By Baila Sebrow
I started dating not too long ago. Baruch Hashem things are going well, and I am getting very good suggestions, mostly from friends and also from a few shadchanim. The problem is that girls expect me to spend a lot of money on a date. One girl, whom I went out with three times, liked fancy restaurants and ran me up a bill of almost $500. My parents made me stop going out with her.
My parents say I should not spend more than a few dollars on a date. But even a coffee date or going to a lounge for a drink is very expensive, and it adds up after a while. I once took a girl to a reasonably priced milchig restaurant, and she complained the whole night that only fleishig meals are filling for her.
Because I’m still a student and don’t have time for even a part-time job, my parents are paying for my dates. They are so fed up that they told me I should maybe put off dating until I can afford the expensive tastes that girls have.
It’s not like my parents don’t have the money to pay for it, but I think they got “spoiled” because my siblings who got married before me are girls, so my parents don’t understand what a guy has to go through. I am afraid to wait any longer to date, because the better-quality girls get married when they are younger.
Your parents are not the villains here. I’m sorry to have to break the news to you, but the girls you have dated thus far sound like they are leaning towards the greedy side. You say that your parents are spoiled? How so? Because they refuse to wine and dine girls who clearly exhibit spoiled behavior? I think you need to not only revamp your style of dating, but also the type of girls being suggested to you.
It seems that you are dating for the purpose of marriage, but I am not convinced that the girls you took out are serious about getting married. Think about it. A girl complained that the meal you treated her to was not filling? Since when are you obligated to feed your date to the point that she is full? She was being ungrateful, to put it kindly.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time I have heard of such appalling behavior. Such demands are more common amongst those who come from privileged lifestyles and are used to having every whim indulged, but that is not a hard-and-fast rule. And please don’t think that every girl who comes from affluence will behave this way. Most girls are appreciative of the venue they are being treated to, regardless of how little it may cost.
The objective for dating is to see whether you share any commonality with the person you are out with. Complaining or judging a man based on how much money he spent on the date conveys not just greed but the entitlement of self-indulgence. The only beneficiaries of these women with expensive tastes are the restaurants who make money off the guys they date!
When I speak to women who expect to be wined and dined the way your dates have, I find they all share a similar line of defense. They have very specific future aspirations where finances are concerned, so, the way they view it, a man who cannot or does not spend an exorbitant amount of money on a date is someone who will ultimately not make them happy.
In a way, those with such an ideology are doing the guys the biggest favor by demonstrating who they are and what is important to them in life. Although $500 is quite an expensive lesson, at least you know that this girl’s happiness comes with a large price tag attached. And unless you are financially ready to indulge her, your parents’ encouragement to break up with her was their gift to you.
Here is what I am wondering. Since not every female behaves this way, why are you getting such suggestions? It sounds like those are the only types you date. Are you giving the impression that you are looking for someone with such middos? It could be that the friends and shadchanim setting you up might be reading you wrong. Believe me that there are non-materialistic girls out there looking to get married. Perhaps you need to revamp your requirements regarding the type of girl you wish to date and marry—unless these are the only types you feel an attraction to.
You should never expect your parents to pay for expensive dates. If they offer, then that is their choice. You may not agree with this, but if you insist on dating girls who require costly wining and dining, then it might be best to wait until you can afford to pay for your dates out of your own pocket.
And that brings me to your false assumption that the better-quality girls get married when they are younger. That is so far away from reality. On the contrary, girls who are a bit older have in many cases proven themselves to be even more accomplished than their younger counterparts.
In years past, when shidduchim did not happen for a young girl she would typically sit around and bemoan her fate. Not today. Take a look around the world of frum single girls past the age you would consider young. Notice how they are advancing themselves educationally and professionally. Not only that, but many use that time of mature singlehood to travel and meet new people. Not only does that increase their sophistication, but it makes them interesting conversationalists.
Which brings me to another thought. Have you considered dating a girl a bit older than yourself? Perhaps you crave a certain flair for luxurious outings. There are girls who would not mind splitting the cost every once in a while. I am not suggesting that you do this all the time. But it is perfectly normal that when in a relationship, the girl who is of financial means occasionally offers to “go Dutch,” or even treat the guy to the whole date.
Unless one dates in the “beshow” method, going out can add up. I don’t know where you live, but it would be a good idea to speak to other guys in your situation and find out where they take their dates. Guys with limited income who first start dating are commonly concerned about not looking cheap when going out. And I’m not talking about fleishig versus milchig restaurants—some entrées at milchig restaurants can actually cost more than a fleishig meal. Even some coffeehouses and lounges can run up a prohibitive check by night’s end.
But for the first couple of dates, there is no reason to feel pressured into spending considerable cash. It’s all about the venue and what is being ordered. There are places where you can get an affordable cup of coffee, or some soda and ice cream. There is also nothing wrong with going for (gasp) a slice of pizza, especially if you are a student. It’s fun and spontaneous. If you would enjoy such a date but the girl has a problem with that, then she is doing you a favor by informing you that she is likely not for you.
A picnic followed by a hike or a walk in a larger park (weather permitting) is a fun option for a date that won’t break your bank. There are also historic sites you can visit where the admission price is minimal or free. There are tons of other fun and entertaining indoor and outdoor date activities. Look into those options.
Above all else, you need to focus your attention on the type of girl who would make a good wife for you. And by that I mean the kind of girl who does not judge a man’s worth by the amount of money he spends on recreation.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.