Oh, when a steel-toed-boot-wearing, hyper-independent, I-don't-need-anyone-screw-you alpha-female finds herself falling into the soft, vulnerable arms of love, it's intense baby.
Money! Dollar bills! Bank accounts! Credit cards! To split the check or not to split the check? Mixing love and money makes me feel so uncomfortable, I want to crawl out of my skin.
Love is blissful, impulsive and sexual. But money is stressful, migraine-inducing and asexual. It's is so wildly unromantic, I've spent my entire life avoiding the realities of it.
Money is so wildly unromantic, I've spent my entire life avoiding the realities of it.
But at some point, you have to look the demon right in its ugly, bloodshot eye, without blinking (especially in a long-term relationship).
I never thought about how money impacts my relationship until very recently when my single friend Cherry* droned on and on and on to me about "how expensive it is to be single" during our day trip to Fire Island.
"When I was single, I lived off quest bars and let strangers buy me drinks!" I said incredulously. I gazed down at my lace tights, temporarily distracted by their beauty.
"Now, I have to eat real, whole meals because couples go to dimly-lit dinners at expensive restaurants, and we're always ordering the fucking $75 bottle of wine because, when you're in love, you want to indulge."
(Speaking of indulging, as I stared at my lace tights, I could tell they were a little more pulled at the sides than usual. All those three-course meals and bottles of wines had most definitely increased the circumference of my thighs. But had it increased the money in my bank account?)
Is it more expensive to be single or to be in a relationship?
Later that night, as I procrastinated checking my bank account, I sat on the couch, stared into the exposed brick of my apartment, and asked myself, "Is it more expensive to be single or to be in a relationship?"
My brain was swirling with memories of downing bottles of wine at home alone before going out, but also having no one to split that Uber ride home with. I couldn't draw a proper conclusion.
So I broke down exactly how much one weekend costs me when I'm in a relationship:
Friday night = $120
Friday night is where bae and I totally go hog-wild and recklessly spend. Monday through Friday, we're both very stressed and very serious, working lesbians. By the time Friday night rolls around, we're ready to wild out, baby!
"Let's get a drink," I'll manically text her around 3 pm, my mouth watering with a thirst for liquor.
And since we're still civilized at 3 pm, we plan to get a drink at Cafe Cluny.
Cafe Cluny is a chic-yet-relaxed-bistro on West 4th Street in the West Village of Manhattan. The calming, white exterior makes me feel like I've swallowed a handful of Xanax.
I get the famous "Cluny Burger" because I need comfort food ($22, but you can't put a price on comfort), and she gets the "Grilled Tuna Burger" ($26) because she seeks comfort, too, but doesn't eat meat because of her lesbian ethics.
I order three glasses of the Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc at $14 per pour (it's organic), and she orders two filthy martinis $15 (not organic).
After the third glass of wine, I'm buzzed and realize how much I miss her. Because when you're in a relationship, you get all gross and miss people when you haven't spent much time with them in five days.
"Let's get the seared bay scallops!" I say. It's an $18 appetizer, but we ordered them on our first date, so they're very special to me (at least after three glasses of vino). She agrees because she's drunk in love, too (or just hungry).
The bill comes. I put my card down. She takes my card out. I put it back. She takes it out. I don't resist on the third try and, instead, bat my mascara-laden lashes at her and say, "Thank you." I haven't spent a dime so far.
That is... until we go to the Cubby Hole bar across the street. The Cubby Hole is a fabulous lesbian-leaning (but all-people-loving) bar across the street from Cafe Cluny. It's got a warm, dive-y vibe.
Because bae paid for dinner, I offer to buy her drinks. It kind of seems unfair because it's a DIVE BAR, right? How expensive can a DIVE BAR be? Ha.
When it's a Friday, you're already buzzing like a fruit fly and you're in the mood to keep on drinking like you're going to the electric chair, shit adds up.
I order Tito's and soda, and so does she because she's taught me about "well liquor" and how toxic it is for the body and soul.
I have four Tito's and sodas over four hours and she has three because she's slightly more reasonable.
We pay in cash because that's all they take, but I've burned through $120. I like to tip big, ladies.
We walk home. And you literally can't put a price on a drunken, romantic walk through the West Village.
Saturday day = $27
I still have a little cash left over from last night, which pays for the taxi to get to breakfast at Veselka in the East Village.
We use a traditional yellow cab (because real New Yorkers take CABS, BABY). It cost me $14 including tip to get from the West Village to the East Village.
