Dating is hard. I could write a whole book about all the horrible messages I’ve gotten from dudes on dating sites and all the bad dates I’ve gone on. Getting to know someone is complicated enough – mix in finances and it can be the perfect storm of awkward. For those in a heterosexual relationship, It’s often seen as ‘traditional’ for the male to pay on dates. Since men still typically make more money then women, is this acceptable – or is it outdated and offensive? And for those who are dating the same sex, how does it work? Does the person making more money pay?
The best way couples can deal with this confusion is to talk about it ahead of time. Everyone has a budget, which means we only have so much disposable income to spend on those we care about. Early on in a relationship it might seem premature to discuss budgets, but no one wants to spend more cash then they’re comfortable with or go further into debt in order to keep up appearances. It’s key to talk openly about what you’re able to spend on a date and how you wish to divvy up whom pays for which date.
When I was in my early twenties I was very reluctant to discuss money, but gaining more dating/life experience has made me much more willing to talk about finances in the relationship. The decision is individual, and very personal. It’s important to remember that comfort levels regarding finances are different for each couple. No two relationships are the same, so if your friend has a partner who pays for everything and that doesn’t work for you and your partner, please remember that it’s okay.
If possible, understand how to manage your cash flow before you begin dating someone. There are tons of apps you can download that will help with budgeting. The app I hear talked about a lot is Mint – however, I use my bank’s app, which shows an expense tracker. If you’re not into apps, an excel sheet can do the job perfectly. When you know how much you can spend on yourself, you’ll know how much you can spend on dates with your partner.
But what do you do if you’re dating a man who still holds traditional beliefs? I’ve been in relationships where my male partner would try to pay for everything, and this didn’t work for me because it made me feel very young and vulnerable. Because of this, I now prefer the 50/50 approach. If the person you’re dating doesn’t respect your decision to stay financially independent, then maybe that’s not the right person for you.
Money is a sensitive topic and can easily become a touchy issue for any couple. The key is to discuss it early on. You may find out that the person you’re dating has a great deal of debt – debt you may not want to assist in paying off. There is no right or wrong answer to this decision, as long as you’re taking care of yourself and not putting yourself into debt to continue the relationship. It’s my belief that relationships should be equal, whether it’s a same-sex or opposite-sex relationship.
To summarize, it’s important to have a budget and stick to your guns. Don’t let your partner pressure you into paying for dates or going on outings that you cannot afford – if the person that you’re dating likes you, they’ll accommodate your needs. Suggest ways to slim down your dating expenses by going to the movies on cheap night, taking advantage of student discounts at restaurants and making a nice dinner at home.
Do you have any tips for staying financially independent while dating? Leave them in the comments below.