Tag Archives: dating

Marry for Love, Passion, or Money? All Three?

Every time I attend a wedding I do two things. One: cry. Two: put myself in the bride’s shoes, and wonder how I’d feel walking down the aisle, tying the knot forevermore. I’m writing about this topic a lot lately because it’s been on my mind. I’ve spent my entire life fighting against allowing money to factor into who I date, but at the ripe-old age of almost 30, I’ve realized that there are two key pieces of a happy marriage: One: financial compatibility. Two: frequent blow jobs (seriously.) I’m pretty convinced at this point that as long as those two things exist in a marriage, it will be successful.

This week, I spent time with a good old friend who is now the mother of a one year old. Just a few years into the marriage, she says that if she could do it over again she’d get married for money. When you have a kid, she explained, they become your world, and all you care about is providing for them. Her husband apparently went to school for a certification and failed the exam, refusing to go back to take it again, and he’s stuck in his job making around $55k per year. Meanwhile, she makes a small salary as a hair dresser, and they both struggle to make ends meet. The pair bought a condo and, additionally, are paying off a car payment of $300+ per month. On the other end of the spectrum, sort of, I have another friend who is pregnant with her first child, and she’s married to an engineer for a major tech company, and even they are struggling with finances at the moment with a kid on the way and major house remodels. I kick myself when I share my concern about my boyfriend’s financial situation with her, as she’s struggling to pay off her debts as her husband pays for their expensive bay area starter home.

I’ve been scared to be with a man who has his life together. Because of my depression and other crazies, I just don’t trust myself to maintain a relationship with anyone who is focused on their career. I feel safe with my boyfriend, I know I’ll always be in charge of the finances, he’ll surely stay at home with the potential offspring, and maybe that’s fine. I just don’t know what I want. I can see myself going on like today if I don’t have kids, living with roommates, semi cheaply, splurging on dresses, shoes and makeup on occasion but overall keeping my living expenses low. Thinking about a life with kids changes the picture. And I worry one day I’ll be upset at myself for not seeking out a man who had his life together. Just enough to have a bit of retirement savings at 30. Continue reading

The Forcing Function to Growing Up

It may be that I’m drawn to my boyfriend because of his chronic depression. He is sweet, loving, and has no instincts to obtain more than what he has. He doesn’t judge me for my failures and he doesn’t overly reward me for my successes. I know that he’ll love me whether I’m a CEO or unemployed all the same.

But what is so challenging is that there’s only so much fantasy world one can take. Reality requires couples to work together if they want to have a family. His living in a shed of sorts on his grandparents property at 30 years old would make any other woman run for the hills. The housing situation doesn’t bother me much anymore, but the lack of motivation, and the lack of ability to take action does. I know that he just needs to take action to snap out of his depression, as I’m the same way, but I’m the type that will do something to try to change my situation where he’ll just get stuck until a forcing function to change arises.

Tomorrow, a social worker is visiting his home to determine if the living situation is adequate for his 85-year-old grandmother and 92-year-old grandfather. The house is a mess, but due to their own oddities and hoarding behavior. This isn’t something that they started in their senior years, they’ve always been this way. Nonetheless, it’s unclear if the social worker will believe this or if they will say the conditions are unfit for elders. If so, it may be time for him – and his mother – to move out. Continue reading

Thank Goodness Times Have Changed: NY Times Article on Women, Intellect, and Finding a Man

This weekend’s NY Times article titled “The M.R.S. and the Ph.D.,” detailing the sociological change in men’s respect for intelligence over the last century, can be summed up in the following quote:

“One physician explained the problem in Popular Science Monthly in 1905: An educated woman developed a “self-assertive, independent character” that made it “impossible to love, honor and obey” as a real wife should. He warned that as more middle-class women attended college, middle-class men would look to the lower classes to find uneducated wives.”

The article, which focuses on PhD-earners, goes on to highlight how our last century has, for a large part, been filled with a society that tells women to be or act stupid in order to catch a man. Women were taught to marry up, and men were ok with marrying down, so long as their female counterpart would showcase talent in two fields: cooking and cleaning.

