Do You Have A Dating Support System? #atwys

I guess the next question, or next letter to Moxie, would be the how — how to end it? How to keep it over sad-womanand not get sucked back in again? How to build up one both emotionally, socially and financially? These are the foundations that I’ve struggled with and now need to finally get right. Empathetic comments welcome. – Gabi

You mentioned something extremely important in your comment that you left in response to the post where I answered your letter. You said that you lacked a support system. Before you do anything else – and that includes breaking up with this guy – you need to put some kind of support system in place. That is crucial. Join a women’s social group on meet-up. Call up your friends and tell them what you’re going through. Talk to family members if that’s an option. Build a network of people who will listen to you. Find someplace where you can go to word vomit All The Feels. Just get it out. But make sure you’re amongst people who genuinely care for your welfare. You might even wish to look into group therapy.

The reason you need people in your corner at a time like this is because you’re going to want to go to that empty well aka your boyfriend. You’re going to have moments where you’re lonely or sad and you’re going to reach out to him. Here’s the problem with that: the only water left in an empty well is usually the stuff with all the bacteria and toxins in it. It’s poison. Whatever attention you do get from your guy will be like a bag of Skittles. You’ll eat ‘em all up, then you’ll get a sugar high, and then you’ll CRASH. Your boyfriend is a bag of Skittles.

Now, let’s talk money. Like you, I struggled with attaining financial stability well into my forties. That’s what happens when you have someone cleaning up your messes for you your whole life. I loved my father dearly, but between his old-school Sicilian ways where the man handled the money and women had nothing to do with it, and the fact that he was just just damn generous, I never learned any discipline with money. Like anything that requires discipline, you need to do it over and over and over again before it becomes a natural way of thinking. That means not giving in to every impulse purchase, monitoring your bank accounts, and building a relationship with your money.

I would start by creating a budget. First, make a list of your must have necessities/bills, or fixed costs. These expenses never change. They include your ren/mortgage, your cell phone, insurance, cable, DSL/Phone, Subway pass, therapy, gym membership, medications, electric bill (though that tends to change each month, so guesstimate). Anything that you payout monthly.

Then you’re going to make a list of the more fluid expenses – Credit cards, food shopping, dry cleaners, pets supplies, hair appointments, mani/pedis, taxis

Now focus on your entertainment. Netflix, happy hour, meals out, Starbucks, take-out, etc.

Finally, list out what you deposit into savings each month. What’s that? Nothing? That will change.

Break each of these expenditures out individually so you can see exactly where your money is going.  Now, add everything up. If you are paid a salary then you know how much you’re taking in every month. So now you compare what you take in to what you pay out. There needs to be a buffer between the two numbers of at least 15%. That way, if you have an emergency, you’re not breaking in to money that is supposed to be going for something else, thereby setting you squarely behind the eightball.

Obviously, if you’re paying out more than you’re taking in, that’s a problem. Since you can’t change any of your fixed costs, you then move to the fluid costs and entertainment. And you make cuts. A lot of ‘em. Enough that you’re making 15% more than what you’re spending.

Shopping online will save you money, especially if you do a search for promotional codes for that merchant. It will also help you avoid splurging on things you see in the store. You should also go through your statements and familiarize yourself with all the due dates for your bills and automated payments. That way, you’re not bouncing checks or caught with a zero balance because your New York Sports Club payment was deducted that day and you didn’t know it.

Oh, and be sure not to charge more than 15% of your total credit on your credit cards each month. People don’t realize this, but even if you pay off your bill every month, if you regularly charge more than 15% of your total credit, you lose points to your credit score. Not a lot, but if you’re on the cusp of Medium Risk and Very Low Risk, you can’t afford to lose points.

I’m currently dealing with this with my sister. Like me, she never learned any financial responsibility. My father took care of her her whole life, and now that life is rapidly spiraling out of control. You HAVE to stay on top of your credit. Have to. It’s the key to everything – renting a car, getting an apartment, owning a home, etc. Sign up for one of those services that monitors your credit score and check it every, single month, and do a 3 Bureau check every three months.

You’re snooping through people’s statements and spending more than you earn. It sounds to me like you might have a slight impulse control problem. That’s an area that you need to address, too. It’s your inability to discipline yourself that has you doing a lot of what you’re doing. And it will be this issue that causes you to reach out to ‘ol Skittles.

Most importantly, you need to come up with some sort of plan to handle those moments where you’re feeling weak and wanting to buy something or do something to fill that urge. You might want to look into some kind of 12 Step Program, like Love Addicts Anonymous or I Spend Way Too Much Anonymous or whatever. There’s a ton of groups out there that are designed to help people battle various urges. Writing in a journal ( a paper one, not an internet one) is also a good idea. Get all that stuff out of your head. Please don’t do it on the interwebz though.

