How money can make or break relationships, from two experts

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It is well known that money is one of the most common topics of dispute in couples. A 2019 study from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville reported that regardless of the level of happiness in the relationship, money is a topic that couples consistently disagree on.

However, talking about finances isn’t always negative, especially if you’re single and actively dating. A recent study by eToro suggests owning cryptocurrency and putting it in your online dating profile makes you more desirable.

So whether you’re married, casually dating, or somewhere in between, how can Americans continue to maintain and build healthy relationships while continuing to work toward their financial goals? Select spoke to two experts about what people can do to improve their money and their intimate relationships.

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How Dating and Money Intersect

It’s no secret that people in committed relationships tend to perform well financially. A A Pew Research study found that in 2019, both men and women earned more and were more financially secure in a committed relationship. However, that doesn’t mean someone should go out just for their financial security.

But if you’re actively dating, it’s normal to be curious about a potential partner’s financial situation, no matter where you are in the dating process. Damona Hoffman, OkCupid dating coach and host of The Dates & Mates podcast, suggests that “daters who get better with their money will naturally attract better dating prospects because it’s still one of our society’s biggest attractors.” .

In fact, the likelihood of a single saying wealth matters in a match has nearly doubled on OkCupid during the pandemic. Hoffman said that was likely because financial security was low for many as unemployment rates soared in the first months of the Covid-19-induced shutdowns.

So having more money than less is definitely a plus in the dating market.

Unfortunately, the exact thing that can be appealing to so many people can also lead to the end of a relationship. According to a survey by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, “money problems” are the third leading cause of divorce, behind “fundamental incompatibility” and “infidelity”. One survey respondent said that “many couples lack the communication skills needed to deal with financial disagreements in their marriage”.

So how can something that is a “plus” be the end of so many relationships?

The psychology of money and relationships

There is no one key to success in a relationship, but common themes among strong relationships are shared values ​​and common goals. And when the topic of personal finance comes up, Hoffman suggests that you’ll naturally begin to reveal your goals and values.

She said, “You are unlikely to be perfectly aligned with these [goals and values]but discussing it offers you the opportunity to understand your partner and to find a compromise on these important choices.

And these values ​​are formed long before you earn your first dollar.

Dr. Alex Melkumian, founder of the The Financial Psychology Center in Los Angeles, Calif., told Select how everyone’s “money story” begins in childhood. “The foundation of everyone’s understanding and relationship with money is based on their family of origin coupled with any financial education they receive throughout their life,” he said.

Because we are all raised differently and come from different socio-economic backgrounds, the way we think and understand money can vary greatly from person to person. Dr Melkumian added: “It’s rare in a romantic relationship for both partners to come up with the same or similar money story.”

So regardless of your upbringing and how difficult it can be to discuss money, having the conversation with your partner is imperative.

How to talk about money when dating, or with an established partner

Talking about money can be difficult in any setting, whether it’s dating, asking for a raise at work, or even among friends.

If your financial situation is less than ideal, it can lead to fears of judgment or embarrassment. If you’re financially savvy and like to talk about things like your Roth IRA or the latest stock of memes, it can spark resentment in others.

So before you have your next conversation about money, keep a few do’s and don’ts in mind:

  • Take the time to understand each other’s values: If one person likes to spend money to eat out, while the other prefers to avoid eating out to save money, this could present a difference in values. Be sure to discuss among yourselves how and why you value certain things.
  • Be clear about who pays what: It should never be a guessing game about who pays for something. The right time to figure this out is not when the bill comes in or when you’re standing in front of a register, but before the problem has fully arisen.
  • Don’t impose on someone else: As Dr. Melkumian said, everyone has a different money story. And that journey can impact how someone acts towards money and acts towards someone else. But whatever the situation, don’t impose your money story or your strategies on a significant other. This can lead to resentment and other problems.
  • If you plan to get married, be “financially naked”‘: Did you know that a third of Americans admit that they financially cheat on a partner? While it’s not sexual infidelity, financial infidelity can be just as destructive. So if you’re considering taking the next step in your relationship, it’s extremely important to make sure you talk about potentially difficult topics like credit card debt or student loans.

At the end of the line

Editorial note: Any opinions, analyses, criticisms or recommendations expressed in this article are those of Select’s editorial staff alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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