Ask Ada: Will Income Differences Affect My Relationship?

Welcome to “Ask Ada,” a weekly series in which we answer all those burning questions you’d rather not share aloud. Buckle up for some brutally honest advice!

Does income difference affect new relationships?



Hi Curious,

Well, the short answer is that yes, income differences impact relationships just as much as anything else.

Some people have justified reasons to worry about income differences in their new relationships. For those who have ever supported a deadbeat partner or bankrolled a partner with lavish tastes, any income difference is a hard no. And that’s OK.

However, other people don’t care at all. They know that the world is unjust and that the size of your bank account doesn’t determine your character. These people give their partner the opportunity to show who they are as a person and only consider their finances one data point. 

There isn’t a single reason to dismiss or embrace someone solely due to their income.

At the same time, we don’t gain anything from pretending that finances are something we should just push aside like it’s nothing. Although your partner’s paycheck may not matter, your financial boundaries and money management skills do.

What those boundaries look like will vary from person to person. However, healthy financial boundaries in a relationship may include:

  1. Planning dates that you can both afford. These dates can satisfy your needs without putting either of you in a position where you have to foot the entire bill.
  2. Taking turns treating each other.
  3. Being very, very clear about who you allow to borrow your money. For example, you should never give a person more money that you would be comfortable giving as a gift. Also, if you accept a loan from a loved one, be transparent about how you are paying it back.
  4. Having honest conversations about money. These conversations should include how you turn down cool events and group hangouts if they are not in your budget.
  5. Talking to your partner about how your family was with money and why. 

If those sound really unsexy and a bit pedantic, it’s because they are.

Unfortunately, money is a part of life, and ignoring that fact is not useful to anybody. The reason why income differences negatively impact new relationships is that emotionally immature people prefer to hide their heads in the sand rather than state their needs as an adult. 

If your partner does not respond to your open conversation about money or pushes your boundaries on it, that gives you some very valuable information about their character. What you do with that is up to you. 

Good luck,


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