My, how the world has changed…

“ONE of the dire predictions about educated women is true: today, more of them are “marrying down.” Almost 30 percent of wives today have more education than their husbands, while less than 20 percent of husbands have more education than their wives, almost the exact reverse of the percentages in 1970.”

However, the article goes on to highlight research done for an upcoming book on female breadwinners, where women said they wanted to be able to look up to their guy, and he would need to have an equal level of education in order for the equation, and the relationship to work.

Looking at my personal relationships, I find I’m like these women who want a man I can look up to an admire, though that’s more in terms of intellect than wealth. I don’t have a PhD or a MA, so perhaps with just a BA I’m still concerned to be less intelligent than the women this article focuses on. Regardless, I’ve found that I like to date “up” in terms of intelligence, and one of the reasons I love my SO that still gives me butterflies is when he talks to me about his excitement over physics or the inequalities of the world.

But there are still gender dynamics at play in our relationship. Even though I make more than him salary-wise (my $90k to his $20k), I’m still not “allowed” to propose to him. I have to wait for him to propose, even though we’ve been together 6.5 years. He is much less aggressive than I am in terms of asking for raises, and will remain this way throughout his life. While he is not motivated to pursue a professional life, in a way, I enjoy that he is intelligent but not obsessed with his career. This allows me to focus on my career, which is stressful and demanding, and then to come home to someone who isn’t stressed out in the same way. I’ve told him if he can cook and clean for me, I’d be ok in the long run for him to be the “stay at home mom.” I certainly understand why it’s nice to have one person in the relationship play this role, albeit not best from a financial perspective.

What do you think? Does intellect play a role in your deciding who to date and settle down with?

It’s not about what you know. It’s about WHO you know.

The older I get, the more I realize the old adage “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” holds true. It’s a requirement to come to terms with how the world isn’t fair and on the spectrum of that unfairness is being born at a time and in a place where the people you know can not help you get ahead, vs being born the royal prince, and everything in between.

Most of us lie somewhere on that “everything in between.” If you have access to Internet and running water, I bet you do. Then there’s always some sort of opportunity in life, but the further you are over to the left, you have to work exponentially harder to get to the same spot those on the right take one step into. You have to make the first chunk of your life about developing those relationships that may are born with. That’s not impossible, but it sure takes a lot of time and effort out of otherwise being productive.

When I moved to Silicon Valley, I didn’t know anyone. At the time, it seemed like a good idea, and I don’t regret it to this day. But it’s certainly been much harder to make those connections. I could easily watch someone waltz into a role like the one I have, and if they had deep connections across the business world through their family, they could easily make a few phone calls and accomplish the work I do in a few months in one day. And for anyone who wants to start a business, having a wealthy family to support you with angel funding is priceless. Having a wealthy family to catch you in case things don’t work out also helps a lot. Continue reading

What to do for my 5 Year Anniversary?

This May will be my 5 year anniversary with D. I can’t believe we’ve been together 5 years! And while I feel like we haven’t changed, in reality our faces are five years older, our hugs are five years tighter, our kisses are five years sweeter, and I still feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have this guy in my life.

So… how do we celebrate our five year anniversary? We have taken a few trips together — mostly back east to visit my family, and most recently a trip to the midwest for fun and to see my old college friends — but I feel like I need to do something big to celebrate five years together. Since we’re not getting married any time soon, it’s a good enough reason as any to do something special.

But what? I’ve bought my boyfriend some pretty nice gifts through the years — a Wii, a guitar, and even a bike, and then the Chicago trip (he paid for many of our meals so that may have ended up split 50/50 all said and done.) On one hand I LOVE to buy him gifts because when he is happy about his gifts it makes me happy. I guess I have spent a lot on his gifts… and besides the “things” we tend to go out to nice dinners that are expensive to celebrate, and we don’t want to go out to dinner anymore because we are trying to be fat.

