Tuesday, October 13, 2009
So, my friend Jay and his friends always seem to have these interesting, thought-provoking conversations. Today, he told me of one where his female friend wondered, “Is it ever okay for a man to ask a woman he’s dating for money?” Hmmm….
I don’t think there’s a yes or no answer to this – but rather one that is based on individual circumstances. But it does raise the question about romance and finances…and if the two should be kept separate. I think it depends on what stage of the relationship you’re in, even though some would argue that romance and finances should be kept separate well into marriage.
I’ve never had to share my money with anyone. I’ve never had to loan money to someone I was dating either, but I’m not sure that means that I never would. Even though my experiences in that area are limited, I can say I’ve seen women get played when it comes to money simply because they were too generous, or because they thought they could buy their man’s love.
I’ve also known women who wouldn’t date a man if he wasn’t able to provide for her as well as himself. I’m not saying they were gold diggers, but they weren’t messing with no broke men either :-) Were these women misguided...or realistic?
Let’s face it, most women want to be with a man who can provide for her and a potential family. I don’t think that’s a secret. So if you have a man who is constantly borrowing money from you, that’s not sending a secure signal. I think in a lot of cases, it’s not about money or how much he makes - but about responsibility. To most women, a man who constantly borrows money seems irresponsible, not just broke. I think women today feel that a lot of men nowadays have put the issue of responsibility on the back seat - and have no problem reaching their hand out for a $20 loan. I have friends who ask what a man’s credit score is, not how much money he makes. A man can make a modest salary and be responsible with his money, or he can make an exceptional salary and be completely in debt. For some, relationships are serious business - and if your partner in this business is irresponsible with money, it’s a business that is sure to fail.
However, it should be noted that women who only date men based on their pockets might be missing out on something – they don’t look much further than the surface. While I think it’s important to know how your partner uses and values money, I think the value of LOVE goes down when all we care about is a person’s finances. When all we care about is money, the depth and sanctity of love is tainted…abused even. I realize that the more serious the relationship gets, the more love and money are in close association - but love shouldn’t be measured by money or material things. Love should co-exist with them.
But if it’s still early in the relationship, and you’re not sure what to do – keep your money separate whenever possible. If you’re confused, keep it separate even to the point of splitting the bill at dinner unless he says he’s treating you. I know most women don’t like to do this, but if you work on separating finances early, it’s less likely to be a sore subject later. Not all circumstances call for this, but if money is your sole motivator, then keep it separate.
Do NOT ever, ever, ever co-sign for anything or buy something together – a car, a timeshare, a joint bank account, ANYTHING. Financial dependence breeds resentment, and eventually hostility. Women are good for this, and some of us are trained in this dependency role. Stop it! And keep your money in the bank.
But if you DO share an account and someone wants to break up – don’t TAKE anyone’s money and don’t GIVE anyone money. Take what’s yours and bounce. If they need money to move or take care of business, tell him or her to take out a loan or ask someone else. A lot of men and women think they can buy back someone’s love, which is a mistake. If the one you once adored is no longer in your life or you two are no longer a couple – avoid financial entanglements altogether. If YOU need money, get a part-time job, don’t ask your ex. It’ll just lead to resentment and blame later, and no one needs to deal with that.
This goes for both men AND women – if you can’t take personal responsibility for your own finances, you have no business messing around in someone else’s. Get your house in order and make sure they have their house in order too…then you can talk about inviting each other over :-)