Ask the Coach: Going dutch when money is tight

Ask the Coach: Going dutch when money is tight

Ask the Coach Finances

Coach Linda,

I’ve been dating this guy for a short while – about 6 months. We’re both in our late thirties, never married. Every time we go out, he wants to split the bill 50-50 – whether it’s for a weekend at a hotel, a Yankees game, or dinner – whatever. I thought this was okay when we first started dating, but now that we’re dating exclusively, it seems like too much. He likes to go out a lot, and it’s stretching me beyond my financial limits. I mean, I’m employed but I have other financial obligations right now. Whenever I bring up the money topic, I get this impression that he gets angry. Naturally, that keeps me from saying more.

Except for the money, I love dating this guy. We have a great time and we get along really well. What should I do? What’s the money protocol when it comes to dating nowadays? ~ Anna


 

money love scalesAnna, I totally understand your interest in honoring your financial boundaries. It’s smart of you to recognize this now and not try to “keep up appearances”.

For the record, I’m not too much into “protocol.” My view is that cultural norms do more to harm rather than help relationships. I also don’t believe in dispensing advice so here we’ll focus on helping you work something out that feels good and fair to both of you, while keeping an eye on the process as well as the solution.

Before we address money, we need to address the fact that you think he gets angry. This is a huge red flag and if we ignore it, we’re just burying our heads in the sand.

Let’s first determine if he truly gets angry … or if you jump to the conclusion that he gets angry. Do you have any proof that he feels angry when you bring up money? What did he actually say or do to make you come to this conclusion?

It’s important to get to the truth of the situation because many times, people misinterpret as a result of their own filters that are clouded with past experiences. For example – I recently had to call my vet to ask a few questions about spring shots that were administered for my horse. The receptionist immediately went on the defensive, interpreted my questions as an attack and told the vet that I was upset. Until that moment, I was not in fact upset. The point of that story is that because she weathered angry owners in the past (or perhaps she is hair-trigger sensitive), she immediately associated a questioning owner as a hostile owner. When we leap to conclusions like this, we shut the door to fruitful conversations and create polarity. (See my blog post on the hostile kiss cam incident to understand this concept a bit more.)

One the otherhand, if you have verifiable proof that he gets angry, what’s underneath his agitation? To understand his emotional reaction, you may need to ask clarifying questions and avoid accusing him of anything. I’ll write a blog post on conflict resolution soon to help you. If you find you can’t have a rational conversation with him – if he becomes too emotional on the topic – you may have to re-evaluate the relationship. If you can’t talk things through with him now, while the relationship is still young, things will not get better on their own. And remember: Every moment you spend on a poor relationship choice prevents you from finding a relationship that works!

Then on the flipside: If he doesn’t actually get angry, then maybe what you’re experiencing is your own discomfort in asking for what you need. Think about what buttons are being pushed within you and what’s really causing you to feel unsafe. There may be something for you to develop in yourself so that you can be confident around discussing things that don’t work for you, without holding back due to fear of rejection or retribution. A good life coach (like me!) can work with you to identify and break through the limiting beliefs that are making you wary and timid of honest and open communication.

OK – so now for the money part of your question.

You seem to be fine with paying 50/50 as opposed to thinking that the man should always pay. It speaks a lot about how you want to be an equal partner in any relationship, where you’re taking responsibility and contributing in kind.

If this is not the case, and you truly resent your partner’s insistence on going dutch, you may have to examine your values and your needs (i.e. you need to be taken care of) and then have a conversation with your partner to determine his needs (i.e., having an equal partnership).

It’ll be important for you to know how to handle this kind of conversation without making him feel like he’s wrong. You might discuss your (and his) past experiences; he may have felt like a prior girlfriend took advantage of him, and once you understand that, you may find common ground.

This is a conversation worth having no matter what, since it’ll be important for you both to be on the same page if you want this relationship to last. The bottom line is to understand what’s important to both of you around money and spending.

