Dear Shirley:

I’m dating a man who is retired and now, because of what the stock market did to his 401K nest-egg, is no longer willing or able to pick up the restaurant, movie, and other checks. I sympathize, but I’m not exactly Mrs. Bill Gates myself. He’s very nice and I love his company, but I can’t help feeling jealous when my best friend tells me about the expensive gifts her “boyfriend” buys her and the front row seats he buys for the opera. What would you do?

–Abbey

Dear Abbey:

I have a friend whose man recently bought her a $10,000 necklace at Tiffany’s. (She only worn it once, and then buried it in her bank vault.) He pays for all their travel, too. Then again, I have a friend whose man isn’t nearly as free with his funds, but they get along like Adam and Eve — before she plucked the apple. Good relationships aren’t built on mattresses stuffed with $100 bills. We’re all waiting for the Recession to end. Eventually it will. It better. Until then, if you really like your guy – and it sounds like you do – be patient, go to restaurants and the movies “Dutch,” and enjoy every minute with him.

Confucius may not have said it, but “It’s better to have a good man’s arms around you than a diamond bracelet around your neck.”

–Shirley