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I have been talking to a guy from a dating website for about two months, and we decided we are going to finally meet. We are a few hours away from each other. Should I be helping him pay for his expenses? Gas and hotel? Or should I expect him to pay for it and put forth some effort? He appreciates if we can share the cost.
I find your situation intriguing because, in my opinion, any man or woman who is figuring out finances before a date has happened is already communicating that he or she has got one foot out the door or
…will forever be keeping score.
I respect a man who is wise with his money, but a guy who is pulling out his itemized budget before meeting face to face just seems invested in the wrong things at this time. It must not have felt right to you either since you wrote me.
What do you sense he is communicating?
Remember: when we are lonely and hearing things our hearts long to hear, we might ignore things our brains are screaming.
But, hey, if you want a relationship with a guy who will most likely keep tabs on your spending, you’ve found him. If you want a man who will expect you to carry half the financial load, you’ve probably got yourself a winner. If you want to wonder whether he will work hard to protect and provide for you, you’ve probably got your wonderment wonderfully fulfilled.
That may seem like a drastic stretch on my part, but it’s something to think about. The two of you flirtatiously fighting over the bill after dinner is very different from a man who isn’t willing to take some level of financial risk. Most high-quality men feel a responsibility to provide and protect, and that usually comes out even while dating. Call it old-fashioned, call it God’s design, but that’s the way most men will operate when they are comfortable with who they are and the women around them allow them to live out that desire.
It’s a form of serving.
It’s also the way most women, when being honest, want to be treated and end up feeling a sub-consious safety. Money isn’t the issue; it’s the symbol of being worthy of being invested in and made a priority.
Many women (myself included) don’t recognize or admit it’s a desire or something that makes them feel safe until it’s not present.
My father doesn’t get e-mails from men complaining that their wives lost their jobs; he gets letters from worried women about their husbands recent unemployment. Is this a social construct? Does it mean women can’t provide for men? No. But a majority of women, no matter how independent or self-sufficient, feel loved when a man is willing to take a risk for them.
Do men appreciate a woman taking a risk? YES. But I believe it’s in different ways.
So as politically incorrect as it might be, it’s not even really about who pays. His asking you to pay shows where his priority is at this point, and that, in my opinion, wouldn’t make too many women swoon.
So if a guy wines and dines you, does that mean he will be a high-quality husband?
But I think you and I would both agree that this scenario isn’t sweeping you off your feet either. It’s my personality to fight to the death to try to split costs with a guy, but I’ve had to fight even harder to admit to myself how good it feels when a guy is interested in me enough that he doesn’t pull out an Excel spreadsheet and divvy up costs.
So, let me be clear. Men don’t have to pay. Women don’t have to be paid for.
But the small romantic spark that could have been set aflame was probably stomped out when this guy was focusing the first meet and greet on money rather than on you. Oh, and this is a must: If you do let him come visit, keep your community close by and involved, especially since you know no one who knows him. (Forget finances—he could be an axe murderer!) Your friends should be able to help you sniff out a Scrooge (or Jack the Ripper) even if your puppy-love brain has blinders on.
Praying you have the wisdom to navigate this rather uncomfortable transaction.
P.S. When my sweet little mom read this post she said, “Tell him to save his money and just stay home.” Ha!
P.P.S. Speaking of money, money, money…next week, Rachel Cruze (daughter of finance guru, Dave Ramsey) will be the Illumination Project contributor. Her light-bulb moment for our generation is HUGE.
As a woman, political correctness aside, how would you feel on a first date if the guy asked you to split the cost?
As a man, what are you communicating when you offer to pay in first date-type situations?
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I think you’ve totally hit the nail on the head, Joy. It’s not so much about being paid for by a guy as it is about the fact that he cares enough about you to spend his resources on you.
If someone asked me to split the bill on a first date, that would probably be the only date we would go on, because I have been in a relationship where I wasn’t important enough to be paid for, and I wouldn’t do it again, ever. We broke up for a lot of different reasons, but when we only went on 3 dates in 9 months and I paid for two of them, I really should have seen it sooner.
