Singles advice guru Marnie Macauley has humorous and savvy solutions for not being a doormat, budgeting with your boyfriend and not so exclusive relationships.
WANTED: A BACKBONE
Marnie: I’m a 36-year-old single guy who works for a non-profit. I have a group of pals I go places with. The problem is, I try very hard to please everyone. I’m always letting people borrow money and I drive my car every time we go out because no one else has gas in their tank. Last week we drove all the way to San Francisco in a car I rented … and guess who filled up the tank? I just can’t say no to my friends. — Walked On in LA.
MARNIE SAYS: Oh buddy, you do have a problem: “Gumby-osis”— a condition characterized by a lack of spine stemming from the erroneous belief that if you actually said “no,” others would run from you in a massive hate-frenzy. So, you let the world tap dance on your vertebra. THWACK! (Hear that?) That’s the sound of me gently “kicking” you upright.
Getting It: Your Personal Strategy:
* Giving your fair share and more, if pals are in trouble is … nice. But the difference between generosity and flunky is that of a Persian rug to a doormat. If you’re forever sandbagging your own needs and sacrificing your colon upon the altar of their wishes, that’s not “nice.” That’s needy.
* Somewhere in the backwaters of your youth you got the foul message that being “a guy who doesn’t say no” was the way to win friends and you’ve been bartering your soul ever since. It’s time to challenge those silly beliefs. Ask yourself:
1) Has over-giving gotten you the respect you deserve?
2) Do you feel better about yourself and your friends when you “give in?”
3) Has any friend deserted you for simply saying “no” to an unreasonable request?
No! So unload these vicious assumptions and get a new MO.
* Repeat after me: “Even my ‘friends’ are probably queasy with my over giving and doing.” Surprised? Don’t be. Assuming your group hasn’t learned the art of the mooch from Cosmo Kramer, they know they owe, probably feel guilty — even manipulated by you. Friendship isn’t about “buying” — trading your sweat, gas and bucks — to stay in the fold. This is a wooden deal all around.
* Dump that “STEP ON ME” mat! Start small. List every request that gives you an eye tick, study it, and practice these words in a mirror. “Sorry, I’ve reached my max for the month, no can do.” Then say it – to them!
Once you stand erect, you’ll love the view.
Marnie: I am a widow, 55, dating a widower. My dilemma is I don’t know who should pay for what? We’re both professionals who make fairly good salaries; however, I have more financial responsibilities than he does. Last fall when we planned a four-day trip to Vermont, he said I only needed to bring money to buy whatever I wanted. I offered to pay for an expensive dinner and he accepted. Then we ended up eating the leftovers the next night (our room had a kitchenette) and we ate bagels for breakfast in the room. I would have gladly paid for Vermont pancakes with maple syrup but I didn’t offer. I felt he should have wanted to do that. Am I expecting too much? After all, he did pay for the plane tickets and the room. Is there some kind of financial etiquette for older daters? – Unsure
MARNIE SAYS: Etiquette, shmettiquette. Even I if gave you some “fair” formula (he pays for three dinners and you pay for one decent meal at a restaurant where the place mats don’t include crayons), it wouldn’t solve your problem. Sweetie, the real problem is: you didn’t get your Vermont pancakes with syrup.
Getting It! Your Personal Strategy:
* I’m not being cheeky. What’s important is that the two of you share the same notion of “fun” and what that fun will cost — leftovers and stale bagels on a vacation for lovers with a few kopeks in the bank? — feh! Rather than “who pays,” it seems your Big Issue is how each of you view using money. And this is more to do with personal priorities than “who pays” for what.
* Talk to the man. Honestly. “Herbie, we’re mature enough to talk directly about finances, values and fun. Here’s my situation and feelings.” Then discuss how willing you are to help out on your excursions. You’d gladly pick up a special meal, etc., but your budget’s limited to, say, three meals and show tickets. More, when you’re on vacation, you enjoy partaking of the special treats you’ve shlepped to see. How does he feel about it?
– Offer examples. You would gladly (?) have paid out of your pocket to get a room with indoor plumbing. Would he agree that Vermont pancakes are worth more than bagels?
– Can you budget together fairly to enjoy what you came for?
* His answers will tell you what you need to know — about him. His personality. His generosity. His capacity for fun vs. his limitations financially, and his willingness to put out a few extra bucks to create an adventure, rather than a Facebook post.
More important, his answers will tell you whether he has the pizzazz, the panache and the playfulness worthy of an empress like you. Because, you see, those qualities can’t be bought with megabucks, yet can be expressed with no more than a crêpe – and creativity.
IS IT “EXCLUSIVE” … OR IS IT A FLUTTER-NUTTER?
Dear Marnie:My new BF and I became “exclusive” recently. But now I’ve met this guy who also makes my heart flutter. I love my BF but I can’t get this other guy out of my mind. What should I do? — Very Confused.
MARNIE SAYS: Personally, I’d turn the whole thing over to Mark Burnett for a new reality show. “Polyandry” has a nice ring to it. Holy Springmaid! The corporate tie-ins to the mattress industry alone should make a fortune.
Whack me if you will, but how I wish you had considered other options, like going to a rave or becoming a Dallas Cheerleader before committing to an exclusive with your BF. But, given that you’ve done so, I recommend you either live up to it and get a pacemaker for the flutters, or change your game plan.
There’s a difference between commitment and the salad bar at Denny’s. Don’t be a pig, darling. If you continue to see “exclusivity” as a romantic buffet of boyfriends, you’ll wind up lying face down in the pickled beets.
Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2013 Singular Communications, LLC