Anyway, what can I do to surprise him for our five year anniversary? Perhaps a trip somewhere? I don’t really want to spend any extra money this year — after spending $4.5k on laser hair removal, it’s tough to spend anything else. Sometimes I wish I was dating a guy who would have a job with some excess income so he could surprise me with a five year anniversary trip somewhere… but I made the choice to date a guy who doesn’t care about money. There are plenty single nerdy men in Silicon Valley who might have the bank account to purchase romance, but when it comes down to it, I’d rather have the way D looks at me, and the feeling of his arms wrapped around me. Though sometimes I wish I could have both. Can you blame me?

Did Feminism Destroy a Woman’s Evolutionary Means of Happiness?

The other day I randomly happened upon a blog written by a man who might be the most sexist psychologist in the modern world, which I’d write off as total BS if his blog wasn’t on Psychology Today and for the fact that the guy teaches at the London School of Economics. His whole explanation for how we act is based on his belief that men want to compete for dominance and make themselves most desirable for women because the woman picks her sexual partners and the men must just make themselves wanted. He thinks that feminism has destroyed the modern woman’s chances of happiness because it has taught us that being a mother (esp a stay-at-home mother) is something to look down upon, and in terms of evolution, that’s what a woman would be most happy doing.

Do I believe all or any of this? Not really. Obviously everyone is different, and some woman would be thrilled to chase after a corner office and live a life without children. According to this guy women are necessary in the relationship equation to force men to not have sex all the time, as gay men never stop having sex. Ignoring this guy’s obvious lack of ability to grasp reality, he makes a few good points along the way, and has lead me to some other interesting reading specifically about the woman’s role in modern society. His point on how success today is pretty much only known by the “masculine” version of success is true, even though I’m not sure competing for the corner office or making a high salary is actually masculine.

I often wonder who I’d be in society 50 years ago. I feel so lost in terms of what I want out of life these days, and deep down part of me questions if this is due to my human nature as an animal and even as a woman. But I feel dirty admitting to wanting to be feminine in the traditional sense — I couldn’t imagine accepting that my path to happiness is to be a mother, stay home, take care of the kids, cook for my husband (well, that would be a bad idea anyway since I’m a terrible cook). Then again, I feel happiest when I’m helping people, when I can be in a motherly role. My boyfriend doesn’t like it when I try to mother him (not that I try, but can’t a guy learn to iron his clothes?) so maybe having children would make me happy…

My grandmother, who is now 80, married a guy who was 20 years older than her when she was younger. She told me about the marriage a bit this weekend when I went to visit her. He was a traveling rabbi, driving around Montana, Idaho, and the Dakotas as a chaplain for the military. She liked him because men close to her age weren’t able to hold intelligent conversations (so she says, though really I think she just couldn’t find anyone willing to put up with her… she’s a bit on the nutty side of the PB&J.) After getting married, of course she didn’t work. She raised three children. That was her life.

When I talked to a career counselor for a consultation on the phone a few months ago, her voice told me she was older, perhaps in her 50s, and she went on about how I’m doing fine, that I shouldn’t worry, that only a decade or two ago I would not have any choices as a woman, and today I am doing perfectly well given how many choices I have. That gave me little comfort in my sanity.

