There is a trend happening when it comes to the matter of talking about love and money.
You may have noticed it as well. Heck, it may even be a bandwagon you’ve jumped on.
It’s a trend, however, that I find disturbing. Because I believe it is causing couples to miss the whole point of the purpose and intent of talking about love and money.
Paul Carrick Brunson, one of the people I follow on Twitter, who works as a modern-day matchmaker and is the co-host of LoveTown on the OWN network, shared a link to, “Bad Credit: A Deal Breaker for Many Singles.” It reminded me of a related piece that appeared in the New York Times almost a year ago – “Perfect 10? Never Mind That. Ask Her for Her Credit Score.” There have been countless other articles like these, recently — articles that put a spotlight on a particular number: one’s credit score.
My problem isn’t with the question of asking about someone’s credit score. That is certainly important information to (eventually) know.
My problem is with the timing and the seemingly associated judgment without context.
False sense of intimacy
People who proclaim they “won’t even give someone their digits until they know their date’s credit score,” are missing a critical point: intimacy is earned…over time!
Intimacy – financial or otherwise – it is not something to which you are entitled from the other person.
And the connection that leads to intimacy is formed from shared experiences. This is how intimacy is earned. Otherwise, at least in my opinion, it falls into the false sense of intimacy category. And if you’ve ever done online dating and invested a lot of emotional time via email sharing your deepest desires and secrets only to discover, when you finally meet in person, there is absolutely no spark, you know precisely what I mean.
I believe a false sense of intimacy is just as damaging to your emotional health as the absence of intimacy where you wished it existed.
Context is everything
The other thing I find alarming about the trend of asking about credit scores before you’ve even had a chance to get to know someone is that you don’t have context. You’re evaluating the character of a person based purely on a number (and one that fluctuates, to boot!) without much regard as to why the number is what it is.
It could be that the person lacks financial discipline and that would be an issue. But the person’s unattractive-to-you credit score could also be due to a prolong period of unemployment or lengthy business slump or mounting medical bills or (fill in the blank with most anything unplanned and out of their control).
So, what’s the *real* problem + solution?
The trend of prematurely asking people about their credit score definitely disturbs me. But what is even more unsettling is how the media is treating this phenomenon — as if talking about credit scores is akin to really talking about love + money. Both instances miss the mark of the challenge couples (newly dating through to long-time married/partnered) face when it comes to managing this intersection: how to recognize what’s really going on when love+money are on the front-line.
I think one of the reasons for the trend of “credit score dating” (as it is called) harkens back to the fact that numbers are easier to focus on, digest, and discuss than the psychology and emotions behind the numbers.
But this trend is also probably gaining traction because far too often couples of all stripes don’t know how to really keep it real – they don’t know what to ask, when, and how. These are the reasons talking about money can be so damn awkward at times…for everyone!
If this is hitting home. If I’ve walked down your street and tapped on your door, here’s an exercise that may help…
Take a step back and start at the step before the questioning begins. It’s a step that involves spending some time unwrapping your sentiments and perceptions about money.
For each word that follows, write the first thought that comes to mind when you think of the word in relationship to money (don’t censor yourself!)
(The above list is taken from page 163 of my book, “Financial Intimacy.”)
Now, spend a day “observing” yourself, and each time you go into your wallet to pull out cash or your debit/credit card or find yourself in the midst of making a financial decision, notice which word, perception or sentiment comes to the forefront for you. Whatever surfaces for you in that moment, THAT is what you’re really dealing with when it comes to money – especially love + money.
Keep this in mind as it’s one of the best ways to avoid the trap of the trend that can lead couples to miss the whole point of the purpose and intent of talking about love and money..
Remember, talking about love + money is about engaging in on-going, love-based conversations. Not an interrogation.
p.s. coming soon: “Money, A Menage a Trois” a webinar designed to help make talking about love + money less awkward and yo make the act of managing + merging finances easier and more fun!