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Marisa Mackle: Penny-pinchers are the biggest turn off

Nobody likes a skinflint. You can be the best-looking man in town with a cracking sense of humour, but when you disappear off to the Gents just before your round, very few women will laugh.

Of course, we all know somebody stingy -- a first-out-of-the-taxi type of person. We all know somebody who doesn't really smoke but if you're offering -- sure he might as well join you. But it's very unattractive.

Most women don't expect men to shower them with gifts. Yes, there are a few money-grabbers out there and, indeed, I know one high society princess who never leaves the house with more than a fiver in her purse, but overall Irish girls are happy enough to pay their way. What we hate is to be insulted when somebody is supposed to be treating us. The unwritten rule is that when you invite, you pay, thanks very much. A date is not two long-lost friends going Dutch.

Now, don't get me wrong, I know that people have taken a real financial knock in recent times. But some people use the recession as an excuse to not buy anything at all. When I recently asked somebody to attend a fundraiser I was holding for charity, she replied that she couldn't come up with the €5 admission charge because times were so tough. When I said I'd pay the cover charge on her behalf, she admitted that, actually, she was meeting some friends in town that same evening for a few jars. A few jars? I'm sure such a session would cost more than a fiver.

I wish people would be honest and admit to being a bit mean instead of blaming the recession. The worst is when somebody texts you saying they've a little something for you at home. If it's your birthday, you would prefer the "little something" in your own home instead of theirs. I've lost count of the number of people who said they had a "little something" for my son, Gary, in the weeks after he was born. He's now two and there have been few sightings of the "little somethings".

While I'm in the middle of my rant, I may as well throw in my worst pet hate of all. It's when people say they will "look out" for my book. In other words, they have no intention of buying it but wouldn't dream of saying that to your face. "I'll look out for it", is as bad as somebody saying they're on a waiting list in the library for my book.

I was invited out on a date last week. When I arrived in the pub, my date had a full pint in front of him. "I'll just go to the bar," I said. "Are you alright?"

"Ah sure you may as well get me another one of these," he said.

I did. And after he'd drunk the two pints he said he had to go off and watch the football. "Are you okay to get home?" he added.

Some date! So if you've no money don't invite people out or tell them you've a gift for them at home.

They say it's the thought that counts but I certainly beg to differ.