Dating While Broke

Dating takes time and money. What’s a hard-working, single man to do?

There are so many unemployed and underemployed men these days. For the first time ever, single women earn more than single men. What does this mean for dating? How are we men supposed to court women when we’re broke?  What is a man without money or time to dote on his woman?

I know what you’re thinking. A man doesn’t have to spend a whole lot of money to take a woman out on a date. He doesn’t have to go to Fogo de Chao, he can go to Applebee’s. Then they can go for a walk. That sounds great for a couple, but for a man who just met a woman who may or may not even be interested, I think not. Further, what if the man has absolutely no money for Applebee’s? What if he works and studies seven days a week to stay afloat? This is more common than you might think—does it mean he can’t date?

Today’s young men are not accustomed to being broke when compared to women. Our fathers earned far more than our mothers and consistently bought them things they couldn’t buy on their own. That was the knight-in-shining-armor format. You rode in on a horse, and took her with you. The presumption is that she (a) doesn’t have a horse, and (b) she wasn’t going anywhere in the first place or wherever you were going was much better.  What if it isn’t? What if riding off with you will lower her standard of living?

Today’s young women are not accustomed to being able to buy themselves more than what they get from their men. I’m not talking gold diggers here. Most women gauge a man’s interest by his spending of (a) money or (b) time. If the guy has no money, how can she see that he deserves a shot? If the guy has little free time because he is busy working so that he can someday have money, how can she still know that he cares for her? If the twenty-something woman has access to [older] men with more money, why would she go on a date to Applebee’s?

When I began my career as a single man, I struggled heavily with this. I still struggle with it because I know that until my generation’s women start having children, this issue will continue. It will only end if women stop pushing forward in their careers and their men continue. However, I worry that many young men will spend money on dating now at the expense of their future, when the women will need them to “provide” the most.

How do you define manhood in a time when men earn less than women? How do you determine romantic interest when a man has little money or time?  I think we’re all due for a paradigm shift, don’t you?


—Photo credit: derekskey/Flickr

About Albert Okagbue

Albert has devoted his life to understanding money and wealth, especially how they mix with culture. He writes and is the author of Stop Budgeting Start Living: How to Sync Your Money and Your Life. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and has a Tax & Financial Planning practice in Houston.


  1. Defining manhood and masculinity by income proportions and ability to “provide” is not only outdated thinking, it’s dangerous. Only my opinion after thoughtful consideration of the article. Manhood is genitalia and gender assignment. It is nothing more. I formed my opinion based on how I would want my father, brother, or son to be respected by women and other men and was left feeling baffled that their income would somehow define THEM. The very idea strips away their intelligence, thoughtfulness, hard work & contributions to the family, etc. I believe that QUALITIES are what define this social construct of “manhood”. A person that will stand up and do anything for his family – that’s a Man.
    I understand this is a well intentioned article.. but unfortunately it does read more like a journal entry of a young man trying to find & define his place in the world. Further introspection may be wise… Best wishes.

  2. Anna banana says:

    First of all, an assumption that women earn more than men is incorrect.
    Secondly, if I can make money, so can you. Get off your ass. I had to come from other country, put myself through school, fight for my piece in predominantly male industry – it was tough. So no, I’m not dating a broke guy. I had to go through all this when I realized that men are not reliable and will not help out. There was noone there to help me – I worked my ass off. So now I’m going to Fogo de Chao by myself.

    • Anna congrats on making it in a predominantly male industry. I don’t know where you are from, but in the U.S. today single women out-earn single men…but married men still out-earn married women (Google will confirm all of this).

      Enjoy your meal at Fogo De Chao. I love their salad bar. 🙂

  3. mandariini says:

    Interesting discussion. I don’t know if anyones still reading comments but since I did, maybe I also tell you my point of view. Oh well 😀

    I find this whole conversating absurd, even if I understand that in your society it’s propably true. It just so different where I live… I’m from nothern Europe (Finland) and equality of sexes seems to really be something else here. It’s more normal than not that on a date both pay their own part; actually, just once have I been with a guy who insisted on paying everything. And you know what? The reason I found this discussion is because of him. Yes, he has more money and he will have more money in the future. But it was so annoying! I have enough money, too, even if I’m just a university student still. He didn’t have to. It was like he was buying me… and many of my friends were horrified; why would I let him do it? Why let him have that kind of power? (Not to say that everyone in here thinks that way… some are more traditional)

    So, I find this all very confusing.

    My point to you is that it’s all very much connected to the culture. Really. Things change and maybe things are changing even in U.S. I know this matters not to those who are living different culture NOW. And I know I’m priviledged even if I’m quite poor in my own country; because things like education and hospitals are free almost everyone, women as well as men, are in no need of provider. But please, think out of the box. Things can go differently too.

    Mmm.. that is not to say that women and men are the same. The phenothype of differences just changes, if you understand what I mean? I want men to be manly -not all the men, but the ones I’m going to have relationship with at some point. But that’s more about confidence, not about what he can buy. I agree with those that say that some differences ( even concerning money) can have basement on the evolution, too… but human are not entirily monkeys anymore.

    And on the other hand, if some women do think that money matters, well, why not? I think it’s stupid. But everyone have they reasons and if there’s agreement between couple, then it’s ok. I search for companionship but people do have the right to seek good looks or neverending love, or money. Just find more clever women 🙂

    (Please forgive any incorrect spelling, english is only my third language!)

    • mandariini says:

      Oh, little correction: I told that the answer is to find cleverer women but that’s not exactly what I meant. Woman can be clever and still want man for provider. But different woman, someone modern. 🙂

  4. Sue Allen says:

    I don’ know whether am at the right page … i have something in mind which I need to share. I met someone. He is married. He is older than me, more than 20 years. It doesn’t matter to me as I really love him with all my heart. I am working and he is retired. He told me that he has financial problem. Most of the time we are on FB. We hardly on the phone nor dating. Off late, he is not into FB too, reason, busy. He said it is always work, work and work. His main problem now is money….
    Sometimes, I was wondering whether is he no longer into me or he is really busy to earn income. I don’t know whether I should leave him or stay with him … when the sensitive part came, I just feel that I want to leave him, but deep inside in my heart, I love him and I want to be with him no matter what happens. Please help me guys. From your perspective, do you think he still loves me but because of the financial problem he is not able to show his love, care, concern to me at all????

    • He is married.
      To me this is more of an issue then his finances.

      Please help me guys. From your perspective, do you think he still loves me but because of the financial problem he is not able to show his love, care, concern to me at all????
      It could be the case that he wants to show his love but has concluded (for good or ill) that he can’t because of money. It’s possible that due to being married he has decided to end it with you. It’s also possible that he is not into you anymore for any number of reasons.

      But really to be getting interested in a married man like this is bound to end in a bad way, probably a bad way for all involved.

  5. rageahol says:

    This is a really interesting point you make.
    William Julius Wilson, in The Truly disadvantaged, advanced the notion that the increase in single motherhood among African-American families was related to a reduction in the supply of marriageable men, suggesting that support from the community was a more attractive option for many than being married to a man who could not provide, either because of lack of job, skills, or presence.
    I just wanted to throw this out there because the underlying issue being discussed here seems similar (though I also think there are substantial differences, particularly because of evolving gender roles).

    • Rageahol – there is no doubt in my mind that there is a correlation. The way I see it in the last 50 years men have been no better or worse towards women. What HAS happened, is that women have become more able to choose to be without men. They no longer need us to fulfill any of the needs on Maslow’s Hierarchy (for example).

