Money Makes Alternative Relationships Easier, and Conventional Ones Too
Relationships come in all shapes and sizes. Some relationship are monogamous and some are non-monogamous. Some include sex and some don’t. Some progress through moving in together, getting married, and having kids, and some don’t do any of these things, just do some of them, or do them in a different order. Relationships aren’t one-size-fits-all. It’s all about figuring out what’s the best fit for you.
Relationship choices are shaped by personal taste, life ambitions, and social pressures. Money can be a big factor too. Sometimes financial considerations push people towards more normative choices (like monogamy and marriage). But sometimes these same considerations are a reason people choose less convention relationship styles (like non-monogamy and living apart).
In general, though, financial resources give people more choice in these decisions. Here’s a few examples of ways money can shape decisions about how relationships are structured.
Cohabitation / Living Separately
Moving in together can be a way to save money, on rent, utilities, shared vehicles, or other shared goods. The cost of moving out from a shared home can also keep people in unhappy, unhealthy, or abusive relationships.
But sometime people can’t afford to live together, either because they have cheaper options living with family or roommates, or because work keeps them living far apart.
Marriage / Divorce / Staying Single
The cost of a filing for marriage, holding a ceremony, and throwing a party can deter couples from tying the knot. Individuals can also risk losing social security benefits, alimony payments, health care subsidies, and tax incentives when they marry. Plus couples can become liable for each other’s debt.
On the other hand, marriage can also offer access to health care through a spouse’s plan, more tax filing options and retirement savings options for the couple, and greater financial security through shared accounts and benefits like life insurance.
Similarly, divorce can be a costly process with a mix of positive and negative effects on taxes and benefits. The balance of these effects, for both marriage and divorce, depends largely on the particular situation.
Monogamy / Non-monogamy
A exclusive two-person partnership can provide certain kinds of financial stability. One partner might support the couple (or family) if the other is looking for work or needs to take time off to address health issues or handle childcare.
Multiple partners can provide similar kinds of stability as well, potentially meaning that are multiple income sources even while one person is not working. Some people are also drawn to doing sex work because of the financial rewards.
Family and social approval of a relationship can also have financial effects. Parents may cut off support if they do not like their child’s unconventional romance. Or someone who is openly in an alternative relationship could face employment discrimination.