In the waning weeks of 2021, I joined Instagram as me (as opposed to Afrop Penny) after refusing to join for years. Much as I expected, it is the same fun, interactive, time sink that Facebook was when I joined in 2004; I haven’t been on Facebook in years. However, perhaps that is true of all social media. In any instance, thus far I have enjoyed the mix of information and engagement while doing my best to tolerate the rampant advertising and consumerism. Occasionally, there is a post that encourages me to be thoughtful or write a blog post, and I appreciate that. Today as I was scrolling, I read a shared post from a woman, in which she stated:
I was dating a rich guy and he asked me, “Would you ever consider dating someone who was struggling?” I told him no. That for personal reasons, I would not consider dating someone who did not have their life together. He then said, “Well, for me, you are that struggling person.” He ended the relationship shortly after this conversation.
Unfortunately, as is the case in many parts of the internet, the comments that she received were not…positive. Many folks shared unhelpful, and often misogynist, thoughts that essentially called her a gold-digger and shamed her for her dating preferences. After reading a follow-up post, for the most part, it seems she took the end of the relationship with this rich person in stride, as she feels that everyone is entitled to their preferences, including her rich exes’ desire not to date someone who wouldn’t date him if he were struggling.
As is obviously the case, this got me to reflect a bit about my own experiences and preferences. The answer to the blog title, “Would you date someone in debt?” is a “yes” for me. I think it would make me the worst sort of hypocrite if I refused to date someone because they had debt. That being said, it would need to be made evident, through honest conversation, that we had a shared perspective about the utility of debt in our lives. I once dated a guy with poor credit and significant financial debt. He also had really bad anxiety issues. I told him that developing a plan to pay off his debt and improve his credit might help. He demurred. Years later, we are still really good friends (this is the one instance where I am friends with an ex) and he is still in significant credit card debt.
And then there have been other guys, like Gentleman Avery or the guy I dated before him. Guys who, like the man in the Instagram post, are either rich or are in a really strong financial position. Previously, I have felt insecure and ashamed about my financial position in contrast to theirs and so I didn’t really talk about it. Or I held back emotionally for fear that deeper intimacy would eventually force me to disclose how much debt I had. And I never wanted that to happen because how could someone know of my debt and still want me?
I think shared values are important to the success of any relationship. Given the outsized role money plays in our lives, I think that it is even more important that even if we aren’t starting in the same place, we have shared values and beliefs around our approach to managing money and our long terms financial goals. I’m obviously still not where I want to be with money but I have come a long way from my lowest point, and I am no longer struggling.