DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend never lets me pay for anything for him when we go out, even if it's something small like a movie ticket. I don't understand why it's such a big deal. In this day and age, with so many powerful women, does the old stereotype that the man is supposed to always pay still hold? -- Equal Opportunity Girlfriend, Chicago
DEAR GIRLFRIEND: Your boyfriend may have been taught by his parents that it's good manners for a man to pay a woman's way when they are dating. Chances are, he is following the protocol he was taught and believes he is being a good man for doing so.
It seems his chivalry is discomforting for you, especially given your language that he "never lets me pay for anything." If there is a power play happening, that is reason for you to be concerned. A conversation is needed.
Tell your boyfriend that you want to contribute to the cost of dates sometimes. Tell him it makes you uncomfortable that he insists he always pay. Suggest that in growing your relationship, you like the idea of sharing everything, including costs.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex and I are in the same group of friends. For a while he wasn't hanging out with us as much, but now he does, and it makes me uncomfortable. I don't want to be a drama queen and complain, but we had a bad breakup. It really hasn't been that long since we split -- a few months. How do I deal with the discomfort of frequent encounters? -- Squirming in Shreveport, La.
DEAR SQUIRMING: One of the tragedies of a breakup is that it usually affects more people than the two who split. Friends and family members often feel the effects of the breakup as well.
Is your ex simply hanging with his old friends, or does it feel like he is taunting you? If it's innocent and he just misses his friends, accept it for what it is. It's natural that you would feel uncomfortable around him, but you can't control how he spends his time.
You have to do what's best for you. Consider whether you can eventually share the same group of friends. Is it possible for you to be near your ex without paying attention to him? If so, go for it. If not, you may have to lie low for a while, or even find new friends.
Although you can't control your ex's actions, you can ask him to make some ground rules with you for engaging your friends. Agree not to talk about your relationship with these people. And agree to give each other the space you need to heal. In time, you may become better "friends" than you were as a couple.