Money and Dating

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.

Photo: smile4camera


42 Comments / Post A Comment

Allison (#4,509)

cake is hard! I’m more of a brownie and cookie person myself, but I made this cake for my roommate last year (funfetti instead of white cake) and it was delicious.

Vicky (#2,266)

Cookie cake! Easy and sprinkle-friendly.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

Classic lemon cake made with the juice of fresh lemons with lemon zest in the icing is The Best Cake.

Meaghano (#529)

@LookUponMyWorks AGREED. i have the smitten kitchen “lemon yogurt anything cake” recipe taped to my fridge.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@Meaghano All Smitten Kitchen cakes are the best! (I especially like the walnut jam cake, though I don’t think it would go great with sprinkles. The chocolate wedding cake is also amazing, and very easy, and would receive sprinkles well.)

AitchBee (#3,001)

Flourless chocolate cakes are pretty easy, and Very Delicious. My other go-to is Martha Stewart’s brown sugar pound cake, which you could put sprinkles on, I guess, if you wanted?

ATF (#4,229)

I made the six layer salted caramel monster from Martha Stewart Living a few years ago. It was time consuming but excellent.

And this chocolate stout cake is diiiiiiiiivine:

But that’s all I’ve got for cake. I don’t often make cakes. Brownies and cookies are more my speed.

As for dating and money, it’s hard. I’m a few weeks shy of two years with my boyfriend and he’s the higher earner in our relationship by a bit (made $20K more than me last year). We live together now, and I know him quite well at this point so I do know that he, but it’s still hard to not pay for 50% of things. I make good money, so it’s not like I’m broke and can’t afford things. But I just can’t always justify spending on things, so I don’t or I worry that we’re spending too much if he treats. I think I feel like I should be able to spend as freely as he does given my current salary but that’s just not the case. I do make less. It does mean I have to be more careful. And that makes me cranky sometimes.

I think I’m ready to be at the point where we combine our finances and it becomes ‘our’ money and not ‘his money’ or ‘my money’.

Meaghano (#529)

@ATF Daaamn. Those are important cake recipes, thank you!! And yes I have been on the other side of that. We’ve had “combine finances” on the to-do list for over a year now but going to a bank etc etc, seems like a lot of work. And now that I don’t have a FT job anymore and am on a budget equivalent to his salary, it feels less urgent. But before yeah I made a good 30k more than him and he usu. tried to keep splitting things down the middle — despite my insistence to the contrary — but it just ended up meaning he would skip student loan bills / charge stuff to his credit card, meanwhile I wasn’t even thinking about it. Which sucks when you’re supposed to be a team.

Marge (#4,715)

I don’t know what my Valentines’ day plans are yet my gentleman caller has a basketball game but I like any kind of cake.
I do know that he thinks being in a relationship saves him a lot of money. When he told me that I laughed in his face and said that it’s because he comes over and eats all my food, but probably also because I mock him for ordering sandwiches off Seamless for the days when he is home doing freelance projects. I bet not ordering seamless for fear of being mocked by a significant other saves lots of money.

Meaghano (#529)

@Marge So true. Half the time if I am home by myself my first thought is, “yesssss i can order seamless without debating what to get with anyone!”

Marge (#4,715)

@Meaghano Just make a baked potato it’s not like that takes up soooo much time :D :) XD

Liz the Lemur (#3,125)

I might also be making a pie or cake for Valentine’s day.

In a way, this makes me glad that I’ve never (thus far) had to do any “real adult dating” since my college relationship has continued post-college. In school it’s easy to get away with calling pizza + free college improv show a date. Not so much anymore.

Meaghano (#529)

@lemur_niemer Cake vs pie, though, remains a conundrum!

Liz the Lemur (#3,125)

@Meaghano Might have to do some market research – i.e. make both.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

@Meaghano If I’m baking, I’ll make a pie over cake any day…but if I’m eating, it’s like who cares?! just give me a slice of both!

Kate (#1,408)

Going out on Valentine’s Day is often expensive and crowded and noisy and I just don’t think it is worth it. CAKE, though, cake is a great idea.

This lady who needs a $100 visit to the salon before EACH date is living on a different planet than I am.

AmyRenee (#5,971)

Ok, three cake recipes for you. I’ve made all three many times, they are tried and true and delicious.

Chocolate lava cake:

Chocolate Stout cake:
(substituting Framboise for the stout is delicious if raspberry is more your thing)

Pound cake:

lindseykai (#1,544)

We’re also staying in and making dinner, including the finest dessert in all the land: creme brulee.

RiffRandell (#4,774)

@lindseykai Do you own a personal flamethrower, I MEAN torch?

lindseykai (#1,544)

@RiffRandell Of course!

Someone was going to THROW AWAY a jar full of change?!? What the everloving hell.

I just…I can’t even comment on the rest of the story, because that one bit makes me so upset. You did the right thing!

THROW AWAY MONEY. What. The. Hell.

BATS! (#2,770)

@bowtiesarecool I threw away a lot of pennies once when I was about to move across the country. On my last day before I moved I wandered all over the city, dropping pennies on the ground like breadcrumbs. I have done the same with low value foreign currencies (like whatever the smallest denomination of ringgits is), also before a cross-country move. There’s something really satisfying about throwing change into a gravel alleyway.