You’re also going to want to be kind to yourself. If your gym membership includes a Sauna, then use it once a week. Buy a cheap facial mask and a bottle of wine and take 30 minutes to just treat yourself nicely. (Say it with me. Self-care.) You’re going to have moments where you need to fill that void, and you’re probably going to slip a few times. That’s okay. You’re not expected to get it right the first time. The important thing is to keep at it. Eventually, you’ll be able to curb those impulses long enough until they pass.

Good Luck.

 

 

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15 Responses to “Do You Have A Dating Support System? #atwys”

  1. BTownGirl Says:

    I’d also like to add, “Don’t browbeat yourself.” to this list. So you’re really into a guy that kind of sucks. So what? I’ve done it and so have many, many other people. Do the soul-searching about what attracted you to him and kept you with him in the first place, but life’s for the living. If you’re having a moment and none of your support system is around, watch or read something funny – personally, I used to watch Arrested Development reruns in the middle of the night and read the funniest blogs I could find whenever I was on my own and felt sad. I spent 5 years going back and forth with a complete yutz, so if I can do it, you can too! :)

    p.s. Moxie, I too have a Sicilian father and his attitude is “Since you’re not married, your finances are my problem”. I spent my entire 20’s with the “If I want it, I get it, because he’ll bail me out.” attitude and it took me a looooooong time to really see everything that was wrong with that. Excellent advice!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  2. Gabi Says:

    Moxie, thank you so much for writing this post. I sincerely thank you for taking the time to write such a caring and detailed response to my dilemma that I highlighted in my last comment. It feels like the good advice I need from the big sister I never had…so seriously, sincerely thank you. It means a lot to me. I will put all of these practices into work.

    I actually went out last night with two old coworkers and had a blast and met a new guy, so I believe things are looking up! Now just the question of getting the relationship to stay over once it’s over…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

    • C Says:

      Theres a trick to making something “stay over” and the trick is 2 months of no contact. Two months is not forever or locking this person out of your life. Its just enough time to break a bad habit and realize just how bad for you it was.

      Once you break up, tell him you want no contact for 2 months. Do not call. Do not take his calls. Its not forever. Just 2 months. In those two months, you will go through withdrawal. Every time you feel the urge to call him, call someone else or better yet, call your friends and tell them you need to go out with them. Dont stay home. Stay as busy and as social as possible. It will eventually be over and you will be able to move on with the rest of your life.

      Now the bigger question is how do you avoid getting into it with another jerk?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

    • LostSailor Says:

      I actually went out last night with two old coworkers and had a blast and met a new guy, so I believe things are looking up!

      Careful, Gabi. In one paragraph you say you’re going to implement Moxie’s very sensible advice, and the next that you had a night out with the girls (on credit?) and met a new guy (when you’re not really quit of the current problematic relationship).

      That’s like a relapse before you even get started…

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. mindstar Says:

    If you want to get your personal and financial life in order is immediately going out with a new guy the best way to accomplish it?

    Maybe you should focus on creating the support network and gaining control over your finances.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

    • Gabi Says:

      ¿Qué?

      Which part of going out with friends and coincidentally meeting a guy, who happens to be a mutual friend, negates ones effort to attain financial stability? Does one stay in a hermetically sealed catacomb until their credit score reaches 800 before they can date again? Please.

      For what it’s worth, I spent $0 that night on behalf of the generosity of my friends who make more $ than me. All in all it was a great night.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

      • mindstar Says:

        You’ll never stand on your own feet financially if you continually depend on the kindness of friends.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

        • Gabi Says:

          Well if it isn’t Patty Positivity over here. I don’t know why I feel the need to defend myself, but no, it wasn’t like that, but thanks for sharing your thoughts!

          Interesting how socializing with friends is considered incongruous to building a support network. Cool logic, bro.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

        • C Says:

          That’s silly. Her friends took her out ONCE to help her get over her relationship woes. They didn’t give her a couch to sleep on and offer to pay her student loan indefinitely while she “finds herself”.

          Perhaps Gabi’s goal should be to get her finances in order and take her wonderful friends out for a “thank you” dinner.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

      • LostSailor Says:

        Gabi:

        The rather aggressive defensiveness seems part of the problem. The tendency to take any criticism as a personal attack and respond in kind indicates an inability to really absorb the message.

        Going out with friends isn’t the issue. It’s that way you described it doesn’t sound like “building a support group.” You “went out” with “two old coworkers” and “had a blast” and things are “looking up” because you met a new guy! It doesn’t matter that he’s a mutual friend.

