You Know What I Mean?
Love certainly is a peculiar potion, isn't it? Then you go and add money to the mix, and the headiness can turn toxic.
Our latest cohabitating letter writer is figuring that out firsthand.
What happens when dual, uneven salaries duel? Let's find out.
I've been living with my boyfriend for around six months, and although it's been a pretty smooth adjustment — smoother than I expected — one thing we still squabble over is money.
As it stands, we split everything 50/50 — the rent, the utilities and the groceries. Pretty much all shared expenses are split down the middle.
That's all well and good, but being that my boyfriend makes a considerable amount more than I do (more than double), I feel like it's reasonable to expect that he picks up the tab when we're out together.
He thinks it's unfair for me to feel entitled to that, especially when I drag him out to something that he'd be fine missing. He does usually pick up the tab, but on the occasions that paying for something does become an issue, it's incredibly frustrating for both of us.
I need to know: Am I being unreasonable? Is he?
- Income-ing Problem
Oh dear. You see, there's this little thing called "precedent." If I'm going to be honest with you, it's got to be brutal, so here goes: Precedent ain't working in your favor right now.
I'll assume you've been dating long enough (well, you are shacking up) to warrant some sort of money modus operandi. I'm also going to assume that, pre-address-sharing, this boyfriend of yours didn't always pay your way when you went out before (even though, I assume, he's always made substantially more money than you).
Riddle me this, then: Why on earth should cohabitation change your couple contribution structure?
The short answer: It shouldn't.
Relationships and money issues don't often play nice. As such, the rhyme and reason behind divvying up the dollars needs parameters. Let's face it: Couples fight more about money than anything else.
If you agreed long ago — or at least established an unspoken agreement around the same time — that going Dutch was your relationship's local currency, then your bar tabs and restaurant bills and taxi cabs should still remain income independent, barring any extenuating circumstances.
The only thing that's changed over the course of your relationship is your living quarters. Why would your economic routines suddenly be different just because you share the same roof?
You think it's reasonable to expect that he'll pick up the tab when you're out together. However, unless you've established new norms, it's actually not reasonable to assume he'd do anything else but what you've both always done when you're out together. Rinsing his grizzle from the bathroom sink doesn't entitle you to automatically nullify prior arrangements.
You also admit that you drag him to events he doesn't even want to attend, and you still expect him to pay. Look, lady. You invited him out. No, actually, you forced him to leave his cozy den of tube sock sweat, football and beer in a can to schmooze your scene against his will.
And you still want him to foot the bill when he desperately does not want to be there.
C'mon, woman. Does that even make sense to you?
Now, if this is an abandonment of his past actions — meaning that he paid a majority of the time in the past — then sure, you have every right to feel entitled. Addressing the change in behavior directly with him should clear up that situation faster than Valtrex to herpes.
But I'm guessing that's not the case in your domestic partnership.
It's obviously causing you strife, though. You expected to move in with him and you expected things to even out a little. Everyone knows it's cheaper to live with someone. You split the bills, the rent ... and the bar tabs — the latter of which wasn't quite in your budget.
The great thing about relationships is that they grow and change as the years go on. Instead of bemoaning your original 50/50 entertainment decision with Richie Rich on your paltry salary, let's take a shot at breaking even.
Despite what the brainiacs at Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire tell you, men are quite simple beasts. Mr. Moneybags can't comprehend that his lady love is financially independent one day, and whining when he doesn't pick up the tab the next.
So explain it to him. Put all your debts and debits on the table. Talk about your income, your spending, your bills, your budget. There's a good chance he doesn't know how much you make in relation to how much you spend or owe. If you want him to fork over the cash for pleasure, you have to let him know all about your painful obligations.
If he's still not keen on chalking up a few checks after that, see if he'd take responsibility for some of the bills at home. Not halving the electricity bill or perhaps paying an income-proportionate share of the rent would certainly alleviate some of the sting your wallet is feeling.
It's common knowledge that he — or she — who does the inviting also does the paying. If you can't work out an alternative arrangement, you'd better stop inviting, or start paying up without complaint, mama.
You may think splitting it down the middle is expensive, but losing your boyfriend over this would be way more costly.
The best things in life are free — just like my advice. Email the wealth of your worries to email@example.com, or message to me on Facebook or Twitter or be truly bold and leave a question in the comments. I'm the reason you can't put a price on good advice.