I took all my other change (dimes and up) with me, though.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@BATS! My mom has a friend who always drops change on walks, to entertain the neighborhood children, and to appear generous to the universe such that he might be rewarded later…

andnowlights (#2,902)

Some of my best dates were ones that didn’t really cost much or any money. Feeding the ducks at the park (bread: $2), going hiking ($0 because I had outdoor shoes), etc. These people who think they have to impress their dates… it makes me so sad for them. The best relationships are the ones where you don’t have to pretend you’re something you’re not (or try TOO HARD).

Going out for Valentines is the worst because all the restaurants do prix fix menus with way lower quality food than they normally serve. Husband and I stay home and I make dinner. Dessert is always pot au chocolat, which is awesome and so rich it makes you want to die, but it’s worth it.

yrouttasight (#2,967)

@andnowlights When we were dating, I took my husband hiking to impress him. I really hate hiking, and I’m not an “rugged outdoorsy” person in general, but I thought it was something that would make him happy.

He could tell I was miserable, but he still told me he loved me for the first time when we got to the top of the mountain. He said I didn’t have to go hiking again if I didn’t want to. I haven’t gone since.

andnowlights (#2,902)

@yrouttasight Aw, that is cute! I like day hiking, but you could not pay me enough to do an overnight hike. We’re going to Yellowstone this summer and I am ALL about the day hike + 5 star (or at least 4 star) hotel with an awesome dinner.

Alicevlaubach (#5,972)

This is a great yellow cake with a delicious chocolate frosting. I don’t know how much time you want to put into the cake, but this is fairly simple. I am also favoring birthday style cakes because I am 7 months pregnant and all I do is think about is birthday cakes with loads of frosting.

I am making this as a surprise for my sister. (Also for myself, see birthday cake comment above.)

Meaghano (#529)

@Alicevlaubach I am 6 months pregnant and that birthday cake is the EXACT cake I was fantasizing about. I have it open in a tab in my browser right now, ha.

garli (#4,150)

@Alicevlaubach Oh I made that double chocolate for my husband’s birthday and it was pure crack. Maybe I should do the yellow cake for comparison’s sake – not because I’m a glutton.

raptoraptor (#5,820)

omg just google “Better than Sex Cake”. decadent is an understatement and it is THE LEAST HEALTHY but it’s soooooo good.

Meaghano (#529)

@raptoraptor oh shit. two birds, one stone

ellabella (#1,480)

Going rock climbing! I thought this was a cute and original idea but turns out, not only is there a couples’ valentines day special*, there is also a Tinder special/mixer**? So, hopefully it will be more fun people-watching than just being out with lots of other boring monogamous couples? We’ll see. I feel quite silly.

*$49 for one/$99 for two Learn the Ropes course, gear, day pass, plus extra day pass and gear for another day.

**Brooklyn Boulders, $19 day pass + gear if you make a Tinder profile and use a photo of yourself rock climbing.

Jeff (#5,975)

“Guys forget how expensive salons are and not all of us have good hair.”

And women forget how expensive dates are (when the guy is paying for the majority of them) and not all of them have good salaries.

Slutface (#53)

@Jeff I think just this particular woman does. She sounds like a lot of work.

Slutface (#53)

Does that girl know she can just buy a razor and shave?

ceereelyo (#3,552)

On Vday husband and I have always made a point to go out the day after valentine’s day, but that will be Saturday so everything will be busy anyway. I really just want a steak, and through our married psychic connection (that really doesn’t work half the time) he is making steaks tonight! TONIGHT! Happy early Valentine’s Day to me!

I love all the cake links! I am bookmarking them all! This cake recipe I pinned recently is next on my cake-making ventures:

EmilyAnomaly (#4,238)

my birthday is two days after Valentine’s day, so dating anyone around this time of the year is extra stressful for them (not that I impose that they buy me extravagant things for both occasions two days apart, but because they might feel obligated to do something).

I hate HATE hate going to restaurants on busy nights, so last year my SO and I hung out and made hors d’ oevres (we had only been dating 2 months) and this year he’s making me dinner on V Day and taking me out for my birthday Sunday night. When he asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him gourmet cupcakes. Anything cake-related is good.

Yes yes yes to the money imbalance. Not exactly sure how much more money my bf makes, but it can be so frustrating when he’s simultaneously cheering on my desire to pay down our credit card/expecting me to save for our upcoming move/go out for drinks. He’s also much more social than I am, so going out to drink a five dollar beer makes sense to him, while to me that is just throwing money away.

xenu01 (#4,239)

Ha! That lady with the salon cracks me up. First date= meet somewhere public you were going to go anyway (like a cheap restaurant or a bar or some weird movie you wanted to see anyway), go dutch, wear slightly more makeup than usual and shave your legs if you feel like it. Maybe dating was awesome for me because I gave exactly no shits if I died alone but whatever.

Oh, here’s my pro-tip. NEVER do a first date at a movie where there’s a masturbation scene. Unless you’re already friends. MAAAAN that’s uncomfortable.

yrouttasight (#2,967)

@xenu01 I don’t recommend going to see David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive on a date. Don’t ask me how I know.

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