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Dear Demetria:

Should a man get upset or feel a type of way if his girlfriend goes out, either solo or with friends, and other men buy her drinks? Or should she turn them down? —Anonymous

Let me ask you this instead: Would you be OK if your man went out, either solo or with friends, and bought women drinks? Whatever your answer is to that is how you should proceed in your situation.

In my “research” (i.e., an informal conversation with friends), I found plenty of women who were OK with accepting drinks. I found none who were OK with their man buying them.

So I’m going to guess that your answer to my question is no, for two reasons: One, you don’t like the idea of your man spending money on another woman. And two, you know from experience that a drink is rarely just a drink.

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Are some random guys just generous and want to ensure that a lady has a good time? Absolutely; those guys exist. Your man even might be one. But you know and I know from experience that most of the time, when a man buys a drink, he’s trying to push up.

He’s not offering that drink because you look parched and he’s a do-gooder who wants to quench your thirst. He’s offering because it’s an entry point to have a conversation with you, find out “what your interests are and who you be with, things that make you smile, what numbers to dial,” to quote the late, great street poet Biggie. And the guy knows that in a crowded room with lots of people potentially vying for your attention, he needs to stand out. You’re more likely to at least hear him out than turn your head if he comes with a perk: a drink.

Of course, you’re not obligated to chitchat with a man because he buys you a drink. You owe him no more than a thank-you or a raised glass to say, “Cheers.” But when the guy is interested, it’s misleading to accept his gift when you’re not trying to hold a conversation. And it can be awkward. Oh, and it’s cheap. It’s the club equivalent of going out with a guy you don’t like just to get a free meal.

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But let’s call this all what it is: He’s flirting and you’re entertaining him for the equivalent of $8-$18, depending on the city and the venue. That’s a paltry sum to disrespect your commitment if your man, in fact, sees it as disrespectful.

If he does, skip the freebie on the front end and the headache on the back end if he ever finds out; just buy your own drinks or pregame before you go. If you can’t afford your own drinks, then perhaps you don’t need to drink. Spirits are a luxury, not a necessity.

Not all men care about your accepting a man’s drink, of course. (Confession: Mine does.) When I threw this question out to an attentive audience, there were men aplenty who were like, “Save your money, take that drink and come home tipsy to me.”

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If your man feels like these guys, accept the drink. If your man doesn’t, politely decline and purchase your own.

Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at askdemetria@theroot.com.

Previously in Ask Demetria: “Your Roomie Had a Right to React the Way She Did When Your Boyfriend Moved In”