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Ask a Lady: Money Talks

Image: Sean Hotchkiss/Brian Ferry

Words: Jenny Bahn

Money. There are television shows about it, books written on it, websites dedicated to its discussion. Empires rise and fall on the ebb and flow of the greenback tide. We handle it every day. Its existence is unavoidable, omnipresent. But when it comes to talking about cash, one-on-one, what’s appropriate?



Allow me to share a little anecdote from last week: A gentleman and I had arranged to meet on the suggestion of a mutual friend. And so meet we did, sat down, ordered beverages. Everything seemed to be going normally enough until all of a sudden, said gentleman started dropping weekly earnings figures. Not just once or twice, but multiple times. Five hundred dollars here, a handful of thousand dollars there. He was surely doing well for himself (no small feat for a writer), and was obviously proud of this fact. But this financial TMI was, more than anything else, egregiously boastful and borderline disgusting. Not exactly knowing how to handle the direction the conversation had gone, I began to hate every subsequent minute in that bar. And it should go without saying that I began to dislike him. Which is a shame, you know, because I prefer to like people.

Puzzled by this exchange, I decided to ask friends why some men thought this proverbial opening of their wallets to strangers - women in particular - was necessary (or even appropriate). The general consensus was that such behavior was a proverbial puffing up of the feathers. A performance meant to impress the birds, as it were. Though it makes little sense to this particular lady, there are apparently others who live for such monetary divulgences. It is unfortunate that the aforementioned gentleman was not sitting across from one of those types of folks that night; things would have likely gone a lot better for both parties.

So who’s right?

What we have here are a few different factions of people. There are those who like talking about money (people on reality shows, for instance) and those who prefer to keep those cards closer to their chest. Similarly, there are the people who like hearing about cash, and the folks who’d like if everyone just kept mum on the topic. Pair the parties who like talking about how much money they make with the people who like hearing about it, and you’ve got yourself an oddly-motivated homerun. Pair foils, and a potentially uncomfortable social interaction awaits you. 

This lady is generally against awkward conversations, and money is one of those talking points one could easily sidestep without doing detriment to a friendship, courtship, or professional exchange. Would I have been impressed by this over-sharing gentleman’s career achievements without having been provided with his tax records? You bet I would. Had he not peppered so much of the conversation with dollar signs would I have been a more pleasant, receptive person to around? Undoubtedly so. Confidence needn’t be a numbers game. It, ideally, should speak for itself without you having to yell off its value. 

Want to show a potential mate (or family member, or pal) you’re doing okay for yourself? Quietly pick up the tab.