Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love and Money

Continuing today's Valentine's theme, let's talk about love and money. Pursuing one or the other of these things probably drives many of most peoples' decisions. How often does one affect the other? Many people want money because they hope it will help them find love, or substitute other kinds of happiness when true love is lacking. And so many conflicts in love turn out to be more about money. Forget for a moment the day to day concerns of who picks up the check on a date, how much is spent on engagement rings, and other issues of how couples manage their finances. Think of all the great works of literature where people can't find happiness in true love because they are following the money. And of course romantic love itself is a relatively new invention when compared to marriage for the sake of property, prosperity and procreation.
In your own romantic life, has money ever turned your head? Did you ever find yourself more attracted to someone than you might otherwise have been if that person had less money? Or vice versa? Do you ever catch yourself thinking that the "happy ending" to your own romantic story will be that you fall in love with someone who is good-looking, kind, sexy, smart, and conveniently also really rich?
I was trying to think how to answer this question myself. I've never been with anyone who was extremely wealthy. I dated someone for a while whose family turned out to have more money than I originally thought-- not enough to really change the dynamic between us, but enough for me to think, gee, it would be nice to go to your family's condo in Florida every spring break. I later lived with someone who expected to inherit a house in Connecticut, and I found myself quite liking the idea of having a weekend home outside the city. On the flip side, I once went on a date with someone whose family was obviously VERY wealthy, as in having their own hedge fund kind of wealthy, but I found that hearing about all that on the first date was a total turn-off. If I'd gotten to like the person and found out about it later, though, it might have been a very pleasant surprise... or it might have just made me feel insecure about my own position in life.
I'd love to hear any stories others have to share...


Ellen said...

Well, I've dated two people who were quite wealthy (Rich Guy and Rich Chick), and one person who was so unconcerned by money that he lived with his mother and worked a part-time job (Poor Guy). Right now, I'm with someone who is comfortable, but not much more wealthy than I am (Just-Right Guy).

With two of my three past partners (Rich Chick and Poor Guy), money did come between us, just because I didn't understand where they were coming from. They were both at least early 20s and still sponging off their parents--I couldn't respect them. Rich Chick bounced between her parents' place in Florida and the apartment on the Upper West Side that they bankrolled, and had angst about it, but still didn't get a job; Poor Guy refused to learn how to drive or try to do anything but play video games (that was a SHORT relationship).

With Rich Guy, money wasn't an issue, because we both had similar values and mindsets. Things just didn't work out--trying to be long-distance was too hard. I wouldn't have stayed with him just for money, no way.

With Just-Right Guy, money is not a concern for us. We're well-suited and honestly never fight about money. Thank god!

I don't think I would've been happy with someone obscenely wealthy--I'd have some pretty severe class disconnect, especially if that someone was Old Money.

Tiredbuthappy said...

Hmm. I can see it effecting (or is it affecting? I can't ever remember...) a romantic decision, but I don't think it has in the past. Twice I've dated people who were not poor but really irresponsible with money, and it contributed to my desire to end the relationship but wasn't the only factor. Usually it was a symptom of a larger problem--a Peter Pan mentality and a belief that someone (in both cases their mothers) would take care of them. Yuck. Like I wanted to take on that job.

My current partner didn't have a lot of money when we met but he didn't have debt either and was generally good with money. Did it effect my decision? Yeah, knowing he had no debt was kinda hot. But again, it was a symptom of a larger feeling I had that he was responible, was comfortable living modestly, and had ideas about money and spending that were different from but compatible with my own. We come from a similar class background but his family is a lot more conscious of issues of class than mine is. It's actually been useful to me to see how they deal with their class status. My family often seems to be totally unaware that everyone doesn't have the same privileges they have.

I have had those "my prince will come" kind of fantasies in the past (when I was much younger) but it's hard to imagine marrying money or whatever. It would just be weird and stressful to be suddenly quite wealthy over night. I'd rather get gradually more financially secure (but not wealthy) myself through my own efforts.

Mir said...

My husband and I have had an income disparity since day one and our biggest issue has been the opinion of others. In our 20s, it was a big deal to us that other people cared that I worked a "guy job" and made more money than he did. Now, years and kids later, we're (thankfully) way past that, but for years the things other people would say to us caused more contention than the actual fact that we didn't make the same amount. Luckily, we're very compatible in terms of personality and how we spent/save money, which is part of how we were able to survive that time in our lives.

Anonymous said...

Money has never turned my head - I've dated rich and poor alike. I dated someone in college who was from a super-rich, but really messed up family. It was an eye-opener in how money doesn't necessarily equal happiness and can even create emotional problems. That relationship clearly did not last.

My wife is from a family of substantially greater means than mine, which was at first, very intimidating, yet also very cool. I didn't mind enjoying the benefits of their lifestyle on holidays and visits - big Xmas celebrations, vacations at their 2nd home, etc. And I also learned a lot from them about money, which was very important since in my family all I ever learned was how to live paycheck-to-paycheck. At first, I wondered why they didn't blow more money material things, even though it was obvious they had it in the bank. Now, with maturity, I understand the lesson of living below your means. And with my own success, they've gradually come to see me as a peer worthy of their princess (better late than never).

Anonymous said...

I first met my spouse when I was about to go to grad school and he was also still a student. I knew his family was less well off than mine and that he may not have very high income making potential (not super low either, he just wasn't headed for a professional job). It didn't matter that much to me.

6 years later, I have a high income job, and he's had a hard time getting jobs, so he's getting other degrees. All my friends are with significant others who earn decent incomes and I'm really jealous of that. Who wouldn't love having extra money? But more than that, it would take the pressure of being the sole breadwinner off me.

But I don't regret my choice at all and instead, I'm happy I got married before money became an issue. It'd be nice if he earned any / a lot of money but if not, well, we'll deal with it.