Though much has changed for women in the last hundred years, some traditions and expectations linger, particularly when it comes to romantic relationships. Holding a door open for a lady is a romantic, respectful courtesy. Cooking a guy a filling meal (or cooking for your girl) is a gesture of care, which doesn’t take away what women have long fought for. While some women prefer to pay their own way, others prefer to be wined and dined and treated like a goddess. Many men gladly take up the role of provider and protector.
Money is a major issue for couples, even when you’ve just started dating. How do you put a price tag on that? What should a guy really be spending on his girl? The dynamic differs for every couple, and there is no right or wrong answer.
How were each of you raised, and what are your expectations?
Traditional values have merit for some, and in other ways, these appear to be completely outdated. As a girl, you may have been raised to marry your true love, and take care of the house while he brings home the “bacon.” As a woman, you may prefer your man to go get his bacon at the grocery store, and you’ll bring along the bread.
Do you expect the man to hold open the door, and pay for dinner every time you go out? Should he bring you flowers, or only for special occasions? Do you expect to always split the bill? When the car breaks down, who is the grease monkey? Sure, you’re not a damsel in distress, but it is nice to be treated like a goddess, even if it’s once in a while.
Unrealistic demands and bitter regrets are a result of not being on the same page. Keep it consistent, and have realistic expectations of each other. You can’t expect every relationship to be the same. Communicate your upbringing and expectations, but also know that you may have to reconcile some of those things for the right person.
How often do you see each other?
If you’re both busy, you may have a set schedule to see each other, which gives relief to the wallet but gets old, too. Where’s the spontaneity? Are you both free spirits, but the cash flow is restricted?
Know who you are, and know who he is. Are you a homebody, party girl or someone between? Do you prefer bought gifts or homemade gifts? Be open to switching dates up with romantic picnics, a movie at home, extravagant dinners or overnight camping trips. Work with the ebb and flow of cash. Find a few regular hangouts for you two; that way you’ll have more consistency and make good memories at “your place.”
How much money do each of you make?
If one of you has a higher income than the other, this needs to be taken into consideration. Someone with a limited budget will have household bills be the first priority and a budget for fun. The individual with the higher income may be inclined to pick up the slack for more frequent or extravagant outings.
Will the income gap get old fast? It can, but focus on your love. Be real and realistic with each other. No matter who makes the most money, each of you has a say in this relationship.
What kind of lifestyle do you want to share together right now? What sacrifices does that mean? Are expenses limited because this person is taking care of an ailing family member? If you intend to spend your lives together, you’ll be joining financial forces, too.
What type of relationship is this?
“Where are we?” has to be one of the scariest questions for couples, ever. If you have a friend with benefits, the formula for the connection is easier to expect: a movie, good music, take out and benefits. If you’ve just started dating, it’s important to think about all that’s been discussed so far when it comes to your upbringing, expectations, personality and financial resources.
Consider what you each need in a relationship versus what you want. It’s okay to get caught up in the whirlwind of romance and spoil her. Spoil him, too! Let yourselves reach a point that you’re comfortable with the flow of your relationship and the expense of dates.
If you’ve been thinking about the “M” word (Hint: It’s marriage! Scary!), you know that money will be something you need to talk about, but the guy will also have to consider how much he wants to spend on his future fiancé—Finding the perfect ring may seem like more of a journey to Mount Doom. The perfect ring doesn’t have to be expensive, with other cost-saving considerations that halt stress and allow you to spend more time together!
Every couple has their own relationship dynamic, and how money is spent in the relationship quickly becomes an issue that affects communication. Be honest about how you were raised and what you expect from each other. Learn about each other. Spoil each other, in the little and big ways.
Don’t be afraid to let go of expectations and certain traditions for the right person. Treating someone well doesn’t come down to how much money someone makes. Trust the flow of your relationship, and have realistic expectations of each other.