What Are The New Financial Rules for Dating?

Triangle of Sadness Dating Scene

via Triangle of Sadness
People are simple. We all want the same things: a comfortable life, a little treat every once in a while, and someone to clutch when the apocalypse comes. The last one, most of all. But I’m praying for anyone dipping their toes in the dating pool right now. We’re over inundated with choice and everyone is constantly looking over their shoulder for something better. Meanwhile, with all these confusing dating rules and the constantly shifting world of dating etiquette, I’m just searching for someone to look at me and say: “Pookie, you look amazing today.” Is that too much to ask?

According to the most toxic corners of the internet, I should ask myself what I bring to the table before making such a request — or any request. If I’m not willing to be a tradwife, according to these so-called alpha males, I should resign myself to singleness. However, in this dating landscape, the single life is looking like the only option.

Gen Z’s surprisingly backward dating logic

Unfortunately, it’s not just the red-pilled incels spouting such backward rhetoric. According to Don’t Worry Darling, people who believe this dangerous logic are hiding in plain sight (at least that’s what I remember from the movie but who knows what Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles were trying to say with that one).

Despite being touted as such a progressive generation, Gen Z is always reviving backward conventions — like the time there was TikTok discourse about bringing back the Hays Code.

Gen Z’s dating logic isn’t traditional in that they want to bring back chivalry and courting…If that were the case, you could count me in. Instead, Gen Z boys and men are more likely than Baby Boomers to believe feminism is harmful, according to recent research by King’s College.

Even girls who are supposed to be my allies, especially in the era of Barbie, have taken to TikTok to say that the ultimate status symbol is being a trophy wife and stay-at-home girlfriend. Now, I’m not a millennial girlboss, and I would like nothing more than to be completely financially free, but giving up my independence for a MAN — and to be a “girlfriend” no less — is giving Mojo Dojo Casa House.

Where is the middle ground? Where is the version of romance I was promised by romcoms? I want Matthew McConaughey to clutch his chest when I appear before him in a dress like Andi in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I want Penn Badgley to humiliate himself by performing a musical number with me like in Easy A. Ryan Gosling, if you’re listening, I’d do anything for you to build me a house a la The Notebook.

And where are the boys making playlists like in Brown Sugar? Certainly not on Raya. Still, I swipe left, left, right, right. I kiss my share of frogs. And I try to keep up with the new financial rules of dating like I’m running on a treadmill.

If you’re also overwhelmed with the dating advice you’ve been offered, you’re not alone. There’s nothing more confusing in this day and age than navigating the financial aspects of dating. Who pays on the first date? Should we split everything 50/50? What if you’re not on a heteronormative boy-girl date? From my endless perusing of TikTok and research through podcasts and articles, I’ve heard way too many toxic takes on this. In truth, it’s made me fall into despair.

Why have the finances of dating changed so much?

Etiquette is a dying art. Chivalry has been in the ground for years. And in their place, new cultural norms are emerging — and they’re more horrifying than before. But it’s not just the cultural landscape that’s changing, our social norms have changed, too.

We’re experiencing a cost of living crisis. With high inflation and stagnant salaries, 85% of Gen Z say they’re struggling financially, according to Bank of America’s annual Better Money Habits survey.

Over the past year, nearly three out of four (73%) Gen Zers say they’ve changed their spending habits due to increased prices. Their lifestyle changes have included cooking at home more frequently (43%) rather than dining out, spending less on clothes (40%), and limiting grocery purchases to the essentials (33%).

So, of course, Gen Z would try to find ways of easing the financial burden of dating or finding comfort in the idea of being taken care of instead of toiling for meager wages.

While I emphasize with my peers, this understandable need to save doesn’t have to come with toxic behavior and financial gaslighting.

What are the new financial rules of dating?

Just when I think I couldn’t hear anything more appalling, people have started asking questions about the “ROI of dates.” Apparently, men have started Venmo requesting women for the first date if it doesn’t lead to anything further. This is more than just casual bad behavior — it promotes the sexist notions that a) women are objects to be bought or invested in; b) a woman is only valuable if she gives something to men in return. See what I mean about going backward?

This only happens in extreme cases, fortunately, but that’s also due to the fact that more men and women are splitting the bill evenly. This corresponds to relationships, too, where many couples split all their expenses evenly — despite the fact that men still make statistically higher wages.

Money talk is less taboo, with dates bringing up the subject of finances as early on the first date. But this isn’t to foster transparency and understanding. That would be too good to be true. Often, it’s to propose going Dutch, complain about their crypto performance, or try to flex their wealth. I know someone whose date opened with how much he was making. It was significantly more than her … and he still tried to split the bill. No thanks.

Financial red flags are serious. Nearly 1-in-5 young people blame “a lack of financial compatibility” for a previous breakup. And many (36%) Gen Zers see making large impulse purchases as a red flag and potential deal breaker.

Are there any upsides of Gen Z dating trends?

There are some small glimmers of hope for Gen Z romantic hopefuls. Women are more financially savvy than ever, making them less likely to rely on their partners completely — despite the stay-at-home girlfriend trend.

Gen Zers in live-in romantic relationships are more than twice as likely as Gen Xers and boomers to maintain completely separate financial accounts from their partner (43 percent versus 19 percent and 18 percent, respectively; millennials came in at 31 percent).

This is much healthier than splitting everything 50/50 and not having a safety net. For women, having access to their funds can be a matter of security and safety if they want to leave a bad situation.

Gen Z is also embracing “loud budgeting,” which is destigmatizing financial talk. New financial etiquette promotes talking about finances, albeit in a classy way. For Gen Z, it’s easier to decline events or activities due to other priorities. This might avoid that pesky Venmo situation.

Overall, it seems like the dating game has changed. However, dating often changes with the times. To navigate financial etiquette and the new financial rules of dating, you have to advocate for yourself, arm yourself with financial knowledge, make your boundaries clear, and never let someone Venmo request you for the first date.

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