By Kate Richlin-Zack
Someone asked me the other day if salary was ever on my list of dating criteria. Truth be told, it’s in the top five. But it’s not because I had visions of being a trophy wife who spends her days sipping martinis over lunch with my girlfriends or attending back-to-back pilates classes (though that does sound nice). In all my previous experience, money has always, on some level, caused problems in my relationships. The severity of the problem was often directly proportional to the amount of money we didn’t have at the time and I don’t think I’m the only one who’s had that experience. Living paycheck to paycheck is never fun.
Before I go any further on this topic, there’s an important point that I need to clarify because I if I don’t, I just know the hate mail will be flooding my inbox. There’s a difference between being broke because of a temporary hardship and being broke because of a pattern of lazy behavior.
Guys who are broke because of a temporary hardship are not the type of guys I’m talking about here. I’m not referring to guys who are broke because they went back to school to better their career or took time off from their job to care for their dying grandmother. These are actually the kind of guys you should hitch your wagon to because not only are they going places but when you’re sick and dying, they’ll feed you soup and read you stories, like something out of The Notebook. Bonus points if he looks like Ryan Gosling. Let me reiterate: I’m not referring to these guys.
This entire column focuses on, for lack of better terms, freeloaders and deadbeats who are broke because of a pattern of shoddy employment. You know exactly who I’m talking about and hopefully you’re not dating one of them (for my guy readers out there, I hope you’re not one of them): The 30-something happily unemployed college dropout with bad credit who lives at home with his parents and owes an obscene amount of back taxes.
Those are the guys I’m referring to here. If you find yourself dating someone who falls into this category, I strongly suggest you do yourself a favor and get rid of him before you end up living with his parents too. Here’s why…
His financial problems become your financial problems
Dating a guy with little or no income is essentially taking on additional expenses. Every month you’ll have to cover his cost of living in addition to your own so you can forget luxuries like vacations, dinners out, and electricity. And remember all his credit card debt? Well that’s now your responsibility too. Your income remains the same, but you’re spending more which means you’re left with less. It’s basic arithmetic and from a financial perspective, it’s a horrible decision. Depending on how bad his financial situation is, you could end up going broke too. Maybe his parents will let you move in, but they were probably hoping you’d stick around so he could become your problem instead of theirs.
Income discrepancies breed resentment
At first it doesn’t seem like a big deal. He asks to borrow some cash so he can get gas for his car or he asks for a little extra money to cover his rent payment this month because he lost his job. If it starts becoming a habit, it will become a problem. You’ll get frustrated that you’re the only one making any kind of financial contribution. You’ll start “helping” him find a job by constantly reminding him he needs to find a job. Since we’ve already established his inconsistent employment history, you should save your breath because you are fighting a losing battle. He’s probably not going to change, but you’ll resent the fact that he isn’t listening to you and he’ll resent all your nagging. You’re his girlfriend, not his mother. But now that you’re both resentful of each other, get ready to fight about everything else because that’s generally what happens.
Even if you ignore everything I’ve said, you simply can’t argue with statistics. According to a recent study, money arguments are the best predictors of divorce. Frighteningly enough, if you fight about money once a week, your risk of divorce is 30% higher than if you fight about it every other week. Statistically speaking, choosing to date someone who can’t financially support themselves is asking for trouble.
But I love him!!
I’m sure you do. We want to believe that love is the only thing that matters when it comes to relationships but that’s absolute BS. Love doesn’t pay the bills and it sure is nice to have heat and hot water in the winter time. I’m not saying you need to get copies of his W-2 before you go out for dinner with him (though it might not be such a bad idea). I’m simply saying you should take his financial situation into consideration when entering into a serious relationship. That doesn’t make you shallow. It doesn’t make you a “gold digger” either. It makes you fiscally responsible.
Kate’s Dates runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. It is written by the lovely Kate Richlin-Zack, who fully admits to majoring in engineering to meet guys. Her articles have been featured YourTango on Romance Never Dies. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.