My title
Home > dating > Can I Afford to Date?

Can I Afford to Date?

February 12th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

As my grandmother took her seat at the table to meet my mother and I for breakfast, she asked me, “So do you have a girlfriend?”

“Nope,” I said.

“Good,” she said with a nod of approval. “They’re too expensive.”

(Ladies and gentlemen, my grandmother, hater of the year for as long as I can remember.)

The exchange above wasn’t recent. It was actually a few years ago, at a time when I was actively dating. I laughed at her remark, but it always stuck with me in the sense that she was right. Girlfriends are expensive, and though some may read her comment as heartless, I prefer to look at it as a heartfelt, but conservative message. I doubt she would tell my sister boyfriends are expensive because my grandmother is a woman of tradition who believes it’s a man’s responsibility to support his woman (even though she owned a restaurant for years to much success entirely on her own). And she knew I wasn’t in a position to be able to do that.

I have thought about my grandmother’s comment a lot these days. Single and in pursuit of control over my finances, one expense I’m looking at and thinking about constantly is the dating expense. The evaluation is also compounded with a conversation I had with my ex as she was breaking up with me.

She said, “I don’t think you should date anybody, at all, until you get your money under control.”

Foolishly I asked her if she was going to date other people. She didn’t hesitate, “If someone asks me out on a date, I’m not going to say no.”

Who can blame her? Any of us lucky enough to get an invitation to accompany someone on a night out would say yes, unless they had better things to do.At least, most women would, and I think we can all agree, for men like myself, dating is a little different.

I still don’t know the rules of who pays for what and when and how, but anytime I’ve been asked out by a woman, I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not it’s her treat, or our treat. This internal dialogue I do with myself – do I pay, do I not pay – has always been directly tied to my financial state. If I have the money, the question isn’t whether or not I should pay, it’s simply, how much. If I know I have it, I’m much more inclined to pick up the tab, because at my core, I’m a gentleman.

One time, I just got paid before I took a woman out. We had dinner plans, but no plans as to where to have dinner. She offered a restaurant close by her job. From the moment I walked in and they offered to take our coats while asking us if we had a reservation, I knew what type of place we were in and I knew I was about to drop at least a Franklin. As it turns out, I was wrong. I dropped a Franklin AND a Jackson.But I just got paid, I had the money and therefore I had no problem with the total. Besides, the meal was excellent, as were the drinks.

I wouldn’t think to do such a thing these days. Not only is it silly, it’s simply not affordable. I love to go out to eat, because I love food. I enjoy fine dining experiences the way some people enjoy the theatre, and it’s always been a luxury to which I’ve treated myself when I felt it was deserved. But that is probably one of the reasons I’m in the state that I’m in today, because when I’ve worked hard, and gotten paid for it, I have been too quick to spoil myself.

Dating creatively has never been my problem. Not only am I into finding interesting, off-beat ways to spend time with a woman I like, I also have the privilege of being invited to events and experiences in which I could take a guest, and that’s always been something I work to my advantage. Nothing says date night like an invitation to an open bar event replete with a live performance by a top-shelf artist. A movie date is perfectly acceptable when you’ve been invited to an advanced screening as opposed to going on opening night and spending close to $30 for two tickets. I’m an excellent cook who subscribes to Bon Appetit for a reason.

But events like these don’t drop into my inbox all the time. And though every woman appreciates the gesture of a home cooked meal, most times that’s seen as an indirect solicitation for a sleepover.

When I think about dating these days, the romantic thoughts have been replaced with financial ones, which, if I’m being honest, sucks.

It’s not that I like to date just to date. I meet a girl, I’m interested in her, I’d like to date her. That’s the way it works. If I like her on the first date, I’d like to go out on a second date and a third date, etc. If I really like her and I’m lucky enough that she really likes me, and we really like sex, then we’re talking about other expenses like condoms (assuming we don’t have any, but I actually like to start with a fresh box when I’m sleeping with someone new. Weird rule, I know). If it turns out we really like having sex with each other, we’re blowing through that first box of condoms in a single weekend.

