[PERSONAL] How Money Affects My Dating Life

Received a request to write about the topic of dating and money (thanks for the suggestion, Carrine Yap!) This is an interesting topic for sure, something I haven’t done before. Rather than talking about how I manage finances in a relationship, I thought I’d go one step further and talk about how money affects my dating life.

First of all, a disclaimer. This is how money affects *my* dating life. I’m not telling anyone how *they* should date. I’m just saying, due to my background, privilege and money mindset, this is how I choose to go on dates and get into relationships.

So with that in mind, if you view yourself as a bit of a traditionalist or conservative, I ask you to skip this article altogether, or read with an open mind. Comments like ‘men should be the one to do X’ or ‘you should be more Y’ will be deleted. *You* can do that, go ahead, nothing’s stopping you. You live your life, I’ll live mine. I don’t attack you, you don’t attack me. Fair right? 🙂

Dating and Money Approach #1 – Like money, personal relationships are private matter

I rarely – almost never, actually – mention my romantic partners in my articles and social media. It’s intentional. My approach to relationships is like how most people approach the subject of money: private. No one else needs to know the details.

(I admit this is a bad analogy for my particular situation because I’m actually super open about personal finance. But you get the drift)

I omitted the info out for a variety of reasons, some of which I won’t get into. But here’s one reason I can share: I thought my relationship status doesn’t matter, especially not in a personal finance blog.

Joke’s on me, because the one and only time I posted about my dating life on Instagram, I found out y’all actually like this topic. I received a bunch of likes and comments. The request to write about the topic came from there.

While I’m happy keeping my personal life private, the popularity of that post made me think. Should I be more open about talking about relationships to get more interest for Ringgit Oh Ringgit? The digital marketer in me feels like I should capitalise on the demand :/

Dating and Money Approach #2 – Money allows me to be a feminist in my dating life

The best part of being financially stable is the privilege to choose my partners. It’s thank u, next for those who don’t fulfil my requirements, no compromise. I don’t care if this makes me too ‘choosy’ – women suffer horrible consequences if they don’t choose their partners well. My philosophy is I’d rather be happy alone than be miserable in a relationship.

Taking the feminist approach to my dating life is awesome, it benefits me and the people I date. Some things I do in my dating life because I’m a feminist:

  • Make the first move and ask them out
  • Offer to split the cost of first date. Sometimes they take it, sometimes they insist on paying. But I always offer.
  • (In a relationship) Pay for dates. I used to insist on paying 50% of all dates, but now have implemented ‘you take this round I’ll take the next one’ approach for convenience
  • Make my partners happy and secure by proving I’m not with them for their ability to provide, rather I’m with them because I genuinely like them as a person
  • Valuing companionship more than marriage. It takes the pressure off for both of us. Also, I’m in no rush to give someone power over me, religiously speaking.
  • Earn my own money and not expect them to subsidise my lifestyle
  • Not impose gender-related societal pressures on them. Support them if they want to try out traditionally-feminine activities without judgement
  • Say what I mean and mean what I say (none of that ‘I said no but you should’ve known I meant yes’ crap)
  • Maintain my own hobbies and interests, attend events on my own, have my own set of friends. Talk about these with them when we’re together so they get to learn new perspectives and ideas
  • Encourage mutual support in the relationship. We bring each other up, never down
  • If one of us fell out of love with the other, I will let them go and break up with them instead of dragging the relationship along, which isn’t fair for the both of us

I am NOT saying I’m perfect with this relationship thing. BUT I found that my partners appreciate my values and actions, even if sometimes they don’t necessarily like the ‘feminism’ label itself. Whatever la. You can call a rose by a different name. It’s still rose.

Additionally, and perhaps against popular belief, being a feminist doesn’t hurt my love life at all. Since 22 or 23 (I’m 31 now), I was single for like 4 months in total. I’m not saying this to brag, but to prove a point.

Here’s how you can add some feminism in your dating life.

Dating and Money Approach #3 – I tend to fall for people with similar money values

Given how important financial responsibility is to me, this makes sense right? I don’t think I’ll be happy with someone who has vastly different money values than mine.

