Men I’ve Wasted Money On

Ah, love. Or “love.”

Photo credit: Maura Teague, CC BY 2.0.

My first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend was in fourth grade. His name was Kyle, and he looked eerily similar to Harry Potter, though I didn’t even know to make that reference yet. I started getting worried that he would get me something for our big day, and I hadn’t gotten him anything yet. While grocery shopping with my mom, I begged her to spend her hard-earned money on a box of chocolates and a card. The next day at school, I found out Kyle had gotten me nothing, and actually kind of wanted to break up anyway. He still took the chocolates, and I began a lifelong struggle with spending money on boys I shouldn’t have.

Weekend trip to Myrtle Beach: ~$300

When you’re on the verge of a breakup, and actually did break up for a few weeks and even got a revenge tattoo, a very illogical thing for you to do is get back together and go on a vacation. 0/10 would not recommend. This weekend was spent arguing about all the things that led to our breakup in the first place, as well as my tattoo, our mutual lack of respect for each other, and who would pay for which meals. Shockingly we did break up shortly after our return. I’ll never get back the money I spent that weekend on gas, the hotel, food, or the aloe for my sunburn.

One year of (out-of-state) college tuition: ~$30,000

If I ever have a daughter, the lullaby I sing her at night will be the sweet, soothing sound of “never pick a college because of a boy,” and I’ll hope for the best that the subliminal message sinks in. I did not hear that lullaby, and therefore went to the college my high school boyfriend wanted to go to, which happened to be out-of-state and the most expensive school in that state. I’d love to tell you we enjoyed some blissful time at that school, but in reality, we broke up the summer between graduation and starting college, so there were no blissful times to be had. We were simply stuck at that school together for the remainder of the year until my tuition money ran out and he went back home. I would have paid $12,000 less to go to the in-state school I had my heart set on. Should I send him a bill for the difference?

Countless bad movies: who knows? Probably 7 million dollars

The theater is a perfect place for a date, because if the date is horrible, it’s two hours you aren’t expected to make mundane small talk, and if it’s great, you can do cute things like kiss and hold hands and share Twizzlers. I couldn’t begin to guess how many bad dinners I’ve sat through patiently waiting for it to be time to go to the movies. So it’s an actual Greek tragedy when you’ve suffered through a horrendous dinner, sat comfortably in the theater — your one reprieve! — only to realize you’re stuck in a terrible film as well. Most of these have been so bad I don’t remember the names, with the exception of Stay Alive, which was an abysmal horror film that inexplicably starred Frankie Muniz. For the most part, these films were just a waste of time, money, and brainpower.

Weekly Waffle House coffees: ~$100

For about a year, I was courted by a guy who changed my perspective on the world around me. He was a writer; he was a Buddhist; he was well-read and traveled; he was brilliant. He also loved coffee, which isn’t necessarily a defining characteristic, but it’s related to the story. I hated coffee. In fact, I hated a lot of the things he eventually taught me to love. But every week without fail, I spent $2 at our Waffle House table buying coffee I didn’t want. I sipped and tried not to grimace and reveal how uncool I was for hating it. I eventually did grow to love coffee around the same time I started hating him. I haven’t been in a Waffle House since, and I’m not broken up about it.

Junior prom dress: $350

I worked all year at a waitressing job to save money for prom. I didn’t know if I’d have a date or not, but I was preparing as if I would. As prom approached, I started dating a senior who asked me to be his date. I happily spent all the money I had saved on a beautiful royal blue $350 dress. As much as I fell in love with it, I knew in that moment I was making a huge mistake. On the night of prom I was suffering through one of my usual migraines, the remedy for which is usually going straight to bed with a cold compress on my head. But it was prom! My first prom! With a senior! I couldn’t ask to go home, so I pushed through the pain and tried to have a good time. When it was finally time to go, I jumped in the car and rested my head on the window, trying not to show how much pain I was in. When my date—who was sort of a slimeball as it turns out—pulled the car over to try and make his prom dreams a reality, I couldn’t be cool any longer. I had been nauseous all night, and I had fought my body too long. I ended up puking on myself and my beautiful dress. The mood was killed, thankfully, and I got to go home. The next year I borrowed every single thing I wore to prom and spent $0. At least I learned a lesson.

We’re all guilty of acting absurd when we’re in love or infatuation. We go out when we should stay in. We spend money when we should save. We do anything to keep impressing that person. I hope I’ve learned a lesson after the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve wasted trying to impress men by simply failing to say what I truly wanted. I’ve been in my current relationship for six years now, and while I’m sure I’ve wasted plenty of money in those years on movies, meals, and gifts, I somehow can’t think of any. All of the stories I can remember are marked by a failed relationship. If a relationship had worked, I probably wouldn’t consider that Waffle House coffee wasted time/money, and I would look back fondly on that beach vacation. But it didn’t, and I don’t, so I’ll be invoicing all of these men for my money back. Due upon receipt.

Stephanie Ashe is a freelance writer, cat mom, and pop culture devotee. She’s probably talking about a 90’s movie on Twitter right now.

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