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Can I confide a secret? Everyone talks about how they can’t wait until the pandemic ends and things are back to “normal” again. But while I hate some things about the pandemic (no travel, fear of infection, death rates), I’m secretly not hating this all that much. I don’t have to go to boring family parties. I love not commuting to work. I have a built-in excuse to stay home and watch “The Crown.” I don’t even miss theater subscriptions. Am I allowed to admit this?
Yes, you are! I wouldn’t, you know, run to Cancun while your constituents are without power and water in freezing weather and then blame it on your poor teenage children who have no say in who their parents are, but yes, you are. There are often silver linings in very bad situations, and you are doing well to appreciate yours and make the most of all this downtime. While being sensitive to those whose hardship is greater than yours — you can always use some of the money saved in commuting time to make a donation — you can always count your blessings. Just do it quietly.
My boyfriend makes a lot less money than I do. I don’t care but there are times that this economic chasm gets in the way. We try to split costs evenly, and I often pick up the tab for the more expensive things. He is at my place way more often than I am at his. Is it weird that I feel that I provide everything for him when he is at my place and he rarely contributes? How do I handle this?
Accounting for taste
It is certainly not weird that you are feeling like the provider, since it sounds like you are, indeed, contributing more to the relationship — financially — than he is. The question is, how much does this bother you, and is there any way that the situation could change in the future? If his income is fixed and/or there is no possibility of him bringing in more money, then obviously, the answer to that is no. Through a lens of equity, I think it’s worth asking yourself if it would bother you if he made more than you and you were unable to contribute as much. It may be worth analyzing how much of your feelings stem from the gender stereotypes many of us grew up with.
We all have to develop our own personal calculus as to what are relationship must-haves and what are relationship I-can-do-withouts. Does he bring other things to the table that offset this imbalance like, say, make an incredible coq au vin, build shelves in your closet, rub your feet, watch The British Bake Off with you, make you laugh ‘til you have “tears” running down your leg, or tell you you look amazing after getting the worst haircut of your life? My guess is that he is well aware of the income discrepancy and would be more than happy to contribute in other ways. Try to avoid scorekeeping though (as fun as that can be, honestly), because like a 1980s perm, it seems like a good idea at the time but it’s a bad look for everyone.
Will you tutor me in Zoom call etiquette? During a group call, is it okay to scroll through your phone, do a crossword puzzle, or….wax your legs?
Scroll through your phone? Nope. Do a crossword puzzle? Definitely not. Wax your legs? Of course! Just make sure to put something over your camera….or change your last name to Toobin (as a friend of mine exclaimed, “his entire career could have been saved by a Post-it note!”).
Dear Gabby appears in the RoundTable every Friday. Yes, Gabby is an advice columnist – but not just any advice columnist. Because that would be boring! Gabby combines wisdom with wit. And a pinch of snark. She is not a trained therapist by any means, but has seen and loved many in her day. Her aim is to make you think while she makes you laugh. Gabby welcomes all questions and queries and is only too happy to hear your opinion, no matter how much it may diverge from hers. Write to Gabby at firstname.lastname@example.org.