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CHEAP DATE - IS HE TOO CHEAP TO KEEP?
DEAR MIDLIFE BACHELOR::
I have been dating an early 40s, divorced man for a year now. He has made me very happy, and we are extremely compatible. I'm in my 30s, and am just about ready to start a family - he is on the same page, and we both agree that we shouldn't "waste time" in a relationship that won't lead there. There really is no question that this man is quite CHEAP. He buys store brand everything, drives miles out of his way for cheaper gas, wears clothes until they are threadbare, etc. His cheapness is something that I have been able to live with. I appreciate a good value, too, and have found ways to mitigate it. If we are dining with friends, I never let him cheap out on the check, and I have replaced many of his worn out
clothing items as birthday and Christmas gifts. Most importantly, he is NOT stingy with his affection. He is the most affectionate and loving man I have ever dated.

His cheapness was a major issue in his divorce - specifically, gift-giving. He still HATES giving gifts and melts down about the whole process. His ex was cruel and crazy, so I get this. For our recent anniversary, I told him we would not give gifts but I would really love some flowers. Well, I didn't get flowers or anything else. Somehow making it worse, he told me that he walked around his downtown office for 30 minutes looking for flowers but could not find any. He then drove to my house and was there two hours before our dinner reservations. I can't stop thinking of how he could have found flowers by simply asking someone from his office where to go, or stopping by a grocery store on his way to my house. And the next day, and the following day, we walked right by flowers for sale on the street and in the grocery store - he did not buy any then. I think he didn't bring me flowers because he didn't want to spend the money to buy them. I also think the non-action is very inconsiderate of me and my feelings. I think of how to make him happy a lot, and buy things I know will please him. I don't expect exact reciprocation, but just a little when I have been very clear about what I want seems like little to ask for.

I am really thinking about ending this relationship now based on inconsideration. A lifetime with this issue would drive me crazy. Part of me thinks it would be more fair to wait and give him another chance at Valentine's Day, but he has already given me long rants about how much he hates the manufactured V-Day, how overpriced flowers are then, etc. BTW - I don't disagree, but this is the world we live in. My response was "I agree - let's not do gifts, but I would love some flowers."

We've talked about the gift-giving/flowers issue a few times. It is one of a handful of issues that he cannot discuss without getting super agitated, because they were horrible issues in his divorce. There really isn't any point to trying again. Don't know if a written dialog would be any better.

A few more facts, we both do well financially, him a little better than me but he also has alimony payments. I pay for about 40% of our meals/drinks, we've paid for vacations 50-50. He has given me flowers one time over the past year, after heavy hinting from me. They were grocery store carnations but I loved and appreciated them.

What do you think - is he too cheap to keep? Is breaking up with a loving man that makes you happy over flowers just insane?

MIDLIFE BACHELOR ANSWER:
Hi - thanks for writing in. This is one of the easier questions I've been asked recently. I can tell you with absolute certainty that whatever bothers you A LITTLE right now will most definitely bother you A LOT later on, after you've been with him for a while (whether married or just dating).

He knows he is cheap ... it was a factor in his divorce ... yet he has not learned his lesson from that, and he continues to be cheap with you today. You really have two choices - either accept and embrace his cheapness OR release him so that he can hopefully go find someone who is equally cheap and who also enjoys making a penny scream. You've already tried to coach him, and those efforts have not been successful ... so instead of trying to change him, you have to decide for yourself if being with someone like this is for you.

Now I understand that you say he is such a loving man, and that EXCEPT for the cheapness, the two of you have a fantastic relationship. One could argue that there are far worse potential bad qualities that someone could possess, and in that context maybe "cheapness" doesn't sound too bad. But really it doesn't matter what annoying quality someone has - I always know in the abstract that if some little thing bothers you a little now, it will bother you a lot more over time. So I think you should put your boot print on his bottom. Good luck with your decision - please let us know how things turn out!

You should consider joining our Midlife Forum where we discuss many issues related to midlife dating and relationship issues, etc.  We'd be happy to have you among us here regularly.

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