There are some things you should just never say on a first date.
Like “You looked better in your photos.” Or “Where do you see this relationship going?”
And then, there is the one question many dating experts refer to as the biggest conversation faux-pas ever:
“How much money do you make?”
Let’s start off by saying that this is (mostly) a fair question.
The desire to know someone’s financial situation is understandable. Money problems are almost always cited as the number one relationship breaker-upper for couples. Better to nip that potential red flag in the bud ASAP, right?
Some people think it’s perfectly fine to ask and talk about money on a first date.
In fact, 35% of millennials are actually okay with discussing salary, credit score, and student loan or credit card debt on a first meet.
Many dating experts say never to ask about money on a first date. But even if you do ask, the dollar figure won’t tell you whether you’re financially compatible with this new person, or if you may have money problems in the future as a couple. Luckily, there are ways to subtly gauge whether your financial behaviors and attitudes align--even as early on as a first date.
But here’s the thing:
So unless you’re going to ask a lot of follow-up questions, there’s really no reason to jump into this taboo topic on the first date.
Forget numbers: it’s all about financial compatibility
Still want some money-related answers from your potential romantic partner?
Look for signs of “financial compatibility.” Trust us, it’s sexier than it sounds. (Okay, maybe not. But it’s still really, really important to have in a relationship.)
Financial compatibility doesn’t mean you have to make the same amount of money. It’s about sharing like-minded values and beliefs about money, and applying similar decision-making to your finances.
Yes, these may seem like little things on a first or second meet. But a lack of financial compatibility can lead to a whole slew of problems down the road.
So here’s the deal: we can’t in good conscience recommend bringing up the subject directly, especially early-on. But there are some sneaky workarounds to establish baseline financial compatibility. Because who wants to fall in love, only to find out a year later that your future spouse owes tens of thousands to the IRS?
So here’s what you can do now to avoid heartache due to money misalignment in the future:
5 stealth money questions to ask a potential partner early on
The first rule for talking about money on the first date is, don’t talk about money on the first date. Well, not overtly anyway.
Instead, be subtle in how you steer the conversation.
Here are a few information-gathering questions to ask your date, without making your actual intentions too obvious:
Remember, that this conversation is a two-way street. Don’t ask a potential partner a question you’re not willing to answer yourself.
Instead, wait until you feel the time is right.
So when is the right time to ask “How much money do you make?”, and put all your proverbial cards on the table?
Getting financially “naked” is about starting to have those really tough, often uncomfortable money conversations.
These are the talks where you both disclose all the good and not-so-good numbers. Your income. Your net worth. Your credit score. Your debts. Your struggles. And any plans or concerns you both have about money—as well as expectations of the other person in terms of support.
You don’t need to divulge everything super-early on in a relationship. But you do need to do it if your relationship evolves to the point of moving in together. After all, how can you build a life together without knowing one another’s financial situations?
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
If there’s anything to learn from this post, it’s that talking about money in a new relationship is a process.
Rather than rushing to know all the things, take smaller steps as you patiently chip away at the overarching topic of money--while using as much tact as possible.
So time and phrase your questions appropriately. Be considerate. And respect the other person’s comfort level, especially on that first meet.
And never forget this: when it comes to detecting financial compatibility, the first date is just the beginning. It might not seem like a very significant step. But it’s the first and best place to set the foundation for more in-depth conversations into the future.