Q. My girlfriend of three months, Selena, who’s from the Dominican Republic, is generally unselfish and considerate of others to a degree that is unique in my experience. I cherish her for it.
Lately, we were talking about going on a week-long trip to Europe, something to do maybe six months from now if our relationship sticks. I said, “Sure, you can just pay for your ticket and I’ll take care of everything else, the hotel, the food, all the trip’s other expenses.” She replied, “No. If a man and woman go on a trip together, the man should pay for everything.” Convenient belief, I thought. She has even set aside funds for just such a trip she had hoped to take with her mother, but her mother in the end decided she didn’t want to go to Europe. So Selena has the funds. But the issue isn’t the amount. It is the principle that she should contribute something, no matter how small. If she had replied, “I’d love to, but I can only scrape together about $400 toward it,” I’d have been happy.
Selena’s hard line on this is contrary to her generally giving nature. When she visits me she always brings a bag of groceries. It’s kind of funny to know that every time you open your door to let your girlfriend in, she will be carting a dozen eggs, paper towels, two boxes of cereal, and some light bulbs, or a similar bag of goods.
I’ve encountered a few gold diggers over the years, including one girl who broke up with me when I would not spend $3,000 to buy her a mink coat. So I’m a little sensitive about this issue.
Am I the one who is off base, my view colored and made cynical by those past gold diggers? I just don’t know how to feel about this.
A. They say that the two biggest relationship killers are sex and money. Based on what I see in my inbox, I have to agree. (I might add Internet cheating to that list.)
Some disagreements about money just can’t be anticipated. It’s difficult to know your philosophies about giving money to a sick family member or paying for private school for your child until you’re confronted with the need. I don’t expect couples to have everything worked out before they commit to each other.
But I do expect couples to share some basic beliefs about money, and I expect them to be flexible. Your girlfriend is setting her own rules. She pays for bags of light bulbs and paper towels, and you pay for the big stuff. That’s how it goes. End of discussion.
You don’t like her rules. They make you uncomfortable. That’s your answer.
I’m not saying she’s a gold digger (I can’t believe I just typed that); she sounds generous in her own way, for sure. But her way isn’t your way, and this dynamic isn’t sustainable. You need to find someone who doesn’t have rules and wants to be your peer.
Huh, I find this odd. I agree with you that she should contribute *something* especially since a week-long trip to Europe ain’t cheap for one person. The fact that she’s so generous in other areas is even weirder. Have you straight out said that you’re uncomfortable with this? Because if this is the only sticking point, I’d talk about it rather than giving her the ol’ heave-ho.
This is not a “rip-off chick” — she just was raised a certain way. The red flags are from your own past and not because she’s dangerous in that way. I know this because you told us that she is habitually generous. Probably to her, paying her way on that trip would be an indicator of low character or something. Just chalk it up to cultural differences.
Looks like you’ve run into a cultural issue. From how you describe it, it sounds like she truly believes that’s just the way it’s supposed to be and it has nothing to do with selfishness or gold-digging. Perhaps the solution is to save the big expensive trips for marriage when you can pay for them with a joint account.
I would have to say that she has an old-fashioned European approach to the division of expenses. I can understand where she is coming from, but not necessarily support it. I really do not think she is a gold-digger. She just has a different set of rules and it may very well be that she will want you to accept those without negotiation. If you cannot do it, you should probably look for another woman.
I disagree with Meredith’s response, essentially insinuating that you should break up with this woman! She sounds lovely, otherwise. You may just need to discuss this further with her — maybe she would feel more comfortable contributing to the “small things” (ie, meals, etc) on your trip, just as she contributes to the small things at home.
Be grateful she showed her true colors this early on in the relationship. Send her a postcard from Europe telling her you’re done.
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