So now, let’s say that you are truly OK with paying 50/50 and your finances truly are strained.

It is really important to be open and honest with your guy, and let him simply know you can’t afford all of the expensive dates. Before you open the door to this conversation, tell him that you love dating him and why. Tell him you are uncomfortable about discussing this topic but you see the need to resolve it and to grow more confident in your partnership with him. Ask for his support and understanding.

You now have some options.

You can offer to continue paying 50/50, except let him know the frequency needs to be cut back.  Then he can decide whether he wants to put a little more money out on the dates you can’t afford and pay for you.

Another option is for each of you to split the date cost proportionate to your income. For instance if you make 2/3 of his salary, you contribute slightly less than half toward the date costs. If he doesn’t want to pay any extra, consider whether or not you will be okay with this for the rest of your life if you get serious with him. This means you will always have a very calculated financial future with him.

Another option is to start exploring inexpensive date ideas. I just blogged about this topic HERE.

You can also open up the discussion to finding win-win solutions that are outside the box (and thereby you can possibly increase the closeness you feel in your relationship).

The bottom line is that the future success of your relationship relies on your ability to communicate with him. To have a fulfilling, long-term relationship, you have to be honest with your expectations and feelings and your partner should be open to listen and understand. And vice versa. A true partnership and healthy relationship requires a willingness to meet in the middle. Compromising your goals now, much less your financial well being, will lead you further into an unhappy relationship and dismal future.

Above all, don’t sell yourself short. Money is a big issue, and if you don’t work out something now, then there is no point in continuing with this relationship.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more support in unraveling your limiting beliefs around asking for what you need.

Ask the Coach: Is it possible to find love while unemployed?

Ask the Coach: Is it possible to find love while unemployed?

Ask the Coach

“… How do you make yourself attractive to others when money and employment status are such strong criteria for so many people…?”

Dear Coach Linda,

I want to date and find a partner so I can be happy. But I was downsized from my job about 18 months ago and my benefits have just run out. I’ve been looking for work the entire time, but haven’t had any success. I’m 45, I have two kids and share custody with my ex-wife. I’m under a lot of pressure economically and I’m really frustrated with my dating experiences.

When I meet women I want to date, I’m honest with them that I’m currently unemployed. That doesn’t lead to more dates. I think that the last person a woman wants to date is someone who is unemployed. And I know I’m certainly not the only one who’s experiencing this problem.

It’s hard enough to have stress in the financial part of your life, but it’s even harder when there’s pressure in the area of relationships. I want to move on with my life. I want to get married again and be happy.

What’s your advice for dating when you’re unemployed? What can I do? How do you make yourself attractive to others when money and employment status are such strong criteria for so many people in our society?

Larry


Dear Larry,

I’m sorry to hear you’re having employment challenges because of the economy and I want to congratulate you on being willing to reach out to request support while going through this period. Getting support is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself right now.

I truly get it that you would like date while unemployed, to get married again and move on with your life. To be loved is one of our primary driving forces as humans.

I’m also aware that, as you said, most women are somewhat reluctant to be involved with someone who doesn’t have employment or benefits, especially in a rocky economy. I have often heard women say that they don’t want to get involved with someone who is struggling. We can’t blame them.

And you’re right, there are many in the country who are in your position – both men and women. A number of people who attend my complimentary events are searching for love yet are not employed and don’t have any financial resources.

Let’s take a moment to look at a couple of things you said.

First, you say your situation is even harder when there’s pressure in the area of relationships. Who is pressuring you? Are you doing this to yourself? If so, ask yourself what’s so important right now, when things are shaky, that you find a partner. Are you afraid of being alone? Do you not have a healthy support network? What’s the rush? You have many years ahead of you to continue achieving success in your career and personal relationships. Try to remain as cognizant as you can about what’s motivating you so you can avoid getting caught in the trap of desperation and scarcity, which can only lead to relationship failure.

