The most infuriating accusation I have experienced during my four-and-a-half year relationship is that I am with my boyfriend for his money—that I am a “gold digger.” People perceive money to be a possible motive for me to be in a relationship with my manfriend. He is older and he is successful, but it baffles me that anyone would believe I could live a life of pretend with a man in the hopes that he will shower me with gifts and wads of money. And for the record, he doesn’t. I personally don’t like to use the term rich or wealthy because it is all relative. My boyfriend is successful, yes, but being an entrepreneur is a roller coaster. A lot of money is spent and a lot is made, and sometimes a lot is lost. Plus, no one knows our bills, and our situation, so to assume we are rolling in money would very far from the truth.
More upsetting is when people get to know us and say (like this is a totally acceptable comment) “I can definitely see now that you aren’t with him for his money.” People who say this always follow up saying something along the lines of, “I mean, you have a good job, you have your own house, so you must be with him because you love him.” Oh gee, thanks. More shocking, some of my friends even commented that I should keep him around because he is financially stable. If we we’re fighting or having issues a (former) friend would tell me “Who cares, he has money, you should marry him.”
The thought that someone would stay in a relationship for money and gifts is actually ludicrous to me. To the people that think that way: I have to ask, have you ever been in an actual relationship? It is hard, it tests your patience, your anger level, and your sanity. My relationship is filled with love but I couldn’t imagine putting up with my boyfriend’s road rage, his type A personality or his lack of appreciation for Italian food unless there was true love there. I couldn’t deal with the components of any relationship with someone I didn’t love just for some cute clothes and a massage every week.
When I list qualities that are important to me in a significant other things like kindness, humor, communication, loyalty and trust come to mind. Wealth does not, but I would be lying if I said that drive and success are qualities that don’t matter to me, because they do. I find a man that works hard to achieve his goals is one of the sexiest qualites he can have and more times than not, these men are also financially stable. So does that mean I am a gold digger?
When I think of gold diggers I think of all the qualities I am not: lazy, manipulative, untrustworthy, insincere and disingenuous. I think of women who sell their souls, sell their happiness for a Prada bag and to be envied by other women. I feel embarrassed that I am perceived to be that type of woman. Frankly, I am pissed off. I feel like if my boyfriend buys me a pretty pair of earrings for my birthday, I can’t show anyone because that makes me seem shallow. I feel exhausted by constantly thinking like this, like I should hide that fact that my boyfriend and I want to plan a vacation this spring to Key West, that we want to buy a house on a few acres. I feel like if people know these things then instead of being happy for us, they will make some snarky comment about him having money, when in reality we have money and we work hard as hell for that money.
My boyfriend knows I am not with him for money but the perception people have of me upset me so much I started to feel guilty when he would take me out for drinks and pay the tab. I began sneaking up to the bar to pay our bill without him knowing which embarrassed him and caused problems in my relationship. I started spending way outside my means during Christmas and his birthday just to prove that I spent an exorbitant amount of money on him, instead of the other way around. I bought a townhouse, I bought a car, I put bills all in my name so that I could prove I wasn’t looking for a partner to pay my way. I started arguing with my boyfriend about money, insisting he not help pay for groceries or gas.
I wanted to feel equal in my relationship. I wanted to prove to everyone that I had a great career and made good money which would prove I wasn’t dependent on him for anything. I wanted to prove that my relationship was built purely out of love and happiness. And if we are being honest, I didn’t want this perception to overshadow my personal triumphs, my hard work. Those closest to me never questioned my relationship, they knew my heart and knew it would be physically impossible for me to do anything for money but I was blinded by pride. My ego was being hurt by strangers, by people who stared at us together, by people who warned my boyfriend of the possibility I had bad intentions.
I have since realized that not only is it impossible to prove my integrity to everyone, but it is also unnecessary. Only I know what truly goes on in my relationship and I will be the first to tell you, my man would never be able to love me as much as he does if I was in this crazy relationship with him for money. He knows how important it is for me to achieve success, to meet my personal goals and he knows that being dependent on someone else scares the hell out of me. People will think what they want. I saw my, previously mentioned, ex-friend a few months ago and during our five-minute conversation I mentioned I was saving up for something but it was taking longer than expected because of all my bills. Her response was “Yeah sure, your boyfriend pays all your bills.” For the first time, instead of defending myself I just let it be.
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