SEX AND MONEY—What's There To Talk About?Mar 17, 2023
We’ve all heard the term “love is blind.”
At the beginning of a relationship, hot chemistry can override all reason, and we plunge head-over-heels in love, believing this person could be The One. And they might be-but not if there are big surprises in store. From the start, you need to be open with your partner about both of the Biggies: Sex and Money. It doesn’t matter whether you and your partner choose to sleep together and share finances or have separate bedrooms and separate bank accounts, as long as you get comfortable talking about sex and money issues.
When I refer to “Sex,” I mean all matters intimate from how you like to be kissed and touched, to what time of day you feel most sexy, to the actual motions and emotions of making love. There are no right or wrong desires, but keep in mind that vagueness about what you want and lack of communication will make for tough going in becoming more intimate.
“Money” refers to everything regarding how you use your resources: your values and lifestyle, including the food you eat, the car you drive, the home you live in, the vacations you take, and where you choose to invest your money. While you might not immediately ask if s/he wants to put the kids in private school, there are some basic money issues that need attention up front.
Who picks up the tab can be an issue at all ages and stages of the dating game. I’ve heard from many clients that the most uncomfortable part of the first date is when the dinner bill comes. And then there’s paying for other shared activities.
Jason and Rebecca had been dating for several months and things were going well. Rebecca, who was eager to take the relationship to the next level, was thrilled when Jason asked her to go with him to a four-day Tantra workshop. When they arrived, Jason pulled out his checkbook and started to write a check for $595 to cover his tuition. Rebecca, however, made no move to pay. With a sinking feeling, Jason realized Rebecca expected him to pay for her as well. Rather than talking about it, he changed the amount of his check to $1190.00; neither of them said a word.
It won't surprise you to know the Tantra workshop wasn't fun for either of them. This lack of communication about money ultimately doomed the possibility of a long-term relationship.
Nicole and Charlie had been dating for a few months. Nicole earned a meager salary working for a not-for-profit organization, while Charlie, who worked in sales, brought in a hefty income. He took her to up-scale restaurants and always picked up the bill. Nichole began to feel that she “owed” Charlie, but she wanted to feel in a position of choice rather than feeling pressured into having sex.
In my coaching with Nicole, we came up with a way to even the playing field – providing him home-cooked meals. After they had enjoyed several of her wonderful meals, Nicole felt more balanced in the relationship, and when they did sleep together it was at her invitation.
Whether on your first date, or your tenth anniversary, communication is the key to sustainable relationships.
But when is the best time to bring up these sensitive subjects and how do you go about it? The answer is: as soon as possible and as sensitively as possible. If you wait to talk about sex and money until the relationship is in full gear, you risk de-railing it – or having you or your partner get hurt.
Samantha, at forty, is a high-powered attorney who makes a great living. On her first date with Mark, he told her how much money he makes and asked about her income. Samantha was stunned that he broke the taboo about talking about money -- especially on a first date. Mark explained that it was different values about money that had recently caused his marriage to breakup, thus he was intent on transparency in subsequent relationships.
After her initial surprise, Samantha found the topic refreshing. Mark’s openness about money made it possible for her to be open about her desire to have a baby as soon as possible. They immediately felt closer by telling each other the truth. And though they haven’t yet become a couple, they know the issues they need to deal with.
In talking about sex and money, you may need to hone your communication skills. It’s important to recognize that both topics have many associated taboos, and it’s unusual for couples to engage with them up front like Samantha and Mark did. Ask your partner if it works for them to talk about either sensitive topic before you just jump into things. Be gentle and careful, but tell the truth.
But most important is to know what you want!
Women in particular tend not to connect with their desires – and to ask for what they want. They are afraid they can’t have it – and often they don’t even know how to receive when it’s offered. You can’t communicate unless you first know what are your true desires and your values in life. Once you are clear, you can see if a potential partner shares those values, and whether you have found The One who is interested in having a relationship based on open and honest communication.
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