When you go on a date, how do you decide who pays? If you surveyed enough people, I’m willing to bet the majority would say the man (speaking exclusively to heterosexual couples). But what happens when you rephrase the question and ask, “who should pay?” In today’s world there are enough factors working together, ranging from the need for gender equality to who actually makes more money, that impact this decision. The answer is further complicated when you’re in a long-term relationship but haven’t quite hit the point of merging finances.
From the beginning, my boyfriend and I have always been equal contributors when it comes to spending money on each other. While I will admit I selfishly wanted him to pay for our first date, so it would feel more “traditional,” I happily paid for the second. From there I can’t remember with too much detail who paid for what, only that we tried to make it as even as we possibly could.
I know of couples who, despite being together for a long time, don’t seem to share the same ideas as me. I’ve always been the kind of person to pay my friends back as soon as I could if they would lend me money. I’ve also never been the girl that got accustomed to having guys buy things for me, even something as small as a drink at the bar. These two things coupled together pushed me into the mindset that even in a relationship, I should pay for myself. While my boyfriend and I are not struggling to meet our financial needs, we do need to be vigilant of what we spend. Because of this, I think it would be unfair to expect him to pay for everything.
Our system of payment is largely built on a “you get this one and I’ll get the next” mentality. At its core, this is about trust and respect. If we go out to eat and he pays for our meal, I don’t feel bad because I know that I’ll pay the next time we go out. If he pays for our Uber to a bar, I’ll pay for the one coming home. I understand that love does not come in the form of him constantly buying things for me.
On top of that, I work to earn money and want him to feel treated too. There are things in life you want, but you feel guilty buying it for yourself because you know it’s something you don’t really need. At the end of one particularly long week, he decided he was going to reward himself with a hot chocolate from the machine in his building’s lobby. After waiting eight long hours at work, he returned home only to realize the machine was broken. He told me about this, and I decided to splurge and order him one via Uber Eats. Was it overpriced? Yes. Was it worth it? Also, yes.
Relationships are all about balance, even when it comes to money. That doesn’t mean you have to keep track of every little expenditure or Venmo each other after every purchase. But you should be, as we like to call it, “even stevens.”