The three things that your parents probably told you not to ever talk about on a first date – religion, politics…and money.
While we don’t fully agree with this advice, we’ll save that discussion for another day. What we would like to talk about today, though, is the third and probably most controversial item on that list – money.
While there is probably an infinite number of money-related topics we can cover with dating, we want to talk specifically about dating outside of your income level. What happens if you’re wealthy or successful and you date someone who is not? On the flip side, what happens if you’re not as financially well off as the guy or gal that you’re talking to online or dating?
It’s like modern-day Romeo and Juliet, but hopefully with a lot less tragedy. Relationships can work between people of varying income levels as long as you both understand a few important things. If you’re unable to get behind the next few points we have to share, you should stick to dating people within your income bracket.
Your Priorities Will Be Different
Whether you’re the rich one or the one who isn’t as financially set, your priorities are going to be different when you’re dating outside your income level. People that are well off are able to put luxuries and non-essential parts of life as their priorities. Fun and entertainment choices become important.
People that aren’t financially set will probably be more concerned with making ends meet. They’ll be more concerned about getting their bills paid than they will be about what their favorite Mexican restaurant is. If you’ve ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ll understand more where priorities are going to fall.
Your Experiences Will Be Different
When you have a lot of disposable income, you’re usually going to have a lot more entertainment type experiences. You’ll probably be a bit more well-traveled, more cultured, and overall have “seen more things.” What you need to remember if this is you is that this does not mean your potential mate doesn’t have experiences as well. They’ll have had life experiences and been through quite a bit that you might not have ever experienced before (some good and some bad).
The point here is that you both need to realize that just because you’ve had more or fewer experiences, it does not make either of you more or less valuable as a person. If you’re the one on the side that isn’t as financially set, don’t look down on your dating match just because they are financially set. The same goes for you if you’re the one on the financial high road.
You have to be willing to respect the other person and realize that you both come from different roads and will have different experiences that are equally important no matter how grandiose or “not flashy” they may appear.
You Need to Address Things Head On
If you’re the financial rock star, you may have more expensive tastes. You may want to do a lot of things with your date that are much more expensive than they can afford. You need to be aware of this and make sure that you don’t put them in an awkward situation.
If you want to do something out of their affordability range, pay for it yourself and let them know beforehand that you’re going to be doing that. Don’t make them feel inadequate when you do it. Let them know that you want to do it because you like them and you’d like to share something special with them.
Also, if they take you somewhere that is below your normal standards, realize that they are doing the best they can to do something special for you. Be thankful and broaden your horizons. It’s probably a much bigger sacrifice for them to take you out to somewhere that you may think is cheap so please keep that in mind.
If you’re not as financially sound as you’d like to be, be upfront about it. You don’t have to come out waving the “I’m poor” flag, but you should 100% not misrepresent yourself. If your potential mate has a problem with it, find out early and run for the hills. They are never going to get used to it. The more forward you are about it, the less awkward situations you’re going to end up in.
Remember, it has nothing to do with how much money you spend on someone or how much they spend on you. There are plenty of free or cheaper date ideas that you can both do that are many times more memorable and special.
Tips for Dating Someone Rich
- Don’t make it all about money. Even if you’re really enjoying the spoiling, try not to make the whole relationship about money. Rich people get this from everyone else all day long. Chances are, they’re out looking for someone that likes them and accepts them for more reasons than the number of zeroes in their bank account.
- Still offer to pay for smaller things from time to time. Chances are, the rich person you are dating is going to try to pay for everything. While this is okay, you should still make an attempt to pay for something from time to time. Even if they don’t let you, it shows that you actually appreciate what they are doing. And no, you don’t need to try to pay for the expensive things they invite you to. But even something as simple as offering to pick up coffee or a drink here and there will go a long way.
- Don’t suggest activities that are super expensive. If it’s not something that you are prepared to pay for, don’t suggest it as a date idea. It’s okay to agree to more expensive dates and go along, but don’t be the one volunteering expensive ideas, especially early on in the relationship. It can be interpreted the wrong way pretty easily.
- Don’t brag to your friends. If you brag to your friends about dating someone rich, it makes you look bad. Additionally, your friends might say something weird the first time they meet your new love. If it seems like all your friends already know they’re rich, that’s going to be weird.
Tips for Dating Someone With Less Money Than You
- Don’t make it all about money. If you read the last list of tips for dating someone rich, you’ll notice the exact same first tip. Don’t make it all about money. Remember, there is a lot more to you than just the zeroes in your bank account (at least, there should be). If you are always talking about money, it can make the person you are dating who has less money than you uncomfortable.
- It’s okay to spoil them. There is nothing wrong with doing nice things for someone you like or love, especially if you have the means. Don’t let anyone tell you that’s not the case. That being said, start out doing things in moderation. It can help the relationship to grow more naturally.
- If you’re doing something expensive, let them know if you are paying. Chances are that you rarely think about money when you’re doing things. People with less money, though, have to think about these things. If you are inviting them to do something expensive, it can go a long way to make them have more fun if they aren’t worried if they’re going tot have to pay their share. Again, don’t make this a big deal, but you really can put them at ease with a simple comment at the start. Also, if you don’t do this, you might find them turning down offers to do things—not because they don’t want to see you, but because they’re scared they won’t be able to afford it.
Some Great Resources
The bottom line here is open communication. Dating can 100% work between two people in different income groups as long as you’re both ok with it, open about the different challenges and your feelings, and willing to realize that money is not everything. You will inevitably have some awkward dating experiences early on in the process, but these can be infinitely minimized with open lines of communication and understand the things we laid out above.
What’s great is that if you can make it through the first parts of the relationships, things will get easier. You HAVE to be honest and upfront, though. This includes letting your potential mate know where you stand and it also means being honest with yourself about whether or not you are ok with the different income levels.
Sometimes the financially set people aren’t ready to fund the lifestyle they want and sometimes the less financially set person isn’t ready to let someone fund parts of their dating lifestyle. These are all tough questions that you have to ask yourself before you get too involved with someone where feelings and emotions start to get involved.
Remember, money is not everything as long as you don’t let it be. Don’t let it get in the way of your happiness with the perfect person just because you’re at different financial points in your lives.
Written By: Jason Lee
Jason Lee is a journalist and data analyst with a passion for studying online dating, relationships, personal growth, healthcare, and finance. In 2008, Jason earned a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida, where he studied business and finance and taught interpersonal communication.
His work has been featured in the likes of The USA Today, MSN, The Motley Fool, Net Health, and The Simple Dollar. As a business owner, relationship strategist, dating coach, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base with the rest of the world.