Table for Two: Lovebird Economics

Until very recently, women were not permitted to do anything in direct exchange for cash money dollar bills. We required a literal “middleman,” who bestowed shiny items upon us, which we could later pawn for cash money dollar bills if we so chose. This made paying for a cocktail, garden salad, cornish game hen, chocolate souffle or even a 5 cent ticket to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s logistically impossible. So you see the problem then, but not so much now, with splitsies.

Equal pay debate aside, the historical cause for men paying for women’s things has lost much relevance. Back in the day, women had to sacrifice their daily freedom for silk kimonos from “The Orient” or something. Nowadays if you find a guy who kindly insists on paying for everything, in comparison to the past you get more freedommore money (since you spend less of your own), and more stuff for a total of +3 Life Points. For him, comparing eras yields the same freedom, less money, same stuff, for a total of -1. Just sayin’.

In this unequal arrangement, you “win.” Although your partner may be “okay” with this and “want” you to win, it wasn’t the women who were “okay” with male-dominated inequality that afforded you these choices in the first place. Just sayin’. Without being too biased towards the idea that guys paying, theatrically holding doors open and all this garbage is so, so silly, all financial arrangements between consenting adults have their pros and cons.

**Payment Plans for College Sweethearts**

Hey, he offered… If he really, really insists on continuously treating you past the first few “hey, I like you” dates, that’s his choice, but it’s also your choice to accept it. I don’t care how many times he closes his fist when you try to hand him $5 for pizza. If you expect and/or prefer this set-up, remember that mutual acceptance can change. It’s his responsibility to say something if it does, which is a difficult task. Make it easier by actively emphasizing that his wallet doesn’t make it or break it (unless it does, I guess).

Laid back pay-your-way. He pays this time (in full), you pay next time (in full), repeat. Or whatever. Maybe “this time” is Italian and “next time” is Mexican, which includes $10 margaritas, but you trust that everything evens out in time. You also trust that if a different pattern emerges, you’ll discuss it without resentment or defensiveness, which can be tricky at first. Best for people who truly don’t give an eff or couples who have already built up trust about things less touchy than money.

No cuts, no buts, no coconuts. Split every shared expense right then and there. Ask for separate checks, carry cash to easily pay each other back or write down IOU’s to ensure eventual balance. Worriers, this will give you the fullest peace of mind. Just be honest with your partner (and vice versa) if you feel their “you owe me” reminders get a bit overzealous–they’re best delivered calmly, in any case. Snapping helps no one.

Altering the course. In college, outside of whirling romance lurk unpaid internships, crappy part-time jobs and painful post-grad job searches, even for your amazing boyfriend who worships you. If you dislike the pattern you established as undergrads, you’ll be happier once the matter has been settled, even if it inspires more yelling than you’d care for. If monney starts becoming a “thing,” maybe there’s an underlying issue. Money matters will never go away, but your reaction to them improves with time and practice. A necessary evil, and one that I believe both genders share, barring the brave position of stay-at-home mom, which yes, certainly earns you your keep. But that’s probably a boyfriend discussion to save for another time.

Jen Cantin has an apartment in Philly, a degree in English and Journalism from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. and a place for her thoughts called Deep Fried Epiphany. She dedicates this post to Adam’s never, ever flinching practicality in the face of anything with even a distant echo of frills.

Originally posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

One Response to “Table for Two: Lovebird Economics”

  1. Joyce Rossignol

    June 13th, 2013

    Nice to read Jen Cantin thoughts again.

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