I'm a commitment-phobe. And I try to fill that void in my life where commitments would be by burning a hole in my wallet and literally breaking the doors of my closet:
It's not just the love stuff I have a hard time committing to. I am flaky AF. Ask any of my friends and they'll tell you how I'll make plans with them two weeks in advance, only to cancel those same plans two hours before they're supposed to happen.
Commitment scares the bejesus out of me.
Well, I was at my aunt's house this past weekend when my very wise cousin, who always gives me great dating advice, said something that made a ton of sense, as usual: "If you honor your commitments to yourself, you might just find it easier to commit to someone."
Huh. I'd never really thought about it that way.
Was not honoring my commitments to myself — my gym schedule, weekly FaceTiming my family who lives in Texas and trying my best not to flake on my friends for dinner at the last minute — affecting my ability to commit to a guy?
My cuz could have a point.
I blame my commitment issues on my ridiculous shopping habits.
I grew up not knowing the value of a dollar (Thanks, Mom.) and continue to make incredibly impulsive (and stupid) shopping decisions. I'll blow hundreds of bucks on a hair treatment and then wonder why I can barely pay rent.
I'll also go full steam ahead with the kind of guy whose interest in being with the same girl dwindles rather quickly.
Do you see a pattern here? My financial status and romantic life both leave me empty-handed by the end of the month (I'm not necessarily complaining about the latter; I love a good weekend romance.)
And so, at 26, I'm trying to teach myself how to budget.
At first, it was almost impossible to do and probably even more difficult for someone to watch. I felt like a cat trying to overcome its fear of swimming.
But I'm getting the hang of this whole budgeting thing. And now, I'm also noticing a shift in the way I view romance.
Let me break it down for you:
Figuring out where my money should go in my life helps me figure out how to factor dating into my life.
My wall now has a bulletin board with designated Post-it Notes. Writing out when and where to spend my money helps me decide how much of my precious time I plan to sacrifice for dating.
"Set aside $80 a month for clothes" makes it easier for me to conceptualize "set aside two hours a week for dating."
Why? Because I'm compartmentalizing. I'm taking two things I've always wanted to get better at — spending less money and figuring out the things I like in a guy — and creating a schedule for them.
I'm learning how to compromise with myself.
And while compromising may not give me those impulsive, short-term gains I love so much, it's teaching me to appreciate the long-term gains, like saving up for something I really want to buy in the future.
Plus, when single Sheena is ready to become girlfriend Sheena, the guy I meet won't be able to use "reckless spender" as an excuse not to be with me.
(I've actually been ghosted just because I like to spend my dinner money on clothes instead of actual dinner.)
Who knew being semi-organized about my finances would help me steer my love life in the direction I wanted it to go in? I literally had no idea.
Making fewer spending decisions based purely on emotion is helping me make more practical dating choices.
I'm a girl who lives for the cheap highs of purchasing a Jeffrey Campbell shoe and the whirlwind sweep-up of a 24-hour romance. Budgeting is helping me realize those highs wear off quickly — both the shoe highs and the guy highs.
Yes, I will continue to date guys only when my heart's in it. But I'm slowly learning making romantic decisions purely based on emotion and nothing else isn't the way to go.
When you do that, you end up falling for fuckboys, emotionally-unavailable men and faux Prince Charmings who con you into believing they're the one, only to disappear along with their false promises.
Don't get me wrong, they're super fun, and I don't see myself discontinuing seeing them anytime soon. But budgeting is helping me distinguish a smart choice from a fun, daredevil one. And that's the first step.
Learning to commit to money is helping me value commitment in general.
As my cousin so smartly put it, commitment to someone else — despite my thinking otherwise my entire life — doesn't actually start with that person. It starts with yourself.
Other added benefits of budgeting?
Not flaking on how much money I want saved up by the end of a certain time period helps me stay accountable for dates. Yes, I have a tendency to flake on dates the day of. Oops.
Having a budget also keeps me from drinking too much at the bar on those occasions I go on dates with myself. (God, I love bar dates with myself. I'm pretty good company).
In short, budgeting is giving me a more logistical perspective toward love, dating and men.
And, as unromantic as "logistics" may sound, they are, in the end, necessary to making a relationship work (which I'll eventually want someday).
But for now, I'm applying logistics to keeping my word about my dates with multiple dudes. I'm learning there's a way to be single and selfish while still making time to learn about the opposite sex.
To be honest with you, I don't know if it's solely a money thing, a 26-year-old girl thing or just a maturity thing in general, but I'm finally beginning to become less of a hot mess and more of a girl with a firm head on her shoulders.
I'm finally sort of realizing the kind of guy I'd want, all while being the independent single woman my mama raised me to be.