Of the many things that may be difficult about dating (especially early on), I have always struggled to figure out what is appropriate when it comes to splitting date costs. Everyone’s situation is different, so I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. But there comes a point in the relationship where I’m no longer comfortable being the one who is always taking or expecting something to be given.
I’ve never demanded many material things from the people I’ve dated; to me, knowing they care about me means so much more. At the beginning of my current relationship, I felt terrible that my boyfriend would always pay for dinner or drinks when we went out. At the same time, I knew I didn’t have the money to cover my portion of the date.
I told my boyfriend how bad I felt about the fact that I often can’t help out as much as I would like to with my tight student budget.
“I know you are not really making money right now,” he said, “But if you feel guilty that you cannot pay for things, maybe you should get creative to show your gratitude.”
I’ve taken those words to heart and am trying to find little ways to show that I care for him. Here are a few things I am doing to show gratitude:
- Write letters: Any of my friends or family members can testify that I write to them all the time. I was initially a little hesitant to write my boyfriend a letter because that’s not really his style, but I know that he appreciated the thought that goes into them.
- Find little ways to contribute to our dinners together: I may not be able to afford fancy meals, but we have more fun cooking anyways. Even if I just buy a vegetable or pasta, I think it’s more about the effort than what is actually prepared.
- Plan fun things that are cheap: I’m still waiting for warm weather and sunshine, but in the meantime, I’m trying to find really inexpensive ways to explore the city, even if that requires being indoors.
- Express words of affirmation: I never thought it would be so hard for me to vocalize my feelings, but sometimes it is. I’m trying a lot harder to give compliments and express my gratitude.
I keep these things in mind as I learn how to love better each and every day within my means. I still wish I had more means to pay for dinners, buy the occasional nice gift, or go to a concert. But my boyfriend knows I give what I can, and that’s enough for him right now. Our relationship is stronger because even though we’re not always splitting costs, we’re still equally giving ourselves to each other.