What do relationships have to do with your personal finances, you may wonder. While research clearly demonstrates the importance of a fulfilling social life in our wellbeing, from personal experience I assert that it further plays a vital role in fostering the conditions needed for a robust desire and capability to learn, set and attain goals, and excel in every aspect of our lives.
For several years I was in an unhappy relationship. Before things had become dire, I chose to accompany my now-ex when he decided to move abroad. From there, not only was my emotional health a wreck, but unsurprisingly, my personal finances took a hit as well. For one, I paid at least double the tuition I would’ve had I gone to an in-state school instead. I also made some reckless choices with my spending, and throughout those years, my motivation and productivity dwindled. I was scraping by in my college classes. Just getting through each day was a feat in itself, made easier by disappearing into fictional characters’ lives in movies and TV series, which was about all I felt like doing beyond the necessary.
Eventually the pressure built up to a point that I bit the bullet and moved into a place alone. I wanted to find Mr. Right and embark on a lifelong journey with him more than anything, but I was unconvinced he existed. Still, I decided to search, and unlike the first time around, I had a set of specific criteria.
Lo and behold, I found someone who met my criteria to a T, and I finally am in a relationship I’m happy with and it has had the greatest impact on my wellbeing of any life change I’ve experienced. It’s as if I’m living in a different world entirely. Now, I feel truly excited to go on adventures and motivated to save money and live out a fulfilling retirement, and I’m convinced the true joy of those activities lies in the shared experiences.
Intimate Relationships’ Effect on Your Level of Happiness
Having a strong, close relationship with someone is a vital ingredient in happiness. Research into wellbeing conducted by Deakin University, which evaluated 60,000 responses to the biannual Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey spanning 15 years concluded that happiness hinges on three interdependent core elements: having at least one intimate relationship—the most important element; feeling financially secure and in control, with a salary of about $77,000 USD the upper threshold at which earning more loses its positive impact; and a having sense of purpose.
The survey’s author Deakin University Professor Emeritus Robert Cummins, who dubbed those three factors “the golden triangle of happiness,” remarked, “It is interesting that money is not the most important corner of the Golden Triangle. This honour goes to intimate relationships. People on low incomes can have normal levels of happiness provided that their relationships and purpose in life are strongly positive.”
Reflect on Your Relationships
Given the fundamental role of close relationships in determining our emotional wellbeing and influencing our financial health, we must consider our lives’ social landscape in tandem with our financial fitness. Acting with intentionality with regard to the relationships we create and keep, and tending carefully to those we choose to maintain, is pivotal in creating the right environment for a productive, successful life.
You should periodically ask yourself the following:
- Is a relationship in my life harming me in some way? If so, is there a way to withdraw or end it entirely?
- Am I with a significant other who I can envision being with for the rest of my life?
- Am I clinging to a relationship I know is bad, out of fear of the unknown?
- Is my desire to achieve all that I can and to experience great things being hampered by the person or people I closely associate with?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, know that ending those relationships can be one of the most difficult changes you’ll make, but it would probably be a first step in changing your whole frame of mind for the better.
My Dating Suggestions
On the topic of romantic relationships, I highly suggest having a clear idea of the beliefs, intentions, personality traits, etc., you are looking for. It’s mind-blowing to me that so many people approach or express interest in others based on their appearance and/or exchanging some light conversation, without knowing anything about those things. Asking for someone’s number at a grocery store or setting up a meeting over Tinder is a recipe for disaster. Even if you express interest in someone you have talked with at work, etc., you probably know nothing about things they think that could devastate your future. I met my the aforementioned ex in a random way, and I didn’t know much about him beyond his appearance—considering that, it’s a wonder that we ended up staying together as long as we did.
I met Mr. Right, on the other hand, through OkCupid. The free version of the dating site has a feature that allows you to answer questions that will be used in an algorithm that shows your ‘match percentage’ with others, and weed out people based on possibly critical factors such as their sexual orientation, whether they want children, their religion, their diet, whether they smoke, and even whether they prefer cats or dogs.
I carefully set the search’s parameters and, having been willing to move far if it meant being with the right person, set it to anywhere in the world. I answered about 500 questions, setting the important ones to “required” (meaning people who answered the same questions unfavorably would be shown with a lower match percentage). The questions’ complex matching algorithm illuminated the way to only those men who were pro-monogamy and had no fear of commitment, among other traits I had chosen as prerequisites.
That technique worked beautifully for me—and it didn’t cost a dime.