When love meets money
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How money can affect your love life

By Sarah Moses Wednesday, August 31, 2016 - 06:00
Can believing we are rich or poor affect how we feel and behave in a relationship? Recent research from China reveals the impact money can have on romantic love.

Love it or loathe it, money is involved in many aspects of daily life. But what about our love lives? The relationship between money and romance is definitely a complicated one.

To understand it a little better, a group of Chinese researchers decided to study the effect of money on long-term love.

The researchers looked at how the feeling of having a bulging bank account or being short of cash affected the love lives of Chinese students with boyfriends or girlfriends.

Feeling rich, feeling poor

First of all, a group of students were given exercises to prime them about how rich they felt. It didn’t matter how much money they actually had in real life – it was about creating a feeling of being richer or poorer. Some had to imagine they’d just won the lottery, while others had to imagine they’d just lost a load of cash. After finishing the priming exercises, some felt well off, others felt broke.

Then some of them filled in surveys that revealed whether they were satisfied with their partner’s looks. Would feeling rich or poor affect the way they saw their partner?

Meanwhile, the rest were given a test to see how open they were to a romantic encounter. They were shown a picture of an attractive stranger of the opposite sex. They were then told they’d get to meet the hot stranger. They were led into a room with a row of chairs. On one chair was a pile of stuff which supposedly belonged to the mystery person. The students were told to take a seat one of the other chairs. How close would the students sat to the good-looking stranger’s chair? Would they get up close in the hope of getting more intimate with this hot mystery guy or girl? Or would they shy away to the other side of the room? And most importantly… how would feeling rich or poor affect their choice?

Chasing a mate

So… the results.

Feeling rich did affect the way guys felt about their girlfriend’s looks, the researchers learned. The ‘rich’ men were less satisfied with their partner’s appearance than the ‘poor’ men were. Yet for women, wealth didn’t seem to make much of a difference on what they thought of their guy’s appearance.

And the ‘rich’ students also chose to sit closer to the attractive stranger, the study showed. This suggested they were more up for cheating or moving on to fresh romance with a hot new partner. Both men and women behaved the same way, but on average, the men sat closer to the good-looking stranger than the women did.

Not surprising, perhaps. Men are more likely than women to go after a possible mate, research has shown. According to the theory of evolution, guys will take every chance they get to have sex and pass on their genes, which is the ultimate goal.

Rich guys cheat?

If you’re in a committed relationship, what’s the take-home message from this study?

Well, ‘people who feel they have relatively more money may have more interest in an attractive alternative than those who feel they have relatively less money’, is how the researchers put it. In other words… guys who feel rich are more likely to cheat?

Money maybe can’t buy you love, but it can certainly affect your love life. Cash, or lack of it, can either create or solve relationship problems. Changes in the amount of money couples have do impact their relationship, say the researchers, and there’s no harm in getting it out in the open.

 

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Source: When Love Meets Money: Priming the Possession of Money Influences Mating Strategies. (2016) Frontiers in Psychology. 7: 387.

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