Love without money or money without love?

Love without money?
Love without money? Src: from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany

They say money can buy you a dog, but only love can make it wag its tale.

Wow. We must be pretty hooked on the idea that money can’t buy love – we’re bringing dogs into it!

That idea looks great on the big screen, too: love stands higher than the material world. Tons of Hollywood scripts revolve around the cliché of a rich guy chasing after a girl who doesn’t love him and is, instead, in love with a poor guy. The rich guy is either boring or doesn’t truly love her, while the poor guy can give her everything she needs – except money. Girl runs off with poor guy to live happily ever after, THE END, roll credits.

Only we never really know if they do live happily ever after. The movie usually ends at, or soon after, runaway point.


I’m sure you all cried when Jack went forever into the deep cold ocean. I did, too.

But don’t you think that the “Titanic” sank at a very convenient moment? That way, we never got the chance to see what Rose’s life would have been with him.

There’s a widely spread notion that if you marry for money without love, your life will be easy and comfortable but you’ll never be truly happy. Probably true. Then there’s the idea that if you marry for love without money, your life will be tough but even with all the struggle and hardship you will be happy.

Now that’s probably false.

Not too long ago, as pictured in Jane Austen’s novels, society had viewed marrying for money as something perfectly acceptable, if not even encouraged. It’s no secret that there were – and still are today in some countries – many arranged marriages where older relatives matched their young according to education, social standing, and wealth.

While these factors are still taken into account nowadays, it seems that society today has much more praise for marrying for love, while looking down on marrying for money.

The romantic sentiment for love without money is strong enough to take certain types of stories to epic stardom, such as “The gift of the Magi” by O. Henry.

It’s about a young couple in love, James and Della. Della takes pride in her beautiful long hair, and James’ most valued possession is a golden watch.

Christmas is coming and they have no money. Secretly, James sells his watch to buy Della combs for her hair; secretly, Della cuts and sells her hair to buy a chain for James’ watch.

So they realize how deeply they love each other. It’s so romantic. The end.

But if those two love-doves had money, they wouldn’t need to sacrifice and in the end they could actually use the gifts and enjoy them. Instead, because they didn’t have money, James was left with a useless chain and a bold wife.

But enough about stories and movies. In real life, when poverty walks through the door, love flies out the window.

The only way you could enjoy love without money is if both you and your partner start off small and work your way to riches together. Even if you never get rich, the journey itself will actually bring you closer.

Of course, the definitions for what’s rich and what’s poor are conditioned by the circumstances you grew up with. If you grew up in a cheap two-bedroom apartment without a family car, then you wouldn’t feel that living in a three-bedroom apartment and driving a 20-year old Ford is poor. Yet if you grew up in a big house, had your own car at sixteen and helped with the family business, you’d have a hard time settling for a lesser life.


You can’t live on love alone. Love don’t pay no bills.

Suppose you’ve chosen to marry for love without money. You and your partner are broke. You go to the store, fill up your cart with food, and you head for checkout. The cashier rings up your items: “That’ll be 22 €.” You go, “Oh, sorry, we don’t have any money; but we love each other very, very much!” Let me know how that works out.

Money is the engine behind independence and control – two things (among countless others) that love alone can’t provide for you.

Kim Kiyosaki points out that many women are completely dependent on their husbands for money. (Striking! Wasn’t that the same thing Jane Austen wrote about back in 1787 ?) If it’s temporary, it’s actually not such a bad thing – people get sick, go through tough times, or make risky decisions such as changing jobs during recession , ending up broke. Knowing you can depend on your spouse is a great thing to have.

But what if you’re completely dependent on him and it’s permanent?

I’ve heard horror stories about how drastically things change once the husband starts earning significantly more than the wife. She thinks the family could use a new refrigerator, he thinks he’d love a flat screen to watch sports on. If they can’t reach an agreement, it all comes down to “Hey, after all it’s my money!”

That sucks. But do you think she packs her bags and leaves him? Nope. According to Kim Kiyosaki, many women stay in dead marriages just because they can’t afford to be on their own.

It’s true. I’ve been there.

Back in my Sofia years, my then-boyfriend and I rented a flat together. For quite a while he was making more than me, usually two times more. He was a construction worker and up until 2009, his wages were really good.

But when the recession hit in 2009, he brought less and less money home, and his pay was now irregular and often late. That’s when we started having our first serious fights, and they were all about money. I couldn’t rely on him to provide his half of the rent money on time, and – this was the real issue – he didn’t seem to care.

After several big fights and two nights without electricity due to unpaid bills, I started thinking about moving out.

However, if one of us wanted to move out, the other one couldn’t keep the place we rented as a couple because it was too big and expensive for a single person. Each of us had to move to a new place as a single tenant, in which case we had to cough up money for realtor fees, transportation costs and deposits… So it took us several months before we could afford to break up.

And what if we had a kid?


