Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: A dinner date with 'Daddy's little princess'

This reader's girlfriend expects him to pay for everything. Is there any hope for an old-fashioned love affair in the modern world?

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The Independent Online

Dear Virginia,


I’m dating a really lovely girl, but she expects me to pay for everything. If I don’t, she accuses me of being mean. All my previous girlfriends have been happy to share costs – some have even taken me to dinner or shows as a treat – but this one seems to expect the man to foot the bill everywhere.

She’s 25 but her attitudes are so old-fashioned. Her father, who works as a builder, puts her on a pedestal and has never let her mother work. Am I being too optimistic in hoping she might change?


Yours sincerely,



Virginia says...

I remember once going to a boxers’ reunion party. The minute I came into the room all the boxers stood up with their hands out. They were all incredibly smart, with expensive suits and ties. One guided me to a seat for the “little lady”. I was brought a drink and as I sat back, I remember thinking: “Hey, this is the life!” and looking around to see if there were any spare boxers who might take my fancy. It was all such a change from the company of males that I knew – shambling characters in corduroys and tweed jackets who would only get you a drink if you gave them the money. Even then they sometimes forgot to give you the change.

It was only later, edged into a kind of peculiar ghetto of boxers’ wives, that I realised that I wasn’t so sure the pedestal life was for me. I suspected that were I married to one of these paragons of masculinity, like your girlfriend’s mother, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to work. Or have any male friends.

It was, simply, a different culture. There’s a reason people so often marry the girl next door or the boy at work. It’s because usually they have vaguely similar backgrounds. And life as a couple is difficult enough with different opinions and wants and needs, without adding the whole cultural difference to the mix as well.

I know these mixes often work out. But in your case I don’t think it’s going to. This girl is looking for a man to wine and dine her, to give her money to go shopping for dresses. She wants a 100 per cent breadwinner. She wants someone who, every anniversary, would take her for a slap-up meal in an expensive restaurant. She’s looking for someone who, if any passing bloke gave her a funny look, would immediately rise to his feet and ask the stranger to come outside so he could give him a punch on the nose. Is this you? I think not.

I don’t see why you couldn’t point this out to your girlfriend. If she adores you, she might be able to change. But I doubt it. She’s out of step with the times. What you want is an equal, who can share everything in life, from bills to anxieties to burdens and joys. Keep this girl as a friend by all means (though even that would be difficult if she found Mr Right) and find someone who thinks you’re not mean but just an ordinary, decent sharing kind of bloke. 

Virginia Ironside’s new book is No! I Don’t need Reading Glasses! (Quercus £14.99)

Readers say...

It will never work

The “pedestal” was widely used in the past to prevent wives from earning their own money,  thus ensuring their total dependence on their husbands. Most western women rumbled it decades ago. Given this background and what you have already observed, I think it would be difficult for your girlfriend to become an equal partner for you, sharing financial and other burdens and worries and accepting equal responsibility for running your life together. This sharing is the basis for real partnership and lasting love.

Julie Harrison, by email

She won’t change

“Daddy’s Little Princess” has no incentive to change. In fact, she is asking you to change to suit her. You date someone because of who she is, not who you would like her to become. You are clearly incompatible as she’s looking for someone to replace her father, a Prince Charming to whisk her away in the royal Ferrari to his palace. It is not your job to wake her up to the realities of life, she has to do that herself. Dump her and find someone who can smell the coffee.

Paul T Horgan, by email

Next week’s  dilemma

Dear Virginia,

My mum’s had cancer for a few years, and chemotherapy, and now she’s got secondaries and the doctors say if she has more chemo she might have another six months. But Mum’s refused. She says she can’t bear it and is happy to die. I’m at university, and just can’t understand it. I feel so betrayed by her, and feel she should do anything to be with us a bit longer. My brother, who lives at home, says he understands, but my dad is in pieces. Is there any way we could persuade her? By the time six months is up they might have found a cure.

Yours sincerely,


What would you advise Rebecca to do?

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