As a family lawyer, the two biggest concerns most clients have is whether they will have enough money and whether they will ever find love again. Love and money are at the core of so much of our lives. When couples divorce, money is often a major issue. It is also at the centre of many fights in a marriage. If money is such an important matter in marriage and divorce, one wonders whether it is also important when couples are only in the dating stage. My answer to this question, is YES money does matter when you are dating.
In an ideal world money wouldn’t matter at all. If we didn’t need money or there was lots of it to go around, dating, marriage, and divorce would be very different. Realistically though money is a scarce resource, some people have more, some people want more, and some people will do just about anything to get their hands on it.
Money definitely complicates relationships. In modern dating who pays for the date has become much more complex than it used to be in the old days where the man always paid. Now who pays is a complicated affair that can result in resentment, bad impressions and the end of a potential romance. I have female friends who still expect the man to always pay, and if he doesn’t it’s a deal breaker. Conversely, I have male friends who think it should be 50/50, and if the woman feels differently, it is a deal breaker for him. There are no clear cut rules on this and everyone has an opinion.
Who pays for the first date may not be as big an issue as who pays for multiple dates, activities and potentially holidays as a couple moves into the relationship stage. If both parties have similar incomes or a similar net worth it may be more straightforward, If one party earns substantially more than the other or has a much higher net worth, should this person pay more often? Does it matter if this person is male or female? If the party with more money likes to enjoy a higher lifestyle, does he or she have to forego dining at fine restaurants and going on luxurious vacations with the other party unless he or she is willing to pay the full tab? When you are in your twenties and haven’t accumulated much wealth yet, these questions aren’t as much of an issue. However, when you are in midlife or older, they can be very real issues which is why I say that money DOES matter in a relationship.
There are some people, though, that place too much emphasis on money. We are all aware of gold-diggers whose main requirement in a relationship is that their partner has money and will financially take care of him or her. There are many people out there who are willing to settle into a bad or loveless relationship just because the other person has money. If someone is wealthy, it is amazing how often they are deemed more attractive despite how they look, act or treat their partner. As a woman, I loathe to say this, but the reality is that women are more often guilty of doing this than men. I have been advised countless times to give a wealthy man a chance even if I am not attracted to him. While I think money is a realistic factor in a relationship, it is definitely not the most important or decisive factor. I think that men or women who place too much importance on money will inevitably end up in an unhappy relationship.
The rise of the gold-digger has also given rise to marriage and cohabitation agreements. As a family lawyer, I recommend these to clients who have assets to protect, but it certainly can take the romance out of a relationship to be discussing what should happen if the relationship ends. It can also give rise to resentment and power imbalances. As a society though, we have reached a point where people are more willing to risk their heart being broken than they are willing to risk losing money if a relationship goes bad.
With the importance placed on money and protecting our assets, I can’t help but feel that we are losing out on romance.
As relationships and marriage take on more of a business-like approach, we are losing some of our connection with our partner by keeping a wall in place to protect ourselves. I know these are strange words coming from a lawyer. It is a reflection of the modern world which leads me back to the question asked in the title to this blog: are you a gold-digger if you say money matters? My answer: NO!
If you would like some legal advice on how to protect yourself financially, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consultation.