People are weird about money

People are weird about money

Signed,Stuck with the check…

How do I talk to my partner about their mother? We’ve been together over ten years and in that time, she has never once paid for a thing when she is with us, despite having plenty of money. Not a glass of wine, dinner, movie, nada. It drives me insane but it doesn’t seem to bother my partner one bit. When I’ve tried to broach it, my partner gets defensive. Where does that leave me?


  • People are weird about money. They just are. It’s one of the fundamental assumptions you can make about humanity: everyone is insecure, most people have a complicated relationship to food, humans love inebriants of all kinds, and people are weird about money. There’s so much wrapped up in it: status, greed, value and power, just to name a few.  

  • Dear Stuck,

Which leaves you with a few things to ponder. Can you take a deep breath and let it go while practicing radical acceptance? If so, I think this is the way to go. If you feel you have to talk to your partner about it, I would (as I always advise), strike while the iron is cold (not while irritated after you just paid for a fancy dinner out) and preface it with what you love about their mother, then what irritates you about her. As long as you acknowledge that it probably won’t change but you just had to get it off your chest. Good luck!

Regardless of why your partner’s mother is a cheapskate – personal reasons, cultural reasons, just plain oblivious or just plain cheap (I find that often the less money people have the more generous they are), it seems unlikely that she is going to change at this point in her life or that your partner is going to take kindly to you dissing their mom.

Dear Gabby, 

My kid ignores all my texts…and I know they are getting through. He just says, “all you send me are boring articles!” What is up with that? So rude. How can I reverse this in my smug 19 year old?

Signed,Puh-lease! Dear Puh,

Try texting this: “We’re thinking of giving up the car. Would you be interested?” And see how fast he texts back. Then you can give him a good old-fashioned lecture about textiquette (texting etiquette), complete with, “did I raise you in a barn?” and “If you wanna be treated like a grown-up, act like a grown-up!” On second thought, scratch that. Next time he texts you, don’t answer. Keep this up until he asks you why you’re not responding. Then just say, “all you send me are boring requests for money!” Dear Gabby,

I’ve started a racial justice book club and out of eleven people, only a handful consistently show up. How do I reconcile the fact that my friends are not prioritizing showing up for racial justice, environmental and economic conversations for at least for at least two hours of every month? Signed,Disappointed

Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Friday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at Related Stories

I feel you! It sounds like you put this idea together with the expectation that everyone would be as into it as you are, and it turns out they’re not. This isn’t the only explanation, however. It seems to me that in any organized group, there are the devotees, the sometimes-goers and the sporadics. Maybe your book group is just following this (my made-up) law of group behavior. It is also possible that discussions of racial, environmental and economic justice are too uncomfortable for people to participate in, but not too uncomfortable to cheer on from a distance. I applaud your efforts and recommend that you continue to seek out opportunities to have courageous conversations wherever you can, even if it isn’t with this specific group. Although you would think that all that Merlot and Manchego would grease the skids a little…go figure! Dear Disappointed,