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Relationship Health Message Board

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Dear Alysia

I'm sure your feelings have been hurt. Did you get anything worked out?
How are you doing?

I'm sure you didn't mean to give the impression that gift-giving is in any way an obligation. It appears your boyfriend is being supported by his mother (perhaps so he can focus on his education). When boyfriend pays with mommy's credit card he is not paying his own way.

People first moving away from home often have some confusion about finances. If roommate or boyfriend doesn't have his own income, he cannot afford to take care of any of your cost of living expenses. Contracts with landlords and room mates are not the same thing as marriage and are not gifts; they are obligations to outside persons, and unmarried roommates should pay our own way completely and not expect special favors when we choose to overspend on a gift (if the other overspends just say "oh you shouldn't have, thank you"...never, ever feel like you must be 'equal'). If you want, you can give in other ways, but you are not obligated to spend equally on a gift. Remember, some wonderful gifts cost no money.

When you purchase groceries and home supplies that are shared it is perfectly reasonable and responsible for you to show the receipt and say here is your share of cost. There should be a place to keep the receipts that each of you can see, to make sure that each of you are compensated equally.

Always make purchases for things that are just for your own use completely separate. That is not his obligation. Married or not, each of you should have places where you keep things you get just for yourself that you do not want to share. It is just the respectful thing to do. Then when you offer something from your stash it is a gift and there will be no hard feelings. Even in marriage, respect for each others personal space, belongings, and responsibilities is reasonable. I never take from my husband's accounts without asking if he has it to give. I don't even use his shampoo or toothpaste. We respect each others space. If I actually [I]want[/I] to use his toothpaste; I ask him first. If we have a shampoo we want to share we both know it in advance. If he doesn't want to share something I leave it alone, and am not bothered by it. After all I can brush with water or baking soda. What I am saying is learn to respect your own and each others space. To me, this is called love.

If you want any kind of relationship to last, take the time to get clear about each of your personal obligations. Make sure that gift-giving is kept as a separate issue. If one of you freely chooses to pay more for a gift, don't try to be 'equal'. Everyone gives in different ways. Never confuse love and gift giving. Some gifts that cost little or nothing are more meaningful than expensive gifts.

Please let us know if you got this worked out.


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