I started dating this girl about 6 weeks ago. We hit it off really well from the beginning, and seem to have a lot in common. I’m kind of afraid she might be taking advantage of me, though. The last few weeks we have been spending a lot of time together. We’ve went out to the bar about 4 times, ate out a few times, and I’ve cooked her probably a dozen meals at my house. So far, aside from one meal she cooked for me, I have paid for everything, and she doesn’t offer. I like seeing her, but it’s breaking the bank. Is it too soon for me to think she should start helping out a little? Any ideas of how I might approach the subject without sounding like a dick?
It’s been about 6 years since I was in a new relationship, so it’s hard for me to remember how things started. Is this just the norm?
You know, this raises a pretty interesting question. What’s the line between someone taking advantage of someone else in dating versus conforming to dating norms?
Let’s consider the average first date between a heterosexual couple. The odds are very good that the expectation on both sides of date is that the man will pay for the date. As progressive as I am, I always plan to pay on a first date simply because it’s a cultural norm and a social cue that indicates a lot of positive traits. That also informs who I go on dates with and makes me very selective, but that’s a whole other story. My point is, lots of people expect a straight man to carry the financial burden of dating more often than not. Some people try to use that to their advantage, while others are just following societal norms.
It’s entirely possible that she sees herself as someone who shouldn’t pay for dates because she’s a 28-year-old woman dating a 35-year-old man, though not necessarily as someone trying to take advantage of you. Maybe in her mind it’s not that she’s taking advantage of you, she’s just dating the way she was taught to date. It’s completely likely that she thinks that the modern dating model is that the man pays for dates and gets the pleasure of her company, with no other expectations, financial or otherwise. You’d be surprised by how many people think this is a totally appropriate way to date. Not just women either, I’ve met plenty of men who say things like “I would never let my girl pay for a date” which you know, good for them I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Personally, I’m in favor of an equal split, but usually pay for the first date, or at least the entirety of the first stop on the first date. It’s a great way to signal interest, financial stability, and maturity. I don’t pay for EVERY first date because I’ve been on a few that were so bad I had no problem using my going dutch as a signal that I wasn’t interested in a 2nd date. Would I pay for everything after 4 bar dates? Absolutely not, I’d probably lose interest in her after the 2nd date when she didn’t offer to put down nary a dime for our dates if we’re being honest. Obviously you’re much more of a traditional gentleman than me.
Whether or not you feel like she’s taking advantage of you, or trying to take advantage of you, comes down to how you personally feel about paying for things. If you’re feeling that after 4 dates in that she might be taking advantage of you, that’s what matters most, not my opinion. My opinion, doesn’t matter as much as your own feelings on the matter do, there just an outsider’s perspective on a situation that is neither black or white. If you’re feeling like after 4 dates, she should at least offer to take you out once, it isn’t too soon to ask her to start paying for dates. It’s your money, so what you choose to do or not do with it is for you to decide. You think this is an issue and if that’s the case you need to talk about money.
It’s possible that she’d be willing to pay if you brought it up, or it’s also possible she’d never be willing to pay. Either way you have to ask her to pay for something if it’s bothering you. If it needs to be formalized, like paying for every other date, or if it’s splitting bills more frequently, that’s fine, but it can also be less formalized. Just go with what you feel most comfortable with. The best way to bring it up is to say something along the lines of, “Hey, I noticed that I’ve paid for most of our dates when we go out, do you mind if we start splitting some of the dates, or if you pay for a date every once in a while?”. The goal is to avoid making the question accusatory, and to also make it a future-state sort of discussion. Don’t focus on what you’ve done already, try to focus on what you’d like her to do in the future. If it starts a dialogue, congrats, she’s willing to pay, you just needed to have a conversation with her about paying for dates. As long as you bring money discussions up in a “hey, was just thinking it would be nice…” sort of way it shouldn’t offend her. If it does offend her, it’s possible she’s not a good match for you, or is trying to take advantage of you. If it turns into a blow up that somehow ends with you apologizing but no concrete resolution to your issue, odds are very good she’s trying to take advantage of you
Good Luck Out There