Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Guardian interviewed a dozen or so young people about the financial strain of dating, and how personal finances affect their relationships. Yes, please:
Emma, 22, Washington DC: Yes! It’s almost impossible to do dinner and something for less than $50. I’m dating someone who makes more money than I do, and trying to maintain anything close to a 50/50 split means spending more than I want or being the less fun one who doesn’t want to do stuff.
It has been awhile since I dated anyone new and lord knows I didn’t do much of it when I had the chance, but I do still remember the specific anxiety that came with trying to date while broke. Some guys I dated (dated seems like a strong word to use here but I’m going for it) were in a similar boat, which was ideal. Others were decidedly not.
Sandy, 25, Boston: I find dating expensive because it requires a trip to the salon which can be from $40-$120. Even for a one-night stand I like to get a Brazilian. When I was younger, I was cheaper, but now I want romance and to be wined and dined. Now, it’s an investment and the clothing, taxis, drinks, salon, etc, are adding up. Guys forget how expensive salons are and not all of us have good hair.
Okay I don’t relate to that one at all but everyone has their own needs.
Craig, 35, New York: I don’t worry about being able to pay for dates. If my date picks something out of my range, I will, in an open and honest manner, say that it’s a bit pricey, and ask if may we pick an alternative. If you can’t be honest at the beginning of the relationship, it doesn’t bode well for the future. And if your date can’t handle the honesty, maybe it’s a sign that you’re not dating the right person.
When in dire financial straits, I, like Craig, was always upfront about certain things being out of my range. The real trouble came when they’d insist we go anyway. “Oh it’s fine, I got this.” And of course I would do the same if the situation were reversed, but it was always hard to relax sitting across the table from someone I just met, knowing that I couldn’t pay my way if it came down to it. What if they forgot their wallet? What if their card was declined? What if they just said “I got this” to be nice but didn’t mean it? What if they didn’t prepay the cabbie enough money and the meter went over and I couldn’t make up the difference?
I think if I were in that situation again I would insist more stubbornly on things like taking the train home or pizza for dinner and avoid that particular anxiety and power dynamic altogether. But I will say I have no regrets about the time I gave in and took home all the change out of this one guy’s change jar he was going to throw away before he moved across the country. I left his packed up apartment that day with an armful of frozen pizzas, and I bought bodega coffee with those quarters and pennies for months.
This year for Valentine’s Day our plan is to order in and bake a cake, because every time we make big romantic plans on high-pressure occasions I end up crying in a restaurant. If anyone has the best cake recipe of all time, please let me know. In my mind, our cake will have sprinkles, but this is not a dealbreaker.