Although difficult to discuss under any circumstance, the subject of financial inequality can be especially tough to broach in poly relationships. We live in a society that equates wealth with power, and it can sometimes be challenging to separate our thoughts from that as we strive to engage in egalitarian relationships with people who face differing socioeconomic realities.
It’s easy to say that money doesn’t matter where love is concerned, and maybe on a basic level it doesn’t, but the fact remains that those with money have more options and more control over their environments than those without, and who wants to face that reality when we’re all trying to exist on an even plane?
I’m not suggesting that we as ploy lovers should only ever seek out partners with bank balances comparable to our own; but rather that we should try to cope with financial differences in a sensitive way.
How to Handle Financial Inequality within Your Poly Relationships
1. Don’t be Afraid to Acknowledge It
I know you might all feel awkward about it to start, but it really is best to talk openly about financial inequalities within your polycule. Once everything is out there on the table, take some time to talk about how money impacts your lives as individuals. Really try to understand the other’s point of view. It could be that everyone’s conditioned ideas about money are leading to faulty assumptions or misunderstandings. Getting things out in the open can only serve to strengthen your relationships.
For example, how do your partners feel about you always having to pick up the cheque on dates? Or, if your situation is the opposite, how do you feel about not being able to spend as freely as your partners? What can be done to balance things out a bit?
2. Respect the Boundaries
Once the conversation has started, try to establish some rules or boundaries, that will help everyone feel respected and in control within your relationships. Maybe you’ll agree that doing only one expensive activity a month is a good compromise. If so, be sure to stick to that agreement.
Don’t suddenly approach your less wealthy partner(s) with plans for a big night out, offering to foot the bill. This can feel disempowering and awkward to a lover who might feel obligated to accept for fear of disappointing you. From the other perspective, don’t push for that big night out if you’ve expressed concern over not being able to afford it. That will put pressure on your partner(s) to provide for you, which can feel just as awkward.
3. Allow Yourself to Enter into Your Partner’s World
Setting up boundaries around financial matters in your relationship(s) doesn’t mean that you should live separate lives from one another. In fact, the more you can engage in your partners’ socioeconomic worlds, the better. I have a great deal less money than my partner, but rather than drive us everywhere, he bought a bus pass so he can travel around with me on my terms. The flip side of that is that I’ve opened myself up to travelling with my partner to other cities and even other countries.
At first I felt weird about accepting such expensive trips until I saw how much he loves to share these experiences with me. It’s all about finding a balance and feeling powerful and respected no matter how far apart your financial situations may be.
How do you handle socioeconomic differences in your relationships? I’d love to know, so leave a comment!