It’s not what you’re thinking. This week’s column has nothing to do with who should pay for dinner. I’m also not advocating being a gold digger or a trophy wife—although there are definitely some days when I fantasize about being a kept woman who spends her time lunching with girlfriends after our morning pilates class and then going to the spa for deep tissue massages before we head off to Saks for an afternoon of shopping … Wait, why am I working again?
But back to my point. My husband and I have been discussing our finances recently. While the tips we’ve gotten along the way have been helpful financially, I couldn’t help but notice some pretty strong corollaries with dating. These tips are so logical, it takes all the romance out of the dating process.
Then again, who needs romance when you can maintain your sanity and the contents of your wallet simultaneously, right?
Tip #1: Diversify your portfolio.
Any good financial advisor will tell you “diversify your portfolio,” meaning you should invest in a variety of stocks and bonds because you will minimize your risk and maximize your return. The same holds true for dating. I lost count of the number of times my mother has said to me, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” and I’m sure you have too. When it comes to finding a relationship, your best bet is to find a few different seemingly promising options, invest a little in each, and track their performance until you identify the one solid long-term investment that has consistent growth and stability.
So instead of dating anybody … try dating EVERYBODY.
Tip #2: Pay yourself first.
Financial advisors say you’re supposed to put money aside for your future before you worry about expenses. They recommend you get in the habit of putting aside as much money as you can before paying your bills. But what about my credit card bills and my rent and my Starbucks macchiato addiction? The idea here is that YOU are the priority over AmEx, your landlord, and those caramel espresso concoctions that are so addictive you swear they’re laced with crack. Even if you can only afford $10 a month, Sally Struthers is feeding starving children in Africa with less.
The same is true with your personal life. You are still the priority no matter how much you want to invest in a relationship. Here’s why:
When Midwestern Wyatt and I started dating, he was my whole life. During the week, I spent at least 5 hours a day crafting detailed, multi-paged emails to him. How I didn’t get fired is a mystery. When I got home, I’d make myself a quick dinner and then spend hours on the phone with him at night. On the weekends, my plans revolved entirely around him. Cooking show marathon on the Food Network? Post-modern exhibit at the museum? Craft fair with your sister? Sure! Never mind that I had zero interest in the history of pickle making, Dadaism, or scrapbooking.
From my perspective, I was spending as much time as possible with my boyfriend. From everyone else’s perspective, I may as well have been abducted by aliens.
Fortunately, when Wyatt dumped me, my friends were still there to listen to me complain about how miserable I was and how I wished I could just feel like my “old self” again.
My point is, don’t stop doing the things you love when you start dating someone. Statistically speaking, the relationship probably won’t last. Once in a while you need to leave Mr-Right-Now and go out with your friends because they are the people who will be scraping your pride off the floor should he dump you.
On the upside, if you’re out—surprise surprise—you may actually meet someone better.
Tip #3: Buy low, sell high.
Theoretically you’re supposed to invest in a stock when the price is low, watch it grow, and then sell it at its peak. Fabulous concept, but we live in reality. When it comes to dating, things can go sour pretty quickly. So I say buy low, and sell ASAP before it gets any worse.
There have been a number of losers that I’ve invested time and effort into and no matter how I dressed him up, I still couldn’t take him out … especially if he was going to prison for the next 6 months. I am notorious for staying a in a relationship too long. I keep thinking, But I’ve already invested so much time … maybe he’ll get his life together… maybe he’ll leave his wife… maybe he’ll realize he’s NOT gay…
If the relationship is sinking like the Titanic, bail. The moment you realize that the man of your dreams is actually a nightmare, stop investing in him. Don’t think you can change him and don’t think you or anyone else for that matter will have any respect for you if you change FOR HIM. Most importantly, don’t feel bad about it. He sucks, you don’t, and you’re wasting valuable time. The only thing worse than BEING IN a bad relationship is STAYING IN a bad relationship.
Tip #4: Save for YOUR future.
You know all those things you keep saying you’ll do when you finally get married or find that perfect guy? Buy a house … get a dog … travel more …
Well, what happens if that perfect guy never shows up? Don’t be an idiot.
I can’t begin to tell you how many parties, vacations, and group outings I’ve skipped because *sigh*, I’ll be the only single one there. There are single people EVERYWHERE so that excuse just doesn’t hold water.
Get the dog. Fido may be the only steady companion you have for a VERY long time and truthfully he’s probably a lot better than a boyfriend anyway. You feed him, take him out, and he’s always happy to see you … even if it’s only because you’re going to feed him and take him out again.
Buy a house as a single woman. Sure you can live in your parents’ basement or with roommates forever. But having sex in every room in the house is very difficult if you’re waiting for mom and dad to go away on vacation or hoping your roommate doesn’t walk in on you and your latest boy toy going at it on the kitchen counter.
And, obviously, book your flight. Because being well-traveled and owning real estate is HOT.
Tip #5: The market always corrects itself.
The stock market has its ups and downs, but over the long haul, everything averages out.
See where I’m going with this? Maybe you’ve had your heart-broken. A lot. Who hasn’t? It can take a lot of breakups before the market shifts and you find someone who makes you stupid happy . Believe it or not, no matter how bad a break up is, you will survive. If Gloria Gaynor can, so can you.