Monday, August 17, 2009

Romance is.......NOT a Financial Plan!*

Ah, l''s a beautiful thing. When you're young, whether it's just a crush, a hookup, a what-are-we, or an actual relationship, it drives us to distraction and feels like it will last forever (for good or for ill). In addition to the movies, the candles, the kissing and cuddling, the lovely dinner, there is a price tag to go along with it. And right now, I'm not speaking of the cost of your heart.....

One huge problem I've had with dating is the expectation that the guy is supposed to pay all the time. I have a ton of guy friends who do it, regardless of whether they're dating a girl or they are just irresistibly sweet and just want to buy their female friends coffee or dinner just because. Now, I understand the time and place. Female financial independence is a relatively new concept and it was true that women couldn't pay for dates. Thus, in order to be a gentleman, a man had to. Otherwise, he'd be worthless scum for not considering a lady.

However, in this day and age, we women are much more independent than in previous eras. We have more control over our finances than we ever did. At the same time, when we're in school, money is understandably tight. This empty feeling in the pocketbook does not know gender boundaries so our guy friends are struggling with it, too. Hence, I do find it a bit unfair that, if the guys are struggling with the costs of rent, education, etc as well, they're still expected to pay for a relationship. I also don't think girls should get off so easy, because it gives the impression that we need to be let off easy, that we can't assume any responsibility, whether it's financial or otherwise. So, while I think it's really sweet if a guy is willing, I don't think he should be put in that situation all the time.

My solutions? I'm not saying men shouldn't be gentlemen or whatever. I'm saying that men and women are equal and this should apply financially as well. So, for the college student, I suggest a couple things.

1. Take turns paying. That way, you're sacrificing for each other and it's not just a one-way street. Seriously, you cover someone one night, they should cover you the next and vice versa.

2. Go Dutch. It's easy enough to split the cost. If the restaurant doesn't do separate checks (the one I work at does not), ask if they can split it. Of course, going Dutch doesn't often sound like the paragon of romance, so if it's not your cup of tea, go for option one.

3. Low cost activities. Going for a walk, for a cup of coffee, hanging out at each other's places, cooking for each other (that one is particularly adorable), making arts and crafts for each other, writing songs/poetry for each other and other things are every bit as meaningful and much easier on the budget than going to a restaurant or out dancing all the time.

4. Whatever you spend, always keep track and make sure it falls within your budget. If there's something special you would like to do for your amore, plan ahead. Always, always plan ahead.

5. Don't EVER put yourself in debt just because you like someone. If they truly like you back, they would not expect you to do so and in fact would worry (especially if you're like me and you worry about everything under the sun). Not to mention that, in the future, if you're hoping to enter the world of marriage and family life, keeping your finances under control is an absolute prerequesite.

Am I writing this because I want to reduce love to a bank statement? No. It's precisely because I do NOT that I am blogging about this topic. Love should be about more than the size of the pocketbook. For most of us college students, it's not very big. So let us learn to love, with both generosity and practicality.

*DISCLAIMER: I'm NOT going into arguments about either gender, sexuality or racial inequality here, or how this standard applies in different situations. I'm going by what I observe and experience and am giving my thoughts on the matter.

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