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Monday question: The biggest losers?

Posted by Robin Abrahams  November 29, 2010 05:30 AM

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A family saga that ends in Vegas, but probably won't stay there:

My husband and I have stopped eating out with my Aunt Rho because she seems to think that we (I) should always be picking up the check. She made a comment to her sister, Bobbie (also my aunt) that she only goes out to eat if someone else pays for it. My Aunt Rho is not wealthy, but she is also not destitute (she is just cheap). Could you offer any suggestions about how we (I) can let her know that the reason we (I) have stopped eating out with her because we (I) have become annoyed about her not offering to contribute her share when the check comes? She just says "thank you" like she expects that we are treating.

In the past, we have just reluctantly paid the bill when she does that because we were uncomfortable handing the situation any other way. I consider my husband and I to be very generous people. We often pick up checks when we eat out with others. But, we are not so financially secure that we can do this on a regular basis.

We (I) don't want to hurt my Aunt Rho's feelings. But, we (I) want her to understand why we (I) am never available when she suggests going out to lunch or dinner. She has made comments that her friends don't ask her to go to eat anymore. I can only guess that she puts them in the same ackward position when the check arrives (based on the comment she made to her sister, Bobbie). Even when Rho goes out with her sister, Bobbie, she assumes that Bobbie should pay. I handle Bobbie's finances. So, I know first hand, that she can't afford to do this.

In conclusion, my husband and I will be going to Las Vegas for a relative's wedding in a few weeks. Aunt Rho is flying out and back with us. I'm sure that we will be eating many (if not all) meals together. We considered not even going in order to avoid having to deal with this issue. But, we have decided to go. So, if you could offer any advice for dealing with this, we would be forever grateful.

Any advice on how the LW and husband (they) can get to Vegas and back without becoming the biggest losers? I'll post my advice and response to your comments on Friday--and this Wednesday, we have our first chat of the holiday season, right here from noon-1pm. Hope to see you then!
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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