Dating a Man With Financial Problems: Is He Using Me for Money?
Just because you’re dating a guy who is going through financial troubles doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s only dating you for your money — but there are other red flags that do. Are you dating a gold digger? Let’s find out.
What Is a Gold Digger?
In modern culture and media, gold diggers are usually depicted as a woman willing to date or even marry a man for his wealth, status, or lifestyle. But lately we are hearing about and even seeing more examples of male gold diggers taking advantage of women and men alike.
In the podcast and TV series titled Dirty John, a successful woman, Debra Newell, starts dating a man she’d met on the internet named John Meehan. He seems nice and handsome enough, and he adores her from their very first date. There were a few warning signs, but she pushed her worries aside and focused on all the good things about him.
Without spoiling too much of the story, he turns out to be “Dirty John” the gold digger, and much worse. This is an extreme example of a male gold digger taking advantage of a successful businesswoman for his own personal gain. In extreme cases like this one, a gold digger can be dangerous.
Anybody can be a gold digger, and true to their nature, they can be difficult to identify because they’re generally good at lying and keeping secrets. However, a gold digger isn’t just somebody going through a temporary financial rough patch, and there are common red flags that can help you identify them.
Identifying a Gold Digger’s Red Flags
Viewing a bad spending/saving habit as a red flag doesn’t necessarily align with popular opinion, but it’s not selfish or shallow either. In fact, it can be very important for your future and long-term financial well-being. Studies show that finances are the leading cause of relationship stress which can often lead to divorce. It’s important to find a partner who shares your financial values and priorities. This doesn’t have much to do with anyone’s income, savings, or net worth — it’s more about how they handle their money and their responsibilities.
If you’re the type of person that values financial independence, security and responsibility, who has worked hard to earn what you have but makes a point to save, invest, and spend mindfully, then you’re probably most compatible with people who share similar values. If you’re dating someone who displays the following red flags, it doesn’t definitively mean they’re after your money, but it could be a sign that you two aren’t compatible:
- When you first started dating, he was chivalrous and a true gentleman. He probably paid for everything, but maybe it was always with a credit card. Then, once you showed real interest or commitment, the act dropped and he started asking you to cover most bills.
- He forgets his wallet, frequently. This might happen when you go shopping together or when you’re out to an expensive restaurant that he suggested.
- He has expensive tastes in clothes, gadgets, luxury apartments and cars, but he doesn’t have the means to sustain this lifestyle. Again, watch out for sneaky credit and loan usage.
- He pressures and hounds you to enjoy your money but doesn’t uphold his own financial responsibility for trips or entertainment.
- He doesn’t respect your values for saving and mindful spending. He tells you what you should do with your money or starts nit-picking your job or career.
- He has become emotional or clearly agitated if you forgot your purse and wallet behind.
- He has financial struggles, but he’s always deflecting the blame to someone or something else. Financial struggles aren’t always a red flag, but avoiding your role in your own situation is.
- He refuses to spend money on the most basic household needs.
- He doesn’t tip for service.
- He asks you for money, repeatedly. Whether it’s a loan and he asks again after you’ve already said no, or he’s making a habit of asking for a little here and there, it’s a red flag.
- Going through a period of unemployment or working part-time isn’t always a red flag, but lacking any career ambition and being unable to hold down a job is.
When you spot red flags early in a relationship, it’s best to address them immediately instead of making excuses and pushing your worries aside. Relationship issues fueled by conflicting financial values might seem insignificant or even cute at first but they can become major life troubles later on.
When to Break the Chain
Let’s get one thing straight — you can break up with anyone at any time for any reason. If you’re just not feeling into it, you don’t have to justify your decision to anybody. Your relationships and your life are made up of your choices, and if a relationship isn’t working out for you for any reason, you can choose to leave it.
However, if you like him, but you’re still not sure if he’s in it for the right reasons, now is a good time to address your concerns and start looking for red flags. Only you can decide for yourself what red flags are going to be deal-breakers. It’s a good idea to establish your boundaries now so you can stick to them when you’re dating.
What’s important to you in a relationship? If it’s financial independence, then a man that asks you for cash or loans probably won’t be compatible with you. Knowing that’s a dealbreaker for you means that you can end the relationship if that red flag comes up.
On the other hand, if you value ambition and entrepreneurship, you might date someone early in his career. If he’s okay with living within his means and respects your boundaries, then maybe you don’t see any red flags — but if he’s trying to achieve another standard of living off of your dime, that’s a deal-breaker.
This isn’t about exclusively dating men who earn a minimum income or meet a net worth threshold; it’s about knowing your values and ensuring nobody takes advantage of you. Remember that financial troubles aren’t always a sign he’s a gold digger, but, fortunately, there are plenty of other warning signs to let you know if he is. Remember, respect yourself, manifest your choices, and never let anybody else leech off of you, financially or otherwise — you deserve better than that.
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Tylene is a freelancer in Boise, Idaho. She's a self-taught personal finance hacker with zero debt. She eats avocado toast for breakfast.
This post was updated March 18, 2019. It was originally published February 14, 2019.