Try to learn as early on as you can not to identify yourself with things that aren’t yours. Meaning things that you did not earn, living a lifestyle that you alone cannot sustain or placing your self-worth on what you may have/do because of someone else.
Before I go any further, I feel as if I should write a brief disclaimer for any feminists who may read this piece and operate under the false assumption that I am generalizing women and/or only referring to women. This piece is relevant across genders and applicable to a myriad of relationships. Though I will be writing from the perspective of a woman in a relationship with a man where there is a significant disparity in finances. Again, I am fully aware that this can be the case for all types of relationships and am not singling out one particular kind.
Am I a member of the wealthiest percentage of Americans? Not even close. Have I dated men who were amongst that percentage? Not even close. Have I dated men who were, for the most part, financially well off and in a higher financial bracket than myself? Yes!
I am sure that we have all seen instances of people dating/marrying someone who was incredibly well off usually due to their hard work in their respective careers. Over the course of the relationship, assuming that one partner wasn’t as well off as the other, the well off partner uses his/her money to help lift up the other partner and, together, they create a lifestyle centered on what all of that financial success can afford them. Even more typically, the lesser well off partner adopts this lifestyle and usually identifies who they are with what they have or can do because of his/her partner…
This is why things like spousal support or alimony exist. It’s because one partner shared his/her financial success with the other partner and now the other partner feels entitled to a lifestyle or amount of money that was never necessarily his/hers to begin with.
If you’re not careful, you can fall into this trap very easily. I know that I did. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Frankly, it was a learning experience and one that I’m so glad I had earlier in life. I date guys not because they have specific things, but if they happen to have them it is just a bonus only because I know it’s in alignment with what I want for myself and my life. In one sense, I’m so grateful for it because it consistently exposed me to a lot of the finer things that were out there. Perhaps, however, the greatest and most humbling lesson that I learned from those experiences was that if I wanted to have all those finer things and live a lifestyle that reflected that, I needed to earn it and not rely on being with someone who earned it for himself already.
No one owed me a damn thing. If the relationship ended, so did all of those other things.
It’s so tempting and often all too easy to adopt someone else’s lifestyle as your own simply because they’re a part of your life. Ring or no ring!
I see this happen to so many women. They get caught up with men who have a little or a lot more than they do and feel pressured to stay in unhealthy relationships/situations because they’ve taken on a lifestyle that they are unable to provide for themselves by themselves. There are literally statistics that prove exactly what I’m saying. For example, usually in the case of divorce a woman’s quality of life goes down while a man’s quality of life goes up! There are also plenty examples of women who stay in abusive relationships because they don’t believe they have the means to take care of themselves and/or their children without their partner.
I remember learning about this in a class during college and promising myself to not ever allow myself to get into a situation where I felt cornered because of finances.
If you date up, awesome! However, there are women who only date up because they’d rather depend on the generosity of someone to give them what they desire. Instead of seeing this initial change in lifestyle as a tool for motivation to try achieve it on their own accord, they will typically only date people who can help them afford this particular life. Don’t be one of those people/women. Again, there’s nothing wrong with exposure, there’s nothing wrong with desiring a particular lifestyle for yourself, but acquiring that lifestyle is your responsibility, not anyone else’s. And it definitely isn’t someone else’s responsibility to give it to you.
Firstly, you are more than any material thing. There is no man-made material or thing on this earth that is as valuable as you are. Not a car, not a ring, not a house. Secondly, you are capable. You are more than capable to work hard so that you can provide those things for yourself. Thirdly, all things are transient, allowing yourself to identify with things will only hurt if you lose them because you won’t feel like you know who you are without them.
Do you love him for him or do you love him for what you believe he can do for you? Or do you love him for what you think it says about you if you’re with him? Or do you love him because you see him as a means to get the things you want without having to work for them? Or do you love him because when you talk about him all of his accolades sound good?
I’ve had to check myself and ask myself these questions. It’s easy to get caught up when you like someone who has the ability to spend money on you. Was it really that I cared for this person that deeply or did I just really enjoy the experiences I was able to have with this person? Did I really appreciate this person or did I appreciate this person’s generosity and desire to share what he’s earned with me to a certain extent? Do you see the difference there?
I hope you do because there is a really big difference between loving a person and loving what you think a person can do for you if you’re with him/her.
True love has nothing to do with the ego. Your ego is what makes you think identifying with certain things that a person has is ok.
Now, I won’t get into the debate of only liking certain types of people who live certain types of lifestyles. You do you, boo. I’m not here to judge you or your preferences, I’m here to help you get clear on where your value as a person really comes from and it is not from another human being’s money or worldly possessions. This is so important and crucial as you navigate through your dating life.
We all like nice things in one way or another, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there’s everything wrong with the inherent belief that someone owes you some or all of what they’ve worked to acquire.
I take care of myself. And this isn’t meant to be some “Independent Women 2015 Version,” I’m just saying that I am self-sufficient and I live within my means of what I can comfortably afford. I do not expect for anyone to take care of me, not even my parents. I am owed nothing from no one. I am a capable adult. If I couldn’t afford my meal at a restaurant that I’ve been asked on a date to, guess what, I would suggest a restaurant change that was in my personal budget. I don’t spend time with someone and expect they pay, of course I always appreciate if he does out sheer generosity, but I make sure that I can financially take care of myself regardless. Depending on other people to give you what you want is a quick way to end up with a life where you can only reminisce on good experiences because of someone else and not because you were able to provide those experiences for yourself.
It felt so cool to date people who had the means to live super awesome lives full of traveling and nice things and who chose to share nice things with me during our time together. What didn’t feel so cool was when those relationships ended and many of those experiences either stopped entirely, happened a lot less frequently or as often as I could comfortably afford them. At least in the beginning before I understood the concept that I am sharing here.
People will come and go. Things will come and go. Money will come and go. I (You), however, must continuously prepare myself (yourself) to weather any change in my (your) life. Part of the security that I feel comes from knowing that I can take care of myself, not only can I do it, but with the help of God I am able to do it really well. I also understand full well that my worth as a woman is something that not even the deepest of pockets could ever afford. My self-love is also so sustaining that I am fine to leave any situation that is unhealthy no matter how much money is or isn’t there.
I had these thoughts after watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time over the weekend. I know, I know, I can’t believe that I hadn’t seen it before now either! Holly Golightly, as lovable as her character is, was all about the money and lifestyle that came with it. Though she made no secret of this, she was prepared to give up true love for it and essentially her ultimate happiness. Given, her character did this out of love for her brother, but, without giving too much away if you haven’t seen it, it later becomes clear that she just wants that kind of life and whomever she felt could give it to her. Of course, the happy ending is still cute, but the undertones of the movie definitely made me stop and think.
If my identity is associated with someone else’s identity and his “things,” I’m only cheating myself out of the amazing life that I am capable of creating and providing for myself which can have all of those same things that I was exposed to through someone else and decided I liked/enjoyed and wanted more of. I wouldn’t have to worry about my quality of life changing if someone decided they didn’t want to be with me anymore. I wouldn’t have to potentially betray myself to have or attempt to keep someone simply for all they came with. And, ultimately, I could have the satisfaction of knowing that I worked hard for everything that I had.
Other people cannot offer you security. Financial security. Emotional security. Physical security. Only you can achieve that for yourself.
Identity theft is for the weak. It’s for those who want what someone else has worked so hard for without putting in the same amount of effort. It’s for those who think that what they have and not who they are is what defines them as people.
If you’re reading this, you’re so much more than an identity thief!
I love you and believe in you and your ability to provide the life you most desire for yourself.