After reading this thread about married couples who charge each other for the food they eat, I was thinking about a former co-worker and the guy she was living with. I thought I’d offer up their situation for your opinion.
When I met Miranda, she had been living with Bart for a year or two. They had two dogs, and were in the process of buying some new furniture, and their situation seemed to be progressing towards permanence. Then one day, a comment she made seemed odd for a couple supposedly in love, and when I asked for a clarification, I realized that this man, in the two years they had been together, had never bought this woman a morsel of food.
Bart made a lot more money than Miranda, and since they were not married I had assumed that they kept some finances separate. But one day she was complaining about being broke and not having enough money to buy her dinner when she and Bart went out with friends, so she had to stay home while he went out alone with the friends. When I asked her why Bart couldn’t just pay for her meal, she revealed that they always paid for their meals and groceries separately, even when they were out on a date. If she didn’t have the money, she either had to borrow it from him and pay him back promptly on payday, or she didn’t go. If he bought take-out and brought it home, she had to pay her share or not have any of it.
I asked her if he had ever offered her any of the extra food (Hey, I brought home Big Macs, want one? No, I’m broke. Okay then, I’ll put this one in the fridge for my lunch tomorrow) and was appalled to hear that he would sit there and not offer her any unless she could pay.
When I first expressed my dismay about the situation, she said he had always been that way with her and she was used to it. But when I questioned her a bit more, it turned out that he had never taken her out to dinner, even when they were first dating. He had never bought her so much as a drink. They had pretty much fallen into bed the first week and moved in together soon after, so he had never had to really even date her. But still, the thought that he would not even offer her sustenance just unnerved me. Here was a man who said he loved her, bought furniture with her, adopted two dogs with her, and he had never given her so much as a single dinner roll without expecting to be paid back.
I was so shocked by this that I told her that just the mere symbolism of that behavior was enough to make me cry. Here she was, deeply in love, giving him her body and her soul, and he wouldn’t even buy her a candy bar. I think that she was a bit surprised by my reaction, but she also admitted that once she started thinking about it, she was troubled also. I don’t know why she thought this was normal behavior. And it wasn’t as if he was ignorant of the fact that he had never bought her food…he always made a point of reminding her if she was late in paying him back.
When I related this story to the guy I go out with, (who has always paid for the popcorn at the movies and taken me out to dinner, even though we are not romantically involved) he too was shocked that any woman would go out with a man who was sending so clear a signal, much less sleep with him. He felt that a man who loves a woman will always want to provide for her and basically keep her healthy and alive.
Now the good news is that Miranda and Bart have since broken up, and the last time I saw her, she told me she was dating someone new. Of course, the first question I asked her was “Has he bought you dinner?” and she laughed and said that yes, this guy had no problem with paying for a meal for her, or sharing the cost of and the groceries themselves!
So would you have stayed with Bart as long as Miranda did? Would you have ever gone out with him in the first place? Have you ever dated someone who was that …well, I was going to say cheap, but that really wasn’t his problem. It wasn’t really the money, it was the symbolism of the whole thing. He never really committed to building a life with her. He always held back, even when he said he loved her.