As a little girl, I always imagined Prince Charming’s arrival would be exactly like the Disney movies. There would be ball gowns, chariots, attentive servants – our happy ever after looked embarrassingly like the prom. As a questionably mature 20-something, I just hoped he’d show up with his own 401k and a checkbook at least as balanced as mine. When he finally made his appearance, my Mr. Right managed to split the difference … he had financial stability and won my heart with his thoughtfulness. But that middle ground – somewhere between responsible and stingy – is a fine line to waltz when you’re dating. For tips on dating a man whose grip on his wallet is tighter than yours on the remote during the season finale of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” I consulted Toni Coleman, psychotherapist, dating coach and founder of Consum-mate.com.
- Be honest — is your man thrifty or cheap? As much as you may want a man to shower you with wine, fancy vacations, and bling, a good life partner will have his financial act together. And unless you’re dating your local Warren Buffet, you probably can’t have it both ways. Don’t be too quick to harsh on him if he makes cautious choices, but neither should you be cool with a man holding his wallet closer to his heart than he’s holding you. “A cheap guy avoids paying for things, complains about the cost, or refuses to do anything that costs money,” says Coleman. “A thoughtless guy forgets significant days like your birthday, ignores you when you are sick, and doesn’t offer to help when your car breaks down. It’s the effort and caring (not the cost) that demonstrate the thoughtfulness.”
- Remember it really is the thought that counts. Your man can be thoughtful no matter how thrifty he is. “If your guy plans a date visiting something with free admission like a museum or a concert in the park followed by a meal at an inexpensive but trendy bistro, he’s demonstrating creativity, effort, and smarts in planning something that doesn’t cost a lot,” Coleman points out. Ask yourself how much energy he put into planning your time together, not how much cash. “The fact that you went on a cheap date doesn’t make him cheap – it may make him interesting and resourceful.” So make sure you’re measuring him on the right scale … if you’re hating on the date because you think he under-splurged, he may not be the one whose priorities are out of balance.
- Don’t become his disposable income. It’s one thing for a guy to be careful about spending his money; it’s a whole other ballgame when he’s too free about spending yours. “Don’t agree to always foot the bill – period. If he begins to show a pattern of not having any money on him, being short on cash until he gets paid – let him know the next date tab is his responsibility and then make sure he follows through,” says Coleman. Being the independent and successful woman you are, you probably don’t mind footing the bill some or even half of the time – just don’t let him assume you’re going to do it every time.
- Decide whether to cut him out of your budget. If you’re starting to question whether your cheap date is a selfish cheapskate, it may be time to let him coast right on out your door. If he isn’t looking at you the way Seal looks at Heidi and knocking you on your ass with his thoughtful gestures, you can do better. You work hard for your money and don’t need help spending it. And maybe it’s just me, ladies, but if there’s a man on my payroll, he damn well better be picking up my laundry or doing my taxes.
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