Dear Urban Diplomat: How do I tell my girlfriend that I don’t want her paying for all my meals?

A couple of months ago, I started dating an amazing woman: she’s smart, funny and plans killer dates (oysters at Miku, cocktails at Bar Raval). There’s just one problem: I’m a grad student and I don’t have the disposable income to keep up with her budget-busting activities. She always offers to cover me, but I don’t want her constantly footing the bill. I’m not looking for a sugar mama. How do I bring up my finances without embarrassing myself or killing the mood?

—Johnny Cashless, Parkdale

Given your girlfriend’s persistence about paying, she’s obviously aware you’re not a one-percenter, so don’t be afraid to have a frank conversation with her about it. Telling her the truth—that you appreciate the generosity but want to be able to treat her, too—won’t put a damper on your relationship. Making her plan a whole new set of dates tailored to your bank statement will, though, so follow up by suggesting some creative outings of your own. Once you’ve found the right balance, you can enjoy her pampering in peace. Besides, a few more months together and you two will be ordering in and binge-watching old episodes of The Wire like the rest of us.

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