The fact is dating, sex, basic human connection is hard. But we’ve got just the little snack to help. Ask An Alfawhore, the sex and love advice column from the tell-it-to-ya-straight, sex-positive, uber feminist older sister you always wanted is back. This week: money, money, money.
Do you feel it’s possible to have a healthy relationship (sexual, love, etc.) when money is so overwhelming? In other words, does money matter? How do you cope with financial inequality within romantic relationships?
Dear Moneyonmy Mind,
As the wise Biggie once said, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” Whether you are serial dating or in a committed partnership, money plays a role in the relationships you have. Economic inequality in relationships is almost always inevitable. That is, unless you’ve been solely hitting up the after-office booze hours to scope your romantic candidates, and the two of you happen to magically receive the exact same paycheck. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum— as the partner with more money and the partner with significantly less—and let’s face it, that shit’s not easy to figure out. But listen up my babes, it’s in no way impossible. As always, and with most things, communication is key.
I can’t tell you what will work best for you and your relationship, but I can tell you that pretending money doesn’t matter will only lead to resentment on at least one end. Acknowledgement is key. Money is a huge stressor and for many it’s a sort of taboo subject that we dance around. If you’re in a long-term partnership or are cohabitating a space it’s super important to be upfront and lay down some ground rules. Maybe the rent is split evenly, but the partner who makes more money takes on more of the additional expenses (groceries, bills, sex toys etc). Perhaps you have completely separate bank accounts and when you splurge on dinner or drinks you take turns treating one another. There are endless ways of tweaking the arrangement and it’s not a one size fits all. Adapt as needed. Maybe one month you’re making hella ca$h and the next month your funds are low, that’s super okay. There are no hard and fast rules here. But make sure you’re talking about it and checking in on one another. Be honest about what works for both you and your partner and don’t harbor any internalized, unexpressed feelings towards the matter.
If you’re in a mature relationship with someone you should be able to discuss these subjects in a safe, non-judgmental, comfortable space and if you don’t feel you have that…I’d really rethink if this is the type of romance you want to be in.
As for romantic datingships, I’m a fan of the “you ask, you treat” frame of mind. Which means, if you’re bank’s not bulging invite that lucky potential boo to do something low-budget. Pack a few snacks and picnic at a park, or walk around a cultural center’s exhibition that you know is free. I don’t know kids, get creative. And if you’re the kind of person that’s uncomfortable being treated and they keep asking you out to 5-star places that you know you can’t afford, say something. We’re all living in the times of the macrisis and no one is going to judge you for not having free-flowing funds. This doesn’t have to be a huge sit down convo on date three. But mentioning something like, “Hey, I’d love to do this thing with you…but can’t really swing it this month” is absolutely harmless. If it’s something they really want to share with you and are happy to front the bill, I say swallow that pride baby and go have fun.