Do we see how this all adds up? If I want to spend time with someone I am genuinely interested in, I have to assess the costs at every level, because lately I’ve felt bad for buying a single taco off a truck (we all have our weaknesses) for myself. There are a bunch of things I can take off the dating table from jump (i.e. dinners at places where they ask if you have a reservation and take your coats at the door), but then what’s left? Do I wait for the next free event to come my way before I ask out the woman with whom I had an instant connection? What if that free event doesn’t come for a week or so? My lack of action can be misread as a lack of interest.

The sad thing is, perhaps the only way to date affordably is to make a woman your girlfriend, but as my grandmother suggested, even that’s going to cost me. The adage, “it’s cheaper to keep her” is only a half-truth. It’s not cheap, it’s simply less expensive and less a waste of money, but it still costs.

Maybe I’ll limit myself to only going out on dates if a woman asks me out. Maybe I’ll take a gamble and attempt what I call the 3-for-$30 dating rule I made up. For those who aren’t familiar, it’s pretty simple: The first three dates cannot total more than $30 combined. It’s difficult, but not impossible.

Or maybe, I should listen to my ex and my grandmother and not date at all, because if I’m being really honest, I can’t afford it.

The lesson comes at 2:42

Categories: dating Tags:
  • Shamar

    Very timely post. I met a guy last weekend at his job, we went out later that night. We started talking about the dating scene in the city we live in and he straight up told me he didn’t make a lot of money. Which has apparently been a problem for him in the dating department. I appreciated his honestly, I know exactly what I can and cannot expect. His situation didn’t really bother me because I’m not financially set either. I just moved to this city and I’m currently unemployed/freelancing (the struggle). Luckily, we had a great first date. There were talks of a second date, he might be getting free museum tickets lol. I’m a minimalist by nature so I’m willing to see how this goes. If he get’s the museum tickets I’m definitely down to go!

  • Ola Blessed

    LOL! great read!!!! I gotta say though the 3-for-$30 rule seems a bit -insert a word that describes awkward and rigid here- !! Creative dates are always fun though… and cheap!

  • Don’tHateThePlayerHateTheTruth

    Women are hella expensive. I can have a great time with the homies and spend nothing, but with a woman I’m dating the costs can skyrocket! I’ve often wondered, what’s the return on investment? What valuable attribute does a woman inherently bring to the going-out experience that a man doesn’t? If her presence is “enough”, why isn’t the guy’s presence enough without the added cost? Oddly, the entitlement or “princess” mentality that I’ve encountered from too many women flies directly in the face of the social and economic equality that they claim to want. Yet, in the dating world I’d say I absorb 80 to 95% of the financial costs and STILL do all the little things she does for me that one “can’t put a price on.” It’s a game for suckas, I tell ya! lol I haven’t seen the hard data, but empirical evidence suggests that in America, educated, crime-free, and committed brothas are a commodity. Women should be paying up a little more than they do. The following statement isn’t an endorsement of the institution but just a fact. It took reaching adulthood and manhood to realize why prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. It’s friggin’ CHEAPER. Forget dating and go to The Bunny Ranch, Jozen. It’s an easy expense to budget for with no hidden costs. hehe

  • Summer

    I suppose not dating right now is an option, but if you decide to, some of the best dates don’t cost much, even if it is a first date. Free museum and coffee, record store/book store, etc. I once went grocery shopping with a guy by default on a first date; was irritated at first but actually had a good time goofing off in the store, seeing what he liked, etc. And yes we went out again. Use your creativity to your advantage and be honest with the person you want to go on a date with about your situation. I have gone out with a few guys in similar situations (sometimes I was in the same boat) and I/we made it work, often splitting the cost.

  • NyceBryce

    Tough call there my man. What about groupon, living social etc? Is that an acceptable alternative on the first date?

