Co-worker insists on picking up the check
DEAR ABBY: I have a colleague who has become an amazing friend. We plan dinner dates or work conferences periodically, and we also try to book spa appointments together.
“Sandy” is everything a person would want in a friend. However, when we go out to eat, she usually insists on paying for my meal. She has also prepaid some of my spa appointments. When this pattern first started, I was a little put off, but I appreciated her generosity. But now I feel constantly indebted to her because I can never seem to return the favor.
When I insist on paying for myself, we argue. Sandy says she wants to show her appreciation for my partnership at work. She also explains that I have children, whereas she is childless. She justifies it by rationalizing that her husband makes an impressive salary.
Lately, I have come to resent the situation because I don’t want to feel like a charity case.
How do I approach this without tarnishing our professional work relationship and the friendship we have built? — TREATED TOO WELL
DEAR TREATED: I am going to assume that you have already communicated to Sandy that this dynamic makes you uncomfortable, and why. If you haven’t, do it now. She may be the soul of generosity, but some people use money as a means to control or dominate others. Not knowing Sandy, I can’t guess what motivates her, but clearly the two of you should be able to have a mature conversation without anyone becoming defensive.
DEAR ABBY: My niece’s mother-in-law of 32 years, “Helen,” died seven months ago. I have been quietly seeing her widowed husband, “Wayne,” for about three months now. We knew each other only socially up until then. After Helen’s death, my niece, her husband and their children went on vacation. I was tasked with giving Wayne a nightly call to check on him. We realized we had a lot in common.
The problem is telling his children and grandchildren. Should we tell them or continue keeping it a secret? — UNEXPECTED LOVE IN THE EAST
DEAR UNEXPECTED: Although you have no reason to be sneaking around, in my opinion you should stay quiet for another few months — until it has been a year since Helen’s passing. At that point, Wayne should tell the niece and other relatives that he thinks you have a lot in common and you are going to see each other. In a perfect world, everyone would be glad that the two of you are finding happiness after so much sadness.