Now that I’ve been dating a guy for more than 3 years (almost 4!) and we talk about marriage here and there, the idea of becoming a mother is going from something I thought would never happen to a possibility. Even though I know it will cost me a billion dollars to have a child or children (thanks PCOS) I have a partner now who I can see spending the rest of my life with. I know he’d be a good father. I’m not sure if I’d be a good mother… my aunt laughs whenever I talk about having kids, she thinks I’d be an awful mother (but I think despite her ability to make a great salary and force her children to eat healthy, she’s not a perfect mother either)… I just wonder if I’ll ever have kids, if being a mom is really what my genes are longing for these days… given that women are really supposed to procreate the second they hit puberty and only modern society has messed that up by creating “adolescence” (one thing I do agree with creepy sexist psychologist man about.) And now, at 26 without kids or a husband, I feel empty. Every possible path… grad school, a great career, etc, seem to be lacking something. I know I need to figure out the career thing before having children (as once I have kids I need a stable job, I’m not going to be marrying a rich guy and I’m fine with that.) But what if I wait too long and I can’t have kids? My boyfriend casually mentions that he sees us getting married in 2015. I’ll be 31. That’s not too old to get married, but it scares me that my gynecologist, when I was 15, told me if I want to have kids I should try to have them by the time I turn 30. Back then she said “don’t worry, you have time” but at 26 I don’t feel like I have any time at all. I know I can’t rely on kids to make me happy — they might do just the opposite — but at the very least they’ll help me be less selfish. So much of what makes me miserable these days is how life seems to all be about me, and there’s nothing in the world that can satisfy me, just things to do or buy to temporarily fill the void. I don’t know what would make me happy… what’s a well paying job without children in your life?

Childhood Neglect or Frugality?

Last night, my boyfriend and I went to his cousin’s birthday party. He loves watching healthy families in action. While I knew his childhood wasn’t filled with much expense, I never truely understood just how his mother’s frugality led to him being neglected a child. But then he flat out said that he’d prefer his childhood to mine anyday, and I questioned how neglected he was, and where a parent crosses the line of being frugal too far.

This comes after my spending yesterday reading blogs about early retirement, like Early Retirement Extreme, and all about extreme frugality. After managing to get through Bloomingdales and make a return without shopping, I felt good about resisting consumerism (specificially, shiny things for sale.) I kept thinking about how awful stores are, especially trends and making you want to buy things that look new and stylish. So when I talked to my boyfriend last night, it just felt like such a contrast, and I understood why he’s not lured by shopping malls the same way I am.

Was my boyfriend neglected as a child? I know a lot of people grow up without money and their parents make due, but that’s not quite what his situation was. His mother has always worked, but she refuses to spend money beyond her thrift store splurges. She never left her parents house, and that is where my boyfriend grew up. The house itself is in a very nice area and the family owns a lot of land for this part of California. However, the place is a wreck. His Grandparents are hoarders of the Depression era, and often when I visit the house it seems like they live in a movie. They keep stale bread in the otherwise unusable oven, gather empty soup cans, collect broken bikes, etc.

His mother, who never married his father, lived with her parents, so my boyfriend lived with her parents (and still does, though now he at least has a separate one-room structure out back). He never had his own bedroom, in fact he slept on the floor on a mat with his mother until he was 12 or 13, as he recalls, and then eventually moved into the living room, where he slept on the couch.

As far as food and clothes go, he ate very poorly — bread and toast, most often, and occasionally fast food. His clothes were all from thrift stores, which that alone is fine, but they were not nice, which made him more of an outcast at school. Also, as an only child, he grew up like this with no one else to talk to. His dad lived nearby in an apartment when he was young, but then moved away. His parents still get along (hey, that’s better than my still-married parents who hate each other). His dad is a whole other frugal story which I’ll get to one day, but now I’m just wondering if my boyfriend was neglected as a child, or if his family is just — extreme frugal.

His mom has saved up a lot of money over the years. I don’t know how much, but it’s enough to put my boyfriend through college and grad school, and likely buy a home outright when her parents pass and the current house needs to be sold and split up among their children.

On one hand, I think it’s pretty awesome that she could save so much through the years. She takes vacations on occasion to National Parks and goes camping, she doesn’t do anything consumer except shop for groceries at discount grocers. She has saved plenty of money for retirement and then some. She hasn’t worked the best paying job, but she had a decent job that she’s held on to for years. She’s miserable, depressed, hates living with her crazy parents, hates her job, but that’s just what she does. She can’t deal with change, so that’s the way it is.

Apparently one day a long time ago the neighbors called the cops on the family for child neglect. They saw the Grandmother picking food out of a trash can at the park or something and thought she was going to feed it to the child of the house. So the cops came and looked around. I’m surprised they didn’t find evidence of neglect. My bf spoke to them and eventually they went away.

