Last January, in an attempt to move on from the mess I made with Walt, I logged back into my dating apps. I never deleted them while we were still together for the occasional flirt, but unlike him, I never cheated.
Dave was the first to message me. Immediately, I thought that I would be downgrading from Walt. He wasn’t as cute, by at least four notches down. He wasn’t as tall, which was a disappointment because I liked tall guys. Worst of all, his job put us in very different worlds.
I’m not going to lie. Money, specifically, the lack of it, can be a deal-breaker for me. I wouldn’t classify my family as upper class or even as upper-middle class, but I don’t identify us as anything lower than middle class either. I’m not a snob; I have friends from all walks of life, but there is a lifestyle that I am accustomed to and that I am not willing to compromise for someone else’s comfort. I guess money being an issue boils down to my primal instinct to survive.
On top of that, I think relationships are hard enough on their own, and for me and for my boyfriend to both have money eliminates one thing we might fight about in the future. We wouldn’t have to be sensitive talking about it because it would already be out of the way. Look, I don’t need my future boyfriend to be crazy rich. I just want us to be on even ground, like someone who can afford to eat out every night and still have more than a little saved because we don’t know how to cook, or someone who can go with me on my spontaneous weekends abroad.
Being one of my most profound friends, Diego’s opinion on this mattered to me. Knowing that his family was well-off, I asked him if he would date someone who was less financially-able. Turns out, this new guy he was dating was. He told me that his new boyfriend Zhi’s parents worked at a laundromat and lived in a one-bedroom apartment where the living room served as Zhi’s bedroom. In spite of that, Zhi still insisted on paying for lunch on their first date. Diego said that that made him feel special, and had it been a richer guy, it wouldn’t have mattered as much, even if he did pay for the second date, for the third, and so on.1
He continued that I should give Dave a chance because non-rich people have strong mindsets and aspirations, whereas rich people have money, and that’s about it. To that, I answered that they (by they, I mean the non-rich) can be hypocritical, as well. Speaking from experience, I have dated non-rich boys who have made me feel guilty about having money. They’ve accused me of being too excessive and of taking it for granted, but at the same time, their goals revolve around the accumulation of wealth. For them to think that way is exactly why I can’t date them—they make a big deal out of something that I’ve grown up doing, and then they make a big deal out of what they’re doing because they think I’m without struggle.
And that’s the thing. Money or no money, we’re all with struggles. It’s hard to understand what I go through when non-rich guys assume that I have it easy because I’m rich, and they almost always do. What we have in common is that we know that money isn’t everything. While they insist that they don’t need it to be happy, I know that it doesn’t save me from being drowned in shit.
- Hearing this made me feel queasy because we split the bill during our first (and only) date.