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David Eddie's Damage Control

Am I a gold digger? Add to ...

The Question

I am a woman in my sixties, separated and awaiting a substantial divorce settlement.

I've been seeing a gentleman almost daily for close to two years. In fact, he has all but moved in. We split all expenses down the middle.

He drives a nice car, belongs to a private club, engages in expensive outings and trips, and has significant real-estate holdings. Recently, he treated me (or so I thought) to a delightful international trip with his family, whom he also treated.

Since I am without spousal support, I have been living on my inheritance, and now with the stock markets in disarray, dipping into my capital. During the trip, I paid for many lunches, dinners, entrance fees and the like for all four of us, as most of the other stuff was prepaid. My hand was never far from my purse.

Recently, we identified a well-priced package for a trip in an RV. When it came time to book, he indicated that I should pay in "reciprocation" for our prior trip. I pleaded financial distress, and said that on the advice of my financial adviser I should not be making any substantial expenditures, until such time as I received my divorce settlement.

After having accused me of treating him like a "wallet," he sent me a one-line e-mail ending our relationship, and in a subsequent discussion with a mutual friend, accused me of being a "gold digger."

David, what went wrong here? I am in love with this man. Can/should this relationship be saved? Am I a "gold digger"?

The Answer

"The rich are different from you and me," F. Scott Fitzgerald once said.

"Yeah, they have more money," Ernest Hemingway bluntly replied.

But there's oh so much more to it than that.

I almost feel sorry for rich folk. (But just when I begin feeling sorry for them, they start bugging me to contribute to their charities; and there's nothing more annoying than being pestered for money by rich people.) They have to cultivate this weird, neurotic relationship with their loot.

Rich people are always crying poor, too, you ever notice? I guess it's because everybody around them always has their hands out looking for a loan, or (ideally) cash gift; and every time the bill arrives at a restaurant, everybody goes all quiet, wondering whether Mr. Moneybags will pick up the tab.

Now, pardon me, madam, but you and your boyfriend both sound rich to me. I only wish I had "capital" to worry about dipping into. All I have to dip into is my line of credit, and if I dip any more deeply into that, I'm worried I'll come home to find bailiffs putting my furniture on the lawn.

Still, I understand how finances could be a little nerve-wracking when you're in ... the late summer of your life, and you don't want to go out and get a job.

My mother, in her seventies, is worried about it, too. She has a modest chunk of dough, but women in her family tend to live into their nineties.

Her: "I can always get a job at Wal-Mart."

Me: "Mom, you're not getting a job at Wal-Mart! Just stay thrifty!"

Now, madam, I'm not going to presume to have the effrontery to tell you whether or not you're a "gold digger."

However, do you realize you never mentioned a single thing about this gentlemen you're "in love with" except what he drives, what club he belongs to, his real-estate holdings, and how much he spends, or doesn't, on you?

Not a word on whether he makes you laugh, whether you're attracted to him, whether you're comfortable together, whether or not his company fills you with ease and soothes your soul.

Anyway, it's all pretty much moot at this point, isn't it? You say he ended the relationship with a one-line e-mail, which is about as cold, callous and definitive as it gets.

Doesn't sound like it was all that healthy, anyhow. Sounds like all you can do is pack up your troubles in your Louis Vuitton bag and move on.

And learn whatever lessons might be gleaned from this rejection - for example, sometimes dating a rich dude can be a big bore, chock-a-block with money woes, and a drain on your bank account to boot.

Maybe next time choose a slightly less-generously endowed man (ahem, financially), but one who's a little more carefree and not counting every bean he spends on you.

And you may find, to your surprise, that money is actually less of an issue when you're dating a skint guy who loves you, than it is when your boyfriend is a rich skinflint who's always checking his ticker to see how much you're costing him.

David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad .

"I've made a huge mistake"

Have you created any damage that needs controlling? Send your dilemmas to damage@globeandmail.com, and include your hometown and a daytime contact number so we can follow up with any queries.

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