      I actually think that the increase in single motherhood across the board is due to this same phenomenon. The article above is meant to discuss some of the issues related to the definition of a man (from both male and female perspectives) now that men are often unable to do what they used to do. It’s good for us to figure out what exactly women need us for these days…

      • Well, I’ll tell ya: to a lot of people I may look like the picture of the “independent woman” – own my own home and business, etc. – I would never tell anyone that I don’t need a man. I don’t really see what the point is of being able to provide for yourself if you have no one to share your life with. I have lots of great friends, but it’s still no substitute for a committed partner in life, with whom I have a strong emotional and sexual bond as well as a friendship. My career may be “how” I make a living but it’s relationships that are the “why.”

        I think that’s been the case for men, too, as long as they have been the breadwinners. It’s just something men aren’t supposed to talk about.

        • Looking back, I’m really glad I met my special someone in college. It was a period in our lives when we both had lots of time to get to know each other. You don’t automatically get that time back once it’s gone.

          Also, we were into letting our freak flags fly, so I daresay that our true selves were showing – artistic, geeky, poor, not lazy but not full of that I’m-gonna-conquer-the-world youthful ambition, either. Later, there were some bumpy patches when kids and sincere efforts to work harder and longer to make more money kept us apart, and we really had to get reacquainted with (cheap) lunch dates and (cheap) vacations with just the two of us.

  6. I’m one of those women who has an ok job (not going to get rich off of it but don’t have to worry) which is a lot where I live where most jobs are minimum wage jobs. I’m one of those women who doesn’t think about the money thing if the man is able to support himself (having been the financial support for someone I found I did not like that position at all… though some people do so I’m just speaking for me on this). I don’t particularly like to go to expensive places. I would prefer a picnic at the gazebo in the park on a nice day. A nice hike or something like that. I repeatedly suggest these things as dates and continue to have men who want to go the expensive route in my life even if they can’t afford it. I do offer to pay half and get turned down. It’s incredibly frustrating because it’s not even something I particularly enjoy doing and I feel in the need to impress they’re not using listening skills (no really I don’t like to do that fancy out to eat thing generally speaking… here’s what I enjoy doing lets find something we mutually like to do).

    I’m much more tolerant with the time thing than other people I think though. And I think there is a batch of women like that too. I also think time needed with partners is something that men and women vary on on an individual basis. I’m one of those people that doesn’t need to see people that often. So for me the best pair bond is another person who doesn’t have a need to be seeing me all the time. I end up with a lot of guys who have a high need to be around their partners all the time (which fits with someone women but not me). I need some spaces in my love. I think as far as the time thing is concerned it’s finding the right person to fit with you.

    I can’t really wrap my mind around the need to impress. I mean I get it at a basic level as a mating ritual but there is a world beyond money (though I know some women out there can’t see that) and impressing people. Chances are if the woman as agreed to a date they have seen some redeeming quality for pair bonding or even just sexual purposes that probably could be expounded on ,unless the basis for the date was the size of the wallet.

  7. A good “broke” dating idea is a movie at your place. You can get popcorn and treats and find a movie you both like. Personally I go with either horror movies or romantic comedies. The horror movie because it causes them to get close to you, and the romantic comedy because it puts the other person in a romantic mood.

    • couragethecowardly dog says:

      Really Two of Us? Ok how many home movies is it going to take before you say F this I want to go out? HOw many times are you going to vacuum popcorn off the floor of your living room, den, bedroom, whatever before you say to hell with this we’re going out. Guess what at some point you are going to have to spend money. And once you do that homey thing you do is going to seem downright boring. And the next time your husband/bf whatever suggests home movie night you will politely excuse yourself and tell your H/BF that you have to work late, then mosey on down to the local singles bar and let the guy in the $2,000.00 suit buy you drinks until . . . well, just use your imagination; while your H/BF is sitting home alone eating popcorn and watching the movie he got for home movie night. Protestations to the contrary I believe most women will gravitate to the guy with the expensive car, the thick wallet and an endless supply of viagra. Call me jaded.

      • CouragetheCowardlyDog, I like how your imagination works….lol. You have the whole “what-if” scenario mapped out and everything. Please remember that “most” women aren’t your ex-wife. (or at least I hope not anyway.)

        I believe that for every story of a woman leaving a man for money….there is a story of a man using a woman for money (or other benefits) and leaving her as well.

        • faithless says:

          the difference?

          he’s an “asshole” she’s an “empowered woman running from a failed relationship because her man doesn’t respect her enough to give her what she wants”

          solution, don’t ask women on dates.

      • “Protestations to the contrary I believe most women will gravitate to the guy with the expensive car, the thick wallet and an endless supply of viagra. Call me jaded.”

        Lol. My friend is Asian and one of the girls he lost, he lost to a white guy. So he has always felt that if an Asian girl rejects him, its because she is going to go out with some white guy. Your rich man inferiority complex reminds me of him.

        Its also not uncommon for women to cheat on their rich husbands with relatively poor men. One of my co-workers who was fairly successful (>$200k) had his wife leave him for a broke drug addict.

        “Guess what at some point you are going to have to spend money. And once you do that homey thing you do is going to seem downright boring”

        I remember a while ago going out with my girlfriend to meet a friend of mine. My friend had a large group meeting at his place and they were all going to go clubbing. We were all heading to the club and then my girlfriend and I ditched them. We both realized that we wanted to be alone with each other more than we wanted to hang out with other people. This happened on two separate occasions with the same friend but different girlfriends.

        Sometimes the homey thing you describe is what you both really want especially when you really like each other. Its not boring…its pure happiness, maybe even magical.

  8. I am actively turned off by men who define themselves by their net worth or brag about their salaries, so I would happily date a guy with less money or even no money. BUT I hesitate because I am afraid he might come to resent me. In my (ungood) experiences, the money issues tend to create a rift later in the relationship. On the first date, a guy could be happy and grateful that I am paying, and say all the right things, like “I like strong women. I think your career is sexy.” Like a lot of things people say on first dates, those could turn out to be lies. Get burned by that enough times and you will end up like the Vera Farmiga character in the movie Up In the Air who says “Please let him earn more money than I do, you might not understand that now but believe me, you will one day otherwise that’s a recipe for disaster.” We say that not because we want to date a guy’s money but because we are afraid of getting hurt.

    • Since you’re a woman (I suppose), I want to ask you what you think you would do to make a man resent you. Your statements are framed as if he resents you all on his own and you do nothing to facilitate or cause it. For example, is your man the “leader” of your household when you earn most of the money? Can he still speak up when you buy something that HE thinks you two cannot afford? It takes two to tango certainly – but I would love to see your thoughts on whether you think YOU are equipped to cater to a man in that situation. Maybe you’ll be hurt, but it might also be because of your own fault – your comment isn’t clear on whether you think you might MAKE a guy resent you, so I’m curious.

      • I wish I knew what I did to make men resent me so I could stop, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Things just kind of degenerate. I would like to say that I could “cater” (why cater??) to a man who criticizes my spending habits, but I haven’t gotten far enough along to test out that theory. A lot of these issues are discussed in the book “The Secret Currency of Love,” which made me feel better about not being the only one who had boy problems that resulted from making too much money. The darkest period of my romantic history was in the mid-aughts before the financial crisis when I was an investment banker. I wasn’t just making good money, I was making “you are an evil capitalist pig and you don’t deserve it” money. Once I broke up with my then-boyfriend who constantly picked fights with me over my job, I found that no one would touch me with a ten foot pole except other bankers who made even more money, which is really limiting. I lost the job, spent quite a while being unemployed and now make a small fraction of what I made back then. And I’m relieved because I don’t have to worry about scaring guys with my salary and my profession. It amazes me that people make so many decisions based on status. It’s stupid to date a guy (or a person for that matter) based on whether they are a high-powered banker or unemployed because that can all change in the blink of an eye.

