h2>Dating : How To Talk To Your Boyfriend About Money
Even if it feels awkward.
Talking about money was problematic in my family. My parents stressed over it, used it as a means to control what I did, and instilled a sense of “always spend less than you make,” inside me. We talked about it a lot, but not always in a positive way.
Now that I’m an adult, money still feels like an awkward conversation, but more so because of how everyone else acts about it. In reality, I don’t mind talking about money. If someone asks me what I make, I’ll tell them. If I can’t afford something, I’m honest about it.
But I know not everyone is the same — especially women.
Up until recently in middle-class families, women were the caregivers of the household. We provided value in our homes (birthing children, managing home life, emotional support to everyone), but that wasn’t something you could put a price on. In return, men went to work every day and brought home the paycheck.
Back then, women were reliant, financially, on men.
In today’s world, women are rocking every industry. We’re founding businesses and climbing corporate ladders. We’re making more than enough money to sustain ourselves and a family. Many women earn more than their partners.
Yet, when we get into relationships, money is still this taboo subject to bring up. Notions of a “gold-digger” or “anti-feminist” might come to mind at the mere idea of asking your boyfriend how much they make. But by now, we’ve seen that women can hold their own money-wise.
There are many legitimate reasons to talk about money, even early on in a relationship. A money conversation doesn’t have to be filled with tension, end in an argument, or, worse, lead to a breakup.
So how, then, do you talk to your boyfriend about money?
I watched Love Is Blind at the beginning of quarantine because, as a relationship writer, I needed to, ahem, research the field (and because it’s beyond addictive).
The basis of the show is simple: two people meet each other, but in separate rooms where they can only talk, but not see one another. They get to know each other this way until one of them proposes — all in an attempt to understand if love is blind.
One couple, Amber and Barnett, got engaged and were set to marry. But a week out from the wedding, Amber casually mentioned her $20,000 in student loan debt, even though she never finished college.
Barnett, on the other hand, had zero. He was pretty taken aback by the news.
I’ve heard other, much worse debt horror stories — women finding out after their honeymoons that their new husband has hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling debt. It baffles my mind that this kind of money conversation isn’t brought up way sooner.
For some, debt is a deal-breaker. For others, it’s just an obstacle that needs a plan to get around. If you’re wondering about your partner’s debt or worried about your own, sit down with your boyfriend and have an open conversation.
Remember: having debt doesn’t make you or your partner a bad person. It’s not an indicator of your character. But if you want to be with them long-term, it’s better to create a plan now than try to ignore the issue.
While it might not fare well to sit down on a first date and lead with, “What’s your salary?” talking with your boyfriend about how much they’re making is essential and inevitable.
If you’re nervous about bringing up the subject, talk about how much you make first. That might alleviate some of the anxiety you’ve built up around the issue.
My best friend, Dannie, came to me once because the differences in paychecks between him and his boyfriend were causing issues.
Dannie’s boyfriend loved to go out to fancy restaurants. But Dannie worked a retail job at a gym, leaving him little spending money at the end of the month. His boyfriend, however, had a high-level marketing job for one of the largest streaming services in the world.
While Dannie didn’t want his boyfriend to pay for everything, he also couldn’t afford to go halfsies on dinner all the time. Nor did he want to, since he usually cooked meals at home. Dannie explained the situation to me, and the answer became clear.
“Just tell him you respect his interest in going out to eat, but if he wants to do that with you, he’ll have to pay,” I said. “You don’t value going out to eat, nor do you make the same as he does, so he shouldn’t expect you to pay half.”
The next day, Dannie talked to his boyfriend about how much they both make and what they chose to spend their money on. It not only cleared the air but made their dinners out more enjoyable now that the expectations were managed.
My boyfriend and I have wildly different spending habits. I like to thrift clothes and furniture, and, though I get great deals, I still spend a good chunk of money on this hobby.
Meanwhile, my boyfriend is a whiskey enthusiast. He’ll buy bottles ranging from $60 to $1K. Sometimes he’ll flip bottles for double the price he bought them; other times, he keeps his whiskeys.
At first, this habit freaked me out. I don’t value drinking; I probably average a couple of glasses of wine a month myself. Watching my boyfriend spend hundreds of dollars a month on bottles didn’t align with my values.
But when I brought this conversation up with my boyfriend, he made an excellent point.
I spend money on clothes, home decor, and house plants. He spends money on his rare whiskeys.
Both equate to about the same monthly spending. We’re both still able to save money. And neither of us is wrong for these hobbies because they’re how we each prefer spending our money.
Your boyfriend won’t spend his money the same way you do, and it might cause some resentment. Maybe he even dislikes your spending habits, too. Rather than letting tensions build, sit down with each other, and talk about your spending habits.
List what you value spending your money on and ask your boyfriend to do the same. Don’t be judgemental if their hobbies or past times aren’t the same as yours.
Focus more on saving for a better future and making realistic plans, rather than focusing on what you think they do wrong.
I recently met up with a friend, Ali, who talked to me about a very interesting way she manages money with her boyfriend.
“We have a shared credit card,” Ali said. “At the end of the month, we not only split the bill, but we see how much we spent on dates and dinner out.”
Ali described how the credit card opened the doors to talking about other financial aspects of their lives. She had a conversation with her boyfriend about eventually buying a house and saving up for a future family.
Both Ali and her boyfriend saw eye-to-eye about their future finances.
Being on the same page when it comes to future finances can feel scary because it means talking about bigger life goals like marriage and kids (or perhaps, lack of).
But talking about how you both envision your financial futures allows you to get ahead of the game, rather than waiting until there is a more significant issue.
Having this money talk can be a way to deepen your relationship if you go into it with confidence, openness, and a plan.