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Having a sugar mama sounds sweet, doesn't it? No financial responsibilities, no work, no problem–but these situations come with costs. What's more likely is that you've found an awesome, hard-working woman who happens to earn more cash than you, and it makes you a bit uncomfortable.
"The cardinal rule with money and dating is that money should never cause awkwardness," says Nick Savoy author of the Magic Bullets Handbook and president of lovesystems.com. So if it does, you need to combat it head-on.
You can probably suck it up and dole out the cash for one great night, but this could go on for months. And if anything is more emasculating than dating a woman who makes more money than you, it's dumping her because she makes more money than you. So, what's a dude to do when dinero is an everyday ordeal? Follow these six tips.
1. Be honest about your insecurities
Don't let financial differences become the elephant in the relationship. If it bothers you that she always wants to go to fancy restaurants and expects you to pay, say something. "It may not be the politically correct thing to say, but it's so much better to just be real and acknowledge any weirdness up front," says Esther Boykin, a licensed marriage and family therapist.
2. Don't try to keep up
"The financial issues come up right away; men have to assume that they're paying for the first couple of dates," Savoy says. "If you've planned an evening you can't afford just to impress her, consider making different plans." Don't let pride or embarrassment turn into excess spending and anger. Just because she wears thousand dollar shoes doesn't mean you have to. If she really wants you to dress a certain way, she will buy the items for you as gifts, but if she cares that much about your clothes, consider whether or not her priorities are in order. "Trying to keep up with her lifestyle can lead to resentment in the end," Boykin warns.
3. Split the bill
While this is not OK during the first few dates, once you are in an established relationship, it is safe to consider. When moving in together, "fairness is key to successful cohabitation. Each person should pay an equal percentage of their income," says Judith A. Swack, Ph.D., healthy-relationship specialist at the Boston Center for Adult Education. And if she wants to do an activity that is out of your price range, Swack says to discuss the problem. "If she still has her heart set on it, swap out a future activity that you had in mind. Or if she offers, let her treat you or pay for her own share."
4. Resist retail
Thoughtfulness goes a long way, it also helps you save money. "A tight budget makes room for creativity when it comes time to give gifts or plan outings, and women care much more about the thought than the cost," Boykin says. "If she loves weekend trips to tropical paradises, turn your apartment into a beach shack and whip up some fruity umbrella drinks."
5. Stay manly
Just because she's banking, doesn't mean you should be a baby—or a burden. "Take the lead and play a traditional male role in the relationship in other ways, like planning dates and opening doors," says Jennifer Kelman, author of Becoming a Female Entrepreneur: Simple Strategies to Make It Happen and a relationship expert for pearl.com. This includes being a decision maker, says Brooke Carsner, a professional matchmaker at Intuitive Matchmaking. Take the reigns, and don't sulk. "A successful woman wants someone who can help her celebrate her success, not someone whom she has to defend it to." If she seems to like the idea of stripping you of your manhood, well, you have to decide whether or not you are into that sort of thing.
6. Don't settle for less
Just because your bank account isn't the same size as hers does not mean she can treat you like the help. Standards and care do not equate to dollars and cents. "Money can buy a lot of things, but it is never a substitute for respect," Boykin says. "If the person you are with translates financial power to relationship power–always calling the shots and making unilateral decisions just because she's paying—then it might be time to say goodbye."