- Dating someone who makes less money than you can put a strain on your relationship, but it doesn’t have to.
- To avoid issues, try to be honest with yourself about what you’re looking for in the relationship.
- You also need to communicate your financial needs and wants to your partner before things get serious.
Money shouldn’t matter when it comes to relationships. But many have found that it does, sometimes even driving people apart before the natural expiration date for their relationship hits.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. INSIDER spoke with relationship and etiquette expert April Masini to see how to make a relationship with someone who makes less money than you thrive.
The best way to handle this potential issue is to nip it in the bud before it actually becomes a problem
To do this, you’ll need to start by being really honest with yourself about what you expect people to bring to the table in a relationship. You don’t need to tell someone your views on money on a first date, but you can navigate a relationship better if you acknowledge your own perspective on money.
“The biggest relationship mistake people make is not being honest with themselves,” Masini told INSIDER. “If you want to be with a partner who supports you, or you want to be the one who makes the money and calls the shots, be upfront with yourself.”
If things are getting serious, Masini advised that you discuss your respective incomes with your partner and how you see things changing (or not) over the next several years.
“[Talk about] what you want for yourselves and your future family in terms of money, and if you want kids, how you see childcare and caregiving playing into this,” Masini told INSIDER. “If you can find out before you commit to each other how you each feel about money and who makes what, you can hedge against income difference issues.”
Of course, it can be easy to have a money-related conversation and, for reasons of expediency and the comfort of both parties, avoid saying some uncomfortable things, like if you expect your partner to sign a prenup before getting engaged.
“If you’re in a marriage and running up against these problems because it didn’t occur to you to deal with them ahead of time or you didn’t want to deal with them ahead of time, be brutally honest with yourselves and each other,” Masini said.
Through these discussions, you may find that your partner resents the long hours you put in at your job, or that you resent your partner for not contributing as much to the household.
Compromise will be incredibly important when discussing finances with your partner
This doesn’t mean that you have to quit your lucrative job or that your partner has to give up their lifelong dream if it doesn’t make any money. But it does mean that you’ll both have to reach some sort of compromise.
“Successful, long-term relationships require sacrifice. Be creative. Make deals,” Masini said. “And put the relationship ahead of your dreams – or put your dreams ahead of the relationship. But make a conscious choice.”
If you find that the income disparity is starting to become a problem, have a conversation with your partner. The key to making it an effective conversation – rather than one that just devolves into an argument – is to be open to a wide range of solutions.
“Start with your feelings about the situation, and keep it clear, and about you as much as possible. Then, talk about possible solutions. Brainstorm. Get your creative juices flowing together,” Masini told INSIDER. “This isn’t just good for the problem at hand – it’s good for the relationship. It gives you the opportunity to feel that you can use this relationship dynamic for other problems that might crop up down the line, and it empowers you as a couple.”
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