Many of us may have a running list of requirements that our significant other must fulfill. They’re honest, kind, hard-working … the list goes on. But what about a sense of how responsible you are financially? Turns out millennials aren’t just interested in swiping right — they want a peek into your financial prowess, and they aren’t afraid to ask for it, according to a new survey from Bankrate.
Increasingly, Gen Yers are openly chatting about their salaries, student loans, and credit card debt, with 35% saying that they’re cool with broaching these topics on the first (yes, first!) date, and 60% saying that knowing their crush’s credit score will impact whether or not there will be a second.
We live in a world where far too many people talk about money even with those they’re closest to. So how — and why — have millennials gotten so bold? Chalk it up to life experience says financial expert Stefanie O’Connell, author of “The Bold And Beautiful Life.” By the time many millennial men and women look toward marriage, they’ve each accumulated a significant level of wealth or debt — or maybe both — O’Connell says. They know from experience how money will impact all their life goals and future decisions. They also understand that financial disagreements are one of the leading causes of divorce. “Women have their own wealth to protect,” she says. It’s understandable that they’re being careful.
And yet … a lousy credit score doesn’t always raise the red flag on character issues. It could have been caused by a medical emergency, by youthful impulses you’ve outgrown, by identity theft. “It’s not just about how they got there, but what they’re doing to combat it,” O’Connell says. “The assumption is that the debt is caused by spending it on something they didn’t need but it’s really important to get the full story behind the number.”
Millennials tend to be more progressive than other generations, but sometimes we do fall into what we think of as historical gender norms. The survey shows that 24% of women would be fine with their date making significantly less money than they do. That’s far less than the 44% of men who feel the same way.“Times have changed, but gender norms remain,” Bankrate’s Amanda Dixon says. “The notion of the male being the primary provider in a relationship has not completely disappeared yet. Some women don’t mind stepping up and serving as the breadwinner, but most expect their date to earn more than them and bring more to the table from a financial perspective.”
And yet … a low salary may not represent a lack of ambition. It may simply be a sign that your date chose to enter a lower paying field, or that they spent more time in school and haven’t spent as many years in the workforce. If you’re feeling good about the person on the other side of the table in other ways, this may be a good time to reconsider exactly why you feel your partner should earn more, and what life might look like if you were the primary breadwinner.
Clearly this shift in financial attitudes is something of a work in progress. One way in which millennials are showing themselves to be more progressive is in splitting the check. More than a third — 37% — expect to go dutch on a first date, higher than any other generation. (They’re also willing to shell out a few more bucks on said date — an average $97, about $10 more than people spend overall.)
More than a third of millennials — 37% — expect to go dutch on a first date, higher than any other generation.
That’s a good thing, says O’Connell. Splitting the bill can help put your relationship in an equitable space from the beginning of your relationship — it lets your date know where you stand when it comes to financial responsibility. “Taking out your card is about establishing the model of equality you want in your relationship. Family structures are changing, and if you’re a woman who intends on being a breadwinner in your household, setting that precedence is important,” O’Connell says.
And yet … when a woman offers to pay, it can send a message that you’re drawing a line in the sand — one that says, “We’re just friends and nothing more.” If going dutch is important to you from the standpoint of financial independence, then you may want to be clear about your intentions when the check comes.
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