I’m currently being pursued by an amazing man of God who delights in taking me out every week, even if it’s just Starbucks or Jamba Juice. I have offered to pay a couple of times, but he always quickly and firmly denies, insisting he enjoys being able to “spoil” me once in a while. That has made me feel so valued by him, trusting of him, and safe with him. It really is a weird thing to think about, how something like buying a girl a mocha cookie crumble can make her feel safe and valued, but I guess that’s just the way we’re wired up.
Great story Lindsey. Yes, I think you got it right when you talked about wiring. Maybe some women would disagree, but I don’t know too many women who want to feel unsafe in a relationship. Most women get out of unhealthy relationships on the basis of not feeling valued or in abusive situations, not feeling safe.
Obviously money isn’t the determinant for value or safety. I hope everyone knows that’s not my point. But in this case, I believe it was a bit of a red flag for this woman, symbolizing some deeper questions of this man’s relational investment. And that is what I wanted her to pay attention to.
I think this situation is obviously very different than a regular first date. I think it’s good when a guy pays for dinner on a first date. But, we’re talking about a hotel. If he doesn’t make a ton of money, I don’t think it would offend me that much. Actually, I might have offered to share the cost of a hotel room for him if he came to visit. I don’t know–I totally get what you mean when you say it feels good when a guy pays for you. I agree! But I just think we can’t compare this situation to just a dinner date, ya know?
I totally see what you are saying Kim and I do agree it’s different. But there was a bit more to this email interaction that I didn’t include. Basically I am responding based on the tone and red flags I can sense from her as well as this guys level of interest. And from that I chose to share what I have learned about the L&R principles and emails we receive from many women. As I mentioned, I would always offer to help pay for something like this, but a mans initiation or response is what would probably make me feel more or less secure in the relationship.
I would definity say having a guy pay for dates makes me feel much more safe and secure. I’d really rather that money wasn’t even a topic of conversation on a date. I like to trust that he will take me to a place he can afford and I try to be courteous and thankful by not choosing something too expensive.
Questions would enter my mind if he did not pay such as “am I not worth it?” or “is he really not in a financial place where he could provide for me?”
Also, making a big deal about money (even if he’s does pay for it) would make me feel akward and I would begin to wonder if money is a priority over me.
“I like to trust that he will take me to a place he can afford.”
I think this is exactly what I was trying to communicate. Well said. It’s not that traveling to go visit someone isn’t expensive when you are long distance dating, but when it’s the initial visit and he’s asking for money, it seems like a. She isn’t worth saving for, which makes me think he wants something from her if he’s already asking for money. b. He isn’t wise enough with his money in his singleness to afford one weekend trip, which would indicate that he might have no problem mooching off of her or spending her money in their marriage too.
Marriage is about a partnership and shared finances, but I think most women would feel weird about a first date and the guy saying he wants to visit and then asking for her to help. I think we need to pay attention to why we might feel that way.
When I asked my hubby this question, his immediate and firm response was: “NO!” He elaborated by saying, “Should the caveman ask the woman to bring the club?” ha ha. The more I think about this scenario too, I see red lights and hear the word “NOOOOO”-you should not pay for this person. I understand economic times are tight. Wise stewardship is respected. I agree with Joy’s mom on this point, he can keep his tight budget and stay home. If the man cannot provide for his own needs like, gas and hotel, the timing of this visit is not right. This dutch treat sounds like an immature man’s plan. Questions come to my mind like: Does he have the money and is not willing to take the “risk” on this woman? Is he concerned that this will be a fruitless adventure? What kind of “bang” is he wanting for his buck? Beware of scrubby scam artists too. They win the women’s trust first, then go for the money. Stick to the internet with this guy and DON”T send money. There are men out there that are willing to sacrifice, look for one of those generous guys. When my hubby and I were dating we lived 5 hours apart from each other. On the second date, he was willing to fly me out for a theatre AND dinner date. He had also made arrangements (for purity’s sake) for me to stay at a mutual friend’s house for the night. He flew me back home the next day, all on his own expense and to my absolute romantic thrill. Look for a keeper like that!
Love, love, love this.
One of my brothers once told me that when a guy buys you breakfast/lunch/dinner/coffee/whatever, he’s making an investment. In purely capitalistic terms, he sees spending time with you as something that is worth spending money on. A good man will realize he’s “buying” time, not favors.
That made sense to me.
And your mom is awesome.