        • “I wish I knew what I did to make men resent me so I could stop, but I don’t think it’s that simple. Things just kind of degenerate.”

          Sounds like there’s something there that you can’t see. Again, it’s either your fault, his fault, or both. I’m no expert on relationships, but there will always be something that doesn’t naturally work between two people and being able to determine where you are at fault will serve you well. I’m sure that you will eventually make a lot of money and whatever that issue is – will likely come back up.

          • I disagree with you there. I see very clearly what the problem is. Is there such a thing as a man who makes a lot of money who worries that he might “defeminize” his wife or girlfriend with his earnng power? Do you ever hear a man say “I have a great job a really nice bonus last year, it’s just a shame that women find it so offputting”? No, right? It is, on its face, totally absurd. So maybe I was deficient in some way becuase I couldn’t handle the twin burdens of my stressful job and walking on eggshells to avoid triggering male insecurity, but I am just one person and it’s a lot to deal with, especially without any support from the rest of society.

            • Okay, so you know what it is.

              “So maybe I was deficient in some way becuase I couldn’t handle the twin burdens of my stressful job and walking on eggshells to avoid triggering male insecurity….”

              Well, it’s not a deficiency in absolute terms. Depends on who you’re with. I once asked a very career-oriented woman a question: “What if your husband wanted to be the primary care-giver of your children…the ones they see the most…the one who cooks, cleans, and takes your daughter to shop for ballet clothes etc? How would you feel?”

              Needless to say she didn’t like it at all. It bothered her actually. My point is that men expect to be breadwinners, and women expect to be nurturers. When women now become breadwinners, many retain control of the household. This means that the men have nothing. Most men need to feel like their presence serves a practical purpose, so this drives them nuts.

              (Also note how the “good” examples of couples with female breadwinners usually involve Stay-at-home-Dads…..just my thoughts.)

    • couragethecowardly dog says:

      “I would happily date a guy with less money or even no money.”

      Really Koko? I mean this is something that can easily be achieved. There are plenty of homeless men out there, in fact for every homeless woman there are 10 homeless men. I mean you could find a homeless man (they are not all alcoholics, crazy or drug addicted), date him, take him in even and satisfy yourself and do a service to society. I mean if you were looking for men with no money they are not that difficult to find, But I just don’t see that happening. Why do you suppose that is?

  9. I’m in my mid-30’s and I have dated men who earned less than I did. Some where in grad school, some were underemployed and some where fully employed in their field of choice but not well paid (teaching social work etc). Personality, effort and thoughtfulness were more important to me. Also how they spent the time and money they did have was important. Was the guy working hard or hardly working? Was he paying his bills first and living on what was left or buying every new gadget/toy and then complaining about the cost of living?

    –Is it impossible for a man without significant financial means to date? Even if the woman doesn’t need his money? The more folks comment here, the more the [unfortunate] answer is clear.
    — It’s not impossible. It all depends on the type of person approached. People give and receive interest and affection differently. There are people (women and men) who hear “I like you”, “I love you”, “I appreciate you” in the giving of money and things and then there are people who hear those thing in time spent in conversation or the lawn being mowed or their hand being held. If someone chases a person who wants money and things and that don’t have that to give, they should prepare to have their feelings hurt. But there are lots of people out there who are looking to find somebody for good conversation, movie watching, a place to vent a bad day, share their dream and a bunch other stuff that doesn’t cost a whole lot

    • GirlGlad4TheGMP says:


      I’m probably where you are at. Have career, dated men who earned both more and less than I did. Had great dates doing absolutely nothing, and horrible dinner, etc. dates. It’s not what you do with a person on a date, it’s how you are connecting with that person…on those first few dates, and in the long run.

      I do remember a few years ago I met a man I was crazy about. We were both just out of school and on the precipice of life as adults. Things were great at the start and progressed quite quickly. But then, his business venture kicked off and I barely saw him. He was making great money and a good name for himself, and I’m truly happy for him, but subbing in gifts and money was just no replacement for being with him. I remember walking into his place more than once to find a credit card or a gift (none of which I ever kept), along with a note with an apology for not being present (yet again). One of these nights, standing alone in his apartment realizing that this was likely all I’d ever get from him, I left for good. It pained me, but there was no substitute for him. No cashmere sweater would ever feel as good as his arm around me. No fancy 4-star restaurant as warming to the heart as finding creative ways to style up another one of our KD dinners.
      It’s important to keep in mind that dating is about sharing varied experiences together, having fun. Regardless of how much money you do or do not spend, show her a good time. Keep her laughing, keep her engaged…that’s what she will remember.

      • Oh my. That’s such a touching story. Many many words of wisdom here. I will take this with me personally and share it with others too.

        “Regardless of how much money you do or do not spend, show her a good time. Keep her laughing, keep her engaged…that’s what she will remember.”

  10. “Most women gauge a man’s interest by his spending of (a) money or (b) time. If the guy has no money, how can she see that he deserves a shot? If the guy has little free time because he is busy working so that he can someday have money, how can she still know that he cares for her? ”

    Most people – and therefore most women – have enough common sense to know that some jobs take a lot of time, and that some jobs don’t pay too well. After all, you know, we have jobs too. I gauge a man’s interest by the amount of time he spends asking me things about myself or listening to what I say, relative to the amount of time he spends talking about himself. Many women also find it a turn-on if a man cooks dinner or is good with kids.

    “If the twenty-something woman has access to [older] men with more money, why would she go on a date to Applebee’s?”

    Holy crap! Do you really think most women see men as ATMs? You must have dated some horrid divas. Why would we go for the younger guy? Let’s start with the shallowest of reasons; the younger man is probably way hotter. But more importantly, most people aren’t that shallow. We’ll go for the guy who we like having a conversation with, can share jokes with or political and moral opinions with, talk about goals with, have fun with, etc… Also, even if we don’t care about old guys being less hot, someone from the same age group as us will be less likely to be offensively racist or something and more likely to share our taste in music, tv, etc…

    • Ahhhh Jen, thanks for your comments. I did not know that the women who date men 4-10 years older than them were being practical! I thought they were dating the people the best met their needs? I stand corrected.
      As for women seeing men as ATM’s, you must not have ever read any works by Penelope Trunk or Megan Basham’s “Beside Every Successful Man” or “The End Of Men” (famous article on The Atlantic). Maybe you don’t share these views, but for now BOTH men and women see men as ATMs – at least more than they see women that way.

      • Just because there are a couple of headline grabbing books or articles about disturbing social trends doesn’t mean those trends apply to everybody. There may be a lot of men AND women who see men as ATMs (and women as sex/beauty objects) but that doesn’t mean you have to go along with it or that all women do.

        • “There may be a lot of men AND women who see men as ATMs (and women as sex/beauty objects) but that doesn’t mean you have to go along with it or that all women do.”

          This statement concerns me. The books and articles grab headlines for a reason. If a lot of people (men and women) see men as ATMs, then it is a norm. It seems like you are agreeing with the notion that in a “normal” situation a man with no money is not much of a man. I sense your reluctance in other comments – but you still seem to believe it. Maybe I’m reading you wrong, but thanks for joining the discussion!

