My new boyfriend always eats and drinks way more than me when we dine out. I am usually happy to split the bill but in this case I feel like I'm always out of pocket. Am I just being tight? I can't afford to keep eating like this. - Scared of the Stinge, Auckland.

Judging by the fact you're still "splitting the bill" (and not taking turns paying for each other) we can only assume you're still in the early stages of this relationship. In which case, you're in luck. Your precedent hasn't yet become habit, so it'll be easier to change.


You're not being stingy. What you're feeling is your boyfriend's lack of awareness of the situation, which you're internalising as taking advantage. There are two ways to go around this. You could either take your relationship to the next level and incorporate the aforementioned "I'll get it this time, you get it next time" philosophy to eating out. If you have a general agreement that whomever pays gets to choose the venue, you can be diligent by selecting restaurants at which you know you can manage the bill (pre-read the menus online so you know prices).

However, this slightly-subversive (though not unethical) workaround might still leave you with a large bill whenever your boyfriend decides to order two fillet steaks, while all you're having is a chopped salad. So, to solve the problem, hit it head on. Have a discussion about spending with your boyfriend, but don't do it while you're at a restaurant. Take the conversation into the daylight, and tell him splitting the bill is becoming really tough on you financially, and you want to open the option of an alternative solution. Your first hurdle - acknowledgement by both parties - is then jumped.


Sharing and equality are part of being in a relationship and you don't want to go down the track whereby each of you pays for only what you consumed individually. You don't want a "but you had some of my fries!" quarrel. Suggest you eat at cheaper places, or that sometimes one party buys the food, the other buys the drinks. It might never feel even-steven but if your relationship is worthwhile, equal contributions will manifest in other parts of your life and make up for it.

How long after entering someone else's house can you ask for their Wi-Fi password? - Wi-Fi Wonderer, Palmerston North

You can only ask for the password if it's for a group purpose. Checking social media can wait. Photo / Thinkstock
You can only ask for the password if it's for a group purpose. Checking social media can wait. Photo / Thinkstock

This depends on the purpose of your visit. If you are an overnight staying guest, you can ask while you're settling in and being shown the bathroom, kitchen facilities etc. Good hosts should actually apply hotel-style etiquette and place the password on a note beside your bed, or with the towels. If you do have to prompt your host, say "I need to follow up some e-mails" or "I need to do a bit of work while I'm here" and then ask if they mind if you log on to their Wi-Fi network. They will undoubtedly say yes.

If your stay in somebody else's house is shorter, modern etiquette is to only ask for their Wi-Fi password for a specific, communal purpose. Say you go over for dinner. If you want to show them a video online, or stream a playlist from your Spotify account, then you can ask for their password. If your internet use is going to be purely selfish - i.e. you just want to check your Instagram account and don't want to use your own mobile data - you shouldn't be asking for the password at all. Either get a bigger data plan, or actually enjoy the company you're being presented with and wait until you get home to see Kim Kardashian's latest selfie.

I find the sound of pen clicking highly irritating; it drives me mad and makes me feel like I am going to have a brain-snap. How can I tell my senior colleague that he has to stop? - Pestered by Pens, Auckland.

You might just have to get used to the pen clicking. Photo / Thinkstock
You might just have to get used to the pen clicking. Photo / Thinkstock

Unfortunately, if he or she is a superior, there's little you can do. You'll come off as the Office Pedantic if you ask more than once, which you'll likely have to do if your superior's pen-clicking more a subconscious tick than an intentional annoyance. Also, if it is subconscious, your superior will probably keep doing it even if you did ask him or her to quiet down. Which would likely drive you even crazier.

So, here's how to live with a persistent pen-click. Consider it part of the wallpaper. Offices aren't quiet. The sound of pen clicking can be like every other sound on your floor - the annoying buzz of the overhead lighting, the e-mail inbox bings, the beeps and error notifications from the photocopier - so consider the pen-click just another one of those oddities. Internal acceptance is your only way to stay sane.