A objective list of things to consider to reveal the truth.
A very, very good friend of mine — someone I’ve known for a very long time — has begun dating a woman who may have ulterior motives in the relationship. My friend is apparently quite smitten with this woman and I suspect it’s because they met at a time in his life when he was feeling particularly vulnerable to an agreeable woman’s “charms.”
Sadly, my friendship with this person is on the rocks — indeed, he’s tuned me out completely and won’t listen to anything I have to say. And although many of his other friends have similar suspicions about this new woman in his life, they just want to “keep out of it” because it’s “none of their business.” I think they should be ashamed of themselves. I think friends who really care do need to get involved, at least to offer objective advice.
I’m doing my part. Here’s list of bullet points to consider when there’s a possibility that the person you have begun dating might be after your money:
- How did you meet? Dating sites are excellent tools for people trolling for good financial partners. Many sites encourage you to provide financial information such as annual income. This makes it easy for someone looking to improve their finances to find someone in a better financial situation then they’re in.
- How quickly did conversation turn to your material possessions? Did you mention your multiple homes, flashy European car, or airplane? (These are just examples, of course.) If someone is interested in your money, they’ll be impressed by what you own and more anxious to “seal the deal.”
- What techniques did this person use to get and keep your interest? This can be conversation based — for example, agreeing with everything you say or siding with you against a common enemy. Or it might be more emotionally based, such as sharing risqué photographs or personal details to gain your trust. A rather well-off friend of mine who tried dating sites told me that a few of the more desperate women sent him “boudoir photos” very early on in their email conversations.
- How quickly did the other party satisfy your basic emotional needs? I’m talking about button-pushing here — “sealing the deal.” Women can easily seal the deal with good sex, the sooner the better. Men can seal the deal with things like flowers, romance, hand-holding, cuddling, and/or excellent foreplay before sex. Someone looking for a meal ticket will want to build a strong emotional bond quickly, while you’re still wowed by all the attention you’re getting and don’t have time to think clearly about what’s really going on.
- How big is the financial inequity between you? There are five main things to consider here:
- Employment status. Is this new person gainfully employed? Has he/she been working steadily for a while or bouncing from one job to another? While being “freelance” or “self-employed” might sound good, if there’s no work and no revenue, it really doesn’t count as being gainfully employed.
- Income. Is this person earning enough income to cover living expenses with enough left over to live comfortably? Is his/her standard of living and lifestyle similar to yours?
- Outstanding debt. Does this person have a lot of outstanding debt such as student loans, credit card balances, and personal loans? If this person owns a home, is it under water? If so, by how much?
- Net worth. Is this person’s net worth — that’s total assets minus total debt — negative? Someone who is in debt up to his/her eyeballs will be highly motivated to find a partner who can help prevent him/her from drowning in it.
- Retirement savings. Does this person have his/her own retirement savings including pensions, IRAs, and retirement investments? Someone without a retirement plan could be looking for someone else to provide it.
- Has the other party asked for assistance? Has this person appealed to you to help with his/her finances? Perhaps borrow a small (or larger) amount of money? Ask your advice about refinancing or selling a home? Enlist your help getting a job?
- Has the other party indicated that he/she wants to get married? Marriage — as I’ve so recently discovered — is more than just a vow of love until “death do you part” (which can apparently be broken). It’s a legal and binding contract with all kinds of ramifications on finances. If the other party is in a hurry to get married, it might be because he/she is in a hurry to grab your purse strings. Remember that a good prenuptial agreement can save you far more than it costs to draw up. And if your new partner refuses to sign it, that’s a pretty good indication of what his/her intentions really are.
In my friend’s case, an objective look at these points raised a lot of red flags. It seems that there’s a huge financial inequity between him and the woman he’s dating. In addition, the woman was extremely quick to seal the deal (yes, with sex) and gain his trust. That, coupled with what I know about the woman’s personality and my friend’s extraordinary behavior changes after they met, has me convinced that she’s primarily motivated by the financial benefits of a relationship with him. But because she meets his emotional needs — constant agreeability, ego stroking, companionship, and sex — he’s become blind to what’s so obvious to the rest of us — including the friends who simply won’t speak up.
What makes this all the more lamentable is that my friend, at age 56, is at a point in his life where he’s achieved an enviable amount of financial security. No, he’s not rich, but he’s financially stable with a positive net worth and very little real debt. To take on the financial responsibilities of a person he barely knows just because she’s pushed the right buttons when he needed them pushed is breathtakingly tragic.
Now I don’t know if my friend will read this. He very seldom reads my blog. I’m sure that if he does, he’ll recognize himself and his situation. He’d be blind not to.
But will he take what I’ve written here in the spirit in which it was intended: as a wakeup call to objectively look at the situation and possibly slow down? Or will what I’ve written here for him further damage our long friendship? Sadly, his irrational behavior lately leads me to believe that it’ll do the latter, possibly destroying our friendship forever. I believe that at this point, he’s too far gone down a foolish path.
As good good friend, however — a really good friend who truly cares about his emotional well-being — I’m willing to take the risk. To do otherwise would be to betray our long friendship.
I hope he reads this and understands.