My friend Amy and her husband are both gainfully employed now but there was a period in the beginning of their relationship where he was super broke and she was making good money, working in big media, and I asked her recently if there was any tension, back in those early days, about who was gonna pay for their dates. I found some circuitous way of asking how she navigated his pride about the fact that he couldn’t afford the things she wanted to do, or whether his pride was an obstacle at all.
She says that they were both very honest about their respective situations. Maybe she’d make a move here or there to protect his pride, like tell him the bill was fifteen percent cheaper than it was, but for the most part she’d just tell him, “Look: there’s this thing I want to do, and it’s kind of expensive, and I know you can’t afford it. But I’m gonna do it anyway, it would be way more enjoyable for me if you were there to share the experience, so I’d like to pay for you to be there.” And he was good about it. No pride issues.
Amy’s entertaining me in all of this conversation because I’m tight with cash and whenever I think of starting a relationship one of the immediate concerns is that I can’t afford it.
More specifically, what I’m thinking is that I can’t afford to be going out and picking up the tab on dates–like a $50 or $60 outing once a week is OK, I can float that–and, if I’m being honest with myself, that’s probably all that a prospective partner would be looking for.
But there’s an underlying issue, too, of not wanting to bring somebody back to my room and have her see just how thrifty my lifestyle is. Owning fewer pants than there are days in the week and having nothing in my fridge you could categorize as a “snack.”
I’ll be thirty next year, and I think women my age are understandably looking for something more than good conversation (which is my one arena of Bezosian wealth, if I may boast).
Amy’s telling me, though, that something I’m also likely to find among women in their thirties is that they can probably take care of themselves and don’t need me financing everything. That literally nobody is looking for me to come into their life and start shouldering their burdens.
Which is a good point.
And it makes me wonder: do I have some kind of unconscious idea that my role as somebody’s boyfriend is to walk into their life and start throwing down money? Like go into their house and become The Man of that house? Some antiquated macho nonsense? Probably. I’m not sure how it got there, but I’ve gotta police it.
Anyway. The answer to this and everything else I write on this subject is to just hang tight, do my thing, somebody’ll come along who’s doing their thing, etcetera. I know the drill.
But it was on my mind and You’re a good listener so I figured I’d riff.