Romance and Finance: Should The Two Ever Mix While Dating?

August 24, 2013  |  

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Not long ago I was watching an episode of Dr. Phil where he discussed ways a woman can tell a good guy from a bad guy. One woman on the show shared how she felt totally betrayed when a man she had been dating suddenly left her after she bought him a new truck, paid his bills and basically took care of him financially. He asked her if she learned her lesson and if she’d ever do all of that ever again for a man. When she said that she definitely learned from the situation, he said “Well, then consider that tuition for the lesson learned and the education you received.” I had never heard it put that way, but I get it.

She paid a steep price, but there are so many men and women out there who give and then get taken advantage of, or who feel they have to buy someone’s love because they don’t feel worthy all on their own. But other times, the lines are blurred in a relationship when it comes to how much you should support someone. I mean, what if your partner simply needs your help? It got me to wondering, “Is it ever okay for a man and woman to mix finances while dating?”

I don’t think there’s a yes or no answer to this; instead, it seems to be one that is based on individual circumstances. 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 until now since I’m newly married. In my dating life, however, there were times I’d loan money to a guy I was dating who needed a quick $20 for something and had no cash on him. Other times, I had a strict rule about not exchanging money, especially if we hadn’t been dating that long. I’ve seen women get played when it comes to money simply because they were too generous, loved too much or simply had money to give. Then there were those who wouldn’t give a man a dime to buy a stick of gum.  Were these women stingy, mean…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. Because of this belief, women are now asking a man what his 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. 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. Then, the depth and sanctity of love is tainted…even abused. 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.

If it’s still early in the relationship, and you’re not sure what to do, keep your money separate whenever possible. I’m talking about 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.

Lastly, do NOT 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. Some of us are trained in this dependency role – stop it and keep your money in the bank. If you can’t take personal responsibility for your own finances, you have no business messing around in someone else’s business. Get your house in order and make sure they have their house in order too…then you can talk about inviting each other over.

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