Just one more thing I don’t understand.

There’s a thing a couple of my partners have done that I don’t understand: they agree to buy something for me for reasons of convenience, but when I go to pay them back they say “later.”  Are they in fact wanting to give me the thing as a gift, but won’t say so outright for some reason?  Is it that they find the exchange of money between partners awkward, and if so, why are they delaying that awkwardness by refusing payment and making me have to bring it up again some other time?  It’s pissing me off.

Minx would sometimes spring for my half of the groceries to make things simpler for the cashier, and usually when I went to pay her back she’d say “Nah, just buy me dinner sometime.”  I’m assuming the exchange of cash between lovers felt too, I dunno, businesslike, to her.  Or maybe she just liked stockpiling free dinners, I dunno (she did accept the dinners when I offered them).  Kinda strange to me, but no big deal.

The Pedant once helped me shop for a good pair of ear plugs (to wear out clubbing and whatnot).  When it came time to pay, I took out my debit card but he quickly got in there and whipped out some cash, mumbling something to me about how he might as well do that and save me…some kind of charge, I couldn’t really hear him.  He said I could pay him back later.  There isn’t any kind of charge for using a debit card to pay for something; I see no advantage to using cash (unless the store seems kinda shady, which this one did not).  I tentatively decided that perhaps this was his weird way of buying me a gift.  I never actually brought up the prospect of paying The Pedant back, and he never said anything more about it.

Also, on several occasions The Pedant and I went to a movie and he did the whole “I only have a fifty on me.  Do you have anything smaller?” dance – as though he was going to get me to give him my exact change and then pay for both of us, to get us through the ticket line faster – but when I held out my money to him he kind of awkwardly brushed me off, mumbling some excuse I couldn’t quite hear.  If he wanted to treat me, why not just say so?  We had a few times when we went to dinner and when the bill came he said “I’ve got this.”  I know he’s capable of declaring an intent to pay for both of us.

The Bunny and I once stopped at the grocery store on the way to his place.  He bought things with which to make us dinner, and I had a sudden craving for brie and found a little wheel of it on sale for around five bucks.  When we were in line – my lone cheese wheel on the conveyor belt, bracketed between two of those plastic separator bars – The Bunny said “just put it with my stuff.  It’ll be faster.”  When someone says that, I never know whether it’s an offer to buy the thing for me, or literally just a means of getting through the checkout faster and they do want to be paid back.  To be on the safe side, once we we’d trudged through the snow and were ensconced in his nice, warm apartment I said “Okay, hold on, I have cheese money for you” and reached for my wallet.  He said “Oh, just pay me back later.”  But…my wallet was in my hand.  With the $5 I owed him inside it.  Why should I wait some arbitrary amount of time to give it to him?  Or, if he meant he was fine just getting the brie for me, why didn’t he flap his hand dismissively and go “Don’t worry about it” – which I am given to understand is the standard response in that situation?

The brie only cost five bucks, and it really did seem like The Bunny was ready to let it slide, so I didn’t bother bringing it up again and he didn’t either.  But now there’s been another incident: I was ordering a wig from my favourite sex toy site and wanted to figure out something else to buy in order to bump my total high enough to qualify for free shipping.  Initially I was looking at strap-on silicone dicks (I think I need something more curved and slender than the ones I have now, for The Bunny’s comfort) and texted The Bunny asking whether he prefers a toy with a “head” on it or not.  Turns out he had plans of his own to get me a new dick, and was flustered that I was kind of interfering with this.  I explained about the free shipping thing and he said to hold off until I saw him the next day, and he’d order the wig on his card – along with other stuff that interested him – and we’d get the free shipping that way.  So we did this – he ordered on his credit card and yet invited me to put my own address in as the delivery address –  and when I said “Okay, I have wig monies in my wallet, let me go get them for you” he said “Meh, pay me later.  It’s not like I don’t know where you live.”

So, again, I have money right fucking there that I am offering to get for him – money that in fact I brought with me for this exact purpose – and he tells me not to give it to him.  Except he doesn’t say to forget about it entirely, he says to pay him later.  The wig is $30 – not an insignificant amount – and I’m buying it for work (some of the art classes I pose for are costumed and my own punk hairdo somewhat limits the range of characters I can portray), not as a prop for our sex life together.  If he’d told me outright that he wanted to purchase the wig for me, I would happily have accepted, but he didn’t and under the circumstances I don’t want to assume.  I guess I’ll try again to pay him once the goods are delivered.

The thing he opted to buy along with my wig was the Njoy Purewand, btw.  It’s unclear to me whether he got this with his ass in mind or my vagina (I do recall expressing an interest in the wand for my lady parts, once upon a time) or who will keep custody of it.  I’ll be mightily interested to see how this plays out.

But yeah.  The whole “Oh, just pay me later” thing when I practically have the money in my hand right now – WTF DOES IT MEAN?


February 18, 2014 · 1:44 am

9 responses to “Just one more thing I don’t understand.

  1. trillian

    I have no clue either. But it would make feel somewhat uncomfortable… like it holds the possibility that at an eventual fight or breakup you would get it all back like “PLUS you owe me thisandthis the whole time!”. Man, I would hate to hear that. The bunny doesn’t seem like that kind of guy at all, but still maybe ask next time straightforward what the deal is? Implicating, of course, how flattering his generousity is, if that’s what he meant with it 🙂

    • But it would make feel somewhat uncomfortable… like it holds the possibility that at an eventual fight or breakup you would get it all back like “PLUS you owe me thisandthis the whole time!”.

