Dating when you’re cash strapped: What’s a poor boy to do?

Written for Metro News.

You would think that in today’s liberated world, men wouldn’t be expected to pay for every dinner or coffee date. Despite evolution amongst the sexes, my bet is that if you were to take a poll, most women would say that they expect to be treated — on the first few dates, for sure. They’d probably say that if their date suggested splitting the bill, that he was either cheap or not into her.

Gone are the days that women stayed at home to raise kids and men were the breadwinners. Today most women, young and older, work as many hours as men and some even earn more than the opposite sex. So, why then do women expect to be treated? Perhaps this is our last ditch attempt to hold onto a thread of chivalry. Most women (especially those younger) aren’t offended if their dates don’t walk on the side closest to the street or open her car door first. In fact, many prefer to be equal partners. But often not in the finance department.

So, what’s a poor boy to do? What if he’s working in a retail department store for minimum wage, paying rent and car insurance and barely has enough money left for groceries? What if he’s widowed, living on a fixed income and careful about what he spends? Does this mean that he’s destined to sit at home with only the television as a companion? What if he’s a really good catch in so many other ways? Doesn’t he deserve a chance at love too?

Sure he does, but sorry to say men, fair or no fair, chances are that you’re going to have to go through your piggy bank for some loonies and toonies — even if it’s just to meet a prospective mate over coffee. Because no matter how liberated women are, men are still expected to take the lead when it comes to handing over the loot on a first, and maybe even second or third date.

Here are some tips (not the money kind), for both gents and ladies:

Speak up
If you’re legitimately cash strapped, then speak up. Timing is key though. I’d suggest not sharing your financial position prior to the first date, because no matter how kind and caring she is, this may be a turn off. She might even suggest you find a better job, or a job period.

Wait until the end of your first, or if you can afford it — second date, and then let her know the truth. Share that you are in between jobs, living on a fixed income, having to pay child support or whatever the truth is, and ask how she feels about occasionally (or always) going dutch on your dates. Let her know that you not dining and dazzling her with expensive dates has nothing to do with how you’re feeling towards her, but rather related to your financial position.

Listen with concern
If he has the courage to tell you the truth, acknowledge what he’s saying and share how you feel. If you are used to being dined and dazzled, let him know this and share whether you are interested in continuing seeing him under the circumstances.

If he’s a really great guy, despite being cash strapped, consider whether his financial position is all important. Is financial success and independence high on your priority list? Are you willing to pay your own way in order to continue seeing him? Do you make more than enough to support both of you?

Would you like to suggest occasionally paying for him too?