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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?

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