Be kind to them, and your wallet
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"If you keep doing the same ol' routine over and over things are going to go stale."
First things first – don’t put romance and cheap in the same sentence; it will not go down well with the other half... trust me. So instead of 'cheap', let’s have a chat about romance and equality, romance and sentiment and romance and keeping it fresh, and if by coincidence these things lead to a better relationship and happen to be cheaper, well how bad!
Romance and equality
This is for the guys in particular. Now there’s various schools of thought on men paying for the date: they range from my friend who thinks the girl should always pay (this particular friend also thinks men should have gotten off the Titanic first), to another guy I was talking to who considers paying on a date as a modern dowry, a “good investment” as he put it. But there is a happy medium!
Maybe just buy her one drink instead of keeping her plied with alco-pops and continuously asking “ya want another?” (No amount of free drink will negate the annoyance of this repeated question). Or at the cinema, one of you can get the tickets and one can get the popcorn. You’re not a cheapo, it shows your equal in your relationship and it roughly halves the cost of a date. What’s not to like!?
Romance and sentiment
We’re always told when you’re buying a present it’s not about how much it costs... which is true! But I don’t go for the whole make the present malarkey. It’s fine if you're uber-talented and creative but if you have doubts you could be setting yourself up for double the hurt: hurt they didn’t like what you got them, and hurt that they didn’t like something you made.
But that doesn’t mean you have to buy your better half a netbook to stay in their good books. Something less expensive that they’ll love is much better than something flashy. For example, buying your lady/gentleman their favourite perfume/cologne – it mightn’t be the most expensive but it shows you noticed and it’s something they’ll definitely use. Easter's another example: there’s the pressure to get that ginormous Easter egg that’s solid the whole way through (if only!), but a small hamper with their favourite bars/sweets is the best, and most cost effective option.
Keeping it fresh
Another relationship cliché is 'keep it fresh' – basically if you keep doing the same ol' routine over and over things are going to go stale. I agree but trying to change things up doesn’t have to be expensive and the cheaper options are usually more fun! One of my favourites is having a night in with tonnes of junk food but setting a ridiculously low spending limit – trying to figure out the best deals so you can stretch €2 to the max results in an hour of running up and down the aisles and generally ends up the best part of the night.
Or the 'classic' dinner and a movie: instead of spending your rent to eat something you can’t pronounce in a place you don’t feel comfortable, why not cook for each other – you know what you’re eating and besides, cooking is sexy. Then the cinema: try going to a kids film – they’re half the price and twice as funny, plus it’s something different! So three steps to a better relationship: treat each other as equals; give sentimental gifts; and change things up. Not only will they keep you both happy but they mean you don’t have to pawn all your worldly possessions for a date or present that’s out of this world.