Money and Dating

So, among the taboo topics to discuss on a first date or at all unless in a committed relationship, with the feds while cutting a deal, or Bernie Madoff are finances and money. But yet they factor in so many things. For example, the man is typically expected to do the heavy lifting initially in a relationship and perhaps let things peter out towards parity as time goes on. And mostly, that’s how things have been in my relationships. And likely for that reason, I never really gave it much thought – though I’m starting to think it played a role in ending my last relationship.

But anyway, I’m now in a situation where she pays some of the time and even that some of the time just feels weird to me, especially given that we’re still in the “dating” stage of this relationship. Another thing – I tend to not carry cash. Just a habit that I’ve evolved. So, one way that we’ve handled the inevitable who will pay for this jockeying is for her to suggest that she take care of the tip and me to acquiesce. There is even one place in particular where I’d directly ask her for the tip, because she tends to carry cash, and my relationship with the bartender is such that he either doesn’t charge or under-charges me for drinks, doesn’t let me pay up front, so I much rather leaving him a large tip on my way out. And given that I don’t carry cash (usually), doing this can be an issue if I”m unprepared.

So, anyway, I ask and she hands me some money, but the guy leaves midway through the night and so I’ll have to catch him some other time. But then she refuses to take the money back. And not wanting to make an issue out of it, I didn’t really push that hard. It makes me wonder because this isn’t something that I would think should bother me, yet in some way, it is. And I wonder if it is due more to me typically being the one in the relationship who pays for things or typically being the one in the relationship who makes more money (I’m not at the moment).

From what I know of my ex, she (prior to me) was used to being that person – either the more financially dominant one in a relationship or at least having things 50/50. Just various circumstances around the time we were in a relationship put her in such a position where I was ahead. One thing that I advocate as being bad for a relationship is a significant imbalance of power. That can come from many things, one person moving to be in a new city with the other, having to leave your job to advance the other person’s career, being in very different places life-wise (just starting college versus just entering middle management). And while logically, money should be a part of that, I’d never really considered it.  But perhaps in addition to money being on that list of power imbalancers, there should be a category for perceived or implied imbalance – like what I’m feeling now and what I think my ex felt at times in our relationship.

I don’t for a second think that this is actually an issue or going to be an issue for us, but it does illuminate some things for me and make me question some of my own perceptions and worldview. I have opinions and ideas about certain things even though I have not experienced those situations or have real context to base my thoughts upon. I will definitely give things a bit more thought before doling out advice or complaining in the future.

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