What impact does money have on love and relationships?

Romantics argue that “money can’t buy love.” But do your finances really affect your love life?

That’s exactly what Shepherds Friendly wanted to find out. So they teamed up with psychologist and relationship expert, Dr Becky Spelman, to carry out a survey with the aim of exploring how money impacts relationships.

The study looked at different stages of relationships, from dating to long-term, and the results may surprise you. Here are some of the highlights.

Is money everything?

Relationships have evolved and the idea of equality between couples is commonplace. However, relics of ‘traditional’ values still appear to be lingering. According to Dr Spelman:

“Traditionally, men have been seen as providers for the family. Consciously or subconsciously, women sometimes still look for indications that a man would be able to care for her – and possibly her children, too.” 

The survey may support this idea, revealing that 36.1% of women agreed that money plays a part in how attractive you find a partner, compared to 22.4% men. However, as neither of these figures are a majority, the results suggest more progressive attitudes amongst daters. 

Who’s paying? 

The sexes seem to be at odds with one another when it comes to who should pick up the bill on date night. A significant 68.3% of men believed they should be the ones to pay, whereas only 41.9% of women felt the same. 56.1% of women said they believed that couples should split the bill.

Interestingly, thoughts on ‘going Dutch’ vary between generations. 76.4% of women aged 18-29 years old agree that couples should share the costs of dates. Dr Spelman says this “indicates that younger women have grown up in a society where they feel more secure and able, and less inclined to look to male partners for financial security.” 

In same sex relationships, research suggests that the responsibility of paying for a date falls on the person who initiated it. 

Openness and honesty

Dr Spelman explains, “Lasting relationships are built on honesty and trust, and that includes financial honesty.”

Yet, money can prove to be a sensitive subject for many. Therefore, it’s encouraging to learn that the majority of people are happy for their partner to know how much they earn. Plus, once you are in a relationship, making financial decisions together is important, whether it is doing a personal loan comparison or making a significant purchase.

Shepherds Friendly’s survey showed that just 9.1% of men and 13.3% of women agree that salaries are personal and should not be shared with partners.

“The amount of money a couple has at their disposal is key to making joint decisions and when someone feels that they can’t share information about their income with the person they love, it is probably time to assess the relationship.” 

Overall, it’s clear that money can have an impact on love and relationships. However, finding a partner doesn’t depend on your bank balance and maintaining a lasting relationship, even in times of financial hardship, is possible if you’re both open and honest. 

Planning to get married? Before you do, make sure you ask your future spouse these six money questions.

You can find Shepherds Friendly’s survey results in full here.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez