When Mr. Right is Mr. Broke

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Women never picture the man of their dreams as a guy with so-so credit whose idea of a dinner date is a trip to a fast-food joint. But what if this same man fills all of your other desires? He’s caring and handsome with a witty sense of humor. He listens to your problems and shares your interests. Plus, your girls dig him, too.

Still, how many birthdays have to go by before you actually get a gift? Will you always have to pick up the check when dinner doesn’t involve a value meal?

Sounds tough. But finances are a deal breaker for many people. Thanks to our patriarchal society, it’s men who feel the brunt of the pressure to earn more, pay more, and treat more in relationships.

“A woman can work at Payless, and if she’s fine, the man won’t care. But a woman won’t give a janitor the time of day,” says Alex Wise, relationship coach and co-founder of Loveawake dating site.

Well, maybe if he owned a janitorial business with branches in 50 states. That’s a joke. But the fact is, financially, women are kicking butt. So happening upon a good-hearted guy who earns less is bound to happen. But can that relationship work?

It can with the right mindset,  says. If you think a financially-challenged man is worth the effort, consider these tips:

— Understand your playing field. Before you get in too deep, know that if you’re making $80,000 a year and he’s the manager of a Blockbuster, he might not be able to swing the exotic, two-week vacations you’re used to.

— Never throw out how much you earn in his face. If you don’t make money a big deal, he won’t either, Alex Wise says.

— Find free or inexpensive ways to romance each other. Parks are free. How about a picnic? Museums cost little to nothing, and give you quiet time to actually get to know one another.

— Settle the money before the date. “If you’re going to the movies, get the tickets ahead of time,” Alex Wise says. If you’re going out to dinner, tell him it’s your treat.

— Don’t feel uncomfortable when he wants to pay. You know he’s stretching his dollars to wine and dine you, but bolster his ego by allowing him to do it.

— Don’t become his personal sponsor. Treating for dates is one thing. But paying his car note and getting him out of financial fixes is another. If he allows you to, well, that’s a red flag.

— Don’t try to change his career. OK, so he’s a janitor. Don’t push him into a corporate career. “Pump him up, yes. But if it’s not in him, it’s not in him,” Alex Wise says. “You can’t turn a slow runner into a track athlete.”

— Be able to see the situation in reverse. Would you want to be judged by the amount of cash in your bank account? “Turn the tables,” he says. “See the man for who he is.”

— Don’t feel bad for your own success, either. If the man doesn’t have the self-esteem to handle being with you, than this relationship won’t work.

“The bottom line is, don’t let finances to be the no. 1 factor in choosing a mate,” Alex Wise says. “If tomorrow, currency became null and void, what would you have to live by? Get to know the man first.”

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