Philemin (52): I find it very difficult that my new friend has no money

I denied it for a long time. No, I didn’t miss a fancy dinner and dessert cruises at all. And in fact I found it reassuring that he was driving such a small old car, at least that’s how I knew he had no ego problem to cover.

I said, man without money, I think it was refreshing. It made me realize more how lucky I have always been and that life is about very different things than material things. And I really meant the latter. That is why I am now ashamed of my cheek. Admitting that Bart’s tight budget has become a serious obstacle to our relationship seems like a defeat.

When I started looking around shortly after the divorce, income and wealth were not a criterion at all. I didn’t even think about it. Until then, the guys I was with were always in a good mood. I think I took that for granted.

On dating sites, I was especially interested in men’s statements about themselves. Or that they were a bit loyal. And whether there was any self-mockery could be discerned. I was looking for a man who in no way resembled my ex. My ex has always had a hidden agenda and hasn’t pondered himself, let alone laugh at himself. No, he prefers to laugh at others…

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So he did the same with disdain when I told him about my new boyfriend at our son’s weekly delivery. ‘You are? Part-time teacher and artist?! She can’t afford a woman like you, can she?! He almost stayed in it. For a change, I was glad our son was already playing with his headphones. How painful to hear how disrespectful your father is to your mother?

Of course I was offended to the bone. a woman like me? What do I mean by that? With all the poison it carries, it puts me away like a superficial luxury doll in need of maintenance, rather than love and connection. So cynical, it made me feel sick.

It immediately became clear to me why I had left Bernd. He is so obsessed with possessions and money that he has no idea that you can love someone for who that person is and not for what they have or have achieved. I thought that the poor man, with a pleasant sense of moral superiority, would again experience what true love was?

Suddenly I found it good in myself that I opened, though barely conscious, to a man of different ambitions and standards. And for that, she was greatly rewarded. Bart was everything I was looking for: kind, friendly, caring, creative. Yes, he didn’t have much to spend, but what would it be? He had so many other things to offer: love, attention, time, warmth, compliments, jokes, his knowledge of art and history, his great social family, all things that cannot be expressed with money, but are worth endlessly more.

Looks good, doesn’t it? Yes, I convinced myself too. For a year I didn’t pay attention to Bart because I couldn’t do the things together that I used to do a lot and like to do with Bernd. I was so madly in love that I thought anything was heaven–a long walk through the woods, or spaghetti with cheap wine on his rooftop porch, or stretched out on the sofa watching a movie–as long as it was with him.

And if you really felt the uncontrollable need for luxury, you went out with a girlfriend. Eat lobster, drink cocktails, delicious! Because it’s not like I can’t stand it. I’m well married and divorced, I’ve inherited quite a bit from my parents and I’m working so I don’t have to stick with the stick.

Only Bart is a proud man. He doesn’t want anyone to have the slightest doubt that he’s taking advantage of me. When we go to the balcony or eat outside, he wants to pay – or at most split – which means we can’t let ourselves go.

Before we sit down, he makes a huge study of the prices on the menu, but even if it fits his budget, I don’t dare ask for how I feel, because I’m afraid it’s too expensive for him. In addition, the wine in such restaurants is usually bent and the quality of the dishes is rarely anything to write home about. So yeah, all things considered, I’d rather eat at home with Bart.

I often touch it and I can cure it. On my birthday, for example, or when I think we have something special to celebrate. But then he never felt completely comfortable, which makes it not fun for me anymore.

Like I said, I didn’t find any problem at first. No matter what we did together, Bart and I had such a good time together that the height differences between our bank accounts didn’t matter. But a turning point came.

On a lazy Sunday morning we were enjoying a homemade breakfast so quietly, when a dumb idea came to me to embark on a sunny winter holiday. Of course I knew that such a trip was expensive, especially if you could only go during the school holidays. But for me, winter break is a basic necessity of life. This extra sun and sea injection really helps me get through the cool gray months. I know it sounds spoiled, but that’s how it works for me.

At first Bart responded with understanding and patience. He said I could go, of course, but he couldn’t stand it. He didn’t mind, as he doesn’t like long trips anyway. I should have left it at that. But I was thinking I wanted to do it with him and suddenly I thought I had already added more than enough water to the wine and that he should now come to meet me.

‘How?’ ‘You know I have no money for it,’ he answered me bluntly, ‘and you also know that I would never go with you at your expense.’ Then I suggested the unforgivable: Maybe you could work overtime? Or applying for a job as a school leader or something similar? It just exploded. How do I ask him that?! Should he just give up drawing? His passion, his reason for being? Just so I could go on with the poor rich guy?

Suddenly there was a huge gap between us. We both felt it. We immediately regretted it and tried to fix it quickly. But then I wondered what he really regretted. Do I realize that he also hurt me by ruthlessly judging my lifestyle?

When I asked him that, he answered with a smile. I shouldn’t take it personally, he said. He just didn’t like this world where all this luxury was considered normal.

This comment didn’t make it any better. Because no matter how you look at it, I’m a part of this world that seems to hate him so much. I am now fully aware that the open-mindedness of the beginning of our relationship is completely gone. The gap between us is real and it will not be completely closed. Was Bernd right when he said a man like Bart couldn’t afford a woman like me? How unbearable!

The names in this article have changed.

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