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My question is that I have been seeing a guy long distance for 7 months. He seems to be really crazy about me, visits every couple of weeks and we talk on the phone nearly every day. He is going through a very public “yucky” divorce and is quite wealthy. However, he is VERY cheap with me and pretty self-absorbed. He does pay for all of our dates, but he didn’t get me a Hanukah gift (or any other gifts!). We are both Jewish and Hanukah is a big deal…and I got him very nice gifts. I know I have high expectations regarding men and this kind of issue…but I’m having a very hard time with this man who in so many ways I’m so happy with. He does so many self-indulgent things for himself (including a spa on his own for a week that cost $6,000, gets regular massages, drives an expensive car, has elaborate parties for his daughters’ birthdays, etc.) and while I’m appreciative that he comes to visit me (which involves a 1hr flight) and we go on lovely dates, I’m really hurt….what should I do? Thank you…I LOVE reading your advice.

Yvonne

I love your question, precisely because it defies any obvious answer.

You’ve already acknowledged that you have “high expectations regarding men and money.” This is useful and somewhat self-aware. However, your admission calls into question your ability to be objective. How can I know if your boyfriend IS very cheap or if you merely PERCEIVE him as very cheap because you’ve raised the bar so impossibly high that any man is doomed to fail you?

How he feels about you is reflected in how often he calls you, how often he sees you, whether he’s willing to commit to you, whether he accepts you as you are without trying to change you… THAT’s love.

I can’t answer that question for you. But if you have a perpetual issue with how much men are spending on you, it would probably seem to me that this is more about you than it is about them.

This doesn’t render your boyfriend blameless. The only reason I’m focusing on you is because you are the one who wrote me the email and you are the only one who can change your own behavior.

So let’s take a second to do a few things to reframe this discussion:

  1. You equate how much he spends on you with how much he loves you. This is a fallacy — and a self-imposed one at that. Once again, I’m not defending him if he is, in fact, cheap. What I’m saying is that how he feels about you is reflected in how often he calls you, how often he sees you, whether he’s willing to commit to you, whether he accepts you as you are without trying to change you… THAT’s love. Not expensive Hanukah gifts.
  2. You wrote that Hanukah is a big deal. Are you speaking for yourself or are you speaking for him? In my Jewish household, Hanukah is not a big deal at all. It’s always a big relationship mistake to assume that what’s important to you is equally important to him (and vice versa). Since this was your first Hanukah together, perhaps you can have an even-tempered discussion at some point next year where you talk about how this is your favorite holiday and you tend to go over the top with gifts. He will either take the hint and follow your lead, or he will tell you that he’s not a really big “gifts” guy and that you shouldn’t go overboard buying things for him or expect him to do the same for you.
  3. You’re conveniently avoiding the ways in which he IS generous to focus on the ways he’s not. He flies to visit you every few weeks and he picks up all of the costs. That seems pretty generous to me. Factor in that you’re his seven-month long-distance girlfriend, not his wife, AND he’s going through an expensive divorce, and, well, what entitles you to decide how he spends his hard-earned money?

If you don’t like the way your boyfriend spends his money, find a new boyfriend.

I don’t know if you got him a $1000 set of golf clubs and if he got you a hand-vacuum from Bed, Bath and Beyond, but unless that’s the case, I would refrain from making a big stink about how much money he spent on your gifts. I’m not saying that you have to be with a “VERY cheap” guy, but if you want a snowball’s chance in hell at being his wife, you’re not gonna get there by complaining about his Hanukah gifts. In fact, since he’s going through a divorce, I’d think the LAST thing he’d want is someone who might be perceived as an entitled gold digger and that any “cheap” jabs will quickly trigger his break-up reflex.

Long story short: if you don’t like the way your boyfriend spends his money, find a new boyfriend. Don’t complain that he’s not giving you enough. THIS is how he chooses to give.