Girlfriend has gone off deep end with frugal environmentalism

DEAR AMY: I’ve been dating "Anabel" for about a year. She is nice, funny and sincere. What I used to consider a quirky endearment, I now consider an annoyance.

Anabel is cheap. She says she is a "frugal environmentalist."

If we get coffee at Starbucks, she’ll bring her own mug and take wads of napkins and sugar packets home to use later.

If we go out to eat, she brings her own containers to box the leftovers. She tries to recycle everything. She never buys anything full price, and she clips coupons like crazy.

When we go out to dinner, she always asks what everyone is getting so that she can order something comparable in price. That way, when we split the bill, she won’t feel as if she’s getting ripped off.


If she needs to run an errand less than 2 miles away, she insists on walking instead of driving.

I had a friend who was down and out, so I lent him money. She absolutely flipped out and said I was never going to get the money back and that he spent it frivolously. She called him a deadbeat.

He’s my friend, and I believe friends help each other.

She has a small group of friends and doesn’t like to hang out with people she thinks will take advantage of her. Many of my friends don’t like her.

How do I get her to tone down this abnormal behavior? I do believe in recycling and all that, but I think she takes it too far. — Not So Cheap

DEAR NOT: Some of what "Anabel" is doing is commendable — except stealing napkins and sugar from Starbucks. Where’s the environmental benefit in taking paper — and sugar individually packaged in more paper — for use at home?

Beyond your girlfriend’s commitment to the environment, your account makes her sound stingy, unpleasant and intractable.

Couples thrive when each person adopts the other’s more attractive qualities and accepts the other’s input in toning down annoying quirks.


Because she thinks of her less attractive characteristics as being those of a frugal environmentalist, she is not likely to change. She seems to think she’s saving the planet by being exactly as she is.

However, you should demonstrate that you’re capable of adopting some of your girlfriend’s practices — in return you should see if she is capable of being generous.

DEAR AMY: My son is having a black-tie wedding in two months. The invites are "hitting the street," and the invites state: Black tie.

Being the proud father, I will naturally be appropriately adorned in my best James Bond tuxedo.

But what about my brothers, uncles and sons-in-law? Will they be ostracized (so to speak) if they wear a regular suit and tie?

Is there a conventional answer — or are we facing another, "Today’s invention is tomorrow’s convention"? — Patrick "Bond"

DEAR BOND: The convention is that when invited to a black-tie event, male guests should wear formal suits.

If your male relatives ask, you should point them toward a tuxedo rental shop. Formalwear is changing, however, in that men aren’t shoehorned into the traditional bow-tie look. This is good news for everyone (in addition to making the guests distinguishable from the waiters).


More important than what guests are wearing, however, is how their hosts treat them. It’s the celebration of a marriage, for goodness’ sake — not a red carpet walk judged by Kathy Griffin. No guest should be "ostracized" (so to speak) or otherwise be made to feel uncomfortable because of what he is wearing.

DEAR AMY: I am worried about "Worried," who is concerned with his friend’s hair loss.

In my family, it was an often-told story that my mother had never known my father when he had hair. Because I had watched my older brother lose his when he was around 22, I looked on my own hair loss as conclusive evidence that I had really become an adult.

Not all bald men are ashamed of their hairlessness, and some of us even have welcomed it. — Bald and Proud

DEAR BALD: Welcome to adulthood — now turn over your comb.

I like your attitude.

Send questions via e-mail to or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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