May 4, 2014

Who Pays For Dates? Even Royalty Fight About Love and Money

Displayed with permission from Financial Post
Even a prince cannot escape the most dreaded relationship assassin: money matters.

Britain's Prince Harry and his girlfriend of two years Cressida Bonas ended their relationship after a heated argument, reportedly prompted by concerns over money.

"It doesn't matter whether you're rich or you're poor. Guess what? It's never about money. It's the power struggle underneath," says Bonnie Eaker Weil, a New York City relationship therapist and author of Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker.

Financial conflict predicts a break-up better than other relationship issues. Research has shown that couples who disagree about finance are more likely to split up. Arguments appear to be about dollars and cents; but they're about more - power, commitment, ego, respect, fairness.

Prince Harry and Ms. Bonas had been due to fly to America together to attend the wedding of the Prince's friend but Miss Bonas had to pay for her own air fare (650 pounds) and did not want to spend so much if the future of their relationship was unsure; this lead to a row and then the split, reports suggest.

A friend told British media: "Cressida was due to go to the wedding but she was paying for her own ticket, and she could only just afford it. She has never complained about paying her own way, though she has been hard pushed to do so."

"She's feeling: 'If you love me, you'll pay for my ticket. If you're withholding about money, maybe you're going to be withholding with how you feel about me,'" Dr. Weil says. "He could be saying, 'If you love me, show me that you don't want me for my money…' Each person is using the money as a stand-in for love and as a test for how [he/she] feels about it."

So who should pay for most things including entertainment and dates?

According to conventions of chivalry, the man pays on a date but egalitarian ideas suggest gender should not determine who pays. However, despite the advancements that men and women have made in the family and workplace, we still seem to adhere to conventional gender norms.

A U.S. study called, "Who Pays For Dates," found that 84% of men and 58% of women report that men pay for most expenses even after dating for a while.

Many women (39%) wished men would reject their offers to pay and 44% were bothered when men expected women to help pay.

"I've heard so-called feminists saying, his money is our money and my money is my money," says Janet Lever, professor of sociology at California State University, Los Angeles, and one of the authors of the report.

Although 64% believed that women should contribute and 44% said they'd stop dating a woman who never pays, the majority of men (74%) reported feeling guilty accepting women's money.

"There was one guy who said it so eloquently, ‘I'm making $53,000 and dating a woman who is making $28,000 so I don't expect her to pay anything. If I were dating a woman who was making $100,000, I'd expect her to pay a lot more but I'd still be paying most of the expenses," she says. "Gender trumps income disparity."

Will Lam says the person who extends the invitation should be the one who foots the bill.

"If you're extending the invite, that person is your guest and you should treat them as such. The whole going dutch makes things weird," says the 31-year-old Toronto product manager. "And if the date goes well but your date insists on paying you can let your date return the favour next time (if there is a next time)."

There may not be a next time if the woman is judging the guy's generosity based on whether he picks up the tab; on the flip side, the guy may feel like he's being used. Either way, unspoken expectations make the dating game even trickier.

"Miss Bonas, who earns around [20,000 pounds] and prefers not to rely on financial support from her parents, does not have the sort of money at her disposal to keep up with her boyfriend," The Daily Telegraph reported.

It doesn't seem fair that Ms. Bonas would have to "keep up" with the prince. But what is "fair" varies per couple. Relationships are never a perfect 50-50 split. Sometimes someone gives more in terms of time or money or care and then it shifts. The number of women who are out-earning their partners is increasing and more couples are splitting the cost of things such as engagement rings.

The important thing when money is involved is to discuss who is paying before any money is put down. That includes on a first date, Dr. Weil says.

"Talk about the way you see money…How do you feel about the check?" she says. "If you're not comfortable paying, you have to say something right away."

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