The Moneyist: My friend got us free theater tickets. When I got home, she texted me, ‘Can you get our next meal or activity?’ Am I obliged to treat her?

Dear Quentin,

After not seeing a friend for a few months, she asked if I wanted to go to a show with her that evening, if she could get free tickets from work. I graciously accepted. I expressed my enthusiasm throughout the evening, and I thanked her several times.

I felt I was both overtly and appropriately grateful. For instance, I drove us to the theater, and paid $10 for parking. When we got dinner, I was happy to split the bill 50/50 even though she had a $15 cocktail and I had water. 

The show was great! I told her how serendipitous it was because it ended up being a table read of my all-time favorite movie, “When Harry Met Sally.” My friend had never seen the film. It was a Netflix/Seth Rogen


Later that night, my friend texted me, “As I got these tickets, can you get our next meal or activity?” I replied to say she gave me the impression the tickets were free. She replied that they were free but, “It doesn’t matter because she still ‘got them.’”

“‘I told her that I was sorry for disappointing her and I sent her $30 via Venmo for her half of dinner. She didn’t accept it.’”

I said, “Oh, I guess you expected me to cover dinner?” She replied, “No, that wouldn’t be fair because the tickets were free.” However, she repeated that I should still commit to taking care of our next social engagement.

I am not a tit-for-tat person, especially with friends. I often treat friends to a drink. That said, this request confuses me. Was it in poor taste not to cover dinner? She told me about her new job, and that she is making $30,000 a year more than me.

She said that she doesn’t want to go around in circles about this, and that she finds it really annoying. I told her that I was sorry for disappointing her, and I sent her $30 via Venmo for her half of dinner. She didn’t accept it.

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