems that every time we go out on a date, she never offers to pay for anything, so she expects me to take care of everything. Financially, I'm capable of paying for our entertainment, meals, etc, but I don't like the expectation that I'll always be the one who pays. I would appreciate it if she would contribute. I hate to bring this up, though, because I'm afraid it makes me look cheap?"
In relationships most people waste their time and effort
trying to change their partner. It simply doesn't work.
worrying about what might happen. Think about the last time that the act of worry either made you happy or produced a positive result in someone else's behavior.
dropping hints about what they want. Hints simply produce confusion and disappointment.
feeling irritated about what they don't get. Anger uniformly poisons us and destroys our relationships with others.
It's much wiser to remember that in all our relationships, we have three choices:
Live with it and like it.
Live with it and hate it.
How do we make these choices? We tell the truth about ourselves, occasionally express our preferences, and gather information. Now, what would that look like in your situation?
First, you don't know the meaning of your girlfriend's expectation that you will assume the financial burden of your dating activities.
She might come from a family or cultural background where it is uniformly assume that men are responsible for finances. She might be willing to adapt to your preference, or she may be completely inflexible on the subject. If you're going to develop a relationship with this woman, that kind of information would be useful.
She might be embarrassed to talk about money issues. Many people avoid discussions of money, and that is also a piece of information you would want to know about a potential partner.
She might be looking for you to take the lead on what direction to take in any decision: financial, relationship, or otherwise. That too would be important to know about her.
She might be insisting that you pay for your dates as an indication that you care about her. If that is the case, you can be sure that as your relationship progresses, there will be many more such demands.
She might just be generally selfish.
If you're going to continue in a relationship with this woman, wouldn't you want to know for certain whether any of the above possibilities is true? It would be foolish to wonder and worry about them, so you need to find out.
Hints certainly don't work very well. You'll need to bring the subject up. What could you say to her? Here are some examples, and you can pick one or more than one of them to use. Or make up your own. These are just some options.
"In past relationships, I've wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what my partner wanted, or what she was like, and I've realized that's pretty dumb."
"I've enjoyed the time I've spent with you, and I'd like to get to know you better. Do you mind if I ask you some questions about relationships?"
"I've been in relationships where women assume that men will pay for everything on a day. In others women prefer to pay their way, and some are actually offended if the man pays. Some women don't like to talk about money at all. Where are you on the subject?"
"I have my own preferences about how people should handle paying for activities when they're dating, but I'd like to learn what yours are."
"Up to this point, I've been paying for whatever we do on a date, and I've been wrong to assume that that's how you want it. What is your preference?"
After you've asked her why she seems to expect you to pay for everything on your dates, there are a number of answers she might give, and remember, it's all useful information.
First, she might explain that her behavior comes from family training or a cultural background, and she might express a willingness to accommodate your wishes. In that case, you've accomplished a lot: You've learned more about her, you've been honest in your relationship, and you've actually worked out a difference together.
Second, you may discover that her behavior is related to family or culture-as we just discussed-but that she is absolutely unwilling to consider modifying her behavior. Don't get excited. This is just one issue, but file it away as a piece of information, and note whether she gets stubborn and unreasonable about many other issues because of family training or cultural background. Then you have to decide whether you want to have a partner who will very likely be unreasonable for a lifetime about quite number of issues that may be important to you.
Third, you might discover that she is simply reluctant to talk about money, but that if you bring the subject up, she'll gladly participate in productive conversation. Again, you both win.
Fourth, she might insist that her dates pay her way as an expression of their "love" for her. This is a strong sign of someone who demands an exchange of Imitation Love. Do you want a relationship based on Imitation Love. Of course not. So at this point, so you give up the relationship? Maybe, but it would probably be wiser just to file this particular preference away as a piece of information. Continue to share with her the truth about yourself in other matters-as well as your preferences-and note her reactions. If she consistently prefers Imitation Love and Getting and Protecting Behaviors, and she shows no indication that she is willing to learn another way of living, why would you want a relationship with such a person?
Fifth, she may simply have been deferring to you in this matter. Note this, and notice whether she tends to have no opinion of her own about most things. Then you have to decide whether you want a relationship with someone who consistently gives in to others in order to please them, which is a form of trading Imitation Love.
Sixth, she may simply be selfish and stingy and unwilling to pay her way. Again, useful information.
What do you do with all this information? As we mentioned in the first session, we're wise to remember that in all our relationships, we have only three choices:
Live with it and like it.
Live with it and hate it.
The second choice-live with it and hate it-is always unproductive. Can you think of a single time in any kind of relationship when you've stayed in a relationship while resenting the other person, yet still been happy? Impossible. And yet this is exactly the choice you're making right now. You don't like it that she's expecting you to pay for everything, yet you stay in the relationship while resenting her behavior. That is never any fun.
You could make Choice #3: You could dump her. But then you wouldn't have learned a thing, and you'd go through the same thing-over this or another issue-in the next relationship, and the next, and the next.
So at THIS point, Choice #3 doesn't make sense. Why? Because you don't have enough information, and because you skills with relationships are good enough to make it.
How about Choice #1? Just live with it and like it. You couldn't make that choice at this point, because you can't just decide to "get over" something that bothers you. You can't just decide that you'll like a behavior that you really don't like.
But with more information you could learn to make the first choice: Live with it and like it. How would that look?
First, you decide that the second choice-Live with it and hate it-is stupid. Resenting her choice just doesn't make any sense. Now, with the information you gather about her, you can meaningfully decide whether you want to make the first choice-Live with it and like it-or leave it. FOR NOW, just decide that you'll accept her. Period. No matter what-short of beating you with a bat or poisoning your coffee with arsenic. It's the only way to be happy in any relationship. Then as you two talk about things-like who spends money on whom during dating-you're gather information about whether you STAY in the relationship or you LEAVE, whether you stay in Choice #1 or move to Choice #3. See how easy this gets? No stress, no worrying. Just more information and decision making. That's all there is to it.