While Singaporeans often aim to “marry up”, “marrying down” has great benefits you’ve never thought of.
Many Singaporeans think it’s SUCH an advantage to date a richer person. Well, there are dimensions they haven’t considered, and we’re not just talking about their “inner worth”.
The day inner worth is acceptable as down payment for an HDB flat, then we’ll talk about that. No, we’re referring to other advantages of dating someone poorer.
Caveat: Don’t Be Shallow, Okay?
What does a man or woman want in a partner? Is it wealth? Good looks? A sense of humour? On that level, the answer is all of it. If you’ve got it, your partner will be glad you do.
BUT… none of them make or break a relationship.
People go out with people who lack many or all of these qualities. Ultimately, what matters is that you can form a genuine connection with someone, and feel secure and good around them.
As for the wealth, good looks, an ability to appreciate Delta Blues, etc., it’s nice and preferable. But it’s not the be-all and end-all of a relationship.
If you meet someone for whom those superficial qualities are all-important (e.g. will insist their engagement ring is not big enough), we suggest you run. Those people tend to be seriously broken inside. Materialism is often the consequence of trauma and insecurity (think broken families, abuse, and being bullied in school).
So with that out the way, here are the side-benefits of dating one level down in wealth:
Look at Future Returns, Not Just Current Earnings
They may not be rich right now, but they may be in future. When they are, they’ll remember you stuck by them even in their time of poverty. They’ll know you weren’t just in it for the money.
If you want to think about wealth, you would do better to look at their ambition instead of their bank account. Are they broke because they are lazy, or because they have embarked on several daring attempts to build a company? Are they poor because they have huge student debt, because they are in training to be a highly paid professional one day?
If you find someone ambitious and capable but currently poor, it could be like getting in on the ground floor of a future success.
You Will Never Feel Like You’re Living Off Someone Else
What’s the only thing more offensive than being called a gold digger? It’s being treated like one when you’re not.
Most well-adjusted Singaporeans feel at least a bit of unease when their partner acts like the perpetual provider (at least before you’re married, and the relationship dynamic changes). It can feel like you’re manipulating your partner or living off another person.
By the time they’ve paid for the sixth, seventh, and eighth dinner – all in places you couldn’t afford on your income – you’ll be wondering if your affection is being bought.
With someone poorer, this is less of a problem. In fact, you have to be careful not to treat your partner like a gold digger.
A Poorer Partner Tends to Be More Loyal
Wealthy partners – particularly men – are more likely to cheat on you. It’s common sense if you think about it.
When you date someone who earns less than you, that person will be keenly aware of it (especially if he’s the guy in the relationship). Often, they’ll count themselves lucky, because they have someone who sees their worth beyond their financial status. This makes them treasure you, and the relationship, to a higher degree.
Someone who is constantly providing for you, on the other hand, might turn you into the typical trophy partner. They may value your affection less, or even see it as their privilege to occasionally cheat.
Your Partner is More Likely to Support Your Career
You know how we can tell? They have no issues with the fact that you already make more money than them. If they do, then run, because it will turn unhealthy very quickly.
If you are dating someone who earns less, and they are fine with it, it’s safe to surmise they’ll be fine with you advancing your career. The same may not be true if it was the other way around.
For example, Singaporean men often get worried at the prospect of you one day out-earning them. This threatens old-school, patriarchal views that place them as the main breadwinner.
This may lead to career sabotage, as your partner prevents you going to conferences, furthering your education, spending more time at work, etc. It’s all to make sure you don’t end up surpassing them and (horror of all horrors) discarding them.
You are More Likely to Get the Approval of Your Partner’s Parents
Let’s be frank. Singaporean parents can be a little materialistic about their children’s relationships.
Hey, everyone wants the best for their child. And while you may have problems getting accepted if you’re poorer, you sure won’t if you’re richer.
The more old-school parents (and we don’t agree with their attitude) will see you as a way for their child to “marry up”. It can lead to overlooking many other objections, such as their distaste for your political alignment, or dissimilar religion.
Your Partner’s Low Income May Be the Result of Good Qualities
Not all Singaporeans are poor because they are low-income earners. Some people earn S$5,000 a month but fork out S$3,000 a month because they support two elderly parents, a special needs sibling, and an aunt who needs regular dialysis.
Look closely at the source of the poverty. Rather than being low income, it may be something that indicates a quality you should treasure. Do they give a lot of money to a cause you also love? Do they make a big difference in the lives of others, with significant charity work?
Any of those qualities can be far more valuable than money.
So instead of worrying too much about your income disparity, look at these bright sides. If you can keep an open mind, you may find you have a lot to learn from each other. Widen your worldviews by better understanding each other’s socioeconomic backgrounds.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.