Whoever has the money calls the shots.

Recently, GRS posted this: If parents are paying for college, are any majors off limits? The parents of a young girl had a college fund saved up for her, thinking she would study to be an attorney. When they learned she wanted to be a film-maker, the parents started wondering about whether they should still give her the money – or tell her they’ll only pay for a “sensible” major.

My reply?

You should try to TALK her out of it, not THREATEN her out of it.

If you can’t talk your daughter out of a major choice like this, you need to re-examine the quality of your relationship with her. Why did you not see this coming sooner? Why would she not listen to her parents? I think that’s the bigger issue.

There’s always a “bigger issue” behind money. In this case, it was about who has the final say about a major life decision. Do you want to leave that up to someone else, even if that someone is your parents or your spouse?

How you handle money reflects how you handle risk, responsibility, planning… and life in general. That’s why savers and spenders don’t last together. That’s why rich and poor don’t mix.

A friend and I recently talked about couples we both knew, and about who had the upper hand in those couples. She said it’s the one who is better at solving problems; I say that coincides with the one who brings more money.

If the one in charge is the best problem-solver, and if nowadays solving problems requires money, then the one with the money is the one in charge. The one who has control.

I used to think men would appreciate a woman who’s independent and who’s not a burden on them financially. I mean, it must get tiring to constantly take care of someone else’s bills: a coffee now, a soda later, the occasional dinner… over time it adds up.

But I’m not so sure anymore. Men need to feel powerful, and they need to feel they’re in control. Paying the bills is the obvious way to assert that.

A bill sitting on the table, staring you in the eye, is a sort of a “problem”, and the knight in shining armor rushes to solve it! But if you, his lady, solve it for yourself, he feels like you are not so much his lady but more of another knight he has to compete with for the charge.

When a woman is paying her own bills, it comes off as “I can take care of myself, I don’t need you, so I don’t have to listen to you. You are not in charge.”

Maybe some women don’t mind depending on a guy and letting him make all the decisions. Maybe these women prefer not to be bothered with making decisions. I guess I’m not like that. I want 50/50! (And if we are buying a car together, I’m going to use all my voting power to get a pink one.)

While my ex and I were still together, we had a brief period when I was unemployed and managed to earn just enough money to pay my part of rent and utilities, plus some humble amounts for food.

That meant when he wanted to go out for pizza, I had to say I couldn’t afford to; then he of course would say it will be on him.

I usually went along but kept my mouth shut and left all the decisions to him. Take the bus, cab, or walk? Order small, medium or large? Beer or soda? Since it was him paying for everything, I felt it would be inappropriate for me to say “No, I want this (more expensive) type of pizza” or “I don’t want to ride the bus, let’s get a cab.”

I’m not saying he didn’t ask me what I wanted. I’m not saying he rubbed it in my nose that I was dependent on him. But you can’t throw demands when you’re on the courtesy of the other person.

Whoever has the money calls the shots.


I hope you don’t misunderstand me. I have no problem with men who are currently broke. I have a huge problem with men who don’t mind being broke.

(And women.)

((Not that I’d ever date women.))

I talked to a really nice guy recently, and all was going great, but when I mentioned money he kinda brushed it off. “Money’s not important,” he said, “it’s only love that matters.”


“Love is more important than money,” I said, “but you can’t have love without money.”

“Why not?”

“No romance without finance. When poverty walks in the door, love flies out the window. Need more clichés?”

“Wow, you’re more material than I thought.”

“I’m not! But our world is a material world. Having a car, putting gas in the tank, going out for drinks – it all comes with a pricetag.”

“So you’re saying you must have money before you can have love?”


“And just how much money do you need so you can have love?”

“It’s definitely more than what I have now.”

“Then how long will it take for you to raise that money?”

Ouch! Okay, I get the hint. Yes, if you wait to settle down until your life is all neat and orderly, you’ll have to be fifty. Or ninety.

Still, I can’t bring myself to think about having a family and raising kids on what I currently make. Besides, having a young kid would significantly limit your earning opportunities – kids need time and money, meaning there’s less time and money for developing additional income streams; and kids also make relocation that much harder.

Not to mention it’s pretty damn hard to be romantic without cab money, drinks money, restaurant money, calls money and presents money. There’s nothing romantic about cheap restaurants or riding the bus.

Being cheap is never sexy, unless we’re talking about a low-budget adult movie.

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10 thoughts on “Love without money or money without love?”

  1. I totally disagree with your point of view about money and love. Yes a men has to make more money than the woman, not because he has to be in control but because when she gets pregnant he still has to support the family and only the girl could be a mom. But I think that it`s stupid to not falsl in love just because you don`t have money for pizza. If a guy likes you he will be thrilled by the opportunity to make you happy and fulfill your desires. He will take a cab, take you to a nice restaurant and pay the bill. I usually don`t mind paying the bill for a girl that I like and believe me the girls are not with me because of a fancy car or nice places, they are with me because I`m smart, charming and I treat them well.

