As y’all may or may not know, I was ruthlessly dumped in a Greyhound station two days before Valentine’s Day after a 16+ hour bus ride from a conference I had been at for a week in 2012 by my then boyfriend of 4 years. Oh, didn’t know that? I think back then I was being respectful of his privacy and all that jazz (and he knows about this blog) so I was super vague, but whatever. Facts is facts. So why bring this up a year later? Well, aside from being emotionally devastating, there was a marked … decrease in the cares I gave about my finances for the next eight months. Hell, there was a marked decrease in the cares I gave about a lot of things. Those eight months were financially devastating…but they were also the months I…ahem…got my shit together for the first time in years.
I also lost my favorite jacket and debit card on this trip
I remember the first and only big fight we ever had was about money. He felt I was taking advantage of him by him paying for our take-out and sit-down meals, whereas I thought it was balanced since he was using up my meal plan to have lunch every day. We decided the rule would be “dutch unless it’s your birthday.” And I think that actually worked for us for a few years. Until things started falling apart. And I could see that this was happening, but I didn’t understand why, and he wasn’t being upfront about it. So I began spending. Looking at my January 2012 expenses in January 2013 was horrifying. $30-$40 charges to restaurants, charges for gifts, etc. all over the place. Just to show that “Yes, I care! I want to treat you well.” But money and free meals weren’t what he needed, much like being treated the way I was being treated wasn’t what I needed, and this should not have been the first sign that being enamored with another person turns me into a financial idiot.
After him came a male friend that I had a crush on and had casually gone out with a few times. I was interning in Florida, and his family was visiting there, so I made plans to see him. Whereas he thought it would be a casual lunch (because he thought I was 30 minutes away), it turned into an affair that I spent most of my first paycheck from that summer on, from a new outfit to the gas to drive the … hour there, plus breakfast, a movie, the boardwalk, and my own lunch (at this point he wised up and insisted on paying for at least his own half).
It was a beautiful day, albeit maybe it could have had less financially draining events…
Enter in bf, who has been mentioned in several posts. He pays for a lot of things. And holds my doors open. I want things to be even between us, although unlike in previous situations, our financial situations aren’t really equivalent. It’s been a real pain in the uh-huh to try to not go spend-crazy. So far I’ve actually been pretty good, in that we’re starting to hit where it’s not quite so heavily weighted in his corner, and we’ve started eating home-cooked dinners vs. going out, or if he gets take-out, I get us fro-yo or we pick up stuff to make root beer floats (which means dessert for the next million times he’s over) and picking dates like going roller blading or for walks or just watching X-Men on Netflix. I still spent a little more on his birthday present than I should have, and do spend a lot more on gas so that I can visit him, but I think so far I’m hitting my stride. The most financially irresponsible thing I’ve done was to take three days off to go on a family vacation with him and then spending about $100 on said trip, costing in total (through expenditures and lost wages) approximately $350-$400. Which, when all was said and done, was totally worth it.
So what have I learned through these experiences?
- Eating homecooking is so much cheaper than eating out
- Money can’t buy love – you shouldn’t buy gifts to prove you’re valuable.
- Don’t rely on someone else to pay for all your stuff. It’s kinda rude.
- You don’t need to buy a new outfit for all your dates. They’re already invested if they’re sitting there talking to you and probably won’t notice if your dress was purchased a week ago or a year ago (unless you don’t take care of your things).
Other people tend to be much less critical of us than we are of ourselves.
- Compromise is key, as well as being honest and open about your financial situation. If visiting often will drive your gas budget into the red because s/he lives so far away, don’t do it. The additional stress will take its toll in other ways.
- Remember that you can go to a concert or you can go on a picnic, and you’ll both enjoy yourselves because that’s the way it works. You’re dating for each other, not for events.
The number one thing I’ve taken away from this is that if a person likes me, they actually like me. They won’t be mad if I can’t eat out every day with them, they won’t be mad if I can’t visit every single day, and they won’t be mad if I ask for compromise (a balance of expenditures). They won’t require expensive and elaborate dates during which I have to force myself to entertain and think of ways to be funny. That being myself is good enough, and finding someone who respects the desire to be financially autonomous and secure and … gasp … might even share that desire is possible and may have even happened.