Ask The Experts: Should I Date Someone Who Makes Less Money?

When it comes to relationships, money can raise a lot of questions. If you’re dating someone who makes less money than you, follow our guide for advice.

Money isn’t exactly the sexiest of topics, but it does play a big role in the dating world. After all, the presence–or absence–of financial security can significantly impact a couple’s future. 

So, let’s say you’ve managed to set yourself up for monetary success, but you’ve started dating someone who makes less money than you. You’re probably wondering what that means for your relationship. And you might even be getting ahead of yourself, asking questions like, should I marry someone who earns less than me?

While no one can answer that question but you, we can offer you some guidance. 

In our guide below, we’ve provided some helpful relationship questions regarding finances. Mull over these questions and use them to spark thoughtful discussions with your partner to help determine if your relationship can survive the discrepancies between your bank accounts.

Can you openly talk about finances?

Let’s face it; no one likes to talk about their finances. Not only can it be boring, but it can also be darn right uncomfortable at times. However, if you want to have a future with your partner, it’s best to cut to the chase and see what you’re working with. 

That said, if you don’t feel like you can be honest and open with one another about your finances, this could be a red flag in your relationship. After all, having difficult conversations is a big part of evolving as a couple. If you’re both uneasy about the thought of having a raw discussion, this might be a sign that your relationship needs some help in the communication department. 

Do you share similar outlooks on spending and saving?

If you’re dating someone who makes less money, it’s a good idea to talk about the ways you approach money. Sit down and have an honest discussion about how you go about saving and spending money. For example, do you set a certain amount aside each month for savings and retirement accounts? Or do you just swipe your credit cards willy-nilly until they get declined? 

While it’s ok if you don’t see exactly eye-to-eye at first, you will want to focus on creating healthy spending and saving habits as a couple. After all, it’s not fair if you’re squirreling away your money while they’re out there blowing every paycheck each payday. 

Do you have discussions about your financial health?

Financial is another important topic. Now, it’s one thing if your partner doesn’t earn the same amount as you, but it’s another if he’s drowning in debt. Debt can be extremely stressful, and it follows you everywhere—including your marriage. 

That said, if you decide to get married, you won’t inherit his current debt right off the bat, but you may inherit any debt he incurs during your marriage. And, of course, debt can negatively impact certain situations, like when you go to buy a car or get a mortgage. 

That’s why we suggest having an open discussion about your financial health to see where you both stand. Debt doesn’t have to be a make or break, but there is a big difference between him being on track to paying it off and him digging himself further into debt. 

With that in mind, if he’s maxing out credit cards left and right and not making any payments on any of them, consider that a major red flag—one that you’ll want to address before taking your relationship any further. 

Are you expected to carry more of the financial burden because you make more?

Just because you make more doesn’t necessarily mean your partner gets a free ride. Sure, occasionally, you might want to splurge on a new piece of furniture or treat your partner to that fancy restaurant down the street, but if you’re always the one handing over your credit card, you might start feeling taken advantage of. And these feelings will only intensify if you’re expected to cover everything. 

To prevent these feelings from bubbling up, have conversations with your partner about your finances and how you expect to divvy them up. For some couples, that might mean putting an equal percentage of their paychecks toward certain expenses. But others might prefer to split costs in other ways. Just remember, you might be making more, but it’s not up to you to fund your partner’s lavish lifestyle. 

Does your partner have financial goals?

Ok, so you’re dating a man who makes less money than you right now, but what’s his income going to look like in the next five or ten years? Does he have plans to advance his education or move up the ladder at work? Or does he have ideas about how he can increase his rates or earn a second income? 

Asking your partner about his financial goals can help you get a better picture of your future together. For example, you might find out he’s extremely driven to make more money or has no intention of increasing his income. It’s perfectly fine if he’s happy with his current financial state, but then it’s up to you to decide if you’re happy with it. 

Do you have similar lifestyle goals?

If you’re thinking about marrying someone with no money, it’s crucial to consider what your future looks like together.  Does your partner share your vision of owning a single-family home and raising three kids? Or is he picturing more of a one-room apartment rental with a pet cat? 

Obviously, raising a family and caring for a small pet require vastly different budgets, so it’s essential for you and your partner to get on the same page about your life goals and how you plan to finance them.

Can your partner contribute in other ways?

If you’re bringing home more of the bacon, is your partner stepping it in other ways? This could mean doing tangible things, like covering more of the chores, but it could also involve intangible things, such as making you feel safe and secure. 

For example, he might not be making millions, but maybe he makes you feel like a million bucks. Perhaps he boosts your confidence, provides you with a strong support system, and celebrates your wins. 

If he’s contributing to your relationship in other positive and meaningful ways, then his income doesn’t necessarily have to be the deciding factor in your relationship. 

Do you feel like your partner is holding you back because of financial limitations? 

Yes, relationships are all about compromise, but not if you’re the only one doing the compromising. If you’re not living out your dreams or feeling fulfilled because of your partner’s financial situation, you may begin to feel like he’s holding you back. And if you’re not careful, this could lead to feelings of resentment and bitterness. 

Be honest with yourself about what marrying someone without money would mean for your future and how it might impact what you had always imagined. If you always pictured dating someone who made the same amount or more than you, then you probably envisioned a future with a few more zeros at the end of your bank statement. Are you willing to scale back on your own dreams for the sake of a future with your partner? 

At the end of the day, money is important, but it isn’t everything. If you and your partner can compromise on a future together that still brings you both joy, then don’t let the differences in your bank accounts dictate your relationship status.

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