          • You’re reading me very wrong. I think you’re doing what a lot of people do (and this is my point) – obsess about what is “normal” vs. what’s healthy or what would make them happy. Yes, there are a lot of women who judge men by how much money they make, and a lot of men who buy into that and spend their lives trying to make as much money as they can. Then everybody is shocked when this doesn’t make anybody happy. By this logic, McDonald’s is the best restaurant because “everyone” goes there. Luckily there are other restaurants, if you know to look for them and don’t accept that there isn’t anything better. And there are lots of people who know that a Big Mac isn’t going to satisfy the kind of hunger they have, and want something different/better, but you’re not going to find them by hanging out at McDonald’s.

            • Your McDonalds analogy only proves my deepest fear: that people who can transact in the dating world without money as a significant input are “abnormal”. No matter how you slice it, most “normal” people eat at McDonalds, or Chik-fil-A or Wendy’s or some other fast food joint (even the ones that use all-natural ingredients). Very few actually cook at home. Get it?

              I appreciate your advice though. Anyone reading this will be best served finding his/her sweetheart in the sorts of places he/she fits into. Sounds like common sense, but sometimes common sense has to be double-checked. 🙂

              • I guess it just doesn’t bother me not to be “normal” as much as it does you. I’ve never thought of it as anything to be afraid of – again maybe because I’m a musician and well used to it. 😀 It’s not like I’m trying to see how many guys I can score, so I don’t really care how many guys eat at McDonald’s so long as I can find one who likes the healthier joints or likes to cook at home.

                And, y’know, societal “norms” do change. The more couples get together who are happy ditching traditional gender roles, the easier it is for the next person to ditch them.

                • You have an excellent point about social norms. They do change….but it takes time, and most norms don’t really change much.

                  I am already abnormal in so many ways, that I had to question whether certain things are within reach for me. I mean, can an abnormal person have a normal relationship and achieve it through abnormal means? I suppose you are saying yes. My life kind of supports this already – although I met my special lady in a night club. That remains a fluke today because she’s not into it – other than that she wants to go dance with ME.

                  Thanks again LF.

      • I never said that they were being “practical”. The question I quoted directly from your article implied that they were being “practical”. I’ll tell you, the one time I dated an older guy it was certainly far from “practical”, but that didn’t matter because it all comes down to the emotional connection.

  11. couragethecowardly dog says:

    This is an excellent article. I am glad you had the balls to talk about it. I will do what you didn’t do. I don’t like the fact that women earn more than men. There. It is not good for society as a whole for so many reasons. Here’s the facts. Women are attracted to men who make more money than they do and that is because when they do start having children they do not want to experience a decline in their standard of living and while they may say they want to return to work after having children, once they have the children their maternal instincts create a lot of conflict within them. There are two excellent articles which had been posted at, but I see they were taken down; one was entitled “Secrets of Breadwinner Wives” and the other was “Survival of Breadwinner Wives”. Both articles talk about the resentment breadwinner wives feel toward their lower earning husbands who stay at home with the children while they trudge off to work to earn the bread (something men have been doing without so much as a peep of comlaint for hundreds of years). Feminism’s consequences have come home to roost. American women have made their beds, they can now sleep in them alone. Fortunately for American men most of the world’s women have not bought into the foolishness of American feminisim. There are plenty of women in the world who will lovingly welcome the primacy of their husband.

    • You make good points couragethecowardly dog and those facts are staring society in the face. We’ll see how it all plays out – I’m a bit dissappointed that few people have responded honestly about how they deal with this dynamic. Are no women dating men who earn less than they do? Are no men dating women who earn more? Are no “broke” men in their twenties dating? At all….?

      • I am a woman that earns $74k from a day job, and if I have a good year with my business then I earn an extra $10-30th in residual income. I’m 35, single, no kids. I want to have 1 child within 5 years.

        I’ve dated a lot, and often most men earned less than I have over my career. I have met quite a few men who readily admitted they had issues, they placed on themselves concerning my advanced degree, and desire to climb a career ladder. I offered to pay for dates, split bills, split travel et cetera. Some of those men had old fashioned values, and didn’t want me to do those things.

        I am with a man now who is in his late 20’s, starting his career, and earns less. I believe his salary is between 40-55k. He has a plan and will earn more in the future. I see his drive and potential. We take turns paying for things for each other, and when he budgets appropriately he splurges on a nice restaurant/activity. He doesn’t berate me for being a career woman. I don’t berate him for not being a baller. He treats me well, with respect, makes me laugh, displays non selfishness at times, and he is a leader.

        Both men and women should be secure within themselves and be willing to give based on ability to do such.

  12. Deborah Bennett says:

    I am struggling with this issue from the woman’s point of view. I’m a divorced woman with a good career, financially stable but not exactly rolling in dough. I’m in touch with a man I want to pursue, but we haven’t yet gone out because he feels he “should” pay for everything, at least for the first few dates. He’s just moved, is dissatisfied with his job, and says he can’t afford his life right now, although he has plans to remedy that. We have to travel a bit to meet, which adds another layer of expense and an additional time commitment. I have offered to meet him in his city, or pay for half of the date. He’ll have none of it. He is concerned about making that all-important first impression. I understand, but how am I supposed to discover whether we hit it off, if we can’t even agree how to have a first meeting? I now find myself in the position of waiting for the planets to align for him financially, biding our time with phone calls and emails. I want to see him NOW, not in a month. How can I let him know he may lose his chance with me if he doesn’t let me pay for half or — gasp! — even all of the date? How can I do this without trampling on his masculinity?

    By the way, this is not just an issue for twenty-somethings. We are both in our early 40s, and this guy is not the first I’ve run across who was reluctant to let me share dating expenses, even if I was in a better position to do so. Yes, I want a man who will be a good provider in the long term. But when first dating, I am more interested in his personal qualities than his wallet.

    • couragethecowardly dog says:

      Ok this is rich!!

      Let’s play this out a bit. He reluctantly agrees to allow you to pay for half the date. He really wants to impress you, so he picks out a really nice restaurant to go to, but it is kind of pricey. So you meet and a have wonderful date. You grow attached. Time goes on. His income is not rising and yours is. You are in your 40’s so I guess you won’t be having children. That’s a big relief, because if you had to trudge off to work while he got to stay home and play mommy, somehow I think all those romantic feelings would go out the window and your resentment would grow until you started getting hit on by your company’s CEO and then Mr. Romantic would be histor. Fortunately for you none of that happens, but because he is an upstanding guy he never really wants to spend outside his sphere of affortability which is alot lower than yours and instead of a week at the Greenbriar you go minature golfing, but that gets old and you are gonna spend your money someplace even if it is not on him and the next thing you know your job is requiring you travel (not really, but it explains those overnights at the Ritz with the CEO). Ok i am a cynic. The fact is I threw my own career under a bus, so as to allow my ex wife to pursue a career opportunity for herself, when that failed for her I was not able to resurrect my career to a level that would have allowed her to live at the standard of living she thought she was entitled to. So what’s a girl to do? Cheat on me of course. This whole notion of the woman who can “have it all” is BS. I think women are starting to realize it. Some just haven’t gotten the memo yet.

      • Deborah Bennett says:

        Courage, I’m sorry things happened the way they did for you. I’ve read your posts and your situation is heartbreaking. It’s no surprise you are cynical. I don’t make all that much money, but I love my work (own a solo private practice also), and make enough to support myself with a little left over. My current debt is from supporting my ex-husband, with whom I’m still friends. I’ve lost money and investment with every relationship I’ve ever had, but am not bitter or jaded. I don’t want to be rich, just adored and appreciated. I think that can still happen. There are lots of good (great!) men out there. I have an inkling Mr. Reluctant may be one of them — if we can get past the money and gender role stuff.