    So the point is that you could have love without money and love is not something that you could buy. And you could be romantic without money as well because there is no cost in a love note or in making someone smile as the hugs are still free as well. I don`t mind to spend a whole day at home with a nice girl just watching movies or talking even playing chess. And for me there is nothing romantic in expensive places which we both can`t afford. About the kids and money according to the Bulgarian law the minimum sum per person in a family with kids is 350 lv. So a family of 3 persons, a boy a girl and a kid, should have a minimum income of 1050 lv – I don`t think this is a huge amount of money for a family to be started. One of my co-workers has 3 kids and a wife and his monthly expenses are around 1500 lv and this is 5 persons household. So money should not be the reason to not fall in love.

  2. I think You are too young, but You are right. There is another cliché. Love is nothing. Marriage is not something special. The real life begins with Mortgage.

  3. @Kredit

    I’m not saying that men want to make money just so they can have control; but it doesn’t make the point that whoever has the money calls the shots any less valid.

    “they are with me because I`m smart, charming and I treat them well.” – lol :)) okay, good for you! :)

    And yes, you could be romantic without money but you can only go so far. Notes, hugs and kisses… ha! How about this: your wife is pregnant but you can’t afford a car or a cab so she has to go to the hospital with the bus. How about this: your wife wants to visit her parents for their anniversary but you can’t afford travel money? How about this: What are you going to do when winter hits and you can’t afford the heating bill?

    Love without money has it’s charm in high school or in college. After that… if you constantly rub the struggle to make ends meet on your wedding rings, all the shine wears off.

  4. I could not agree more with you on the subject at hand! If you don’t mind my saying so, you are quite smart for your age or any age for that matter. Might wanna think of changing of scenery though, views like yours (based on your posts) are not much appreciated in Bulgaria, unfortunately. Good luck with your site and keep up the good work!

  5. @Kalin – thank you and welcome to the comments community ;)

    As for “changing the scenery”, it’s not completely out of the question, but it’s not a pressing matter right now.

  6. I really don`t think that we should fall in love for money.

    So in your point of view the men should have money for heating bills, travel expenses and a cab ride to the hospital. So for you, the girl should not have her own money and should be dependent on the man and then you start saying that the man calls the shots because he has money. I do see a double standard there.

    What if the man doesn’t have money and is all co-dependent on the rich woman he is dating ? What should he do – not watching sports, keeping the house clean etc.?

    I don`t think that money matters only for guys though. You only see it one way, from the girl’s point of view, that the man should pay for everything.

    However there is another point of view that it`s possible for the woman to pay for everything. I really think that it should be equal and that the money should not be the reason to love someone. I think it is more important to love someone not because he has money and can support you, but because he will support you when you have issues in your live (or if you have money but you have problems with your parents).

    I think that it`s really important to have someone who will listen to your problems and help you solve them instead of just giving you a huge amount of money to “solve” your issues.

    I really think that you should re-think your point of view about this.

  7. I’m not saying we should “fall in love for money”. No one can fall in love for money. But people often simulate love (act as if they are in love) for money.

    I’m not saying that women should be completely dependent on men for money; actually I wrote quite the opposite :)

    Yes, I think you and your partner should do your best to contribute evenly towards your common expenses and goals. But this system fails if one partner can’t provide their half.

    Yes, it is great to have the emotional support of your partner, to know they understand you and will be there for you. But all the emotional support in the world will do you little good if it’s not backed up by money. For example, “Oh, honey, your cat is sick? Oh I’m so sorry, I feel for you, I understand what you’re going through, but I just can’t help you with the vet bill so we’re just gonna have to let lil Fluffy die, mkay?”

  8. Rya, in my childhood, I believed in all the idelistic cliches for money and love. As the years passed, I became more and more material and I wished I was wiser.
    But I know for sure, that the person`s character is more important than money. For example if your ex was trying to work instead of just sitting and do nothing, you wouldn`t move out. So you broke up because you and him didn`t look in the same direction. It was not only about the money. It was kind of a test for you staying togather.
    But I understand that money are more important than I thought when I was little. And I am sorry I`ve lost so much time to figure this out.

  9. @Teodora – welcome back, Teddy :)

    Of course character is more important than money, absolutely. And you’re also right about the problems with my ex – it wasn’t just about money, it was about attitude.

    Another thing I realized recently is this: it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together. You could be together for years (like us) and still be surprised at how the person acts when trouble comes. So it’s not just about the times you’ve had together, it’s about how TRYING those times have been.

    You can never really know a person through and through until life throws you a challenge. I think it’s much like the glass used on a car’s windshield. It seems okay if you just look at it, but you’ll never know how tough it is until a rock hits it. Some hold up, some crack, and some just turn to sand.

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