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Dating In A Different Tax Bracket


Does dating someone who makes more (or less!) money than you have to mean doom? It all depends on one thing: communication. And in this case, talk is anything but cheap.

By Michael Tresser

hen I was in my early 30s, I dated a dance student in his early 20s who lived in a dorm. He had great legs, a dazzling smile, a charming personality and very little money. At that time, I was a moderately successful advertising executive living in a nice apartment, going on great vacations twice a year and eating out at least three times a week.

Now he was not looking for someone to take care of him, nor was I looking to be someone’s sugar daddy. For about four months, we dated and had a great
The difference in our incomes and our lifestyles was a definite obstacle to overcome.
time. But the difference in our incomes and our lifestyles was a definite obstacle to overcome.

Money—either having more or less of it than your partner can cause problems in a relationship. If you are in a relationship with someone in a different economic bracket than you are, keep the following tips in mind:

The balance sheet
It’s Saturday night; you want to go to that expensive, trendy new restaurant that just opened. Your partner barely can afford fast food. It’s important to balance your activities and find a happy medium. When I dated the dancer, we went to free dance recitals at least once a weekend. It was something we enjoyed, was part of his education and was in his budget. Forcing someone to spend more money than he has is a recipe for disaster. Save those nice dinners for special occasions when you are willing to foot the bill. Try to keep these occasions to a minimum as it can eventually lead to resentment on both sides.

True net worth
You may be making less money than your partner, but you are probably bringing a lot more to the table than just a paycheck. Maybe you are a whiz in the kitchen or an amazing carpenter who built a new bookcase in a day. Being
Forcing someone to spend more money than he has is a recipe for disaster.
in a relationship is all about maximizing each person’s assets. Your partner probably thinks your various skills are priceless.

Dollars and sense
Loving someone and having that person love you back for who you are knows no price tag. Sometimes you have to surrender pride and ego and simply revel in your loving relationship. Being in the same income bracket as your partner doesn’t guarantee everlasting happiness. If this relationship is wonderful, go for it, regardless of the monetary issues.

Talk’s not cheap
Communicating with your partner about this issue is key. If you feel your income difference is causing problems, discuss it tactfully with your partner. Whatever you are feeling, talk about it openly and honestly. Not dealing with these issues will only make the situation worse in the long run.

The dancer and I eventually broke up, and for reasons other than money. But I did learn valuable lessons about negotiating this slippery issue.


Michael Tresser writes frequently for Happen magazine.
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