Fannie Fierce

Wallet Woes!

Filed By Fannie Fierce | July 12, 2008 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: money, personal finances, relationships, sugar daddy

Dear Fannie,

I'm in a relationship now where my boyfriend pays for everything, and I mean everything. Restaurants, bars, the rent, utilities, clothes, presents, it's all on his tab. It makes sense, I guess, since he makes a lot more money than I do. I'm still looking for a job after college, and even my senior year he was paying for a lot of stuff. He says it doesn't bother him.

I wouldn't really have so much of a problem with it (of course not!) if it wasn't for the fact that he gets mad at me every now and then when I'm slow with the wallet. Once, we were at a bar, and I was going to pay but they didn't accept debit cards. I asked him if I could borrow some money and that I'd pay him back, and he got all frustrated. He said he was tired of having to pay for everything and wanted me to be responsible, but then when I paid him back the next day, he got all frustrated again and told me not to insult him, he likes paying for everything. We've already had a few disagreements like this.

I don't know, are there just some issues here that he needs to work on? Am I clueless about money? I don't really care if we ever go out to eat or if we live in the kind of apartment I can afford all on my own (a hovel), I just don't want to fight about this anymore!

--Money Matters

MM,

So you've got a generous daddy who's sending mixed messages about his money. As Liza sang in Cabaret, "Money makes the world go 'round! That clinking clanking sound!" I've answered questions on how money can affect relationships before, and it's something that I've honestly struggled with in my own relationships. What it comes down to is communication.

Money is power. And skewed power relationships are easily the fastest way to screw up a romantic relationship. I'm a personal believer in egalitarian relationships. Egalitarian parenting, egalitarian sex, and of course, egalitarian purchasing choices. In an ideal situation, MM, you and your beau would be able to communicate open and honestly about your finances and both give equal proportions (as relative to your incomes) to your communal activities, housing, etc. Unfortunately, this world that we live in is very seldom ideal, and it sounds like your boyfriend isn't being honest about his feelings about money and who pays.

His economic flip-flopping is puzzling and leads me to believe that paying isn't really the issue here. Clearly, when he tells you he doesn't mind paying, he's lying through his teeth. And, hey, it's possible that at the beginning of your relationship, he didn't mind being your sugar daddy, but has become more anxious about the growing gap between your places in your life journeys. I assume your boyfriend is older than you, and has been working and therefore has a greater amount of economic stability. What once may have been a minor nagging in the back of his head may have grown into an anxious realization that you two are in different places in your lives. Maybe he feels old, maybe he's concerned that you'll never "grow up." Who knows, but it all starts with communication.

Aside from talking it through, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the actual money issues.

1. Pay for yourself - Instead of having one person picking up the tab for an outing, try and pay for each of your own costs. Paying for your half of dinner will let you show your boyfriend that you can be responsible for yourself and help ease the weight on his wallet.

2. Choose different activities - Some of the reasons why you may be slow to the wallet may because you're living beyond your means to an extent. Since you're used to your boyfriend paying for you, you might consider choosing more cost effective activities that will be easier for your to jump up and pay for.

The best thing to do is talk to him about it. It's clear he's pretty passive aggressive and a direct confrontation is the best way to deal with that. Good luck!

Fiercely,
Fannie

send your questions to fannie@bilerico.org


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Great advice Fannie. Talking about money is always the key. Queercents has some great articles about relationships and money and suggestions about how to negotiate budgeting in a relationship. Most of the writers over at Queercents believe in the three pot system - each partner maintains their own separate bank accounts. But there is a third pot that is shared for household expenses and shared activities. Each person puts in an equitable percentage of their income, just as you suggested. And all shared expenses are paid for out of the third pot. What you do with your own money is your own business.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 12, 2008 11:09 PM

Serena, excellent. Over the years I have out earned my partner and he me. We agreed to live on twice the amount of the lowest earner and the balance went into joint savings. We always had both separate and joint accounts for simplicity and the extra personal splurge. We have virtually never argued about money and shared financial goals. No one should have monetary power over the other, but as well, neither party should expect to coast off the other.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 12, 2008 11:10 PM

Forgot my manners, thanks for the post Fannie, this is one everyone can relate to.

richie rich | July 13, 2008 3:56 AM

thanks to "Money Matters," Fannie Fierce, and the others who have commented thus far. your outline of the recurring scenario and some of the issues involved, info resource and possible solutions are very much right on target for me at this very moment in a blossoming relationship.

btw, your hotlink to queercents is faulty, so see it here:
http://www.queercents.com/

thanks again!

Good post, Fannie.

One thing with us: we combine money and don't really pay attention to who's contributing what. Most of it is direct deposit anyhow, so we just consider it "ours." It's funny - we argue sometimes over "who has to pay" for dinner, but we just mean "who has to get off his fat ass and pull out the wallet." LOL

Finances are a big problem in relationships, but I agree - it has a lot more to do with power and feeling appreciated than it has to do with money itself.