There are all kinds of uncomfortable topics to discuss when you first enter a relationship with someone you really like, but they’re usually things that have to eventually be spoken about or else you can run into trust issues — especially in the long run. For example, you’ve most likely got to talk about your exes and those crazy family members at some point. But there’s one matter in particular that is more important than that, and more crucial to a healthy relationship — and that’s your individual financial situations.
When my partner and I first got together, money was the last thing on our minds. We weren’t even aware of each other’s financial situations, since it seemed (from an outsider’s perspective) that we were living pretty similar lives. Besides, we were crazy about each other, so we were hardly concerned about each others’ assets. The more time we spent together, though, the more I realized that he’s a little more well-off than I am. He did some work in the past that allowed him save up money and now live comfortably — and he owns a beautiful home in Sydney that he rents out as income. Me, on the other hand? Well I’m up to my ears in student debt, and I made the conscious choice not to sign up for a high-paying, high-stress job, and I work a job that I love, but isn’t very lucrative. So I live a bit more humbly than he does.
We’ve been together for three years now, and money has never come between us in a way that would break us up. That being said, it hasn’t been an easy factor to negotiate in our relationship. It takes work — just like any other challenges couples face on the daily.
Here are five things I’ve experienced from having a partner who is more financially stable than I am.
1. You might feel a little bit guilty when they buy more expensive things for the two of you
I’m lucky that my S.O. isn’t one of those people who flaunts their money or uses their financial status against me (well, if he was, we wouldn’t be together in the first place, obv). He understands that there are some things he can afford and I can’t, so there are some times when he chips in a little bit more for things like furniture, miscellaneous things around the house, or gifts for our family members.
He’s happy to do it and nothing about it feels patronizing, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a teeny tiny part of me that feels bad about it sometimes. I feel like I have to apologize, which he quickly insists is unnecessary. But still, it’s something I certainly had to get used at the beginning.
2. You have to have everything out in the open, or else it won’t work
Sweeping money issues under the rug is the worst decision you can make in a relationship. No matter how uncomfortable the conversation felt at the time, I learned that we had to talk about finances honestly and maturely. When we were moving into a new house together a couple years ago, for example, I had to sit him down and explain that there were some options I loved, but simply couldn’t afford. Before I let the words out of my mouth, I was sweating. I was so nervous I was going to come off as pathetic or as a Debbie Downer.
But he took it all in stride, and he respected where I was coming from. Since then, I’ve been brutally honest with him about where I’m at financially. If I’m short on cash flow this month and I don’t really feel like eating at that swanky restaurant for dinner, I tell him straight up, rather than bottling it up inside and sending him passive aggressive signals. It works out better for everyone involved. And because we’ve gotten so much better at communicating, we’re able to make some tough decisions together.
3. You may have to face some insensitive comments from people
I’ve faced a few cruel remarks over the years about how I’m a “gold digger,” or how my boyfriend won me over with his money. There was even an acquaintance I had to cut ties with because she made one too many rude comments about our relationship. Trolls are always around to judge you, no matter what kind of relationship you have, but because there are so many stereotypes out there about the rich boyfriend trope, they can be especially mean about me and my S.O.
You just gotta keep your chin up, your skin thick, and remember that, at the end of the day, the only people who have a say about your relationship is you and your partner.
4. Frankly, there are some times when you feel less like a feminist
Because women have come so far in the working world, it’s less and less common now to find a woman who earns a lot less than her male partner. We don’t need a dude to look after us financially, and our success reflects that. So even though I make enough money to support myself and I’ve never relied on my S.O. for anything money related, there have been a few times when I doubt how much of a feminist I truly am because I’ve got a well-off boyfriend when I’m not exactly well-off myself. If you’re in a hetero relationship, you may or may not deal with these feelings (based on the gender norms society has instilled in us, as well as our environment), but it also can happen if you’re in a same-sex relationship too.
It’s a stupid thought, when you think about it, though. Absolutely silly. So when it crosses my mind, I remind myself that I’m self-sufficient, thanks very much, and I live independently regardless of how much my boyfriend has in the bank.
5. You learn how to be okay with being spoiled every now and then
I’ll level with you here. It’s nice to be spoiled once in a while, and it’s something I never really experienced in any of my previous relationships. On those nights when we really want to go out to a super bougie dinner I just can’t afford at the time, he’ll take me out. He took me to Thailand on a sweet vacay. He bought me a gorgeous hand-crafted studded leather bag I practically sleep with. Ain’t nothing wrong with having a partner who treats you like the *queen* you are.