When Rich People Say, “Let’s Not Make This About Money”

It’s definitely about money.

Vanessa Brown
Apr 3, 2020 · 3 min read
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Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

I have an ex-boyfriend who’s rich. Like –– really rich. His family owns a ton of property in New York City. He lives in a house they own, and is paid a full-time salary with benefits by the company they own. It’s apparent that he’s wealthy, especially to his close friends, who bear witness to his ability to throw money at just about every problem.

As a friend says, to someone wealthy enough, a $250 parking ticket is just the cost it is to park there.

For someone who needs to work to pay bills, it was a little off-putting to be around that kind of wealth. It was more off-putting by how often he insisted he didn’t want to make anything about money.

I remember an argumentative discussion we had about how I was spending 5 nights out of the week at his place (where he paid no money to live), but still paying significant rent on my own apartment. Neither of us wanted to officially move in together, but if we were actually going to be life partners, I thought that we should at least talk about the imbalance of financial strain in our relationship.

But every time I brought up the money I was paying to live (or brought up money regarding anything else), he shut it down. Let’s not make this about money.

It took me months to realize that him being able to say that was a privilege, and a means to control, rather than a moral sailing above material wealth.

But by saying, Let’s not make this about money, he’s making it entirely about money by placing the entire burden of worrying about money on the person who has less of it.

Because what he’s actually saying is, it’s more important to him to feel comfortable in not having to talk about wealth differences, than to actually face it as a reality. He’s choosing to ignore that money plays a vastly different role in the lives of people who aren’t rich.

By refusing to talk about it, he’s exercising his wealth privilege. He’s inadvertently acknowledging that he has tons more wealth than most people, while at the same time placing such a value on that wealth as to not be able to talk about it for fear of feeling as if he should front more of any cost.

For him to truly make something not about money, if it truly, actually didn’t matter to him, he would offer to cover if not most, but all expenses, anytime the subject of financial strain on someone else came up.

But instead, he diverts the issue by attempting to seem above the idea of money, in hopes that the other person will meet him there as well.

It is the privilege of wealth that makes someone above talking about money.

I am saying that it is inexcusable for him to deny the reality of the role that money plays in other people’s lives. He should own his privilege, and embrace the discomfort he’s bound to feel when confronting how other people are less privileged.

He should allow things to be about money, when they are.

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Vanessa Brown

Written by

Non-monogamous, queer creative in Brooklyn. Caretaker of two bunnies and a cavalier. (she/her)

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

Vanessa Brown

Written by

Non-monogamous, queer creative in Brooklyn. Caretaker of two bunnies and a cavalier. (she/her)

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

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