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Money can’t buy me love… or can it?

Can money buy love? Does money influence your feelings for someone? Does money influence your dating/marriage decision at all?

Before you say “no” and dismiss my question as shallow, think about this - Would you marry someone who has $5000 in debt? How about $100,000? What if the $100,000 was for a law school student loan?

I wouldn’t have fallen in love with someone who had $100,000 of consumer debt. Lets ignore debt for a moment and think about income. If you had to choose between two guys, one making $300,000 per year and average looking, the other earning $30,000 per year but uber-hot, who would you choose?

When generally asked whether money influences their dating/marriage decision, most of us immediately say “no”. We immediately think about all the reality shows along the lines of  “The real housewives of [whatever city]” where women trade beauty for money.

Words like gold diggers, shallow and superficial rushes to our mind and we can’t wait to prove we are not one of them. Even discussing money during dating is considered taboo. In fact, polls show that half the couples getting married don’t discuss money before getting married.

But really, do you think money has absolutely no influence on who we choose as a partner? No. It has a lot of influence. What is the point in not talking about the big elephant in the room and then regretting it come time of the divorce?

Can money buy love? We care about money but hide it

Coming back to the question of a hot guy who earns $30,000 vs an average looking guy who earns $300,000, all else being equal most people would choose the $300,000 guy. Don’t you think? Studies prove we care about money but we don’t want to admit it, because it gets a bad reputation.

This graph is from okcupid. As you can see, the number of messages men get increases in proportion with their income.

Can money buy love

 

Can money buy love? Yes, but not directly

It comes down to the character of the partner who is in debt.

  • Is the debt or low wage due to a temporary condition such as still being in college or a starter job?
  • Does your partner show the emotional maturity & personal responsibility for improvement in the long term?

If the above is true, the money situation doesn’t matter.  You don’t want to be the only person saddled with all the financial and emotional responsibility.  That will only cause resentment later.

We need to distinguish the influence of money for money’s sake vs the influence of money on other aspects of life. If that makes me shallow, so be it. I will want to address this for my own peace of mind.

Can money buy love : For both men & women?

Men, go for beauty, women, money. This has been studied a lot and found to be true. Cognitive Scientist Peter Todd and his colleagues in their National Academy of Sciences study found that men go for beauty and women choose wealth and security, they add, “Evolutionary theories in psychology suggest that men and women should trade off different traits in each other, and when we look at the actual mate choices people make, this is what we find evidence for.”

According to Gian Gonzaga, director of research at eHarmony, when it comes to looks and income, women tend to value financial resources more, and men tend to value youth, beauty and reproductive capacity more.

I don’t think it is that women want more money, but it is the indirect comforts that money brings like security and stability that makes men who earn more, attractive.

To further prove the point, research from the University of Abertay Dundee in Scotland suggests that women’s preferences do change as their income increases. In what these psychologists call “the Clooney effect”—invoking sexy, gray-haired actor George Clooney—when a woman can support herself, instinctive preferences for security become less important while physical attractiveness becomes more important and his age increases.

Can money buy love

Addressing the elephant in the room

29% of U.S. adults aged 25 to 55 who are in a committed relationship say they have been dishonest with their partner about spending habits.   If we are brutally honest, money is a big part of any relationship. Some monetary aspects to consider:

  • Money personality : Are you a spender or a saver? Knowing each other’s spending habits and money personality will help with an honest relationship.
  • Debt, assets and liability : After being financially responsible all your life, how would you feel if you find out after marriage that your spouse has $25000 credit card debt that he accumulated because he has a gambling problem?
  • Relationship with money : What if you are carrying psycological baggage from a previous marriage that makes you suspicious of your partner’s financial behavior.  That can poison an otherwise great relationship.
  • Future plans : Before entering a long term relationship ensure that you both have an understanding of each other’s future financial goals and personal convictions (like charitable giving).
Essentially you want to understand the monetary “profile” of your partner.  This will prepare you to be able to handle the invariable financial storms that any worthwhile relationship has to weather.
How much debt could you stomach before it became a “deal breaker”? Would it be a deal breaker at all or do you honestly not care about money when it comes to relationship?

Does luck play a big role in success?

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

First gen American

I think my level of debt tolerance would decrease with age. There’s a big difference between a 25 year old with school debt and no savings, but lots of lifetime earning potential vs a 50 year old in a ton of debt. By then, a person should be on solid footing and have a retirement nest egg in place.

I absolutely wouldn’t want to be burdened with someone else’s bad choices in life.

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Thomas - Ways to Invest Money

I think its easy for a person to say it doesn’t matter when they don’t know. But if you know a person is making $300k or is 100k in debt from the start you will start to judge them on those bases. I dont know if that person is going to LOVE you more or less but I think they will be willing to put up with more from your or see if it could work. And people seem to never really be honest about money in relationship in the first place so you may not know how bad they are with money until after you are in love with them.

