Talking Money in the Dating Phase: Building Trust and Financial Compatibility

According to a 2017 survey, 21% of divorces can be attributed directly to conflicts related to money. This percentage increases to 33% among couples with a combined income exceeding $100,000 per year.

It’s no secret that money plays a significant role in relationships, particularly romantic ones. What might surprise you is just how prominently money factors into relationship stress and, in some cases, break-ups and divorces. The reluctance to discuss financial matters during the dating phase can lead to misunderstandings and tension, making it essential to broach this topic with care. Having open and honest conversations about money early on can lay a foundation of trust and compatibility. In this article, we’ll explore three ways to discuss money with your partner without feeling awkward or uncomfortable.

1. Tie Financial Discussions to Your Activities

Money conversations need not be confined to formal discussions; you can seamlessly incorporate financial considerations into your dating life. A practical approach is to link your spending decisions to your activities and dates. While it might be tempting to impress your date with extravagant outings, it’s vital for both your relationship’s health and your financial well-being to align your choices with your budget.

Let’s consider a rough guideline: allocate approximately 10% of your take-home income to recreational activities, after accounting for taxes. For instance, if your weekly earnings amount to $800, you’d have around $80 for leisure activities each week.

One way to initiate a conversation about spending is by comparing restaurant prices when planning a dinner date. While this may seem trivial, it subtly conveys your financial preferences without the need for direct disclosure. Choosing to prepare a meal for your date can also be a charming and budget-friendly alternative to dining out.

2. Gradually Expand the Scope

Financial conversations shouldn’t be rushed in the early stages of dating, as they may come across as tactless or intrusive. Instead, let the depth of your financial discussions evolve naturally as your relationship deepens. As your connection grows more serious, it’s natural to become curious about each other’s financial situations, particularly when considering shared responsibilities.

The key is to match the depth of your financial conversations with the level of intimacy in your relationship. While it may not be suitable to discuss topics like engagement ring costs during the first date, as your connection strengthens, you can naturally expand the scope of your conversations to include credit scores, healthcare, savings, and investments.

Rather than approaching these discussions as formal interviews, incorporate them into conversations about life priorities. Expressing a genuine interest in your partner’s financial outlook and aspirations can foster a more open dialogue.

3. Highlight Responsible Financial Habits

Demonstrating responsible financial habits can be an attractive quality in a potential partner. While it’s important to avoid constant complaints about expenses or excessive frugality, showcasing discipline and a forward-thinking approach to finances can be appealing.

Investing and saving for the future are aspects of responsible money management that can convey your commitment to long-term financial well-being. Engaging in activities such as stock market investing or exploring the intricacies of cryptocurrency together can not only deepen your connection but also reveal insights into each other’s personalities.

Additionally, focusing on retirement accounts like 401(k)s or high-interest savings accounts signals your readiness to plan for the future. If you envision a family someday, a partner who responsibly manages their finances and invests for the future may align more closely with your goals.

Conversely, impulsive spending, reckless borrowing, or high-risk investments could serve as red flags that might jeopardize the prospects of a long-lasting relationship.

In conclusion, discussing money during the dating phase is an essential step toward building trust and establishing financial compatibility. Money plays a crucial role in our lives, and clear communication about financial values and expectations can contribute to a healthier and more fulfilling relationship. Addressing these topics early on can help both partners gain a better understanding of each other’s financial outlook, laying the groundwork for a more transparent and harmonious future together.


Survey on Divorce and Money. (2017)