One of the best ways to find a successful relationship is to approach dating like a financial planner. I’ll explain the idea in a moment, but the rule of thumb is simple: Don’t be more careful with your money than you are with your feelings.
Far too often, men and women are more careful and thoughtful in the way they manage their money than they are in choosing romantic partners. People get lured into unhealthy dating relationships every day, but many of these same individuals would never let themselves get lured into a bad investment where they lose some or all of their money.
How does this happen? People are more careful with money because money is something they can’t live without. Especially if you are young or starting out in your career, you probably don’t have a lot of funds. You’re not going to get involved in a get-rich-quick scheme because you don’t have money that you can afford to lose.
On the other hand, men and women take more risks with relationships. Here’s the interesting – and confusing – part: people sometimes date someone they know might break their heart or hurt them because they feel, at root, like they can afford the emotional pain. In other words, they start dating that risky individual and tell themselves that they will survive and recover if it doesn’t work out. But thinking about how a financial planner would approach things, it’s like saying that you’d be okay with the possibility of losing money. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, right? If you invest in a relationship as if your feelings are like money, you would be much more careful about whom you date.
Do your research.
Any wise investor does their research before they put money into an investment. Why then do so many men and women move too fast in dating, getting their hearts broken because they rushed things and overlooked crucial red flags?
Men and women who move too fast in dating treat relationships kind of like a drug: they just want to feel good and happy, and they want to feel those feelings quickly. But the safest way to start a relationship is to spend time together once or twice per week over several weeks so that you have time to see this person in different situations. That’s what “doing your research” looks like.
When you date in this cautious and measured way, you won’t develop intense feelings too fast. You won’t introduce that person to your friends or family too soon; you won’t gush to your best friend about how you think you found The One; and you won’t spend a good chunk of your day daydreaming about that new person. In the same way a financial planner would watch a stock for months to see how it performs before actually buying it, the wise dater watches the person they’re dating across situations over time to confirm if this is someone who is a truly sound investment.
Get out before you lose too much.
If a financial planner has a stock that’s losing money every day for a month, what do you think that planner will do next? Sell it! The planner will get out and stop the bleeding. When it comes to relationships, people often have a much harder time getting out. A good way to frame dating is to ask yourself, overall, how many days in a month you have been more unhappy than happy with the person you’re seeing. How many unhappy days would you have to have before you would end it? Again, think about dating like a financial planner and ask yourself how many days in a month you would be willing to lose money. (The answer: not many.)
Document your bad days.
If you notice that your relationship is taking a turn toward unhappiness, write in a journal each time that you feel unhappy or put a tiny “x” on the calendar for that day to remind yourself that this was an Unhappy Relationship Day. Once you start seeing a pattern – you keep having more bad days than good ones – you are staying in the relationship because of low self-esteem or unhealthy beliefs you have about yourself and what you deserve.
To bring yourself back to reality, ask yourself this each day that your new relationship leaves you feeling unhappy, lonely, or angry: How many days do I have to lose money in a month before I take my money and run?
About the Author:
Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve