His Wallet Is Empty But What About His Head?

My girlfriend and I had a conversation about men. I guess girls do that – gossip about men when there are no men around. My friend is single and dating. As you can imagine she had quite a few stories to share. I listened to her musings about the guys she met, and felt relieved that I am not playing the dating field anymore. It sounded … tiresome.

Dating when it is done right can be a lot of fun. It can also be hard work. Especially when it comes down to whom and how you are dating.

Ladies, this post as well as subsequent articles will be drawn from my own dating experiences. What I am going to say is based on a few examples of a few men my friends and I have encountered.

Gentlemen, if you are going to read this any further, you should realize one thing – I am not generalizing. I am not saying that all men have to fall into certain categories.

I believe that there are certain types of men that can trap you financially and emotionally. I met them myself, I dated some of them and now I want to write about them: The Poorhouse, The Great Pretender and The Penny-Pincher. I am planning to write a series of posts about each of these categories. Today I would like to discuss The Poorhouse.

Main characteristics of the Poorhouse: he is going through some financial difficulties and cannot afford a lot of things. He is broke because he either just lost his job (economy sucks) or he doesn’t have an emergency fund because while looking for a job he spent it all. Other circumstances are possible. He lives with his friends because he cannot afford his rent anymore or he lives in a trailer park because it is all he can afford.

Ladies, would you give him a chance?

Situation 1. I met my husband when both of us were broke. I was plowing my way through grad school, he was digging his way out of the student loans. He wanted to impress me, so on our first date he took me out to an expensive restaurant. There he spent his whole paycheck. Mind-blowing? Absolutely. Stupid? You bet!

But we made our relationship work. I overlooked the fact that he was broke (so was I!) and that he could not afford a lot of things. What I liked about him (besides other non financial stuff) was that he paid his bills on time and he was working hard at his job to get a promotion.

I evaluated all of this and the fact that I do not validate my self worth depending on how much money a guy spends on me. Do you?

We still managed to go out and do fun stuff. We had great dates that did not cost a lot. We cooked dinners at my place, watched movies at his, walked in a park, played board and card games, visited his and my friends, went on scenic rides. Somehow, we were in this together – struggling financially but building a better future.

Situation 2. One of my girlfriends met a guy who announced to her almost immediately that he was broke and could not afford a lot of things. He, in fact, told her that if she wanted to eat out, go clubbing and just go see movies, she would have to pay. He was unemployed at the time they met. I was surprised to hear that he had admitted to being unemployed because I always thought that unemployment was the last thing a guy would want to admit. But I am generalizing here…

She did it for a while (love is blind sometimes): paid for dinners, movies, drinks. She tried to find him a job. She was networking for him, she was pulling a lot of strings with no appreciation from him. I was puzzled. Why would a successful career woman be dating a guy who was smoothly moving from one job to another, did not want a stable life, and was living in a trailer park because it was cheaper than an apartment?

I do understand that love is blind but to what point?

My friend broke up with this guy after six months. Six months! It sounded like a lifetime. When I asked her why, she said “I am a very accepting person but I got to the point where there is only so much I can do. I needed help and he was not willing to provide that help.”

Isn’t it ironic that my successful friend needed help?

I believe that no relationship should be based on money. Unfortunately, money very often shapes our relationships.

UPDATE: This article was included in the 281st edition of the Carnival of Personal Finance. Make sure to visit the Carnival and check out other great articles.

20 thoughts on “His Wallet Is Empty But What About His Head?

  1. Everyday Tips

    I was a female poorhouse! My hsuband and I met in college, and I was paying all my expenses. Not just college, but medical, dental, clothing, etc. At graduation, I had nothing but debt and some clothes. I didn’t even have a job when I graduated. (Not many did, the economy was terrible then.) My husband had zero debt, obtained a great job (accountants were still sought after), and we got married a week after graduation.

    I did get a job a couple months later, and we had a decent income. It took awhile to pay off my student loans, credit cards, and wedding debt. I am so glad my husband did not walk away from me because I was not a person of means!

    1. Aloysa

      I think a lot of students end up with debt. When we got married I had my student loans, he had his and then we had our wedding debt. A few of my friends did not understand why we stayed together – both broke as we were and in debt. People do look very often at relationships from a monetary perspective.

  2. Suba @ Wealth Informatics

    I was a female poorhouse as well! My husband paid my living expenses for one semester in college when he had a job I didn’t. He was not my husband at that time, we were not even dating, he was just my good friend. I paid him back after I got a job in the next semester, but he didn’t expect to be paid back when he helped me out. I am not sure if I would have looked for debt/not debt, I think it would have definitely bothered me enough to talk about it and see how the other person feels about my/his debt. But somehow I think with my husband even if he was in debt I would have still married him. Just because I know he is the one for me and we will work it out together…

    1. Aloysa

      When you are in the situation together, it all works out. Expecially when you know that he is the one.