So now my boyfriend has grown up with a very, very different idea of money than me. It’s good… in that I like dating someone who doesn’t value money as the be all end all of happiness. On the other hand, that was MY life growing up. It’s hard to just switch to extreme frugality. Luckily for me, my boyfriend understands that its important to spend on some things — healthy food, decent clothes, occasional vacations, etc. I couldn’t be with someone any more frugal than that.

It just makes me sad to think of how neglected he was as a child. He was definitely an “accident” and it seems like he was treated as such growing up. Now he’s got a slew of mental issues — very unique ones — involving socialization and relationships. No shit. I love him to death. Sometimes it drives me nuts how abnormal he is but I couldn’t be with anyone normal, so I think we’re a great match for each other.

I just wish for him that he’ll get his act together and apply to grad school and get out of that house. He’s 27 now, and he still lives at home. That’s fairly normal for this area, but when you’re in an environment like that, I think it’s just unhealthy. He still has to go in the main cluttered house for the kitchen, the bathroom, etc. But maybe I’m just spoiled and have no idea what it’s like to live when it’s bad. He has electricity (though he’s not allowed to use it much) and running water and he eats when he wants. At least he has that.

Regarding My Relationship

A few of you responded to my last post that I sound like I’m unhappy with my current relationship. After all, I’m jealous of my friend who has an engineer for a fiancee, who is paying for her house.

Yes, I am jealous. But I also have come to a point in my life where I know money isn’t everything. It isn’t even necessary for happiness.

I dated an attorney for 2 years. He was in law school when we first started going out. He claimed he wasn’t in it for the money, but he had a certain standard of living that it was clear he didn’t want to give up. He wanted to build on that. He now owns a nice 1.5 bedroom condo in a decent area of San Francisco. I broke up with him because he was too ambitious. He cared much more about his career than his relationship. There was a coldness about him too. Robotic, almost. He was in it, even more so, for the challenge of his job, the intellectual splendor of it.

A lot of people are like this. And I respect them. And some days I want to be dating them. But really, I know that’s not the life I can lead.

My current guy… despite lacking ambition… or being afraid of having ambition… is the sweetest man I have ever known. He’s truly a “good” guy. I love that we could spend an entire evening cuddling and watching old episodes of some series we’re trying to catch up on. Of course, the relationship isn’t perfect. I’d love if he would so much as ask for a raise at work, but he won’t. He lives at home, his mom has saved up enough to send him to grad school if he ever wants to go, so he doesn’t need to earn much. I’m his biggest cost… he buys me food every once in a while. Without me, he practically wouldn’t even have to work. He didn’t… for a year after he graduated college, he didn’t work. It took me nagging and him being annoyed at me nagging and me stopping nagging for him to get an internship and then finally a job.

So yea, that bugs me a bit. But it’s not like I’m Ms. Ambitious either. I’ve gotten “let go” more times than I can count because depression or anxiety got in the way. I happen to be doing… well, pretty good right now, but that can change at any moment. My lawyer boyfriend really looked down on me when I was going through a dark time in my life, when I wasn’t sure what I was doing with my life. My current bf, I know he doesn’t care whether I’m out there bringing in the bucks or just making ends meet. He loves me regardless. And I really do love him whether or not he makes $100k a year… or $25k.

I also am rational and know that one day, if I want to own a house or have a family, money matters. It feels like romance and a relationship should be different than the business partnership that is marriage. Yea, you’re super lucky if you get both, but I don’t like to mix my love life with business. It always ends badly.

The Most Depressing Article Ever

StackingPennies left me a comment on my post earlier today where I rambled on and on about making babies and marriage and such. While most of my peers seem to not share in hearing the baby-making clock, it seems many are thinking more about marriage (soon!) than popping out the kidlets.

I wanted to clarify a few things about the other entry first… Kacie mentioned something about not taking hormonal bcp’s to make me more fertile. To sum up why that won’t work — I don’t get my period ever unless I’m on BCPs. To make me ovulate will require expensive hormone injections and such. So for me, making a baby will be a large expense. There’s nothing much I can do about that.

