Carolyn:

I recently started dating a guy I've known for years. Before starting a romantic relationship, we did things together and each paid his own way. Now, I am still paying my own way.

I don't like when women take advantage of a man's generosity, but I do think it'd be nice if my beau picked up the tab sometimes now that we are dating. He knows I am trying to save money. We've been out with other couples and when the check is circulated, I've been the only woman at the table paying for myself. Am I being selfish?

--Maryland

No, just sexist.

Unless you accept the entire chivalric balance of power in your relationship--you damsel, him knight--you've got a thin claim to chivalric finances. Women, and men, who are otherwise equals tend to look the other way when they're dating someone new, if only because men tend to do the asking and therefore do any necessary hemorrhaging. But that's just upfront; once you become an established couple (belching and/or sweat pants), splitting the bill is the decent and merciful norm. Since you were friends first, you skipped the he-pays-for-the-courtship stage and went straight to comfy--but I won't even try to phrase a romantic request for a refund.

I see one fair recourse: Since he knows money's tight, ask him if you can cut down on these expensive group meals HINT! HINT! That gives him an option to treat you, not a retro shakedown.

Dear Carolyn:

My sister had been dating this guy for six months. She has met and hung out with all of his friends except one, his really good, old friend who happens to be female. He hangs out with her alone, though, granted, not often. When my sister and her boyfriend are out, the friend calls his cell phone constantly. Finally they met, briefly and by accident, but still have yet to hang out together.

Then came the sleepover. He spent the weekend at her apartment and, after my sister asked about the sleeping arrangements, he admitted they slept in the same bed. He said they always do that; a lot of his friends do. It bothers my sister, but he says she should trust him. I think he should respect her. Your take?

--Old-Fashioned

I must be weird-fashioned, because I'm freaked out by the calls.

Think about it, though; if he were lying about having sex with this friend, he'd just lie about sharing her bed, too.

But if she's calling calling calling, during dates no less, and he's not cutting her off, then this "friend" is in control and not letting up. (The boyfriend does some deft controlling himself with that "trust me" line. Barf.) And since she's got him by the, um, reins, it's all the more disturbing that:

1. She doesn't want to know your sister. Wouldn't a true friend want to see whom another friend is with? Wouldn't she want to make sure he's happy?

2. She isn't telling him, "You have a girlfriend, furbrain, go stay with her."

He knows this is wrong and that's why he's hiding her; he knows he's hiding her and that's why all he's got is "trust me." But I'm with you here--this is all secondary. By showing so little respect for your sister's role in his life, he takes any trust they build and gives it a swirly.

Carolyn:

Shortly after I got married, my sister made some very hurtful comments about my husband. Basically, she intimated that he was keeping me away from my family--not true--and that I wasn't spending enough time with them--probably true in her eyes. I was a newlywed, after all. These comments came at a very difficult time (our mother had recently died), and I think she was acting out of intense grief. Nevertheless, my husband was very insulted and currently isn't overly fond of my sister. I feel stuck in the middle. Any suggestions on how to smooth things over?

--Washington

From you, we have: Your marriage was responsible for your absence during a very difficult time.

From her, we have: Your husband was responsible for your absence during a very difficult time.

Oh, the outrage! How could she say such things? Shun her!

If you want to smooth this over, find a mellower husband. Granted, if your sister didn't have clear, specific reasons to put the onus on him, she shouldn't have done it. But it's entirely possible that, in her grief, she couldn't process the possibility that you stayed away on your own.

Surely there's enough human frailty here for a big-hearted brother-in-law--or in your husband's case, a medium-hearted one--to cut his brokenhearted sister-in-law a break. If he doesn't see it that way, he should cut her a break anyway. Life is long. How much of it do you all want to burden with a basically minor huff?

Write to Tell Me About It, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or tellme@washpost.com, and join Carolyn's live discussion at 8 p.m. tomorrow or at noon Thursday at washingtonpost.com/liveonline