Remember that when we’ve gone through a loss of employment, our self-confidence and self-esteem can suffer. Unemployment is notorious for contributing to feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, uselessness, helplessness (deprived of strength or power), and meaninglessness. Put these in the blender and you’ve got someone who may be at risk of falling into the Rescue Trap. We fall into this trap when we hope someone can save us from our current reality and we fail to realize that being an Empowered Single is a path of personal responsibility. This trap results in desperation, neediness, and relationship failure when your problems multiply instead of disappear.

money loveAlso know that money issues can impact the health of a relationship. A study published in the Family Relations Journal in 2012 looked at data from more than 4,500 couples as part of the National Survey of Families and Households. The study found that arguing about money is the top predictor of relationship failure. If you’re constantly worried about money and paying your bills and child support, there’s a real good chance that if you found yourself in a new long-term committed partnership, you will argue about money. Being stressed about money is not the optimal way of starting a relationship.

Third, I also want to point out that you may be stuck in the “I’ll be happy when I’m in a relationship” trap. There are too many people who feel that happiness can only be achieved when in a relationship – and this is simply not true. Relationships are mirrors of our reality – they emphasize who and what we are right now. Relationships do not CAUSE happiness – rather they reflect the emotional state of the people who are in them. If you want a happy relationship, you will need to already be happy in your life.

Larry, I’m sure this is not what you wanted to hear. Don’t be discouraged though. Please know that there are things you can do to make it through this period of your life as an Empowered Single. Here’s what I recommend:

Money woesStay focused on the priority of finding some form of employment.  Looking for a job is a full-time job. And, certainly it is a stressful time. I know from experience how self-confidence and self-esteem suffer. There are many unknowns – not only about what the next job will be, but also where it will be located and how much money you will be making. I remember a time when I had been “reorganized” right out of a job and then simulatenously met a man with whom I wanted to explore a long-term committed relationship. Being between jobs, worrying about money, and having too much free time (to obsess over the relationship) all combined to create a powder keg. And boy when the time came, did it ever explode. Ugh.

Also, searching for a job will require you to be on top of your mental and emotional game. During interviews, you’ll need to exude confidence and competence – this is harder to do if you’re preoccupied about the status of your dating life… or worse, still reeling over a recent romantic rejection.

Get support. This is not the time to “go it alone” – even though so many of us prefer to tackle our problems in solitude. Are you getting support from peers and friends – both professionally as well as personally? Don’t have a good network of friends and peers? Make this your top priority.

Take time to expand your professional network as well. There are many groups that meet weekly for the sole purpose of networking in the effort of seeking employment. Find one of these in your area.

While meeting with others for networking, you might be surprised to meet someone who understands and is willing to accept you as you are. The fact that you have joined such a group illustrates your initiative and desire to regain employment.

Plus, you indicated you’ve been looking for work for over a year. Have you consulted a career coach? It would be helpful to have someone who is knowledgeable to reassure you that you’re on the right track or who may be able to advise you on how to switch rails to find employment in another sector.

To be clear though, your primary objective for meeting people should be networking for employment and support, not dating. Remember, you’re only good for someone else when you’re good for yourself. In addition, remember you have your children to think of. At this point, perhaps dating is less important in the big scheme of things.

Remember there is No Shame in Your Game. One of the most important things to remember in “showing up” for our quest for a great life is to BE AUTHENTIC no matter what. When we are completely honest about who we are and what our situation is, this mirrors to others our true selves.

Our culture typically does not honor those who are experiencing temporary setbacks with jobs and other occurrences that have us pinching pennies, so it makes it difficult to be authentic when these times arise. Nevertheless, we can continue to honor ourselves by accepting ourselves during these periods and not playing “the games” many others play.

Date for only for fun. From a relationship readiness standpoint, you have much to sort out right now. If you’re out there, meeting and connecting with new people, and wind up finding someone with whom you want to have dinner or go to a movie – great! Keeping it casual will keep the pressure off… and it just might lead to more dates. But again, don’t actively seek out a committed partner at this time. There are too many unknowns right now.

