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Should This Woman Be Bitter About Her Boyfriend's Failure to Reimburse?

Should This Woman Feel Stiffed by Her Boyfriend?

Aside from getting my daily dose of DearSugar, I also like to read Dear Prudence's column on Slate that's published every Thursday. Readers submit questions to her and she provides her advice in a witty, straightforward way, and one of yesterday's questions especially caught my eye.

The reader, who calls herself "Stiffed," is a stay-at-home single parent and her boyfriend is employed. They usually go dutch when out to eat, but lately he's been going to her home for dinner a few nights a week and she cooks "nice dinners and serves beer, wine, chocolates, etc." She says normally it wouldn't occur to her to ask for anything in return, but the day after she provided a $70 - $80 dinner for two they went out to a $42 lunch where he put $20 toward the bill. She brings up the point that it's probably cheaper for her when the two of them eat out because they're splitting the bill instead of having to foot the entire thing, and wants to know how she can approach the topic without being demanding.

Would you feel as bitter and frustrated as Stiffed if you were in her position? Would you say anything to your boyfriend?


Join The Conversation
megnmac megnmac 9 years
I fall into this with friends, since I cook a lot and not a lot of other people seem to anymore... so when we all order pizza we split it or when we go out we split it, but when I make a ton of food it isn't easily divisible and I'm not having friends write me personal checks to 'cover' these meals. The best I can say is to just accept it, either talk to the man and say she loves eating in but it needs to be a joint cost, or just be able to mentally categorize the food you serve others at your home as a gift. That is what I do, I just see that as the cost of my entertaining - I love sharing my home and my food with my friends and it is worth every penny I spend to have the opportunity to spend that time with them.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
Mintie- lol, yes! It's really possible he just has no idea that the meals are so expensive. I mean, obviously if there is expensive wine and steaks most people would conclude that, but aren't thinking, $70! Seriously, $70 is like my personal food budget for the week and I eat all organic frozen and prepackaged stuff and still have money for wine. She just needs to start making Pasta Roni and tell him why. And if he is a nice guy he'll start bringing the wine. Seriously, she should just have him start bringing the wine and bread or something. I want the single stay at home, spend $70 on dinner gig. Seriously. I'll have to talk to the boyfriend about that one...
bsglrok132 bsglrok132 9 years
I think it's ridiculous to spend $70 on a home-cooked meal if you're going to complain about how much it cost later. If you can't afford it, don't do it. If her boyfriend insists on the expensive meals, he should pay for them...or at least half.
Mintie Mintie 9 years
Well, considering I know how to have conversations with people, I would have one with him.
audiecork audiecork 9 years
He's a cheap ass....if your boyfriend wont even treat you for a lunch you need to move on.
Sun_Sun Sun_Sun 9 years
hes cheap period
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
Cook more economic meals, so have you have more money to go dutch when you dine out. Or, if he suggests dining out next time, say you're on a budget right now, and offer to eat more economically at home. He may offer to treat you.
Le-Luxe Le-Luxe 9 years
What a bum! But seriously...some guys are clueless. I think she needs to say something like 'Look, I can't afford big dinners anymore, its really cutting into my cash flow.' He should offer to pay the whole thing when you go out, or at least pick up the items for you at the store and you can cook it all'
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 9 years
I would feel stiffed but she should say something about it rather than grin and bear it. I could never stay in a relationship with a tightwad like that!
hardests hardests 9 years
Ok, my question is what the heck is she cooking that is running her so much $$ per meal? Cooking at home is generally cheaper (for most of the rest of us!) than eating out, provided you aren't indulging in overpriced alcohol and gourmet seafood.
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
I'd start making him some good old mac & cheese instead of the $70+ dinners.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
i assume he probably isn't really aware of the cost you incur by cooking food at home always seems "free" cuz you paid for it previously, so i don't know how i'd broach it, but i don't think he's doing it on purpose
mjane79 mjane79 9 years
Maybe ask him to bring the wine or beer when you cook. Or suggest maybe he make dinner one night at his place?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Oh please, she is cooking dinner for him (wine, beer.....chocolates) and expects him to chip in? did he call ahead his order or did she say "let me cook you dinner" or did he just drop by and she had the food already? either way, she should either say "can we go halfsies on dinner" or shut up. they had a 42 dollar lunch he put in 20, dont be nitpicky! or say "you owe me a buck" Is he working and providing her income? or does she work at home? Too many questions.
uptown_girl uptown_girl 9 years
Like other posters I was wondering the same thing. Single, stay-at-home mom, and cooking $70 dinners? Chocolate & wine? WTF?!? By the way, the guy she is dating is a total cheapwad.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
A stay-at-home single mom can't be banking that much $$, I am assuming that she is living off support from the child's father or her boyfriend clueless? Sounds to me like he is taking advantage of her. What, he can't chip in for groceries or treat her to dinner? I would start suggesting that he chip in a bit more, if he isn't willing to do that, DUMP him!!
AnnaLove AnnaLove 9 years
Stay-at-home... single... mom... hmm? Guess she's living off the child support. My suggestion for this woman is to get a job. Usually you don't expect someone to pay you back for a home cooked meal. If $$ is such an issue why is she spending $70 on groceries for one dinner??! Make some chicken and veggies, for christ's sake. Probably the guy doesn't realize she's stupid enough to spend that much when she claims to be on a tight budget.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 9 years
I'm with lily. To be more tactful, I'd gauge his reaction when I suggested he pick up the groceries for me to cook. If he gets upset about it... dump his ass.
dcfashionista dcfashionista 9 years
I would suggest that he goes in half for the groceries or she needs to stop cooking for him.
lily8206 lily8206 9 years
Next time he wants to come over for dinner why don't you suggest he pick up the groceries on his way over so you can cook together! That way not only is he sharing in the work, but he can foot the bill too!
Brendelwoman Brendelwoman 9 years
Well, this guy sounds very selfish. To me it sounds like she is trying to do nice things for him and he doesn't know how to reciprocate. How about some flowers or a gift? He just doesn't sound like he's that into her at all. Dump him.
cancankant cancankant 9 years
I wonder what her circumstances are that she can stay at home and not work? That being said, it does sound a bit like she's being taken advantage of. I personally am not sure what she could be cooking at home that costs $70-80, though. If it's steaks, exotic ingrdients, and expensive bottles of wine, etc., why not suggest a less expensive route (like pizza on the couch), a nice plate of pasta and some Italian beer or plain old soda. Personally, if I cooked a major dinner and my boyfriend did not reciprocate, I'd be a bit pissed. The next dinner should have been on him. Otherwise, he needs to start buying some groceries or something for her. I've known guys like this one. They like to go "dutch", but think when their girlfriend "treats" them to something, they get let off the hook for their part. They never seem to get around to "treating" their girlfriend, though. What a shame.
tiff58 tiff58 9 years
I wonder how she is a stay at home SINGLE mom? Anyways, I would we pretty upset about this situation.
emmag emmag 9 years
As far as the home dinners, when I cook dinner for my friends, I ask them to bring the drinks or a dessert. That way it's still a joint effort and no one feels "stiffed." But this guys is still her boyfriend and her situation isn't really his problem. He should be respectful of it, but it's up to her to make him understand her expectations.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
I would only foot half of the bill if it was my suggestion to eat out. If it's his suggestion then he should pay the full bill.
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