Now, onto the real reason I’m writing another entry this evening…

StackingPennies posted a link to an article in The Atlantic titled “Marry Him! The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough!”

(Gosh, if Pennies thought my noting that I’m “deprecating into womanhood” was depressing, I’m not so sure how s/he felt about this article.)

The author, a single mother in her late 30s, uses four pages to convince her reader that settling, especially at such an old age, is the better thing to do than to live alone forever. Forget love or attraction, really. A marriage is a business agreement. Find someone you can stand, who maybe you enjoy spending time with, and that’s the best you can ask for, especially when you’ve passed your prime.

I’m glad that at 24, I’ve found a guy who I love, and as long as things continue to work out, I won’t have to deal with settling. One thing that I applaud myself for is my ability to be rational about love. I don’t expect “Mr. Right” to never veer to have his, uh, Mr. Left moments. There are plenty things that bug me about my boyfriend, but ultimately I feel comfortable with him. I’m attracted to him. And I’m head over heals in love with him.

But not to the point of being so romantically in love that I can’t see how our relationship would develop as we moved on to sharing our lives together. There are things that would be a bit of a struggle… dealing with compromising on finances… how to raise the children (I’d want to shelter them a bit more than he would). But in the end, I feel like we’d get along just fine. My biggest concern is what happens if he passes away first. I know, morbid thought, but if that’s my biggest concern than I’d say this is a pretty darned good relationship.

I don’t think people should ever “settle,” but I do think both men and women should have realistic expectations of what love is. So many people want someone to fit this mold they’ve invented of their soul mate. That doesn’t exist. Or maybe it seems like it does, but then you realize he leaves the toilet seat up.

My life is currently fantastic because I’ve found the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with. We could be rich, we could be poor. We could have 10 children or none. But as long as I have him there beside me through it all, I know I’ll be fine.

On the other hand, it’s not all that healthy to put that much weight on one relationship. My relationship experience isn’t all that varied, yet I think I know what I’m looking for. I’ve been on a lot of first dates, and have been in a few LTRs. I think that, while love at first sight is a joke, there is a such truth to knowing a year or so into a relationship if it’s meant to be.

Maybe I’ll have to settle with everything else in my life, but not love. That’s one thing I refuse to settle for. Thanks to luck, fate, or whatever brought me to California and helped me meet my boyfriend, I won’t have to

My Boyfriend’s Birthday is Coming Up…

And I’m at a loss for what to get him.

The good news is that with the raise, I’ll be able to spend a decent sum of money on his gift without feeling like the expenditure is a completely irrational budget departure.

The bad news is that my raise won’t kick in until March 20, a few weeks after his birthday. I get paid once a month, fyi. I will get one more paycheck before his birthday for $3300. But $1050 of that has to go to rent, and $600 must go to my “for tax” ING account. That still leave me with about $1500 for the month. Even with my various bills, I could try to keep spending down really low and figure his birthday gift is worth more than any splurges I might partake in over the month.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t know WHAT to get him.

I feel like I need to get him something amazing. I totally flaked on Valentine’s Day this year and got him, well, nothing. For Christmas I gave him a $100 gift certificate to a rollerblading store so he could buy a pair of Blades (he did and he seems to like them).

How do I get him something better than last year’s gift? Last year, I got him a Nintendo Wii. Without spending a zillion dollars, well, what do I get the boy?

He’s gotten me such great gifts over our dating tenure. An ipod nano and a Wacom digital drawing tablet. He got me a smaller gift for Hannukah… a food scale… I figure it cost $30 or something. But for Valentine’s Day he bought food for a home cooked dinner… fish and champagne. Again, I got him noting. Absolutely nothing.

So what do I get him this year? I have less than a month to figure this out. I love him more than anything and I know he’d be fine with me getting him dirt in the shape of a heart, but I want to give him more than that. I want to get him something he wouldn’t normally buy for himself. But what would that be? He’s so hard to shop for.

What do nerdy boys like?