Dear Dating Coach,
My parents work hard to make ends meet, so while I still live at home, I pay all of my expenses. I have been dating for a couple of years now, and while I am intent on finding my match, my wallet is begging for a break. Between the restaurants and parking, a date can cost me $200. Even if I go on a date just twice per month, that’s almost $5,000 per year! Isn’t it time for me to split the bill?!
Single and Shortchanged
The sukkah I grew up in had a large fluorescent light hanging from a center beam. Pine needles would fall on it, the wind would make it rock from side to side, and at night it would cast an eerie yellow glow on all of our Yom Tov guests.
Later on, when my husband and I were ready to build our own sukkah, we never considered any other option. We hung a rectangular florescent light right up and called it a day.
One day, amidst Yom Tov prep, I made a Home Depot run and noticed a display of little clear, twinkly string lights that were on sale. On a whim, I grabbed a box and we put them in our sukkah to see how they would look.
That night, we walked out to our meal – and the sukkah was transformed. Little lights danced through the dark night, and everywhere we looked the sukkah sparkled. Their golden glow highlighted our table and our guests, and our simple sukkah was suddenly filled with magic. (I know you are totally running out right now to buy your own twinkly lights. Tell them I sent you!)
Dating can be very expensive, and it sounds like you are feeling the burn. While the girls also contribute along the way in clothing, transportation, and sometimes plane tickets, guys are still the ones who pick up that restaurant check and pay for parking.
I commend you for your responsibility and your ability to support yourself, and understand that it can be frustrating to spend so much money on dating – especially when the girl you are treating is not the one. I always find it interesting that even with feminism at its peak, we women still want the man to pay for dinner. We also wait for the man to propose (I never see any girls on bended knee at SimchaSpot!), and although we can take care of ourselves, we still hope that chivalry exists and will find us.
Eating at a restaurant can be expensive, but by paying the bill you are showing the girl that while you know that she may be able to afford her own meal, you don’t want her to. Sure, I can grab my own luggage (that’s what those carts are for in the airport!), but isn’t it lovely when my husband does it for me? I can also open my own doors (I know, I am mighty!), but isn’t it sweet when he holds it open for me? An ability to do something, whether financial or physical, does not mean that it doesn’t make us feel cared for, appreciated, and special when our dates (or spouses) do it for us.
Maybe she makes more money than you at her job, maybe she eats out all the time and swipes her card without a thought, or perhaps she is gluten-free, dairy-free, and carb-free and barely picks at her dinner (ugh!). Regardless, your willingness to pay sets the dynamic of a healthy marriage: showing her that you will provide, cherish, and take care of her. Even more so, when you pay for that dinner, you are bringing the sparkle of magic into dating.
Happily Ever After
Dinner, however, is not the only way to date. You can still go to a hotel lobby and have a drink. But I know that can get old after a while. So do some research in the city you are dating in and get creative. There are so many other interesting, different, and fun things to do that don’t require you to spend a lot of money. A Google search will give you lots of options and perhaps allow you to get to know your dates in a more relaxed or exciting setting.
Additionally, girls can also find kind ways to contribute. My sister-in-law once sent my brother a sushi platter for lunch at his office while they were dating because he had mentioned that he often forgot to stop to eat.
Caring is indeed a two-way street, but chivalry and romance are the magic that allow feelings to develop and relationships to bloom.