Totally agree with Joy…it’s not about how much he spends, but that he thinks the relationship and I are worth investing time and resources. A few years ago I met a great guy at a wedding. We were both in the wedding party and hit it off. The only problem was that he lived in California and I was in Florida. We talked a lot and a couple months later he asked if I wanted to explore whether we should get into a relationship. He bought me a plane ticket and paid for the whole weekend (of course, I offered numerous times to chip in). It turned out that we didn’t want to be together, but he took the resource risk by sinking quite a bit into the exploration of an “us”. He knew the risk and took it anyway. I still respect him a lot.
“I still respect him a lot.”
I love hearing stories of people who dated and didn’t end up together and can still leave the relationship speaking highly of one another and hopefully having matured through it! Why do we always think we’ve done something wrong if a relationship doesn’t work out?
I agree completely with you and your mom.
On the lighter side, when I’m in a bad mood or feeling especially lonely I think about starting a running tab of all my meals that I wouldn’t have had to pay for if there were a man in my life paying for them. I’d totally order tea instead of water. Who knows how many calories not having a boyfriend has saved me!
The whole hotel thing and all that, that’s different. It’s on him. It’s not like they’re combining their bank accounts and sharing a budget or something at this point. It’s his choice to go so he’s gotta handle it.
However, as a single, broke male, struggling to get by, I don’t think it’s fair to go too far the other direction. Am I just not allowed to date because I don’t have any money? It’s not an issue or greed or not wanting to “serve,” I literally don’t have it. So, if someone wants to go out to dinner and a concert and drinks after, I’ve basically shot all my money for a whole week of paying for things like food, shelter, and gas. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m the type of guy that loves to provide anything and everything for someone I like. It’s not some macho-man mentality, it’s just natural to want to be generous to someone you care about.
I still get to be generous, just in other ways. Frankly, if paying for stuff is a deal-breaker, count me out anyway.
Totally. If you have a diva who wants to be showered in diamonds, I would tell any man to run. I think the issue as one commenter said, is finding a man who knows what he financially can or can’t do. As I mentioned, a man who wines and dines isn’t necessarily marriage material. The point is the symbolism.
At the Love and Respect conferences, my father always talks about the sentimentality and understanding the soul of a woman. He says that a husband who picks up a rock on a romantic anniversary walk with his wife and writes the date on that rock will most likely meet the heart of that woman far more than a husband who tries to score points by buying her a Cadillac. When the husband dies, the wife will be showing the kids a rock and talking about how amazing their grandpa was, not some old car in the garage.
So if, as a man, you can communicate that you want to invest in a woman, get to know her and do so in a manner that will honor her, then if your financial situation is lacking for reasons beyond your control, any good woman will hopefully see this characteristic. My hunch is, if you are a man like this, you wouldn’t be doing anything outside of your means, let alone asking her to help you do something you know you can’t afford right now.
Effort and investment are what communicate care, and it doesn’t’ always have to be financial. My gut says this guy probably isn’t like you.
From a guys perspective, I think this is spot on. It’s not even so much a chivalry thing, though I’m all for that, but an issue of attitude. As Joy so rightly points out, it would seem to suggest a deeper issue of priorities. In our modern world, people can meet each other from pretty long distances. In the old days, hitching up the surrey and heading two towns over may be as far as a courtship could manage, but now we can do it over continents. The issue of money, therefore, is all the more important.
A lot of it has to do with how it, apparently, was brought up, meaning: it looks like he said it first. That, in itself, rubs me the wrong way. Guys can get a little pride boost off the ability to wave a woman off from the check. “No, let me handle this.” And a guy who lets a girl pay her own way isn’t necessarily a jerk. But a guy who asks a woman to go halfsies is something different. It may seem like a minor difference, but it makes all the difference. (Word Play!)
If it was a meal, it would probably be a minor infraction on the scorecard. But traveling expenses are more serious. Yes, it is a higher cost, so the argument can be made for both sides to participate. But the higher cost only raises the issue higher. The question for him is: how much are you willing to sacrifice for this woman? And that is not an unfair question. Not just about money, but time and other commitments. Money’s just the most obvious one. The wise amongst my species will point out that women are indeed worth it. He should not forget it. And neither should you. And, practically speaking, if it is going to be a burden then maybe it’s not the right time for a visit. Maybe other arrangements can be made. Meeting half-way, etc. That’s what Skype is for, people.