        Mr. Reluctant probably makes about as much as I do. My dream would be that we end up together, earn enough combined to be secure, and — surprise! — be able to raise a child together. (Thank Science for egg donation and IVF!) Having waited so long for parenthood, based on our talks, I think we’d both want to do whatever was needed to get the most out of the experience. Our peers are all sending their kids off to college now, and telling us how much we’ve missed. Early 40s is not too late. I have no interest in climbing any corporate ladder or letting my work take over my life. If he wanted to seek a more rewarding career, I’d support that, including working more and living frugally. Being reasonably happy with your work is important, in my opinion. I cheated on someone once at age 20, never have since, and never will again.

        I do think I can have it all. Love, stability, family, and a workable (if not high) standard of living. And so can the man who ends up with me.

    • Thanks Deborah Bennett. It truly affects all men because most jobs lost in the recession belong to men. I only expect more from younger men because we have never known a different world. For all of our lives women/girls have been smarter and done better. I find it interesting that the more women earn, the more interested they seem to be in what a man earns. I wonder if this will ever change.

      Your situation shows that it’s not just women. I’m not asking these questions to blame women because as men we HAVE NO IDEA how to impress a woman without buying her something. I was hoping that more women would help us figure this out. Is it impossible for a man without significant financial means to date? Even if the woman doesn’t need his money? The more folks comment here, the more the [unfortunate] answer is clear.

      If it’s true and Evan (previous commenter) is right, then we have a generational mismatch. Men in their twenties will have no choice but to wait till their thirties to date seriously – and women in their twenties will have to date older men as Penelope Trunk says on her blog.

      • Please see my post elsewhere in the thread. There are plenty of women (certainly including me) who aren’t particularly impressed by money and are way more impressed by men who are thoughtful and creative. Want to watch my eyes glaze over on a date? Tell me about your stock portfolio or your latest business deal, or take me to a fancy restaurant which will make me feel uncomfortable. Not that we’d likely even get that far – we’d probably know enough at first glance to know we have nothing in common.

        Want to get and keep my attention? Be a great conversationalist. Have genuine interests and passions in life – take me to your college buddies’ play at a local underground theater or find a beautiful park to hike/have a picnic that hardly anyone knows about. Take me to a cheap or free museum exhibit and have something to say about what we’re looking at. Tell me what music you love and why. Tell me about some volunteer work you did or would like to do. Ask questions about the things I’m interested in and show some interest in them too, and don’t just pretend to be interested so you can get laid. Be affectionate and caring. Want to leave the world a better place than you found it.

        Oh, and if you’re the kind of guy who has the qualities I mention above, don’t try to date the same women who are salivating over the guys making 6 figures. That is probably the biggest mistake you guys make. Those women might look hot, but they are never going to appreciate what you have to offer and will only make you feel bad about yourself. Don’t look in bars or hang out in upscale clubs. You’re more likely to meet women in the very places you’d want to take them on dates – in bookstores, underground music clubs, parks, museums, or that cheap little eatery/coffeehouse where the college kids hang out.

        It seems like a lot of people, both men and women, spend a lot of energy trying to be something they’re not in order to “impress” potential mates. Are you really pursuing the career you’re pursuing because you love it? Or is it just so you can earn a lot of money so you can impress chicks? Because if it’s the latter, they can tell. The “genuine” women won’t want you, and the women who want you will be just like you – women putting on a mask to impress you, which will eventually fall away. And it will degenerate eventually into a resentful situation where you’re just using each other for status as opposed to loving each other. Don’t let that happen!

        • Thanks again for your wisdom LF. Do you think it’s a matter of age? Are younger women more likely to want trinkets until they realize that the most important things don’t cost money? I’m not “old” yet, and I can say in my life that most of what I’ve seen costs money. I’ve never heard anyone say they love the time they spent with so-and-so…….maybe what “broke” men just need is more confidence. (Not sure where they can get it from though….)

          • I don’t think it’s necessarily an age thing. It might be for some people, who just need some life experience to show them that trinkets don’t matter. Personally, that stuff never interested me even when I was younger.

            I think it’s more the company one keeps and the values one cultivates. Besides the fact that I hang around mostly with fellow musicians, artists, activists and other somewhat non mainstream types, I know a lot of young college kids and recent grads who are politically/socially aware and very non materialistic – in fact some are downright ANTI materialistic because they’re concerned about environmental issues (as am I) and such. Whereas if you pursue a high powered business career, your social circle is mostly going to be other people in that same type of environment and with similar values – the women are going to be looking for upwardly mobile men even if they have big career ambitions themselves.

            It’s not always easy to find people with good values, that’s for sure. But first you have to know they’re out there, and then you have to make a conscious effort to pursue those kinds of people (and of course BE one of those kinds of people) as opposed to take the more “shotgun” approach of “Hey, she’s hot! Let’s see if I can ask her out” which no doubt makes most men feel inadequate just thinking about it, especially if they don’t have money or aren’t great looking.

            People with good values tend not to be attention whores. They may not be the first women you notice in a room. You have to look a little more carefully.

        • courage the cowardly dog says:

          Are you really pursuing the career you’re pursuing because you love it? Or is it just so you can earn a lot of money so you can impress chicks? Because if it’s the latter, they can tell.

          No and No.

          I am not pursuing the career I am in because I love it, but because I am good at it and I can make a decent amount of money to support my children and maybe even contribute to the cost of their college education. I would be making alot more money had I not agreed to move from a state that I practiced law in for 10 years so my ex wife could pursue a lucrative career opportunity for herself at the expense of my own career. When this opportunity turned into a spectacular economic failure for her approximately a year after we made the move she refused to return to the state where I had established a good reputation. Faced with leaving my family,(my divorce lawyer said I had no chance of obtaining sole custody and moving my kids back to the state we had moved from) or continuing to suffer career languish in this new state I chose to stay. I came to discover that my ex’s reluctance to move back was due to the fact that she was having an affair. Now, I share 50/50 custody of my kids and my ex pays me child support. All my law school classmates are partners in law firms or on the bench. I left the firm I worked for since we got to this state and that paid me 25%less than what I had been making before we made the move in support of my ex’s career 12 years ago. I am out on my own. A solo practicitioner. It is very difficult being a single parent and running your business. And my ex, well she is living with the doctor that she was having the affair with and whom was married himself at the time to a stay at home mom and wife who fully supported his career aspirations and his income reflects that support. It is clear to me that when my economic value declined so did my standing in my ex’s eyes. Its a fine example she sets for the kids.

          • Seems like the doctor did the same thing to his wife. It seems like his wife was there for him every step of the way as he struggled through medical school, and as soon as he got his success, he left her for someone more successful and exciting than a housewife who sacrificed her own chance at a career for him.

            • Yeah….the common denominator are those two people that left their spouses. I guess I feel like while dating money has so much explanatory power for who people date…but in the long term it has so little explanatory power for success. I feel that in the 21st century with so many men under-earning, money shouldn’t be on the list of criteria at all. A hardworking person can always earn money (with time), but a person with money may not be hardworking. Just my thoughts.

            • So your wife committed adultery on you with a married man, who had a great supportive wife, and now he’s with your ex-wife? What I’m wondering is where is his ex-wife now (assuming they got divorced). I know it’s a big mess, but sounds like she’s the better one for you. Not sure how something like that would work out though.