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PK

I think most everyone would agree, even if they would be polite and try to deny it. I think it might go something like this:

Guy: Do you care how much money I make?
Girl: No.
Guy: If I was exactly the same in every way other than my salary, would you pick me with a higher salary?
Girl: Well, when you put it like that…

I don’t have to worry about my wife, as we started dating when I was a poor, broke college student, haha!

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maria@moneyprinciple

When hubby and I met I had savings (don’t ask, deeply routed insecurity of my comunist past) and I thought he is financially OK. I think that we won’t admit it but women evolutionary have to ensure that the man can support the children – hence we all read signs. Like what car, what house and where, what clothes…Often we misread signs…the morning of our wedding I discovered that hubby has debt; not much but it really peeved me. Loads of realignment was necessary. Would I have married someone who is handsome and sexy but doesn’t earn much? Sure! If he is educated, does something and generally there is some promise. Then again, I have always been a bit dumb like that…

I am very happy with hubby (now we are completely together about money and he writes for my blog). But I have always taken far too much of the responsibility for earning – in fact, I am not sure I leave much space for others. This is not good either.

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Newlyweds on a Budget

I am similar to Maria, in that I have always taken the responsibility of earning and I didn’t find out about my husband’s debt until AFTER we were married. It wasn’t anything extravagant (a couple thousand) but it sucked starting off our marriage in the hole. It put a lot of unnecessary strain.
And yet, I would have still married him. So…. yeah.

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John | Married (with Debt)

I think $100,000 in consumer debt would give me pause, unless they were an attorney or doctor. I’d have to know how they felt about their debt to truly know how I’d react.

With student loan borrowing amounts rising, debt is trying to become the norm, so people’s attitudes will probably have to change with it.

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Jon - Free Money Wisdom

I know that I would not have dated my fiancee if she was saddled with thousands of debt. I feel like it’s irresponsible and if I got through college debt free–she could too. She feels the same way. However, I don’t think it is a matter of only women feeling this way. For me it is a matter of whether or not that person is a good steward and is responsible. If a man or a woman has an astronomical amount of debt then I believe that is a huge red flag.

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krantcents

It is just as easy to fall in love with a rich person as a poor person. When I looked for love, I looked through my friends who had a similar background. First and foremost, You want someone that you have something in common. Common values, interests and see the future in a similar way. My wife then girlfriend was the daughter of a very successful insurance executive. We married without any debt and built a life together. We never incurred any debt except for mortgages.

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shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet

C and I both had debt when we married, but we had completely combined our finances a couple years before that, so it wasn’t a surprise. What mattered to me was that we could talk about money and were on the same page.
Before we started dating, he had dropped out of school to run a small business with a friend (our former roommate E). The business was in the process of going under when he decided he wanted to date me. I was working and going to school, and he knew I wouldn’t date someone who wasn’t doing one or the other, so he went out and got a job.
Does that mean that money mattered to me more than the person? No, but it did mean that I had standards about the level of responsibility I expected someone I was in a relationship to have.

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Savvy Scot

I agree with @krantcents – you need to find someone with similary values / something in common. I think more often than not, this is not what you find with someone who is at a completely different end of the wealth spectrum than you are.

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Tie the Money Knot

Ideally, it’s the personal connection, chemistry, happiness in each other’s company, and shared values two people share that will bring them together and keep them together. However, no matter how much people might hate to admit it, money can play a role.

I won’t forget a guy I knew in undergrad, he was a nice guy, smart guy, but came off like a total nerd. Not a handsome dude at all either. He didn’t seem like he could possibly have hope at finding a girlfriend, and I probably felt a bit bad for him.

However, he was accepted into med school by his senior year. That year, he somehow found an absolutely gorgeous girlfriend – way, way, way out of his league. He was the same homely nerd. But, he was now accepted to medical school. The correlation was obvious to anyone then, and was a life lesson.

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Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Adaptu just published an article on Why You Shouldn’t Spend Money Tonight: https://www.adaptu.com/articles/DOC-1631/why-you-shouldn-t-spend-money-tonight

“Not spending money on Valentine’s Day could also enable you and your mate to reach your big financial goals sooner. Saving up for a wedding, a house, or a baby?” Sometimes money can’t buy love.

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Christa

I don’t know if it’s money so much as an agreement on financial principles that is attractive. Neither my husband and I were rolling in the dough when we met, but we agreed on how to make our finances work.

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Joe Plemon

I think that how people handle money is indicative of their character. Someone who patiently saves for a purchase is more mature than someone who has to have it now even if it means creating debt. Yes, people might fall in love for money, but my guess is they respect the qualities which brought about the money.

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Mayor of Humbleville

I always joke with my hubby that I married him for his future money. In all honesty, I can see where it might sway some people, but it only gets a temporary high. If you aren’t treated correctly, then it will eventually catch up with you. It’s sad to say, but you can often see that in many celebrity marriages (if a week counts as marriage).

Honestly, it is a lot of today’s materialism that drives this behavior. In many ways, people are just seeking providers, but they are only looking for physical needs, and they neglect emotional needs until it is too late. Great topic!

Humbly Yours,
Humble Laura

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Wealth Artisan

Hey Suba,

To me, it makes perfect sense. These really do run in line with how we were designed. Generally, women want someone who can provide for them, and men want to carry on their lineage.

