Dear Amy:

I would like your opinion on a situation, that is uncomfortable for me with my current boyfriend, "Steve."

I have an income of around $45,000 a year, and his income is more than double that. We have been dating for almost a year.

I understand that it becomes expensive for Steve to pick up the check every time we dine out, so I started treating him on occasion.

However, it has turned into a situation where I am expected to pay for my own meal every time. This is the case whether we eat at McDonald's or a fine restaurant.

This is especially embarrassing for me when we dine out with our friends and family. I feel it makes him look "cheap" and it basically makes me look like a fool.

A holiday is coming up, and we are dining out at a classy restaurant with his entire family. I feel uncomfortable calculating my portion of the bill (including tax and tip) in front of everybody and digging my portion out of my billfold while he pays for everybody else's meal.

I realize I could discuss it with him prior to entering the restaurant and offer to reimburse my portion later, but on the other hand, I feel he is "cheap" and should treat me.

Do you think this is appropriate behavior for Steve to exhibit, and should I waste my time dating such a person?

Fed Up With Mr. Cheap

You don't say whether you and Steve have had a conversation about this or whether you have perhaps lapsed into a pattern that might make both of you uncomfortable.

Right now, he could be composing his letter to me about how embarrassing it is when his date pulls out her wallet at the end of a meal, but that he doesn't want to compromise her dignity by denying her the opportunity to pay her own way.

So talk about it. Bury your reactions for the moment, and assume that you have gotten yourselves into a jam that you can also get out of. Explain that you feel that because of the disparity in your incomes, he should offer to pick up the check more often. Tell him that it's a little embarrassing for you to be included in a family meal, except for when the check comes.

If he really is cheap, I don't think his attitude toward you and money is likely to change. You'd better find out now. However, this might be one of those sticky post-feminist issues that the two of you can work out together and laugh about later.

Dear Amy:

I was under the impression that when you coordinate and make plans for the night, dine at a hip restaurant and have drinks and make out at a hip bar, that constitutes a date. And when you do that serially with one person who coincidentally is not seeing anyone else, it's called "dating."

She thinks we're "hanging out."

Anonymous

It's all semantics, my dear. Stop picking at this and enjoy yourself.

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.