Find inexpensive ways of having fun. There are many activities that are available in any community that are either free or minimal in expense. During the times we may have less cash flow, we can choose to attend such events and enjoy these varying experiences. I believe other authentic people will truly enjoy them also and will just enjoy the time spent with another authentic person, rather than be concerned that they are not at “the hottest event happening”. Stay tuned for my next blog post where I explore The Art of a Cheap Date in more depth.

Get coaching to become an Empowered Single. Sometimes life’s toughest challenges are the gateways to truer happiness and fulfillment if we learn how to navigate them skillfully. They offer us opportunities to go deep within ourselves, to discover our truth, and to rid ourselves of all the beliefs and behaviors that keep us despairing and unhappy. This is NOT the time to be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to personal growth and development. Investing in yourself when your life is a bit messy is really the ideal time to do this kind of work and pays dividends down the road. I often hear people say things like, “Oh I’ll invest in myself when things get better.” That’s cart-before-the-horse thinking again – similar to saying “I’ll be happy when I’m in a relationship“. Remember that you are a magnet, attracting or repeling situations based on your inner game. As one of my teachers likes to say: Your Results Are Your Report Card.

This is an EXCELLENT time to enroll in one of my coaching programs so that you can make the most of this time as well as prevent yourself from spiraling into depression or despair. Perhaps it’s time for us to talk about how you can benefit from them. Again, don’t let money stand in your way of getting the support you need. There are always ways to get around our perceived limitations, including a scarcity of money. Plus you deserve to feel good about yourself. So contact me today to set up an initial consultation by emailing me HERE.

In the meantime, I will keep you and your job hunting efforts in my thoughts. The very best of luck to you.

“Survey Says!”…dating & relationship statistics

Attitudes Dating Dating Skills Fulfillment Goals Planning Relationships Solutions Women

Because I am a research geek (I love surveys and statistics), I was cruising around the interwebs, looking to see if I could find any recent stats on Singles in the U.S. I found a site that I’ve now bookmarked, statisticbrain.com, just in case I have the urge to know more about how many people visit national parks and things like that. They did have a pretty cool table that highlighted findings from a survey chronicled in a book called Sex in America, A Definitive Survey. As you can surmise, researchers like clarity, even in their book titles. I’m summarizing the stats that I found super-interesting here – some of which I think you should consider as you map out your scouting strategies – and of course, Continue reading

Dating Gold Digging Women? What it says about your values (part 2)

Ask the Coach Dating Dating Skills Finances Relationships Solutions Spiritual Laws

In my last post, I started to address a rich question (in truth: a complaint) that I received via my “Ask the Coach” program. This particular entry was so rich that I wanted to break it down – my first response addressed the issue of honoring our time, since spending 7 months with someone who doesn’t reflect one of our core values is … well … kind of a waste of time.  Here’s the question/complaint again, to refresh our memories: Continue reading

The Invisible Link between International Women’s Day, Prosperity and Business Success

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Today is International Women’s Day (a nice shout out to all my sisters around the globe!) and while I was researching and mulling over some programming designed for women and prosperity, I ran across an editorial in Inc. magazine online entitled: Women: Watch Out for Your No. 1 Enemy (written by Carrie Kerpen). The article stated that the No. 1 enemy of women in business isn’t male-dominated C-Suite or Continue reading

Estate Planning is a Woman’s Issue

Abundance Finances Money Word to the Wise

As I explore prosperity for women, I’ve come to understand the power of sharing practical information. I have discovered that most women not only need to relate to prosperity on an emotional level, but very few possess much education on a practical level, to be able to make wise and informed decisions about finances and their careers. So I’m going to start helping in that regard by posting tidbits that I uncover, or by having several financial and career experts come on in to guest blog.

Women need to know that no matter what their financial status is, they are creating an estate as they move through their lives. It’s crucial for us to understand how to manage it, because more often than not, we outlive our male partners (if we are in a traditional relationship).

So to start us off, I thought I would share Continue reading