“Money is sexy. Money is a topic that they should want to talk with you about, and the truth is, they should want to know as much about you as you about them, and if they don’t want to do that it’s like not even practicing safe sex, it’s like going for it.” (Suze Orman on the Wendy Williams Show)
Recently I was watching an episode of “Ask Wendy” featuring Suze Orman, who is a well-known financial advisor, and an audience member asked when it was appropriate to discuss money when you start dating someone.
Ok, maybe not on the first date but, Orman’s comparison to not discussing money to having unsafe sex makes me think, well maybe early on in the dating process is more appropriate than most people may think.
Back in my twenties and even thirties, I was not comfortable broaching the topic of money early on in a relationship. There were many factors that went into why I would avoid discussions on money, for example, you can come across as only interested in money versus getting to know someone.
But isn’t their financial background a huge piece of getting to know someone? Maybe more important than getting to know them intimately, so the money talk should come first – before the sex.
Now in my forties, I have no problem discussing money at any early point in a relationship. I have nothing to hide and have no problem putting myself out there on the subject.
If I were to discuss it, it would go something like this:
I have no debt, no student loans, I make $60,000 a year and have for the last decade, so I have hit the ceiling in my job. (My income is public information- anyone can look it up online – so even if I wasn’t comfortable pulling out a number, what’s the point.) Would I discuss my savings? No. Would I say I have a Roth IRA yes, but I would not divulge the balance.
I don’t think you have to disclose everything about your financial status, only enough for them to have an idea of where things stand. My FICO score is high, so I might drop that into the conversation since I don’t make that much money to begin with and a high score shows I am a responsible person.
But if I found myself in a conversation with a guy that was one-sided, I’d take a step back. It’s not that I would judge the person but immediately my mind would think, what is he hiding? Is he loaded and doesn’t want me to only go after his money? Or is her poor and ashamed of his financial status?
A million things can go through my mind, and it’s just not an easy conversation. I think culturally we tend to not want to discuss money. I remember when I was growing up as a child, one day I asked my Dad how much money he earned and I’ll never forget his response. He more or less said that was none of my business and I had no right or reason to ask about it or bring up the topic ever again.
Maybe that set the tone for me to not be forthcoming with asking potential partners their income. I don’t know. It’s complicated but after hearing Suze Orman give advice to the audience member, I think she is right.
I think we have to have these conversations because we live in a time where, especially for women, we have to be financially independent. We have a right to know where things stand financially with someone just as much as we have a right to know if they have an STD.
So, having said all that, we often discuss when it is appropriate to discuss our mental health status with a new partner. When in the dating process do you drop the, “I’m manic depressive and do you know what that means?”
I remember years ago I was friends with a guy who told me he would never be with a person who was mentally ill. I replied well I am mentally ill but we’ll never date so we’re good. However, eventually he fell in love with me, and I knew it was coming when he slowly asked me about my disease. His opinion on dating someone mentally ill shifted because he wanted to be with me. But that was only after he got to know me as a person.
Now, I’ll tell someone I’m mentally ill in a heartbeat. What’s the point of hiding it. Even if I wanted to hide it, people can Google me. My writing on mental illness is all over the internet, so I can’t hide or pretend I’m someone that I’m not, and I wouldn’t want to even if I wasn’t online.
But I think the money conversation would come first, then the mental health one, then the sex. At least that’s what feels right to me but I am sure everyone has their own timeline on these discussions.
Bottom line: When you think about money and sex, money is more important. Talking about money is more important than jumping in the sack (unless you are only after a one-night stand, in which case who cares about divulging monetary conversations.) And when when you think about not discussing money as engaging in unprotected sex, it really hits home. Don’t be afraid to jump into what might be an uncomfortable conversation. It’s better to know now, than find out later.
Would you have unprotected sex with someone who has an STD? Presumably not. When you think of it like that, make it a point to know someone’s financial status early on in a relationship.