Coupled. And $tressing.

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Yesterday, as I waited in line to check out at the grocery store, I realized I was holding my breath. It wasn’t due to the woman behind me who believed in liberal application of Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue. No, no – I was waiting for the cashier to let me know what my bill for the week was.

Until I started grocery shopping with my own money (and occasionally David’s), I had no idea how expensive food was! I also had no idea how quickly things like gym memberships, 3 night a week Blockbuster rentals, and Friday happy hours could add up when it’s on my tab – not Mom and Dad’s.

Unfortunately, minimum wage part time jobs just don’t cover my lavish lifestyle, so while I hunt for a better job, I’d prepared myself for the inevitable cut backs I’d have to make.  If that meant more nights just staying in, resorting to regular cable programming (the horror!), and occasionally eating microwave popcorn and apples for dinner instead of a real meal, I was fine with it. Unfortunately, David was not.

David, who works 40 hours a week at what most people would consider a big kid job, earns enough money to support himself pretty darn comfortably.  He likes going out for drinks with his friends after a long week. If he feels like renting a new DVD every night of the week, he does. He goes out to eat when he wants, and buys whatever he feels like when he goes grocery shopping.

Spread that paycheck a little thinner though, say, between himself and his lovely gf, and the cash money doesn’t quite go as far. So while he’s happy to pay for both of us when we do the things he likes, he finds that he can’t do as many of the things he likes. Without me earning enough money to share the lifestyle he maintains when I’m not broke, or when I’m away at school, all the financial pressure falls on him if he doesn’t want to change his habits.

On one hand, I feel bad for him. Just because I can’t find a better job in this sucky economy, why should he have to suffer by missing out on stuff he likes to do? When his friends all want to go get dinner and he can’t pay for both of us, I feel terrible when he goes home with me instead (and telling him to go alone only makes him feel guilty). When he surprises me with little things like flowers or sweet dates, I wish I could return the favor, whatever the masculine version of flowers is. Add to this the fact that his birthday is in less than a month and I feel like I might have a quarter life crises.

On the other hand, I’m doing what I have to do right now to keep my gas tank and our fridge full without plunging myself into debt. I have no problem with him going and doing his thing while I catch up on quality time with the Kardashians. But a lot of those things benefit me (no time to cook dinner? Take out! Bored on Saturday? Let’s have friends over to barbecue!) I feel guilty mooching off of my sugar daddy, and I can’t help but think that eventually he’ll start resenting me because he works so hard and I’m still trolling Monster and Craigslist hoping for a breakthrough.

Sharing a life with David has always been easy. Sharing a home with him is a learning experience, but an incredible one. Sharing a lifestyle with him – without sharing a checking account – is another thing entirely. I wish I could contribute financially as much as he does, but at this point, I just can’t.

Being financially unequal is definitely difficult; either way, one of us has to give up something. He’s compromising , and I’m trying to think of non-monetary ways to repay him (nudge nudge), but it hasn’t been easy. How do you guys cope when the one you love is on a totally different financial page?

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