This article was written for the Local Levo – Pittsburgh chapter. See it here.
I don’t date around a lot, I never have, but lately I have been seeing someone. It’s knocking me off of my feet, but not in the way you might expect.
My ex-boyfriends were all nice guys, but they weren’t financially responsible. I spent a lot of my time with them buying things or splitting the costs. It was liberating to be able to use my money how I wanted. I wasn’t in any sort of position to be supporting myself and someone else’s meals and nights out. Eventually, the financial strain became too much and made me feel used.
Presently, my dating world is definitely not what I am familiar with. I like the guy that I’m seeing, but he never lets me pay for dates. Sometimes, he will act like the next date is on me, we will go somewhere and have fun, but then he privately tells the waiter that he wants the check. I don’t know when, I rarely leave the table. I always assert my dominance in these situations, hoping the waiter will give me the check. I even use proper etiquette and hospitality techniques to show that I am the one in charge. But even the high school students who work at the movie theatre take his credit card over mine. I’ll have my hand out, waiting for the check and – boom – it’ll get plopped down in front of him. Not even at the center of the table so I can at least fight for it. My complaint has nothing to do with money and all to do with power and equality.
We’ve had the conversation about this numerous times. He thinks it is his duty to pay; he jokingly calls it “our tradition.” I assert that I do have money, it’s okay for me to take the burden every once in a while. He refuses to let it happen – he prefers to be the gentleman. I used to keep a list of all of the times we went out and who paid because it made me feel so guilty. I’m used to spending my money on the things that I want, whenever I want to spend it.
Now, I know what you may be thinking…
“Giiiiirl, let him pay, he likes it! #sugardaddy”
…but that’s not for me.
Sometimes, it makes me feel like he feels obliged to buy my affection; it makes me feel indebted to him. It makes me feel guilty because I know he doesn’t have the money to spare — he recently graduated and has way more student debt than I do. He only has a part time job, whereas I have a part time in addition to my full time. He is in the process of closing on a job, where he plans on making a lot of money. But he has to move out of state, and who knows if he will even enjoy it and stay on their payroll. Do our waiters assume that because he is the man, he makes more money and can handle the blow of a $60 dinner?
He doesn’t let me split the check or chip money into our expenses. I try to balance out the scale, buying froyo, movie snacks, tacos, and I’ll make dinner too; he buys dinners, drinks, parking tickets, and movie tickets.I know plenty of sayings apply here (“Spend it, you can’t take it with you when you go,” “Let the men spend his money where he sees fit, on you…indulge the man,” “You can’t buy memories”). And yes, sitting around my apartment eating froyo and watching movies does get a little boring (it’s what I do when I’m alone anyway). It’s nice to go out occasionally, but, does that mean an independent woman has to succumb to outdated chivalrous practices to make her man feel better about himself?
His lack of reliance in me to pay for our dates occasionally makes me feel that he doesn’t value me as an equal. Taking on (part of) the financial burden makes me feel secure that he sees me as a quality partner, someone that contributes and doesn’t need to be taken care of constantly. I don’t want to be spoiled and indebted, I don’t want to emasculate him or deprive him of his need to provide, I want to be appreciated and independent within our relationship.
I mentioned to him that I was writing this article about our relationship and it kind of turned on the light bulb. He took what I had to say to heart and was more open to me contributing to our “fun.”
He was also very curious to see what I was writing 🙂