Veselka is a reasonable, Ukrainian restaurant that's perfect when you have a hangover and you're in the mood to be snuggly with bae, without having to impress them with some trendy brunch.
It's a couple-y kind of place.
We both order the challah French toast and split the bill. It's not nighttime, and we're in hungover-realistic-relationship mode. With tip, I spend $13 for breakfast.
Saturday night = $189
I get my nails done because I want to look put together for bae on Saturday night.
(Yes, I do them for myself — I'm not bae's beauty slave. But this particular night, I'm getting them done in a rush for her because I want to look pretty for her. If you don't want to look hot for your bae, that's fine, but I'm not one of those girls.Plus, I'm a lesbian. Fingernails are very important when you're a lesbian.)
My gel manicure costs me $50.
I also want to be sweet and romantic, so I buy some white daisies for $3.99 at the bodega.
We know we're going to the exorbitantly expensive Standard Hotel for a party later, so we get dinner at AOC, a local bistro in my neighborhood.
I get the smoked salmon plate for $16, and she gets the grilled salmon for $24. I don't want to drink in order to give my liver a break, and neither does she. She ends up picking up the check.
I decide I want a Manhattan before we go because I've just discovered how warming Manhattans are on a cold night when winter has just begun.With tip, it's $16.
At the Standard Hotel, I pay for the first round of drinks.
That's the thing with bae and me: We don't love to split the check, mainly because I find it to be "wildly unromantic."
So we do rounds, instead. I drink champagne ($22), and she drinks vodka soda ($17). She buys the next. I buy the next. And the rest is a bit unclear, but I somehow manage to spend $110 because I bought her friend a drink, too.
We split the taxi home. She puts it on her card, and I drunkenly stuff a $10 bill in her lap. She tries to push it away, but I resist.
Sunday = $382
I'm hungover and anxious, and I don't want to leave the house. The great thing about being in a relationship is you CAN occasionally stay in and rest (but only when you're hungover, or else you're fucking boring).
We cook together, and it doesn't cost a thing, except maybe $4 in groceries.
That afternoon is when things get tricky. We need to buy plane tickets to Florida to visit my family. If we change flights, it will cost us $300 each. Very annoying and off-brand for us luxury snobs, but it will save us about $1000.
"That's $1000 we can spend on fun things," she reminds me. And I concur. She puts it on her card, and I Venmo her the rest.
Next, we decide to take a stroll through Union Square to look at some art. We buy some really kinky photos of Barbies doing sexual things:
She pays for four and I pay for two I'm really passionate about, which are $30 each. We need them, though, for the "home." It's hard to find art we both like, so we go for it.
Next, we order Indian food from Seamless. She puts it on her account because I still haven't updated my damn card. Seamless is deceptively expensive, and three curries and some naan cost $60.
I promise to pay her back. She rolls her eyes and says it's fine.
I also buy us a bottle of wine for $18.
Finally, we go to bed early, and I have nightmares — that's what happens when I booze a lot during the weekend and eat spicy food.
Total = $718 (But really, priceless, babes)
I think back to when I was a sinful, broke 21-year-old navigating Los Angeles with two lone digits in my bank account. I used to get secretly excited about dates because I hoped my date would treat me to a glass of wine or maybe even an appetizer.
And all my friends at the time did the same.
"Oh, I have NO money for dinner, but I have a date tonight, so at least I'll get fed!" I clearly remember my blue-eyed, bombshell friend Angela* telling me once.
We were driving down Sunset Boulevard carelessly smoking Marlboro Light 100s out the window of her beat-up convertible, fast food burgers resting in our laps and leaving oil stains on our Forever 21 dresses.
Yep, two broke "actresses" living off of fast food in the city of dreams, hoping they'll be able to eat something other than sodium-infested faux-meat if they just say yes to a date.
Now, I make money, live in New York City and would never depend on a date for a nice meal. I'll buy myself that $18 glass of Sauvignon Blanc, honey.
Dating, I've determined, is cheap. You're being courted. The date is going to want to impress you by picking up the check or buying you flowers.
But relationships are expensive because you're past the courting phase. Now, you're starting to split those expensive dinner checks at that overpriced bistro downtown because it's unfair for bae to pay for everything, right?
I always think of dating as the fantasy phase and relationships as the reality phase.
So, while relationships are most definitely more expensive than dating, to me, it's OK. I don't want the fantasy. I want a hard dose of that unfiltered, expensive reality.
After all, being courted is nice, but being loved is way better.
Being courted is nice, but being loved is way better.