  3. eemusings

    I love this post – I strongly believe that love is not enough and have written about it before.

    When we first got together he was in the army. Came back, worked a few jobs, got laid off. He was largely unemployed for a year and half or so, which was tough.

    He’s never had an EF or savings until recently – I don’t believe any of his family do – but is starting to learn a bit more about money management. Sometimes it does feel like I have to be “the grownup”, but I can live with that.

    1. Aloysa

      Family and upbringing play a pivotal role in person’s understanding of finances. I grew up in the family that never had an emergency fund. So, I never thought that I needed one – that’s what credit cards are for, right? Wrong! We all are learning the hard way sometimes.

      1. Lisa @ Cents To Save

        I agree that family and upbringing are pivotal in a person’s role understanding of finances. My parents are both very thrifty and have a comfortable savings. I have money stashed away as well… but I do tend to get out of control. I spend in secret. Not good.

        1. Aloysa

          Spending in secret is not good. I used to go shopping, buy things and never show them to my husband because I was convinced that he doesn’t need to know. I stopped doing it a long time ago. Somehow it happened naturally. I can’t even explain. Maybe I got tired of feeling guilty…

  4. Squirrelers

    Aloysa, I like your statement toward the end that no relationship should be based on money.

    Ideally – male or female – it shouldn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, making a good salary or not making much. Really, it’s the person that matters, and the love and commitment two people have for each other.

    All that said, I also think that if a person has different values on things, it can impact a relationship. That can range from interest in having kids, being family oriented vs not, being a neat freak vs being a slob,……and, being a saver vs being a spender….or being risk-averse or being comfortable racking up debt.

    So, I think money finds a way to being a factor, but hopefully not a key driver in relationships.

    1. Aloysa

      Beautifully said Squirrelers!

      Values impact relationships. Unfortunately often enough values become money-centered and drive relationships.

  5. retirebyforty

    I like the closing statement also, but both people should agree on common financial goal. It doesn’t matter if the couple start off in debt as long as they both work toward paying it off. If one person is a spender and the other a saver, watch out.

    1. Aloysa

      And again I am smiling reading your comment! I am a spender and my husband is a saver. We do have our differences but our spending/shopping/saving attitudes never caused any major problem. As long as I don’t put us in the poorhouse with my shopping habits, we complete each other!

  6. Brown Eyed Mystic

    I second Squirrelers. Definitely, money is needed. But then it shouldn’t become the sole factor. There are other things life quality time, understanding, mutual respect among others that need to be balanced as well.

    Great post, Aloysa.


  7. Roshawn @ Watson Inc

    Of course there are always exceptions, but I often think about think that if someone who is in the poorhouse (male or female) get’s a hold of the right principles and consistently applies them, they won’t be poor for too long. The reverse is also true. I just hope people are able and willing to look pass one’s initial bank account to see what they are really hooking up to

    1. Aloysa

      Good point, Roshawn. You would think that one would like to get out of the poorhouse as soon as possible. But as you said, there are always exceptions.

  8. The Biz of Life

    Usually the two go hand in hand. Let’s be serious. If you are evaluating someone as a potential spouse, earning power matters. If you just want to have some fun, who cares.

    1. Aloysa

      Earning power does not really matter to me. In fact I am making more than my husband. But it doesn’t bother me or him. There are so many other things/goals/values that are more important to us.

  9. Invest It Wisely

    When I was in college I was doing it mostly on my own — rent, car, etc… with some help from my grandmother for the tuition, but I still had to work 20+ hours a week on top of full-time schooling. Staying at home with the parents was not an option and they were unwilling to help me in any way otherwise.

    So, it was tough, and I didn’t have much money. However, my girlfriend would judge and call me “poor”, and I would resent it so much, as if somehow I was a worse person because of the situation I was in, even though I was doing my best to get out of it. I hate that kind of judgmental attitude that only looks at the situation and does not even try to understand it. I’ve set her straight since then, or so I hope, though getting a decent paying job out of uni did help somewhat. People place too much bias on the ego going both ways. A person’s situation is imbued onto their quality when that is not always right. It takes time to gather the information though to separate the wheat from the chaff so this sort of stereotyping is somewhat understandable.

  10. First Gen American

    These two situations are wonderful examples of two different relationships and how being poor isn’t what’s important. I was very poor too til I got out of college.

    In the first situation, the guy did stuff that was free. In the second situation, the guy pulled the girl down to the poorhouse with him by spending her money.

    I don’t think you should ever judge people by how much money they have or don’t. You should look at the place they are in their lives and determine if they have a plan to get out of the poor house. You should also look at how they spend the money they do have. The amount you earn is almost immaterial.

    For example, like myself, Invest it and Everyday Tips, put whatever money they were earning into putting themselves through school. That to me, is a good and smart use of your money. You can’t control how much money your parents had, but you can control how much you will eventually make. That girl invest it dated was a shallow (insert swear here) who had no clue what life was really like for some of us.

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