        • I find these arguments quite out of touch, as all this theory ignores some common facts.
          Many men feel more confident when they have a job and have some cash to spend.
          Most men prefer attractive, nice and fun female partners, and to some extent try to find the best one they can (afford). When I have a good job and earn good money, I can date and hold the women I want, when I’m unemployed or earning not much, Its much more difficult to date them and I instinctively feel I have much less chance of holding onto them.
          Many men would rather earn more than their female partners, or at least, not be massively out-earned. As someone said – Once you can’t keep up with their lifestyle – your doomed.
          Most women do look at what a man does and can earn when selecting a partner.
          I believe these issues and many more are all hard-wired into us biologically, and to pretend we can wish it away with theory is absurd. Thats not to say all people
          What really sucks is when you grow up in this crap, thinking its true and then you learn the truth way too late.
          After being ditched by my ex GF who got with me when I was earning big, and ditched me when I was depressed and an unemployed Architecture student, (and was egged on by her divorced mother & rich professional female friends) – now Im looking for women who value family/relationships more, have lower paying jobs, are younger and often not from Western backgrounds. Ironically the dating websites and bars (in Brisbane, Australia) are full of professional women 28 and above who won’t look at a guy earning much less than them, and definitely expect to be bankrolled and “taken care of” by a partner. The man drought is real, luckily in this area of the world there are quite a few women from cultures not taken over by feminism, some of which are hopefully content to live a modest lifestyle with a guy…

          • Believe me when I say that it does seem that way especially when you experience it and see it on a repeated basis (and of course it hurts a lot more to be dumped by a shallow woman that to hear about another guy getting dumped by a shallow woman).

            Good luck on finding women that value family/relationships more.

    • I think you may have to consider moving on…my BF (now husband) and I were separated by 3000 miles as we pursued our own career development….if it was meant to be, then the distance shouldn’t matter….he would make it happen now and be by your side no matter what….get involved in your own activities and meet more people….

      • Yeah, agreed. It sounds like he’s more concerned with his own “status” in being able to pay for the date than he is about you. That doesn’t really bode well for the future.

        • I think it goes both ways. He just doesn’t know that SHE doesn’t mind. If he did, he might not know that she will NEVER mind. If they are close enough, they can actually talk about it. It won’t hurt them anymore. I’ve found that when gender roles are shattered, people are forced to communicate more. When the woman has to work or the man has to cook and clean etc.

          • It sounded like she’s already told him she doesn’t mind, and he doesn’t believe her. It’s no good talking if you don’t trust what the other person is saying and are trying to read whatever you want to read between the lines.

            • Deborah Bennett says:

              I’ve had relationships that started out long distance, and survived for a long time, so I know it can be done. His experience with long distance has not been so good. I’m going to give him a bit more time. He’s special enough, and may come around. If not, I’m also prepared to move on. Your points here are all well taken, and I appreciate them.

  13. Here’s the thing though, this is all in your hands. Yes, there are women who expect you to pay for dates. Do you want relationships with them? Probably not. As Leia said, cheap dates are the best. If you want to ask a woman out, find something cheap or free to do. If she scoffs, she’s not the lady you want.

    I think most women are happy to pay for themselves, but the other one’s will only stop when you guys don’t let them get away with it. Stay strong! 🙂

    • AlliesofMen! Thanks for the comment. You definitely draw the line between the ones that will and the ones that won’t. Who knows? Maybe this is the best way for quarter-life men to look at it? I wonder what others will say to this – especially women.

    • When you say “There are women” I think you mean 98% of women. I don’t know a single person who has ever been on a first date where the woman paid for it. And I know some people who have dated extensively. I also find it funny that no one has brought up the inherent problem with the fact that single women make more than single men. After all, aren’t we all supposed to make the same? I’ve heard for years about feminist groups complaining about the “fact” that women earn less than men. They still do. Where is the uproar about women earning more than men?

  14. This article asks a lot of questions – “How are we men supposed to court women when we’re broke? What is a man without money or time to dote on his woman? What if the man has absolutely no money for Applebee’s? What if he works and studies seven days a week to stay afloat? What if riding off with you will lower her standard of living?” – but doesn’t answer them. I think that’s because the answers are both obvious and a little depressing. They are, in two words: “Tough luck.”

    In a sense, it’s hard for me to sympathize because I’ve always struggled with women – in high school, at college, when I was working an assortment of decently and not so decently paid jobs, then later as a grad student and now as someone returning to the job market after 2 years. One thing I’ve learned is that you aren’t entitled to anything, neither a good job nor a satisfying love life. If dating is impossible because you have almost no free time, or no money, or you’re socially awkward, or you’re just plain ugly, you have to accept that. It’s not as if this is an impossible situation – if you work hard you can try and get a new job or a promotion, or you can hire a dating coach, or work on your personality, but there are no guarantees in this world but one, and you have to accept that. Otherwise, whatever other qualities you have, we can add “immature” to the list.

    • Evan, thanks for your views on this. So you agree that finances are an important part of the dating transaction. Point taken.
      The reason I don’t answer the question is because I am curious if we have yet adapted to the reality that women often out-earn men – especially during the quarter-life period. Perhaps we haven’t, but this question comes from a place of optimism so I’ll wait for more answers. In the meantime I’ll work to pay for Applebee’s…

      • Well, I don’t think of it as a transaction – even if, as in many places, a woman would rather split the check, the fact remains that dating is an activity that costs money. It takes place in private premises that are still publicly accessible, like bars, restaurants, and cafes, and those places cost money to maintain. Some people can go on free dates like a walk in the park, a trip to a free museum, or whatever, but most people prefer the established route because, as it happens, it’s just a better milieu to get to know someone over drinks, food, or coffee than watching an open-air performance of Shakespeare in a park.

        • ” it’s just a better milieu to get to know someone over drinks, food, or coffee than watching an open-air performance of Shakespeare in a park.”

          If your watching Shakespeare, drinking or eating then your not talking. Why add a distraction to your date in the form of a play, a drink or food. I think all these are not the best way to get to know someone. The best way is just to talk. That’s it. Its simple, free and highly effective. If you want to go somewhere than go outside for a walk or if its cold walk in a mall.

          Eating is what you do when your hungry. Drinking is what you do when your thirsty. Talking is what you do when you want to get to know someone. I would only mix the two if I actually wanted to mix the two…I was hungry but wanted to keep the date going. The other thing about this is that you have to eat and drink anyways so its not like your spending any additional money.

          Dating has never really cost me a lot of money.

          My last date I took the girl for a walk on the Philosophers Walk, then we went to a supermarket where we talked and browsed randomly, then we walked along the Lakeshore. It was a perfect date.

    • If you have no time, are you really available for a relationship anyway? Some people are working for low pay and studying 7 days a week, others are employed and making great money but working insane hours in a professional field. It’s not always about money or what the women have done with their lives. Not everybody is physically available for a relationship due to other demands on their lives. Yes, in both scenarios it’s about the pursuit of money first for survival’s sake. But there has to come a point where you have the time to give to a relationship. If you don’t have the time, I don’t think it’s fair to blame it on finance.

      • Yeah, agreed. A relationship can’t grow or thrive if you can’t spend any time together. That is WAY more important than money IMO.

        • I am a business woman in her 50’s. I have been with successful men, men with issues and some men who have financial difficulties. I recently started dating. Man 55 who I thought was great even though broke from a divorce. Find out later he had designs of moving in with me, I have paid to take him away for weekends, etc only to discover he gambled thousands and was the downfall of his marriage. At this point in my life my kids are grown and I have the flexibility to take off and travel when I want. He is struggling in a mediocre job, has a 13 year old and basically can take no time off. Romantic is nice, but does not pay the bills. I feel like a cheap date when I am used to going out and having a nice time rather than worrying if he can pay for a pizza!