  • Yaa Yaa

    I would appreciate it if a man told me, “Hey, I like you, but I just can’t afford to take you out like I’d like to right now.” In fact, I’d find it very attractive. His honesty would intrigue me. My point is that sometimes money isn’t the issue. If he was creative in finding ways to spend time with me, I’d probably be more into him then if he took me out and splurged. The best things in the dating scene are free…

  • Whatyoushoulddo

    As the saying goes “You gotta pay to play” but it doesn’t say how much! Time is money right? lol The key is being creative just as someone mentioned in the other comments and actually just enjoying your time with that person. Many inventions were made because someone was too broke and created a better way of getting something done by using what was available to make it happen. You are in the city, there are free things all the time and if you are creative enough you can make your own. The other thing is, how open-minded is your date? If she is open minded then it shouldn’t matter how you spend time with her as long as its fun and you are respectful. Try group dates…it’s really not a date its more like all your friends get together at someone’s house, bring someone and a snack/drink and play board games and have conversation…it’s not as intimate but it’s definitely a fun way to get to know who you are dealing with because you are comfortable around your friends and the real you comes out or you get to ask questions that may typically seem awkward to ask early on and not feel weird about it. Takes the pressure off of things….bookstores, skype dates (rainy/snowed in each of you create your scene skype in and have dinner together), working out together in a park or gym, sight seeing (all free), and if you want to be a rebel, go to a restaurant and pull a dine and dash…(chicks dig guys who can get her adrenaline going as long as she doesn’t go to jail)…besides you will avoid spending extra money on someone you aren’t even sure you really like….CREATIVITY is key.

  • Mr. MMA

    Dude. I got the same thing from my grandmother just over a year ago.

    “You gettin’ married anytime soon?”

    Nah, granny… not yet.

    “Well, baby, just make sure you’re ready. Women expensive nowdays.”

    No truer words spoken.

    As far as the cost of dating, I’ve realized my most fun dates have actually been my least expensive ones. It requires a bit more creativity, but very do-able. I’ve had expensive dates that were also fun and where I was able to get to know my date, but I’ve noticed that the ones where I spent more money were the ones that had a higher chance of me not getting to know my date as well and possibly not as fun.

  • Swing and a miss

    It bears pointing out that a commodity is a class of goods for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation. Essentially interchangeable like a pound of rice of bushel of corn.

  • Don’tHateThePlayerHateTheTruth

    A couple of options. You could read my comment in context via googling the definition of a commodity as also being a useful or valuable thing, or you could show me 5 consistent years of audited commodity trading profits from your broker. Either way odds are you swing and miss.

  • shelovestorant

    If you are honest with her from the beginning then the money issue wouldn’t be a problem. You could both have fun together planning how to super scrimp

  • Nicole Cherie Peoples

    Barely any of the ladies I know are expensive. They’d all be happy going on a hike, urban or otherwise, sitting in a park, watching a good movie, coffeeeeee, or just making dinner at the house. Granted… I live in Seattle where we’re all a bunch of cheap skate hippies, but… hey I enjoy my cheap dates more than the expensive ones.

  • SweetT

    i could be wrong, but from this comment, it sounds like what you want is to get laid. from what i gather from jozen’s blog, it seems like he wants a relationship, companionship, and marriage. imo, the latter requires a much more significant investment than money– those things require time, attention, and emotion.

    i suppose you might see your goal and jozen’s goal as the same or even as means to the same end, but if the only “roi” you can see in pursuing a woman is sex, maybe the bunny ranch (or a comparable establishment) really is the right place for you.

  • Don’tHateThePlayerHateTheTruth

    Your alias reminds me of a character from the movie Lottery Ticket. 😉 It looks like you’ve missed my point and made some assumptions. The point is that women are hella expensive. I’ve been in a few relationships over the course of many years and I’ve been single for a few years and in both circumstances I bore the overwhelming financial costs of “the relationship,” committed or not. It would be nice if women would pay for stuff more than they do but generally they don’t. And far too many have an entitlement attitude. Not to keep repeating myself, but I also mentioned that I do “all the little things she does” (time, attention, emotion) that “one can’t put a price on” so if I only wanted to get laid that wouldn’t be the case. Sex with attractive women doesn’t have to cost anything, so my comment about the brothel was tongue-in-cheek with a granule of truth attached, essentially comedy. Btw, I submit that what Jozen wants isn’t quite what you suggest, but he can speak for himself.