The following is an article that’s part of a collective effort of a group of blogs to write on the topic “Financial lessons learned from my first boy/girl friend.” The genesis for this idea was the blog First Gen American, while the article is my own.
Do you remember your first girlfriend or boyfriend? Or, more importantly, your first date you ever had?
For me, it’s been many years, but I do recall the first actual, formal date I went on. I was much younger, it was more than half my life ago
But I do remember. There was a girl who I knew a bit, who was a friend of a friend, who I came to find out liked me. You remember those days, right? Well, from what I knew at that time, she appeared interesting to me too. Good looking, smart, nice. So, I thought about asking her out.
I was more shy back then, so the idea that she already “liked” me helped ease my fears of rejection. That’s a good thing, because I absolutely did have those fears. At the time, Mr. Squirreler wasn’t Mr. Suave, but somehow was a man of mystery at times because I would get shy when I was interested in asking out a good looking girl. Apparently though, I found that when a guy is comfortably conversational yet doesn’t ask someone out it meant he was intriguing. Go figure. I was just shy and trying to figure things out, but the perception worked for me at the time.
Anyway, I asked this girl if she wanted to go out for a move, and then get ice cream. This might as well have been the 1950’s, as it was such a wholesome date. Now, keep in mind I was raised by my parents to be a gentleman and to operate by their views of chivalry. This meant stuff like no swearing around girls (or ever, really), holding the door for them, doing the driving, etc. Maybe it’s old fashioned, but that’s how they raised me.
Interestingly, nothing was said about spending money on girls. Now, I don’t know if they just assumed that I knew who pays on the first date, or what the case was. But we didn’t discuss the money part of it. Just being a gentleman in the other aspects I had mentioned.
So, I took the girl on the date, and I guess I just thought I would probably pay. I didn’t think much about beforehand, and just brought my money. Keep in mind that at the time, I was a kid in school and not working any kind of evening or weekend job at the time – though I had previously had a part-time minimum wage job. The girl, while also at the same school, did have some kind of part-time job. So she was working, I wasn’t.
Anyway, on the way to the local theatre, she was telling me about some funny things that happened to her at her job. No talk about mutual friends we had, or anything like that – just some brief stories on her job to break the ice.
I didn’t have my own current minimum-wage job stories to share, so at this point it’s even more clear that she’s working and I’m not. Which is fine at that young age, though I felt it then.
Then we got to the movie theatre, and went up to the counter to get the tickets. I asked for 2 to whatever movie we saw, and then was told the price. At that point, I quickly glanced over at her and she was just standing there.
There it was. A first date. And it was clear that I had to pay.
We both were just kids, both good students, her family seemed like they may be well to do, but one thing was certain: she was working and I wasn’t.
Yet, when it came time to pay, she didn’t flinch. So, I definitely noticed that and obviously remember it. But really, all I could think about at the time was how good she looked
After the movie was over, we continued the 1950’s-style wholesome theme and went to a local place to get ice cream. She then asked me if it would be ok if she got a root beer instead. Of course, I said. I really like root beer too, so I told her I’d get one as well. Then, we sat there and talked for a while.
Oh by the way….I paid for the soda too. Which is fine.
Then it started to get late, and I went to drop her off at home. The young Mr. Squirreler considered the night to be a success, as I did date her for a little while after that.
Anyway…that said, that episode got me thinking about money. Specifically, my need to have money.
You see, the whole evening made it clear that there was a “pay to play” approach to dating. If you’re a guy, you pay. If you don’t pay or you hope she pays her part, you’re not “manning up”. How could you ask a girl out and then expect her to pay her share – let alone the whole thing?
You couldn’t do that.
So, the young Mr. Squirreler had the lightbulb turn on. It became clear to me that for me to date, I would need some money. As I fast forwarded in my mind to the days when I’d be older and had a college degree and a “real” job, I figured the dates might get more expensive. I didn’t want to hurt my chances, so I thought I needed to figure out a way to make money.
In the mind of a younger guy, this was the kickstart I needed. And, it gave me insight into what drove many men to achieve wealth. Sure, we have our basic needs like food, shelter, transportation, medical, etc. But to many younger guys, there’s extra motivation of impressing girls and eventually women. Thank goodness I never made any stupid moves like buying a cool car to impress anyone.
Eventually –and thankfully – I also came to realize that not all girls are interested in how much you make or how much you spend on them.
Currently, as an adult, my motivator is retirement and child’s college expenses. But the dating example was the beginning of my being motivated to money for a specific reason, and with that I learned two things:
- Work toward a goal, it helps drive your money making pursuits
- You have to hustle to make money or get what you want; if you don’t, someone else will
Additionally, from that one evening, I did learn a lesson that stays with a guy:
On your very first date with a woman, you pay. It doesn’t matter if she has more money than you, or makes more money than you. The respectable, honorable, and practical thing to do is for you to pay. Later, after more dates and a relationship starts, this doesn’t have to be the case. But on that very first “real” date when you ask her out, you should expect to pay for everything and let her pay for nothing.
Yes, this is coming from the same guy who posted on gender equality recently. Which I stand by totally, as I think opportunities should be equal for both boys/girls and men/women. Girls can work toward any level of education and employment and should not get held back by any preconceived notions about their abilities or appropriateness in certain jobs or careers. It’s all equal.
For first dates though, it’s a different situation. Some might strongly disagree, but the lesson I learned that the guy pays.
What did you learn about finances from your first girl/boy friend?
Do agree or disagree with me on my thoughts about the guy paying for a first date? Am I too old-fashioned here?