      • Interesting point. I guess it depends on “time”. Everyone has enough time to share a meal a few times a week (even busy people eat). But at some point in a progressive person’s life he/she might not take trips or go to the movies. Is that okay with you?

        • Sure. “Time” to me means sharing the everyday things and taking the time to show you care about your partner. It could be as simple as going to the grocery store together, having a meal together at home, taking the time to call and ask how my day was even if yours is hectic. To me that’s how you can tell if a relationship’s for real – when that person’s company makes even the little things in life special.

        • “Even busy people eat.”. I agree with that. I’m also assuming that they have a place to live and groceries, so it doesn’t have to mean a restaurant meal if he can cook. Of course, both partners would have to agree that eating in is something they want to do for a date. It’s a little unorthodox in our culture now, but it may be something that we shift to as time goes on if things don’t go back to how they were. Trips, movies…I think there is some expectation that a couple will do more than sit in the same room together for entertainment. I think the most important thing is to agree on what they want to do, and to do what they can afford…something that people of any income level need to go through. Would I want to be with a man who would never be able to afford things outside of the house? No. I would feel too much like a caretaker. I prefer a more balanced relationship.

      • I’ve read in many places that due to student loans and economic hardships, many 20-somethings won’t really live like 20-somethings until their 30’s. Your comment leads to the traditional expectation that a man be “settled”. I’m interested to see what you might add at this point.

        • “Settled” is not what I was thinking; it’s more about priorities to me. Work before play. I understand loneliness and need, but I also think you have to be ready to give yourself to the relationship. If money is a dire need, you need to be addressing that before enjoying yourself. Otherwise you are asking somebody else to take care of you. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wait until you have this figured out. I suppose it’s delayed gratification.

  15. Linked this on fb and my friend (female) had this to say: I still struggle with it because I know that until my generation’s women start having children, this issue will continue. It will only end if women stop pushing forward in their careers and their men continue. However, I worry that many young men will spend money on dating now at the expense of their future, when the women will need them to “provide” the most.” – This article bothers me, and this paragraph the most. The implication here seems that somehow, it is the woman’s fault; by “pushing forward in their careers” they are creating an uneven playing field where a man is not able to “provide” for them and is emasculated as a results. The comment about his generation’s women having children is very telling; does he think that as soon as a woman has a child she will need him to support her? The whole article indicates to me a very subtle way of needling at the change in gender roles; he refers to what it used to be like for our parents, and at no point considers that maybe a woman’s first thought isn’t ‘what can this man buy for me’ but might be more along the lines of ‘what is his personality like’. The shame is that he does make a couple of comments about spending *time* with a person that actually hold some real value; but because he focuses so much on the money they lose their impact, and his final call for a paradigm shift seems less ‘let’s change the social norm’ and more ‘I don’t like that women earn more than me but I can’t say that outright’. Finally, does he not think that in a society where women are earning more – and therefore presumably being more successful at work and having longer hours etc – that this is an issue that only men face? Women want to be able to spend time with/money on their significant others too. And while some may still want a “knight-in-shining-armour”, there are many out there don’t need to be rescued and are quite happy to just have an equal relationship with someone whose personality they adore, income irrelevant.

    • Thanks Phil, I appreciate the promotion. Perhaps you can share this with your friend.

      The point of this article is not to say that women shouldn’t earn or advance financially. I am personally attracted to a woman that can take care of herself.

      My point here is that there has to be a better way to measure manhood in a world where women earn more than men. My reference about women eventually needing men to “provide” is quite valid and your friend is not yet the norm. There are enough articles and books (see Penelope Trunk, “Beside Every Successful Man” By Megan Basham) to indicate that even high-earning women don’t necessarily want to be THE bread winner. After they have children, they at least want the option of being mothers like their own mothers were to them. Many women are finding that they have better pay or benefits than their spouses, so that when a child comes THEY have to keep working – it’s not how they envisioned motherhood.

      I think Good MEN will eventually make it financially, but we need to know that Good Women want us well before then. Your friend does not address that issue. I would love it if she did – it would mean a lot to the men reading this.

      • Albert, I’m really glad you cleared the up because had many of the same concerns Phil brought up. Honestly, I deal with this daily (had no time to date because of college and studying, have no mony because of students loans and yada yada)–and that’s telling because gay guys are feeling this too.

      • Albert, thank you for clearing that up somewhat – I’m Phil’s friend from his post. While I appreciate your views – and I’m glad you explained them more fully – I just don’t believe we should be trying to measure “manhood” the way you suggest, whether it’s by financial success or any other method. Your points about high-earning women not necessarily wanting to be the bread-winner are very true, but I don’t think it’s always about wanting “Man” to provide so much as wanting *choice*. We want the changes that have happened (and are continuing to happen) for gender equality to mean that between us, with our significant other, we can choose who works, who stays at home (if that’s possible) and how we manage our lives without societal expectations forcing us to have to do it one way or the other (the way our parents *had* to, in the somewhat idealised white-knight scenario you mentioned originally).

        When you say “it’s not how they envisioned motherhood”, you’re right, but perhaps for the wrong reasons – successful women today have got where we are by being told we are empowered, that we can do anything we set our minds to, that the world is at our fingers etc etc. And perhaps career-wise, now, that is true. The fact that we are becoming the higher earners, at least when single and in our mid 20s-30s (before we have children), we can do those things. But that means that, in short, we want it all, and we want to choose how we use it. Sadly given the current economic climate, that’s not exactly possible when children come along, and many are following in our parents footsteps but perhaps with the gender-roles reversed.

        Essentially, we’re not looking for a man to provide for us – we’re looking for someone who we can be equals with. Not necessarily financially – our fathers had to be the breadwinners, maybe it’s our turn now – but someone who will be at our side and making the decisions *with* us, not for us the way it used to be. So when you say about whether or not Good Women want Good Men, the answer is that of course we do! We just don’t define a Good Man by his earning power, and many of us haven’t for a long time. We define a Good Man by all of the other criteria someone would look for in a relationship; money is usually far down the list.

        On a side note, I found your comments about spending *time* together much, much more relevant. In this climate, especially for women who are spending more and more time working in order to be as successful as we appear, time is most definitely a valuable commodity. How anyone – male or female – can be expected to make a connection with someone new when they are working constantly is perhaps an even bigger challenge!

        • I appreciate your evolved view of things. You want choice, I get that. However the work place isn’t providing enough of it so ultimately people will look to their spouses. For example, most professionals have a hard time finding a job that will let them telecommute – or work half time for half pay. When they have children, they’ll choose between full pay and zero – so the spouse’s ability to accommodate that becomes a consideration. This is what I mean by “when women will need men to provide”. Maybe you’re right and nobody is expecting us to provide that choice…but this is why I asked.

          I wonder how common you think your ‘evolved’ views are. It seems to me that the more women earn, the more likely they are to date men that earn more than they do….so unless I’m missing something, your views are quite rare. I concluded preliminarily that we are in a transitional phase where women want to work with the option of later being taken care of. They want to start and build a great career without being committed to it in the long-term.
          They can have this and more, but typically not without a spouse whose career or income makes it possible.

          From my perspective as a CPA, I’ve seen that the highest earners (most choice) long-term often don’t make that much in their 20’s. The women who want options have to “earn” it. I don’t think money should be on the “list” of attributes at all especially if it matters to the woman. I’d say that a good guy can always make more money – especially for the right cause – but a not-so-good guy that is rich will question why he needs to change.

          My question is how a woman might gauge a man’s suitability long-term? Because the long-term is all that matters, in the long-term.

