They experience a lifestyle that seems impossible for you to ever attain. It appears that they make a lot of money or have access to a lot of money. You have an hourly job. They have a nice car. You car occasionally doesn’t start. They have a nice home. You rent with three other friends. You are convinced that they will continue to enjoy a life of affluence that, on your own, you just won’t.
And here’s the thing—they like you. Through a few dates, you have been able to taste the life that they regularly devour. It is fun. It is exciting. You are beginning to wonder if they are the one.
But there is something in your heart that makes you wonder whether or not you are falling for the person or their money. It rightfully concerns you because you know the Bible says, “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). You don’t want that verse to be the descriptor for your current or future relationships.
As you consider the relationship, here are some thoughts to ponder:
Lifestyle can be faked … for a time.
Americans love their debt. According to NerdWallet, those with credit card debt average over $15,000 of it. Households with car loans average over $27,000 in car loan debt. What does this mean? Many people can’t afford the lifestyle they are attempting to live. What you are often seeing is a façade. And the façade will eventually come crashing down.
Money can mask character flaws … for a time.
Be careful. You can enjoy what you are doing more than who you are doing it with. It is possible for you to get caught up in the experiences (or the lifestyle you imagine you will experience in the future) and never really get to know the person you are dating. Unintentionally, your focus is turned toward the stuff and not the individual. So you miss their character flaws. But no amount of money will keep these flaws masked forever. They will show themselves.
Current wealth is a bad indicator of future fulfillment.
You probably know some very wealthy, but very miserable, married couples. They don’t seem to enjoy life, and they definitely don’t seem to enjoy their spouse. Money, in and of itself, is terrible at providing fulfillment.
So how do you see past the wealth and make sure that you are falling in love with the person and not their money? View money as a reflector of their heart.
The Bible has over 2,000 verses about money and possessions. Jesus spoke about money more than any other topic while on Earth. Why are money and possessions such an area of focus for God? Because they reflect the heart. How one thinks about and uses money offers a glimpse into their heart.
Pay attention to what they talk about.
What preoccupies a person’s mind often shows up in their words. So pay attention to what they regularly talk about. Regarding money, how do they talk about it? Does it seem to be an end or a means to something greater? God designed us not to be hoarders, but conduits through which His generosity flows. When they talk about money, do they mention generosity? Do they mention leveraging financial resources to impact their community and the world for the sake of God’s Kingdom? Pay attention to what they talk about.
Pay attention to what they do.
Pay attention to what they talk about, but more importantly, pay attention to what they do. You’ve heard it said, “Actions speak louder than words.” Words are important, but actions are more revealing. How do they spend their time? Is it self-centered or others-centered? Do they prioritize the things of God, or are they just an afterthought? Are they open-handed with their time and resources, or are their fists clenched tightly to both? Pay attention to what they do.
Pay attention to who they hang out with.
It has been said that you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time. Who you hang out with matters. Those you spend time with are likely either going to push you toward God or pull you away. So who are they spending the most time with? And what do those in the group talk about, and what do they do? That group may reveal something about your boyfriend or girlfriend that you did not notice before.
Money is not bad. Pursuing a relationship with someone of wealth is not bad. But be careful. Someone who appears wealthy may actually be broke, and that tells you something about that person. Wealth can mask character flaws. Don’t find yourself enjoying what you are doing more than who you are doing it with. The experiences that wealth affords can be fun, but it won’t lead to long-term personal and relational fulfillment.
Try to see past the money and seek to uncover the heart of the one you desire to pursue.
Worried you have blinders on? Get unbiased insight into the health of your relationship with this assessment. This assessment was created by brightpeak with leading behavioral scientists and experts in the field of financial therapy—so you know it’s got your back.
Art Rainer is the author of The Marriage Challenge, The Money Challenge and the forthcoming kids series The Secret Slide Money Club. He also hosts a growing podcast called The Money Challenge.