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Mixing Money & Online Dating

A recent article in the New York Times addressed how singles in the online dating world should discuss their approach to money in their online profile.  If you’ve got it, should you flaunt it?  Or worse – if you don’t have it, should you fake it?  Is there a shame in being a conservative spender?  Or can being fiscally responsible make you more appealing to other sensible spenders in today’s wayward economy?

There’s no question that disputes relating to money cause a good percentage of divorces and that having a shared approach to the family’s finances can reduce the incidence of these breakups.  With this in mind, some online dating sites such as eHarmony include questions about your approach to money in their personality assessment.  But for most people, financial philosophies are based not only on rational thought but on an emotional component that is often difficult to pin down.  And yet, I’d like to suggest that even if we can’t identify exactly how we feel about money, it’s still an important factor to consider when looking for a mate – a factor that is probably more important than what colors his eyes and hair are, although these questions are asked by every single online dating site.

In today’s world of online dating, singles are encouraged to evaluate others based upon their salary (if they choose to share that information) or their silence (if they don’t).  I’d like to suggest, however, that these questions are entirely misleading.  If a single chooses not to divulge his salary range, is he quietly asking you not to judge him on his income, or is he embarrassed by the number?  And if he does submit his salary range, is it something you can really learn from?  It seems to me that what’s more important than the number is how a potential partner spends his money.  Does he live a lavish lifestyle by spending his money too freely?  Or does he remain grounded and fiscally responsible while squirreling money away for his children’s education or his future wedding?

Unfortunately, there is no real way to judge these types of issues until you meet a potential suitor in person.  And herein lies my hypothesis that while you should be aware of money as an important aspect of every relationship, it’s not one that should be judged when reading someone’s online profile.  It’s surely awkward to ask someone about their spending habits before you’ve met them, but it is something that you can tell about a person in a first meeting.  Does your date offer to take you to a coffee bar or to an upscale bistro?  Does he arrive in a sensible Nissan or a Porsche?  How do you feel about his choices?  Only when combining your rational thought with your emotional comprehension of the person can you truly make a decision about whether or not this suitor has a financial outlook that you can live with.

So don’t judge a potential suitor by the salary range listed in his (or her) profile.  Instead, make sure that other interests match up and keep your financial outlook reserved for future evaluation.

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