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Single +1

There are three things you aren’t supposed to talk about on a first date: Money, religion and politics. As I tend to talk about everything, I usually throw those rules out the window. I adore politics, find people’s differing views of religion fascinating and while I feel it’s important that someone is financially secure, money has never been a hot button topic for me. But recently I’ve been thinking more and more about money. Everyone has heard of the Golden Rule that says do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But there’s another “Golden Rule” that proclaims “Those who have the gold rule.” I can’t help but wonder if this also applies to relationships. Does the person who makes the most money also have the most power? And if that’s the case, should we only date those who are our financial equals? I can’t help but wonder, when it comes to money and dating, is there a caste system?

I recently started seeing someone new. He’s smart, funny and a major power player in the world of techie nerd computer blah blah blah, the likes of which I know nothing about. What I do know is that he recently sold his Fortune 500 Company for more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime. He drives not one Porsche, but two, and laughed in amazement when he found out that my rent was less than his car payment. Help me because baby, I am so out of my league. While I have always been a confident woman, I have never been as unnerved as I was last week when getting dressed for a date with this man. He wears a $15,000 dollar watch and collects Monte Blanc pens (which I pronounced wrong by the way. Of course I did.). I can’t exactly throw on a $20 dress from Old Navy and talk about my shot glass collection now can I? (Although I do have a shot glass from all 50 states. Not a small feat, my friends.) I love my job, my family, my friends…it’s a simple life, but it’s mine. But in the briefest of moments, I wondered if my life, my little world, was good enough for his. His money and the power that comes along with it suddenly dwarfed all of my accomplishments and I felt like Elly May from The Beverly Hillbillies; I might as well have been standing on my front porch barefoot in a pair of overalls surrounded by pigs and chickens. I was intimidated and that’s not a feeling that I’m used to. And I’m not entirely sure what to do about it. Is the huge difference in our bank balances really that big of an issue? Or is it not an issue at all and simply a problem that I’m creating?

We all know that most couples fight more about money than they do anything else. From buying that pair of shoes that you “just had to have”, even though you already owe thousands of dollars on your credit card bill, to stretching that minimum wage paycheck as far as you possibly can just so you can pay the electric bill this month, money issues are something every couple deals with. In most relationships, there is generally a “breadwinner” and more often than not, it’s the man. But what happens when a single woman who is used to being the financial provider for herself and her children marries a man who is also used to “bringing home the bacon”? There is a definite power shift and one that I don’t know if I’m prepared for.

After much soul searching and too many hours spent over analyzing, I realized what my issue is with this new relationship. I want to be seen as a man’s equal. I want him to respect me as his partner and, while I am decidedly putting the cart before the horse here, I questioned if this particular man could ever truly see me on an equal playing field. He is at the peak of his career and I’m at the beginning of mine. He makes well into the six figures and I wouldn’t even know what to do with that many zeros. Even typing those words I feel like some back woods Swamp People reject and know that that’s not who I am. His money is a sign of his success, success that I haven’t achieved yet. While I am incredibly happy for him and the lifestyle that he has created for himself, I don’t want his lifestyle given to me. I want to earn it myself. And my biggest fear, my glaring insecurity, is that if I don’t achieve that level of success, I would resent him for his. It’s the ugly truth and one that I feel that I should immediately apologize for but nonetheless, it’s how I feel.

I’ve been working since I was 16. While I am incredibly grateful for my parents who have helped me along the way, I’ve always liked the idea of earning my own money. I remember playing in my room when I was a little girl, imagining I was being interviewed by Oprah for being this amazingly successful business woman who had it all. I dreamt of being a part of major power couple, having a partner who was as driven and as determined as I was. In my mind, money seemed to go hand in hand with being successful. But the thing is, I’m finding the more I’m around money, the more I’m around people who it’s vitally important to, those who lust after it and yearn for it as some ill conceived notion of happiness, the less I desire it. My idea of success is changing and while I would be lying if I said money wasn’t important, it’s not a motivator for me. I view success as raising an amazing daughter, doing the best job I possibly can in my career and hopefully one day meeting a man to share it all with. And should those three things fall into place, I can only hope the only power struggle between my partner and I will be over the TV remote.

 

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6 comments

  1. Jasalyn Gerard

    I Love this article! It is dead on as to what a lot of young people or just people in general are going through. Being a single parent mom myself, I’m going back to school to get my degree so that I can give my daughter all the things my parents blessed me. But now, I wonder if the enormous steps I made to give her those things will pale in comparison to the rest of world. Sarah, keep up the AWESOME work! You are a wonderful influence and a treat to read each week!

  2. Harmony Elliot

    i have to wonder how much money you are making from this gossip column and how much of your income stems from child support to the tune of 14% in mississippi of the exhusbands income. with him being a pilot, im sure your “income” is mostly from another man anyway.

  3. Single -3.

    There is no need for you to feel “intimidated” by this new someone. They probably put their pants on just like you do,, one leg at a time. Successful people can ‘hang’ with those who stand barefoot in overalls on their front porch OR with those who live on yahts or mansions and frequent country clubs and resorts. But, my experience leads me to believe too large a difference in “financial status” will cause relationship problems. The answer lies in weighing your benefits and consequences and deciding if you can handle those differences arising from your different economic backgrounds. One has to assume you somehow verified the figures and verified everything else you cited in your original piece; and, that a real variance exists in your financial backgrounds. These differences can be symptoms of deeper differences in morals and values,, starting with the $15,000.00 watch. And, those differences will take time to resolve. For example, these same people sometimes bicker over a 25cent mistake on a bar tab as they check the time on their Rolex, which is something the average person can’t understand. Also, most welathy people fear being used for their money. They want to be “liked” for different reasons. That said, if I were you, I would ride this new horse as long as you can with the understanding it might be a shallow ride. Then, when the horse is dead, be prepared to get off, with as much of your money as possible still in the bank. Bwahahaha

  4. Single -3.

    The comment field started shaking while I was typing but I did want to try and touch on another point. Will the ‘financial status variance’ cause power struggle issues?? Hells yeah!! You cited the “golden rule”,,, “he who has the gold; makes the rule”…it’s the power of the all mighty dollar in play here. You will have only as much “power” as you are allowed or is delegated to you from the power,, the money… Money is power. Money talks, BS walks. But, money will never buy happiness, it can only rent happiness for a while. So, good luck. And, the TV remote shouldn’t even be a symbol of a problem. All, the “material things” should be supplied. You each would have your own TV AND your own remotes, if you’re allowed. To each is own, right? Keep us posted.

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