      Yes! That thought occurred to me, too. Like he’s willing to let the cost of things slide for now, but if one day he doesn’t like me anymore, he’ll demand payment for All The Things. Ever.

      Although I don’t think The Bunny is that sort, either.

  2. Andy

    This me, there’s a *slight* possibility that people are thinking, “Yes, when we break up, you shall owe me for all of this.” But “you can pay me back later” seems to imply (to me) more of an idea that–in an ongoing relationship–people will constantly be buying things for one another and “repaying” things that way without anyone literally handing the other cash. So The Bunny might buy you a Brie wheel today. Some other time, he’ll be in bed with a cold and you’ll stop at the pharmacy to buy him some aspirin and, in giving him the aspirin, you’ll have “repayed” the debt. And if the aspirin costs more than the brie, well, then he’ll repay the extra in the future by buying you something else and back and forth and so on forever. It doesn’t have to work out exactly even.

    I dunno, I could be wrong though. If it’s really confusing for you, I’d just say you explicitly want to pay him in *cash* now and give him the money.

    • Ohhhhhh. Yes! That’s the most feasible theory yet. And I’m totally fine with it – I was already thinking that if I ever bring The Bunny cold remedies or what-have-you, I wouldn’t ask to be paid back. He’s my boy. We’re at that point where I don’t expect perfect tit-for-tat.

      Still bugs me that he didn’t say “Nah, don’t worry about it, just buy me something one day when I need it” or words to that effect so I’d know what was going on. But okay, my new strategy will be not to mention any of these monetary incidents again, but be on the lookout for nice things I can do for him.

      Thank you for your wisdom!

      • Andy

        I’d guess he didn’t say that because he already thinks his message is clear. I mean…most of us leave details unsaid in every, single thing we say everyday. We’d never manage a conversation otherwise. Even if he said, “Nah, don’t worry about it, just buy me something one day when I need it,” there are still things that are not actually being spelled out in that statement: what day? what thing? Of course, that sounds nitpicky because *you* know you meant “some hypothetical day” and, for instance, “small purchases under $50.” But you didn’t explicitly SAY that.

        Also, it’s relatively easy to review a conversation later, on a blog, and see how you could say something more clearly but it’s certainly not easy in the heat of the moment. Why didn’t YOU ask, “Is this an offer to buy the thing for me or literally just a means of getting through the checkout faster?” I’d guess whatever your reason for not asking that (and all the other questions you posed in this entry) are basically related to The Bunny’s reasons for not explicitly stating, “I would like to be paid back through an exchange of favours when convenient to the both of us.”

  3. M

    For me at least, sometimes I’m not in the right headspace to deal with money. For example, I bought a friend of mine lunch the other day. When we got back to my apartment, he found his wallet and threw two fives at me. I wasn’t expecting this money (he’s not doing so hot right now and was with me for a favor anyway, lunch was my treat) – so I was not in my dealing with money headspace at all. So now that money is hidden on my bookshelves somewhere cos my brain was like yeah here boom.

    If that makes sense?

  4. I like having everything spelled out (because if it’s not the anxiety is killer), so I’d probably respond to those situations with something like “I’d like to pay you back now while I have the cash and it’s on my mind.” I’ve been told it’s embarrassing to accept money rather than a gift from friends or partners, but in that case “this is a gift” should be made explicit. If it’s a consistent issue, consider not letting them purchase the items in the first place? One answer to “just put the brie with my stuff, it’ll be faster” is “no thanks; taking an extra 30 seconds to check out is worth not having to stress about the subtext of cheese.”

    People are ridiculous about money. Apparently there’s a whole dating/paying for things unspoken set of really complicated rules that I just do not understand and it is crazymaking. I’ve been taking out this girl that I’m not-dating. She’s unemployed, I always state up front that dinner or drinks or whatever is on me, and every single time there’s waffling and “what if you *say* I can order whatever but really mean get a salad?” and I’m like “urgh, I know you want a rum and coke and something with meat; will you please just order that so we can go back to having a conversation?” Apparently there is some worry that after a threshold point I will decide x-dollars of food and liquor mean she owes me, and I’ll make her give my cat a bath or something.

    Which, come to think of it, would be a hilariously fun request to make.

  5. Jill

    I tend to do what you describe your lovers doing, and for me it’s because I enjoy both buying little things for people and having them buy something for me. It’s like getting to enjoy little favours all the time, from both sides.

    It tends to work well with other people who like that sort of thing, and who get that I don’t play power games with money and that accepting something small from me won’t come back to bite them. With people who are more inclined to worry about it until they’ve found the exact right way to pay me back, and then worry that they didn’t do well enough at paying me back, it’s no fun at all and I feel bad for having put them through it.

    It is easier to have an understanding about it if people are in roughly similar financial situations, though my most recent lover and I had wildly different money situations and it still worked. It was asymmetric (I have more money, and I spent more on him), but it really worked. I remember when we were at a grocery store picking some things up for him and I remembered I needed a new toothbrush. When I picked one, he said, “just put it in with mine,” and I felt really cared for. Not that I would have felt un-cared-for if he hadn’t done that. It was pure bonus.

    • Thanks for your reply!

      I like the easy, give-and-take kind of relationship you describe. But I need someone to expressly state that this is how things will be done. In the meantime, I rigorously pay things back, exactly because I don’t want the other person thinking I’m playing games with money (or assuming that he’s supposed to pay for all my stuff just because he’s the dude).

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