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Debt and Dating

I felt so alone when I began our debt free journey at the end of 2008. I was exhausted from going to work every day and the evenings felt excruciatingly long while I was at home on my own with my two year old. Up until that point I had my old friend Ebay to keep me company, but when the VISA bill came in with a balance over $20 000 and the minimum payment was $250 (which I could pay, but then not pay the hydro bill), I broke down and admitted to myself that everything had to change.

A few months later we were settled into our apartment and I started dating a man I met at work. As I got to know him I became extremely self conscious about my financial situation. He came from an upper middle class family, and his parents paid for his post-secondary school tuition, up to his Master's degree. When he received scholarships for his PhD, they gave him the rest of the saved education funds to buy a house. By the time I was getting to know him, his house was sold at a profit and he was living at his parents' while he taught part-time. He was driving one of his mother's cars, and at least once she paid his mobile bill when it showed up in the mailbox.

Alternatively I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with my 3 year old and determined to power-pay down my $20 000 credit card debt. The $35 000 student loans were on interest relief and wouldn't budge from that number for years. I was driving an 11 year old car for which I paid $2000, and it was causing me all sorts of issues. I had no wiggle room in my budget for meals out or gifts. I was thinking of studying a Masters degree part-time with my employer-sponsored tuition waiver, but I was still exhausted and afraid to start something and then fail. A PhD for me was out of the question because it would mean borrowing more student loans, which I was not willing to do.

On the one hand, it was great because this guy said he didn't mind paying for our weekend fun, and if I didn't have those months with him, I might have suffered debt burnout. On the other hand, the anxiety I created for myself around christmas and birthdays was agony, because he and his parents could afford to be generous. I spent the whole time trying to downplay my financial status because I didn't want them to judge me or think of me as less than them because of my situation.

When it was finally ending, and we were arguing, he made a comment about all the money he had spent on me while we were together. It was like he thought I was a bad investment that didn't pay off for him, like his house purchase had. I vowed to myself then and there that I would never let a man pay my way 100% ever again. From then on it was 50/50, and if I couldn't afford it, then I would be alone.

In the past couple of years I have been on coffee dates with quite a few men who tell the same story: they dated a woman, married her, bought her a house, paid off her student loans or paid for her tuition. Then the divorce and they had to give her half of everything they owned. They felt used and sometimes resented having to pay child support. Now these men look at all women as gold-diggers, and their ex-wives as an investment that didn't pay off.

Each time I told my story I felt more and more like a superhero: I paid off my own debts, I saved up for and bought my own house. I'm paying off my student loans. I receive a small amount of child support each month, and it is used to provide my son with a good life. He has everything he wants and needs, and more.