I like frugalism, thriftiness and social responsibility. Therefore, my personal turn-offs include prominent displays of luxury brands and general flashiness, like if they bling up their car or wear excessive jewellery or something. Instead of impressing me, that just shows they are maybe not that great with money management. So I might like them initially (because hormones), but will lose my crush as I get to know them.

Other qualities that I noticed I liked:

  • Evidence of them spending their hard-earned money for personal growth or passion projects/hobbies
  • If they are into minimalism
  • Them knowing how to take care of themselves (knowing how to do own laundry, cook basic meals, perform household chores etc)
  • If they’re not a gift-giver. I mean, I appreciate the thought but hate hate hate clutter. No shade to people who like doing it (‘Gift-giving’ is one of the 5 main Love Languages, the way some people show and feel love the most)

Finding potential partners is of course hard. My approach is to just keep busy and active – I usually meet my partners from events I attend. It’s a numbers game too – the more effort you put in to meet new people, the higher your chances of finding a person you like. Tinder was kinda fun and I know people who met their partners there, but I personally didn’t.

What is your approach to dating?

How does money affect YOUR dating life? Do you date people with different money values or spending habits? Did it work out? If yes, how do you guys work it out? Let me know in the comments section.

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17 comments

  1. I find we have similar money values and therefore can speak from experience that having a spouse with said similar money values have increased my current net worth!! 😀 I used to think that I was lucky to have found my husband who shares the same money values but then when I think about it again, i don’t find the “boros” trait attractive at all. Actually it’s a big turn off. Anyway, lovely article as always.

    1. Hey Suzanne,

      I’m glad you found an other half who improves your financial life! I agree that boros trait is unattractive to me, too, but it can be subjective also. Some people are boros in being generous to others. That shows a good heart. So case by case basis la 🙂

  2. Hi Suraya,

    Love your article! I myself only date if I can see my future with the other half, which is to build a family. So sharing our values, including financial values, is a must. I don’t mean to have someone that is completely behave like I do financially, but at least within the acceptable financial habits.

    A complete cheapskate that counts every sen is a no-no for me, just like someone who racks up credit card debt like there’s no tomorrow. My personal tolerance is somewhere in between.

    Previously financial compatibility was not emphasized in the Malaysian culture when young couples were about to get married. Fortunately I’ve been seeing more and more emphasis has been placed by the society on this, which is a good thang!

    1. Hi Muhammed Aali,

      Hey glad you enjoyed the article 🙂 You’re right about financial compatibility – it matters a lot!

  3. Hi Suraya

    hmmm…. in my dating days it’s “You need to meet my parents” immediately after the “event” which taught me to have an “escape plan” in place before venturing beyond kissing. All rather a big turn-off and make for many very shot dates.

    1. Hi Liew@ Rahman,

      How does that experience relate to money? Thanks for the comment, but I’m confused by its relevance to the topic

  4. You sound like a fun date 😀. I usually will hint that i will cover for the first date and they can pay for the next one. But most of the malaysian girl that i dated is very conservative and expect me to pay for everything. Dating japanese is the best as they will insist on paying their portion. Hahah

  5. My partner and I have vastly different money values and spending habits. I honestly don’t know how to approach this subject, how to find a middle ground (we’re pretty happy with the way we spend our money), and how this will affect our future (if things do work out). For now I just go with the flow but I know the conversation has to take place sooner or later lol.

    Btw, interesting take on this subject!

    1. Hi Sofia,

      Thanks for your comment! I think many couples are in the same situation as you – they have different money values and spending habits. Relationships are based on trust and compromise, so it can work.

      Re: how to approach this subject. What have you tried?

  6. Hi Suraya,

    Got here from Funemployed’s website and glad I’m glad I read it! Thanks for being candid in your writing as it makes me feel less weird about certain things. We have similar values when it comes to money and it definitely has shaped my dating life as well.

    There was a time when I was blinded by my, ugh, infatuation (coz that’s what it was) with a certain someone that I deliberately ignored many red flags.