Can people overcome these desires? Absolutely, but at our most basic core, we are driven by these desires. That is why men stereotypically have a drive for status and respect. I try very hard to not care about what people think of me, but would I love to be respected? Of course!

I can’t speak for how women feel, but I’m sure that most women, if they want to be truly honest with themselves, have instinctual needs that they want met as well, and one of them is to be provided for. Of course, this runs contrary to today’s politically correct movement, but to deny our instincts for the sake of fitting an academically approved, and socially expected norm would be silly :-).

I’m not saying all women want to be provided for, nor am I saying that they are incapable of providing for themselves. I’m just saying that I suspect the instincts are still there. Awesome article!

Thanks,
Timothy

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Christopher

Money can definitely put you in the position where it is easier to find love. Just hope you don’t find a gold digger. Make sure to sign that prenup! All kidding aside, money opens the door to more women for you so that you have the opportunity to interact, similar to a college degree it opens that door for you….

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Super Frugalette

I have always gone for intelligence over “beauty”. I always liked the smartest boy in the class. I think I have always equated intelligence to earning potential. However, I thought my husband was super cute when I met him….I didn’t know he was getting his Ph. d…so I completely lucked out.

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bax

Fantastic thoughts. I used to joke that as I got older, it seemed more effective to just show women my check book than to try to woo them with my personality.

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Jen @ Master the Art of Saving

I’d like to think that I still would have married my honey no matter how much debt he had. He didn’t make much when I met him, so that wasn’t really a factor. I think it just depends on what’s most important to people. :-)

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Charles

such a sensitive topic. there are people who swear money has nothing to do with anything, but i’m not so sure if I believe it. if money had nothing to do with it, but if two people are identical in every way except wealth, both of them will find love equally. But in reality, the one with more wealth will most likely be more accepted than the poorer one.

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Shaun @ Smart Family Finance

It’s funny, but I feel like my feelings are effected differently when we are talking about how much someone makes versus how much debt they have. It’s something I never realized. I personally don’t care that much about how much money someone makes (I know how to make my own after all). However, I definitely would have a problem marrying someone with a million dollar loan and no income.

I’d like to say that debt doesn’t matter. It certainly doesn’t now that I’m happily married, but just starting to date someone? I think that it definitely would.

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Dannielle @ Odd Cents

I’m very independent and I would prefer to deal with my debt. I can not see myself dealing with another person’s debt and no one should expect me to. If I ever get married, I’m going to have my own personal account, he will have his and then we will have one account together.

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Daisy

I am glad I don’t have to deal with this issue – the boy and I started dating when I was 18 and we’ve been together ever since. I’ve accrued student debt, and he hasn’t gained any debt, just savings .We lucked out that we’re both on the same page when it comes to our financial goals.

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Crystal

I would have no tolerance for debt at all. I am lucky that Mr. BFS and I have the same goals. If I just didn’t have him anymore, I would still try to find someone kind with a great sense of humor and similar money values.

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Ella

One thing I know is that when I have kids I will encourage them to talk about their personal finances and not be too naive. I would hate to see them marry a person without knowing the state of this person’s finances.

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Taline

I think money matters a lot more than people are willing to admit. It doesn’t necessarily buy love, however, lack of it will make many miserable and destroy love. Many marriages fall apart due to finances.

It is not the greed for the money, but the lifestyle it allows people to have that makes all the difference and that’s why many men and women will pick the life partner that makes more money and is not as attractive as the one that makes less and is gorgeous :)

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frugalportland

Money matters, for sure, but I think it’s much more important to have similar philosophies on money. My ex boyfriend LOVES money — loves talking about it, loves flaunting it, loves discussing his net worth, loves ranking his friends based on their net worth — in other words, is a jerk about money. Everyone he’s ever met knows how much he makes, and that rubbed me the wrong way the ENTIRE relationship.

Now, I’m dating a saver. He makes less than the ex, but our philosophies are more in line. I can see myself happy with him forever.

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Sam

I did an experiment… I happen to be in position of meeting a wealthy woman . Older and charismatic . I m very comfortable semi retired… I decided not to go on second date… A week later a barGe of phone calls and luring gifts .. Charm. .. Etc .came my way in sheer demonstration of her buying me … With so the romantic glowing feelings demonstrated.. I was taken . We then were in high gear spending on each other…. Creating. In love ……this woman turned out in much debt and three prev marriages .. Oh to wealthy men.. Who didn’t get taken. … As I I allowed for the first time money to buy me.. I always felt walls around her ….. Since being broken off .. I felt to experiment just buying stuff for younger beautifu woman….. And my home is outstanding ….near ocean . Suddenly I ft cared for catered to. All levels. Truly a art for woman to create sensations feelings of love … Lies. .. Feigned love scene ….so my experiment is over .. My birthday today will find balance …. But my sense is that both sexes use power of love really for power … Nature has power structure…but we are capable of real sharing. Glitz free. Probably never. ..I’m hurt by the abuse in this ..

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