And, yeah, if he pays it doesn’t mean he’s a saint. The woman who is constantly mooching off her man is just as much as in the wrong as the guy who always pays because he wants to get something. You know what I mean. The issue is one of the heart, one of attitude.
Joy, I would spend a few weeks on a bicycle huffing and puffing hundreds of miles across the country for the rare opportunity of paying for a cup of coffee, dinner, a movie, and/or whatever if it meant that person was someone like you. HA! #manpaysallways
I’m pretty sure that Matt Damon didn’t call up that girl and say, “I gotta go see about whether or not a girl will pay half my way to go see about a girl.” Be wise with money so you can take opportunities when they come…opportunities like meeting, greeting, and courting the woman of your dreams who lives miles away from you.
Okay okay…I’ll wear an orange safety vest and put a flag whip on my bike…not a “red flag” whip…
Spot on, Joy! Thanks for explaining this in a way that doesn’t make women seem like gold-diggers! I would also encourage Fiora to think of this trip as a precedent-setter. Thinking practically, if they meet once and decide to pursue a relationship further, this would not be a one-time trip. Whether she decides to help with expenses or not, they both need to decide whether they are in a place to afford a long distance relationship – keeping in mind that the cost of travel may influence how often they get to see each other. If he can’t afford it this one time (and it’s okay if he can’t), then chances are good he won’t be able to afford future trips and he probably shouldn’t entertain the thought of a long distance relationship at this point in his life (unless it’s one with a sugar mama). And if she wants to help him with the cost this time, then she needs to be prepared for the fact that financial help may become an expectation – is she okay with that?
Great insight! I didn’t want to make women seem like gold diggers at all, since most of us, or at least it sounds like you and me, are happy to help pay! But this seemed to be a symbol of something deeper and I wanted Fiora to get in tune with those feelings just as I have.
A couple of thoughts from the old guy in the room. I can’t weigh in on the cost sharing aspects any better than Joy and the rest of the contributors here have already done. But I need to raise an important point. I happen to be a bit more educated than your average bear in personal safety and security (references upon request). While I really don’t want to come off as a know-it-all (I most certainly don’t) I pray you think about this stuff and take some key steps to protect yourself.
First and foremost, you can called it paranoid or prudent, but if you are inviting a total stranger into your home town, you would be wise to run a legal public background check on him before the big date. As wonderful as the past two months have been, he could have fabricated some or all of his details for any number of reasons. Or he could be totally legit. (Side note, there’s many companies that will run a name and birth date for a small fee).
If you don’t already know his full name, favorite color, and birthday, shame on you for lack of playful and necessary communication prior to meeting. But more seriously, if he’s not willing to give you that info or when you get it you can’t find any info about him online, that’s a big red flag for me. The finance sharing is another. For all the reasons Joy already brought up, but also for the possibility that he only wants enough expense on the old credit card for one person while he’s “out of town”, not two. I’m cynical and suspicious by nature so take this with a couple grains of salt for flavor.
Don’t give up on the guy, internet love can be the real deal, but if you are looking towards creating a long lasting relationship with this man, be as up front as possible with him and tell him you are totally up for the meeting but need to make sure he’s : A) Real, B) Not a mass murderer. You can use that last line jokingly, he’ll get the point.
To echo Joy’s point about having your community involved, I strenuously agree! (like that makes any difference). Pass on all his personal data to your closest friend (just forward the info in an email, it’s easy) then set up the first meeting with company in a very public place. If you show up with your girlfriend and he is the same guy in all the pictures you’ve hopefully shared and he brought a manila folder proving who he is and a copy of his credit report with an 850 score and then the Heaven’s part while an angelic host proclaims your eternal love, your pal can leave. Mr. Perfect knows he’s being watched and that he found himself one smart cookie.
By the way, kudos to you for asking before you just went for it.
Have a blessed day.
I think whoever asked for the date is the one who should pay! When you ask someone to spend time with you on a first date, you are asking them to take away time from their lives to get to know you, it’s only fair to treat them on the first go around! To me, it doesn’t matter if it is the man or the woman, but whoever asked that person out should pay.