    One of it was when we broached the subject of marriage, he said he needed time to ‘kumpul duit’ to start a new life with me.

    So me being me, I immediately took out a calculator, projected his income minus cost 5 years into the future and even listed options for making money on the side! I said unless he changes certain things (like taking courses to expand his skills, get a better job), even in 10 years also not enough to get the target amount he mentioned lah.

    He was not pleased and called me ‘too calculative’. Naturally the relationship didn’t last. I remember some of my friends scolding me for bringing up things that ‘men wouldn’t like’ but I felt it was stupid to just go along with something that is clearly not right just because someone is not up for a serious conversation.

    I’m in no rush to get married (although some people around me are definitely worried about the ticking time bomb that is my lady eggs shrivelling up and dying in a few years) and nowadays when I find myself drawn to someone, I ask all the tough questions early.

    What’s your attitude towards money? Do you think conventional products are evil? Will you force me to be an obedient Malay wife? Can you stand up to pressure from family if we were to do things they don’t agree with? Do you think your kids should grow roots here in Malaysia or do you feel it’s better for them to be in a different country? Can you bear with me taking vacations with my friends at least once a year without you? Can we have separate bathrooms? Household division of chores is a real thing, can you accept it? Etc etc.

    And you’re right, we find what we seek. They are harder to find, but there are definitely many men who are open to a more equal relationship and not emasculated by the mere mention of feminism.

    Other than the usual things we try to align in terms of values, like intellect and empathy, attitude towards money is up there in my list of priorities for a successful relationship.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      You gave really good points and arguments there. I love the questions you raised, especially the part about expectations of a Malay wife. Thank you for sharing your experience too.

      If I may, there ways to ask the hard questions without being combative. Framing it as a win-win, ‘these are the problems we need to find solutions to because I love you and wanna make this work with you’ helps a lot. Obviously this won’t work with people you dont want to end up with anyway, but it’ll encourage the good ones put in effort on their end too.

      Wishing you all the best in your love life 🙂

      1. Wow I really gotta work on my questions when it comes across as aggressive in the comment section!

        Thanks for pointing it out 🙂 It’s a problem I’ve struggled with for a while since I tend to be rather blunt. I shudder when I think about how my younger self sounds like.

        1. I hear you sis, I’m like that too. Blunt. Sometimes hurt feelings of people I love. I’m trying to be a better person, a kinder person.

  7. Hi Suraya! I just realized that I haven’t posted my comment from your Facebook page to here (and I was reading up something else and suddenly remembered it lol omg thank God for Facebook’s Activity Log, I honestly forgot when it was hahaha).

    “Love love love this post!

    With me and my husband, we sort of come from different backgrounds. He was once worried about us being in a serious relationships because of our differences in our backgrounds, but I wasn’t one to care much about it.

    I do split bills on our dates (or, like you, take ownerships of certain things like paying for movie tickets, while he pays for dinner, etc), so it’s kind of like 50-50.

    I’m by no means frugal, I like saving money and stuff, but I also like to spend a little more for the people that I love (I like making gifts and treating him to good food), especially on special occasions like anniversaries and birthdays and all, but he doesn’t really enjoy that.

    So we made a deal (it was a deal we made the day we got married lol) that if I ever want to spend and treat us both to something special, it has to be below a certain amount (can’t be too expensive, but I was allowed to splurge a little more than what he would usually allow).

    As for saving money part – he doesn’t like to shop as much as I do (except for snacks and food and some games), but he’s bad at saving money (not sure why 😂). It’s the opposite for me – I like shopping but I’m also super good at managing my money and sticking to my budget.

    So for the past few years (even before we got married), I’ve been the financial controller of our relationship. Whenever he gets his MARA allowances (or his salary), he’ll transfer some money over to me so I can keep his savings aside on his behalf. This helps him to stick to the budget he has and help to control his spending. So anything like paying back MARA loan, getting our PRS funds and everything falls under me, and I’m fine with it, because I love doing things like that for us (& he doesn’t mind me taking control of it)”

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