When dating, there are a lot of things that we like to have in common with our partners. Perhaps we want them to have a passion for travel, love black and white movies, or be really open to getting a dog. We also like to have some differences – perhaps we’ve spent our whole lives living off takeaways and beans on toast, so we’re looking for a bonafide chef. Or perhaps you’re wild and careless, and you want somebody to calm you down! But when it comes to money, do we want someone in a similar situation to us, or do we want to “marry up”? And is an interest in such differences… shallow?

Historically, it’s been important for a relationship to be a money “match”. There was a lot of talk about people coming from a “good family”. Thankfully, these days there’s a lot less emphasis on dating as some kind of contract to uphold family honour. However, many of the attitudes still exist to this day. But are we old-fashioned? Or is there something to it? And what should you do about dating if you know that you’re feeling kind of poor? There are so many questions, it’s a minefield.

Can you go on free dates?

First things first – is it possible to be completely, flat-out broke while dating in London anyway? Yes, absolutely! This entire site is dedicated to the amazing things that you can do across the city that don’t cost you a penny. Some of the best things in London are free, and we are absolutely blessed to be living, working and even dating in such a fantastic city.

The knack to free dating is to make it look as though your idea is more appealing than something that would cost lots. For example, a stroll through Little Venice could be framed as a “staycation”, or watching the sun set over Primrose Hill could be a really great memory to talk about if you manage to get to date three.

Little Venice” (Public Domain) by Captain Roger Fenton 1860

But the reality is that some people like to be flashy on dates, and that’s where we could run into problems. Our expectations these days are often very high. So how should you deal with that?

Worried about looking cheap?

Look, let’s be real. Most people these days – especially millennials – are struggling for money, especially in the capital. Rent is out of control, and most people are actually paying close to half of their salaries on the place where they live. Nationally, the average is around half – so there is actually a massive disparity. When you only have half of your money left over – and that’s before paying any other bills – aren’t most of us all in the same boat?

This may well be true. But if you’re going on one of the aforementioned free dates, this can be anxiety-inducing. People do judge, after all. A little bit of honesty can go a long way in these cases, in order to make sure that people understand that you’re trying your best and that you still have a lot to offer. But how?

Putting your personality type out there

When you first meet someone, it’s incredibly taboo in British society to discuss money – even though there are studies to suggest that, in fact, young people are now more likely than ever to discuss it. However, despite that, people do feel embarrassed when they’re struggling with cash flow, especially when they are trying to create a good impression with people they just met.

Online dating is a great, modern solution to this – we can find out a lot about potential partners before we even meet. When dating in traditional ways keeps providing you with matches that are seemingly never going to work out, dating websites allow you to outline your circumstances in advance to avoid any awkward problems later. Nobody is saying that your profile has to say how much you earn, or anything like that. But a brief section about what you do for a living or even hobbies or things that are important to you could help give a clue.

Dating in London doesn’t need to be difficult when you can be clear about who you are and who you’re hoping to find, all in the space of a short profile. Using dating sites, you can also sort of tell what sort of person your potential match may be. If they seem genuine and sweet, you might find it easier opening up about any money worries you may have. There is a transparency to modern dating where people can open up in ways they never have before.

Sometimes people look for different things, too. Some are traditional and expect that a man should pay for everything. While a lot of women do pay their share on dates, many still do not. That means a lot of the pressure falls onto the man to pay for everything – the dinner, the movie, the flowers or whatever else there is. Finding a person to align with your morals and ideals in this respect is important!

Are our attitudes to money disturbing?

On the one hand, caring about money in the field of dating is only practical. You may say that you’re not interested in ending up with a wealthy partner, but it sure does help when they can help pay their fair share of the bills! Or perhaps you say that while money doesn’t matter, you’re interested in intelligence. But doctors and lawyers aren’t exactly paid pennies! As much as we might not like to admit it, most of us don’t want to be footing the bill for someone who doesn’t make an honest living for themselves. Obviously, there may be times where the cash isn’t exactly flowing for our partner, like if they want to go back to study for a while or they’re simply unfortunate enough to lose their job. But is this a problem?

People have a whole lot more to bring to the table than just the money that’s in their bank. And, as we have seen, there are often traditional values instilled into us about gender roles that ideally shouldn’t be there anymore. Perhaps the reason your partner doesn’t have a lot saved is that they decided to travel the world and they have an abundance of stories instead. Or maybe they have spent the last few years caring for a loved one, which has been really hard on their bank. We should never allow money to be the deciding factor in whether someone is worthy of our love.

Does money buy you happiness?

At the end of the day, having money is nice. It means not having to worry about things like the food we eat or the roof over our head. It cannot buy happiness in the respect that even the richest people can be unhappy, but it can absolutely buy security, which is something that matters to all of us. But the concept of money buying happiness is something that divides psychologists.

Try to focus on other ideals too, though. While we do often want the basics covered, it’s nice in the early stages to think about having fun. Once security is taken off the table, there’s really no need to be flashy.

If you’re accustomed to a certain standard living elsewhere, living in London can take a real hit on your finances. But that doesn’t mean that you need to give up on the idea of having a good time. Sometimes the best memories are created by doing simple things – a casual night at a cheap pub, a picnic in the park, or even just a casual Netflix and chill!

So, does money matter dating in London after all?

In a word… yes. It matters because it will help you make better choices about who to date. For some people, money is important. For others, it is not. This is never going to change. But while it doesn’t matter whether you personally are wealthy or not, it probably matters whether or not you find a partner to understand.

There are so many different people in this city to meet, with different backgrounds and career goals and future plans. Most of these won’t be right for you, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t one out there who will be. People with a lot of money can find happiness in people without, and vice versa. And there’s always room to combine your finances in future in a way that can work for you both. Perhaps one partner earns more, but the other can offer skills such as raising any future kids, and you split the responsibilities that way.

So, the points to take home are simple. Money isn’t everything. Just remember that you are worth so much more than whatever it is that you earn, and find a partner who is on the same page.