Is Your Guy a Cheapskate?7comments
We’ve had the discussion about who pays for dinner and when on our blog before. I think we assume a majority of people believe a guy pays on the first date. However, dating can get complicated quickly and money can become one more obstacle in an already complicated process. So, it is in these early dates that it is important to recognize the signs of a cheapskate. There is a difference between being poor and being cheap. You may or may not want to date someone who is poor – that’s a personal choice – but trust me, you really don’t want to date someone who is cheap.
A few years back I dated briefly a fairly handsome, charismatic but total Zero guy. I do believe that being single for a long time can sometimes blur your judgement; it’s like going without food for a long time and before long a saltine cracker can look like a sirloin steak. At least that’s what happened to me. It had been a while since I’d met anyone interesting, and then I met this cute single guy. Huzzah! When we discovered that this cute, single guy lived a block away from me, I decided to see it as fate. It was just the easiest thing in the world to walk over to each others’ place and call it dating… even if ‘dating’ isn’t exactly what we were doing. Mostly we were just ‘hanging out’ and ‘making out’. Which I suppose is fine if you’re a teenager. We were not teenagers.
He went out of town almost every week for work so this was even better. Accessible, interesting and never around. It seemed like a solution for my dating famine, though as I learned, it made it harder to see the Zero clues. But one night, I saw them. We were supposed to see a friends’ show and then grab a bite to eat. He was running late from work, so I met him at the club. Since we had separate cars we decided to meet at a diner just around the corner from both of our places. I got there first and ordered a beer. When he arrived, we quickly ordered. I got a veggie sandwich and some fries (why the details? That’s important later). He ordered and then while we were eating, he said “hey you don’t mind going dutch do you?” At the time I was doing standup at night and nannying during the day. I understood being broke. I understood pinching your pennies. And having never wanted to be a woman who dates a guy for money, I honestly was okay with it. What bothered me was his saying it after we had already ordered, and in the most awkward way. What are you supposed do, give back your food? So I just shrugged and said sure. I only ate half my sandwich and when the waitress came over, Mr. Zero asked for the checks – separate of course, and then she asked me if I needed a to-go box for my sandwich. I thought about it for a second because sometimes alpha sprouts don’t taste great a day later, and then I thought if I was going to spend the night at Mr. Zero’s house (yes, I was actually contemplating it) I didn’t want to drag along a soggy sandwich. Somehow, in my 2 seconds of mental debate, he jumped in and said to the waitress “If she doesn’t want it, I’ll take it.Yes, we’ll take a to-go box. ” Really? Not only was I paying for my sandwich, he was taking it home with him? Mr. Zero was not only cheap with his wallet, he was cheap with his time and his interest in anyone other than himself. The sandwich story was just a vivid example of who this guy really was. A total cheapskate.
I told my dad about the guy who took my sandwich once, and he was mortified on my behalf. When he heard that a grown man would actually ask to go dutch mid-date he started to shake his head no. When I told him he took my sandwich home with him, I think he was worried about my entire generation. He couldn’t understand this type of behavior. For a few years after that, if I’d mention a guy he’d say “he’s not that damn sandwich guy, is he?”
Sometimes it takes awhile to recognize a cheapskate. Being poor deals with circumstances, but being cheap deals with a way of thinking that you will never change. As we discuss in our Cheapskate chapter (fingers crossed we publish our book):
Just to clarify, there is a big difference between being cheap and not having a lot of money. You certainly don’t have to have a lot of money, nor spend a lot of money, to be a great boyfriend. Thoughtful gifts, whatever the cost, are always the best. How many guys were able to go up the shirt from a masterful mixed tape in high school? Enough said. The fundamentals don’t change when we get older. What could be more memorable than a guy packing a picnic for you, a walk on the beach or sitting on the roof drinking a glass of wine? Creativity and thoughtfulness will always beat out cost.
Here’s the thing . . . cheapness isn’t really about money; it’s about selfishness. The center of a Cheapskate’s world is always himself. A cheap guy will never make you a priority, and this isn’t limited to financial matters. A cheap guy may spend a fortune on his car or his stereo system but will begrudge you a Chinese chicken salad if he has to pay for it. No one is saying he shouldn’t spend his money on the things he wants. The problem is his not wanting to spend any of his money on you. With very few exceptions this is because you are not his real priority. His cheapness is emblematic of a deeper selfishness that will manifest in many ways.
All of that being said … cheapness is in the eye of the beholder. Whether or not you are going to consider someone to be a Cheapskate depends on your expectations. If you expect a man to pay for dinner, find a man who expects to pay for dinner. This will become abundantly clear within one or two dates. I cannot stress the importance of this enough. If you and your date have different expectations when it comes to money, end the relationship. I know that sounds harsh, but people are their most generous at the beginning of a relationship, and they will only get less so. You need to be honest about your own expectations.
And remember, you don’t need some damn sandwich guy in your life.