When I look back on this period in my life, I feel pretty bad about what I did. At the time, though, it was the only thing that kept me sane and fed. That’s right—I went on dates just for the free food.
I had zero money.
This may sound like an excuse, but the struggle was real, as anyone studying and trying to survive in a big city will tell you. I had a part-time job that was barely even covering my rent and tuition. I often had to borrow money just so I could travel to my classes. I was seriously struggling for months at a time.
I got tired of eating crappy food all the time.
I was living off packet noodles, white bread, and cheap junk food because I just couldn’t afford anything else. There’s only so much of that stuff you can eat on a regular basis without going completely insane. Did you ever see that ramen website that had like 1000 different meals you can make with ramen noodles when you’re broke? Well, that was me. And guess what—it all still tasted like ramen!
I was always sitting at home because I couldn’t afford to go out.
I was getting quite isolated and I felt ashamed about telling people I was broke and that was the reason I couldn’t come to the club or their birthday party. I was single, but I couldn’t really meet anyone because I was too broke to go anywhere that wasn’t free and it was too cold in winter to just go and hang out at a park.
Some dating sites are free, so that’s a perfect way to meet guys when you’re free.
When I realized I could just go on a free dating site and start meeting guys from home without having to pay for the pleasure, I suddenly understood all those online ads. This was the best. I suddenly had a social life and I didn’t have to pay for a train ticket or a drink at a bar for it. All these guys who contacted me wanted to go on dates, and then it hit me—free dinners!
Most guys don’t expect you to pay on the first date.
Equality or not, most guys know that if they insist on splitting the check on the first date, they’re going to come off looking like jerks. What this means is that if you go on a first date, you’re pretty much guaranteed a free meal. At most, you might need to pay for a coffee or a beer if you’re having a drink first but usually, you can get away with just meeting at a restaurant to begin with.
Some guys want to impress you with really nice restaurants.
When a guy suggests an expensive or popular place for dinner, you pretty much know he’s trying to win you over with his knowledge and generosity. Such a guy is not likely to turn around and try to split the check at the end because that’s going to make him look really bad. If he intends on having you pay your share, he’ll probably mention that the place is expensive when asking if you want to meet there, so that’s when you know you’re expected to pay and can bow out before it’s too late.
I perfected the gesture of reaching for my wallet even though there was no money on it.
There’s an art to getting the guy to pay. You don’t want to seem like an a**hole by making assumptions, so you have to appear as if you’re genuinely trying to pay your share. I usually tried to keep some money in my bag in case something happened and I did have to pay (it happened a couple of times), but I must admit there were times when I reached for my wallet when I knew full well that there was nothing in it and not enough money in my account to cover dinner.
I started off looking for a boyfriend but soon I was saying yes to everyone.
I started going on these dates because I was lonely and I figured I could go and meet guys without having to spend money, but I did think that maybe one of those guys would turn out to be something more. I’m sorry to say, though, that I got addicted to the lifestyle pretty fast. I was accepting offers from guy I knew full well I wasn’t likely to ever be interested in. At the time, I told myself that I was giving them a chance, but really, I just wanted the free dinner and the night out.
I always cut it off after the first date.
I didn’t want the guys to become attached or expect any physical contact or, more importantly, a fairer division of payment. Most guys are happy to pay on the first date, but once you’re dating, many will resent having to front the bill every time. And who can blame them? Nowadays when I am back on my feet, working and earning money, I don’t expect guys to pay for me. In fact, I often insist on paying even if they offer because I feel so guilty about what I used to do back then.
I feel bad for having taken advantage of guys but I was desperate.
When you think about it, I was taking advantage of these guys, because I had no intention of dating them. I don’t think a guy should expect a woman to sleep with him or even go on a second date with him just because he bought her dinner (there’s a name for that kind of interaction), but by the same token, a woman shouldn’t expect a man to pay just to enjoy her company. Most men still do, though, and it pretty much saved my life for a while.
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