        I just look at the behavior. You say you live beyond your means. You say that you have, at least in part, relied on others to enable living beyond your means and you’ve become, to a “degree,” financially dependent on a sketchy guy.

        You say that you understand what’s wrong, yet you again have gone out on the kindness of friends, had a blast, which seems more like partying than dating-and-relationship-support-network-building and you met a guy (even though you really haven’t ended the previous toxic relationship).

        It’s not about having a night out with the girls, it’s the context and the pattern of behavior.

        Does one stay in a hermetically sealed catacomb until their credit score reaches 800 before they can date again?

        Well, maybe not to 800, but, yes. If that’s what it takes to get your financial house in order and your dating life together, yes. And, frankly, that “question” smacks a little of an addict’s denial.

        I’ve been there. After my divorce, I was left with a fairly substantial amount of debt. Until I paid it off, I severely cut back on going out, cut out unnecessary expenses (no landline, no cable TV, no more ordering out, no steakhouse dinners) until it was paid off. But I did it, and now I can afford some of those things. I don’t eat out as much, and dates tend to be fun but inexpensive things, but I took the hit until I got my shit together.

        It’s not easy. And it’s hard to hear criticism. But sometimes we need to hear the hard truth.

        Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

      • Nicole Says:

        Gab I, there’s nothing wrong with going out to party with friends, letting them treat once in a while, or getting excited about meeting a new guy.

        But, as LS said, those aren’t “building a support system” or “being financially independent”. I’m not saying you can’t go out and have fun occasionally while you’re doing those things, but finding friends who will pick up the tab or a new man isn’t something you should point to as evidence of turning over a new leaf… Which is kind of how your comment read.

        This is my best big sisterly advice, as someone who has been in your shoes… The whole “lifestyle to which you have become accustomed” cliche is very real. I was financially dependent on my husband my whole adult life, and when I got divorced, it completely sucked to realize that a fancy night out or Coach bag were things I actually had to budget for. I dipped into savings at the end of every month for the first couple of years to get bills paid, and it was entirely due to shopping like I was still in the top tax bracket.

        I’m not perfect, I’m still working on this. When my boyfriend offers to pay for everything we do because he knows I had a bunch of unexpected expenses recently, I let him. I know I shouldn’t, but I still make a bunch of excuses in my head and go on vacations I could not pay my half of right now.

        So, make being independent (emotionally and financially) a priority. Even if it means less time and energy and money for dating for a while. Get to where you are comfortable on your own, so you won’t ever wonder if you are staying with some guy out of love or fear of being alone.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. Noquay Says:

    Gabi
    Lots of good advice being given here. My situation is the exact opposite of Moxies: it was me who bailed out my dad over the years, was there for him during 18 years of surgeries, illnesses due to his own lifestyle choices. He passed away last week leaving me with a huge pile of his debts, a filthy house, and a ferocious credit card bill. Whaddya do? First, pay off the unsecured (credit card/car payment debt), no contact with the ex, Moxies poison well description really says it all, plus vulnerable, lonely women attract problem men. Sorry, no dating for awhile, maybe 6 months until your emotional and financial act is together. Some other ways to save money, and yep, theyre gonna soynd draconian to most here: have cable? Get rid of it. Go to the library and get a pile of books. If you live in a city, go to art shows, folk dances, book readings, fairs, festivals. Generally free and you meet healthier, more emotionally engaged people. Forget the gym membership, get out and run, bike, hike, walk, again, you meet healthier people this way. Clothes from consignment shops only, with even a little space, you can grow your own tomatoes, greens. Cheaper and healthier. Cook from scratch. There’s no problem with going to a bar with friends but beware of meeting men there as bars are places one goes when they like to drink. Don’t exchange one problem for another. Both healing from a bad rship and getting ones financial act together takes time; give yourself time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  5. PGH_Gal Says:

    Gabi I think people are more so reacting to how quickly you’re talking about a new guy. Based on your previous letter about your (current?) relationship, it sounds like you need some alone time to decide what it is you want out of a partner and recognize what you bring to the table. In short, to recognize your self worth. Moxie suggested this in both of her responses and this is such an important part of not just moving on, but toward attracting the type of man who will bring joy and not heart ache.

    I get it, I hate hearing that type of advice myself. But it’s the truth and it works and it just helps your quality of life (with or without a man) to improve. As for finances, I’ve been a Suze Orman fan since college. I’ve read several of her books and watch her show. Her book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke or Womwn and Money would both make good reads for you. Good luck!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Akirah Says:

    Shameless plug: I’m a breakup coach. akirahrobinson DOT com. :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

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