According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania, "tightwads" and "spendthrifts" often find themselves romantically attracted to one another, despite—and potentially due to— the differences in their spending habits. Sadly, these differences also eventually drive couples apart.
Catherine Rampell of the New York Times explores this phenomenon, noting that misers and free-spenders may take a liking to one another because "what we hate in ourselves, we also hate in other people. And the more we hate that quality in ourselves, the more we avoid it." In other words, if you're terribly cheap, and embarrassed about it, you're more likely to seek out a big spender who seems to be comfortable dropping some serious cash.
But after the initial thrill of living vicariously through one's partner is erased, the realities of marriage begin to set in: anyone who has ever gone out to dinner with a couple who cant stop fighting about money knows how awkward and intense it can be: money can turn a beautiful romance into a truly ugly partnership in the time it takes the waiter to bring the bill to the table.
Rampell notes that this is a phenomenon that can be applied to many aspects of dating: we often seek out someone who will "erase" the things we dislike about ourselves, but in the long run, we find that we'd be happier with someone who sees the world the way we do: "just like the proverbial woman who says she wants a nice guy but really goes for the bad boys," Rampell writes, "people are also just plain bad at predicting what they want in love and marriage."
I have seen this phenomenon work both ways: I've seen couples completely deteriorate due solely to money issues: "He's so selfish!" "She's so greedy" and so on and so forth, but I've also seen opposite spenders find a way to make it work: my mother likes to spend, and my father likes to save, and they've been together for over 35 years. (Although in fairness I think it's more like "My mother likes to shop, my father would wear the same jeans from 1984 if his wife and daughters didn't bother him about it.")
So what say you, commenters? Do you find yourself attracted to people with similar spending habits? Or do you prefer to seek out your opposite? And if so, how has it worked for you thus far?
I Say Spend. You Say No. We're In Love. [NYTimes]