          I appreciate your views as they provide very useful answers to this question. Others here have done the same too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

          • Thanks for the reply, Albert. In answer to your question, I would like to think that my ‘evolved’ view is common – I would say that among my social circle/peers/contemporaries it definitely is. I will accept (albeit sadly) that perhaps it is not as common a view as I’d like it to be, though, and yes there are many women out there who not only would like a partner who can provide equally/more, but expect it.

            But ultimately, your question at the start was about how a man with limited finances could show his interest in a woman and have her realise he was worth it. My question for you – is *she* worth it? If this woman, at the start of both of your careers, is judging you on your income and whether or not you can afford to take her for an expensive meal, is she really the right person for you? You talk about the long-term, and you’re right, that’s what it will come down to eventually, but by that point you are a couple and dealing with those things together. Your original article was on whether men, at the beginning, can show a potential partner that they are worthwhile without spending a fortune that they don’t have. I’d say if she’s unhappy when you say “Look, I really like you” because you haven’t done it over a bottle of champagne, then ultimately, is she the right girl anyway?

  16. I think some of the most memorable and sweetest dates were just hanging out with a guy (money just didn’t matter when you are in your teens)….movie, ice skating, walking around in the Village…my grad school BF (now husband) brought a blanket and 2 glasses and a bottle of red wine to share in a quiet hallway at school (very romantic!)…and later he serenaded me on the Steinway grand in the student lounge! I have been to fancy expensive restaurants and shows with another guy, but what makes it special is the spark you have with someone you really connect with! Nothing like that!

    • Thanks for commenting Leia. I’m curious though…did you know this back then or is this a new realization? I miss college and the years before when a spark was all you needed.

      • I knew it way back when…age 12/13 when I met my first BF at summer camp (I was in heaven just being around him just playing volleyball with my friends)…I loved his family and we would all go to the shopping mall and see a movie and then go to Friendly’s for ice cream ….or out on their motorboat to a little island South Shore Long Island….I just felt honored to be part of the family! He always made me laugh and I remember just blushing whenever I was around him (he reminded me of the Jewish version of Paul McCartney! )…

        • Thanks again Leia. You two are very lucky! It’s the simple things in life…. 🙂

        • couragethecowardly dog says:

          Let’s see, you and your boy friend were in summer camp (cha ching), you went shoppping at the mall (cha ching), you went to the movies (cha ching), you went for ice cream (cha ching) and then out on their boat (double cha ching) and you were able to do all this because your boy friend’s mother didn’t interfere with his father’s ability to earn the bread that it took to do all those things. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same thing about today.

          • Wow. I done know even know what to say to this response. Women didn’t stay out of his way?! WTF do you mean women today expect a partner and not a bank? Your comment is either a joke (good i hope so) or it is joke (more likely).

    • couragethecowardly dog says:

      That is all very nice for college, but if you are pulling down 6 figures while the man courting you is struggling to advance himself and earning under 50k somehow I don’t think it is quite such a turn on any protestations to the contrary are ingenuous.

      • Well, actually, some of my 6 figure colleagues did marry artists and had children and the husbands were lovely people who were SAHDs and brought the kids to the workplace to meet for dinner…!

        • Thanks Leia….can you please elaborate more? What do you know of their experiences dating? Did these women typically date men like that? Do they not feel ‘weird’ about being the breadwinner? I think we would all benefit from exploring this dynamic – I mean, did the men pay for dates and then eventually become SAHD?

          • I’m really glad Leia has commented, because I read stuff like this and I feel like I must live on some other planet.

            I’m a woman in my 40s and I have pretty much always dated broke men. This probably just goes with the territory because I’m a musician and have always tended to date other musicians. My friends and colleagues are mostly men, and many if not most are married or in long term relationships with women who earn more than they do. Some are stay at home dads, or dads who work part time. Some are teachers or college professors, some work for nonprofits or other “causes” that mean a lot to them but don’t earn them a lot of money – but there are always women who will love a guy for doing something he’s passionate about and does some good in the world.

            Sure, at some point in their lives a few of my male friends have dated or even married a “gold digger” who thinks they’re going to be rich rock stars or something, and then leaves when they don’t turn out to be that. In all those cases they moved on a long time ago and met somebody with a more realistic attitude. And I’ve also known quite a few male musicians who’ve taken advantage of hard working wives or girlfriends and basically mooched off them while contributing very little to the relationship (and yes, there are lots of ways to contribute to a relationship besides money). But for the most part, this has just never been an issue in my social circles. In fact, I’m usually somewhat uncomfortable around guys with a lot of money.

            A good woman is just interested in your personal qualities and in knowing you care about her and are thinking of her. There are so many ways to show that without spending much money, if any. On one of my more imaginative first dates, the guy took me to the free vegetarian dinner at the local Hare Krishna temple. 😀 There are free or cheap concerts and museums, you can go on picnics or hikes in a quiet place, or just stay at home and listen to music/cook dinner in/whatever.

            I’ll grant you, having time to spend is way more important to me than money. If a guy has very little time to spend with me, that could be a deal breaker unless it’s a temporary thing. But let’s face it, a lot of the reason guys don’t have much time to date is because they’re trying to earn more money so they can impress women. By not getting on that treadmill to begin with, you end up having more time to enjoy life and do really thoughtful things with, and for, your woman. If you can’t find a woman who appreciates that kind of quality time and values your company more than money, then maybe you’re looking in the wrong places.

            • “But let’s face it, a lot of the reason guys don’t have much time to date is because they’re trying to earn more money so they can impress women. ”

              We just got called out. You might be right about this.

          • I don’t know too many details about their dating pasts….it seemed that they knew each other very well and came from similar backgrounds….The one young couple was in their early twenties…husband was very handsome and the 9 month old baby was so adorable….the father would bring the baby into the cafeteria so mommy and the rest of us could admire her during dinnertime….I was impressed by the openness and closeness of the family interaction….this was Southern California in the 90’s and I worked with a lot of high power career women who believed balancing work and family was of the utmost importance….we were constantly exploring creative solutions to traditional family/career setups…..

        • courage the cowardly dog says:

          Have you seen the resentment brewing beneath the surface. Have you been in the house while mommy trudges off to work as she leaves her husband and baby home still in their pajamas. Of course, she doesn’t complain. How can she. This is the life she sought, though she did not realize what she was in for. I guess the moral is, be careful what you wish for. The divorce rate among marriages with breadwinning wives is nearly twice that of the national average. Your anecdotal stories are the exception not the rule.

          • If “The divorce rate among marriages with breadwinning wives is nearly twice that of the national average,” the divorce rate would be nearly 100%. I’d like to see where these numbers came from.

            Similarly, why are we trying to apply rules to the human existence? These are people, not math equations. What I see here are external messages being misconstrued as Truth (men must earn more, men must pay for dates, etc.). Understanding that these “rules” are merely social constructions and only have the validity that we give them is an important first step in coming to terms with not only who we are, but also who we are in relation to others. Understanding these things changes how we interact with our environment and how we allow our environment to interact with us.

            Listening, being empathetic (not sympathetic), and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable are the best ways I know at arriving at a mutual understanding of how two people should act within a relationship. We create our roles within the relationship, but only if we are aware of this power. If we are not, then we become subject to the relationship given to us (by the other, by society, etc.) and have no power in changing it. We risk feeling that we are “less than” rather whole. Recognizing that relationships are made up of two different, yet inter-dependent individuals coming together for a shared purpose is powerful. Beginning to see it is the hard part.


          • Since the divorce rate is over 50% you just said every .wife bread winning marriage ends in divorce.


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