Back in the summer 2014, I was a newly-single, 24 year old, with no job, living off a healthy college refund check. Minimal-responsibilities-mami. This was also the summer I tested out the"dating" app, that was growing in popularity--Tinder. Besides the usual creep, or two, Tinder connected me with a bunch of good guys (including my current boyfriend), with great jobs, who were well-mannered and wanted to go on dates with me. On the flip side, It also magnified an insecurity I didn't even know I was struggling with--job insecurity. I noticed I started to dread those intro conversations because the inevitable "what do you do?" question was always asked and at the time, I knew no lofty or sophisticated way to say "I'm unemployed, finding myself...but I have this fashion blog!", so I tried to avoid the question all together. When my job status did come up, it was always a relief that it really didn't change their views about me; I was still the same interesting person they wanted to go out with.
Now, here's the thing: #Brokeboyz are not given the same kind of leniency. Because most unemployed guys are aware of the negative connotation assigned with "unemployed" and "man" in the same sentence, they tend to:
(a) overcompensate by spending money (or credit) they barely have on dates to impress a potential suitor
(b) become defensive about the dating standards of their potential suitor (because they cannot afford it)
(c) go "ghost" or give the bare minimum effort (like free peen) to avoid a real connection that may lead to longevity (because longevity in dating gets expensive)
(d) try their best, with what they have, but constantly struggle with whether or not their financials are adequate.
(e) date someone who doesn't require much effort
(f) don't date at all
Obviously none of these options are the best case scenarios but these are the likely (re)actions of dating while broke...for men. From my experience, dating while broke was a bit of an inconvenience, but it definitely wasn't impossible; societal gender norms, in this case, worked in my favor. There were moments when I felt guilty knowing that I was going to spend zero dollars--excluding transportation-- because I'm an (attractive) woman (I also learned physical attraction plays a part in a man's generosity), whether or not I had a job. Other times, I felt nothing and just charged it to the game. I empathize with a man's frustration for not being afforded the same opportunity. But... On the other hand, I feel like a hypocrite for also wanting #brokeboyz to stay away from me. I wouldn't be excited to be with a broke boy, regardless of my financial situation. Who wants double the struggle? not me. In that same breath, I can understand if a financially sound man wasn't excited about dating a women who didn't have her coins together. It absolutely works both ways.
So what are the alternatives? should broke men simply not date because of societal pressures? Can we, as a society, be more understanding of their plight? Should women be held to the same standard? Honestly, I don't know. I don't know if there is a clear answer. I, however, do know their is no fair answer, because the dating expectations of women, from my experience, just isn't dependent on the money she initially brings to the table. My mentor always says "dating is a luxury"...treat it as such. So, if you ever find yourself having to choose between a necessity, like paying a bill on time or going to that fancy restaurant you saw your crush tweet about--you probably shouldn't be dating, anyway.