When I am unable to pay for a meal or an evening out, I feel this way. I literally feel like I'm unemployed. That I'm dependent. That I'm powerless.
Then Camille reminds me of when we first started dating and I insisted then that I pay for everything. Except she used the term "disempowered".
So today was a lesson in disempowerment.
Last Sunday, I attended a poetry slam where a feminist poet talked about "nice guys". The nice guy was someone who wanted to take care of everything, but that came with expectations. The nice guy expected something to be given back in return. The poet did not want to be indebted to the nice guy and wanted him to evaluate why he finished last because his friendship and generosity came with strings attached.
When paying for things with Camille, I always thought that I was the nice guy. I was just trying to take care of things. But it turns out, what she felt was disempowered, and, potentially, this new friendship came with strings attached. Both Regina and Camille have told me about how they are more often to go Dutch for first dates so that there isn't this imbalance of power.
Of course, all of this flies in the face of what I was taught to do as a kid. Pay for things. Treat the woman. Take care of things. Be a man.
It turns out that this programming is a lot more destructive than I thought, particularly to women, but also to me.
Why do I feel so ashamed and powerless? And why would I want to make others feel that way? And why does not paying for things make me feel less than a man?