August 9, 2022

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What I Learned About Money and Relationships After Dating a Bitcoin Bro

  • Like the cryptocurrency market, my relationship with a bitcoin bro was unpredictable and exhausting.
  • I asked a financial wellness coach what to do differently next time, and she suggested paying attention to money behaviors as early as the first date.
  • I learned that I prefer spending money in alignment with my values over get-rich-quick schemes.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

I dated a masculine person who was heavily invested in bitcoin and altcoins for a year and a half, spending most of her time on reddit threads and group chats about which way the market will go next. Just like the cryptocurrency market, our relationship was unpredictable and exhausting.

It started with expensive dinners, fancy gifts, and last-minute island trips. When it was time to buckle down and talk about finances, she and I got into many heated arguments. I quickly realized we had different values when it came to money. 

I spoke with financial wellness coach Natasha Knox, CFP from Alaphia Financial Wellness about what to do differently in the future. Knox suggested paying attention to money behaviors as early as the first date. “The earlier the better, and money conversations don’t have to be super deep.”

It can be as simple as discussing the number of dollar signs on the Yelp review of your first date restaurant, or talking about who will pick up the tab. “From the get-go, paying attention to those behaviors will give you an idea of someone’s money habits,” Knox said. 

With Knox’s help, I narrowed down three priceless money lessons that I’ll take with me to my next relationship.

1. I prefer spending money according to my values 

I’ve watched a few friends, including my bitcoin bro ex-partner, make massive gains in a short period of time through investing in stocks or cryptocurrency. While it’s tempting to jump on the bandwagon and grab quick cash from these ventures, I realized that I prefer to spend money in alignment with my values, and I’d rather be with a partner who does the same.

As much as I can, I avoid spending money at big companies. I don’t shop at Amazon, which exploits its workers, Meta formerly known as Facebook, whose CEO is actively colonizing Hawaii, and I refuse to support Tesla, whose mining practices threaten to destroy rainforests in The Philippines, according to NBC News. Bitcoin mining is also notoriously bad for the environment.

While investing in these companies and currencies can potentially yield massive gains in a short amount of time, it’s just not worth it for me, and I would rather be with a partner who shares the same values.

2. I can set a specific time and date for difficult money conversations

My ex-partner and I argued about money all the time, to the point that I’d miss social events and family gatherings to have long out-of-nowhere arguments about money. In these heated conversations, I noticed that we spent a lot of time focusing on past hurts and grand future plans, but we never actually talked about what we can do as a couple in the present moment to manage our finances.

I learned that some couples set aside a specific time and date for difficult money conversations to take some of the pressure off of daily routines. I realized that I hated being ambushed with heavy questions about money when I was simply getting ready to get coffee with some friends.

I’d rather arrive prepared, having had time to review my expenses and spending so that I can leave my emotions out of it. Setting aside a specific time frame, whether it’s 30 minutes or one hour, is also helpful so that I don’t get overwhelmed and try to tackle every single budgeting question at once.

3. I’d rather have low-key dates and thoughtful gifts

A lot of people fantasize about getting treated to bougie dinners and expensive gifts, but it’s really not all that. In the past I’ve received $200 leather shoes, a $400 cookware set, and even a trip to an island for a long weekend within the first month or two of a relationship. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but when I’m given expensive things early in the relationship, it makes me feel trapped.

I’ve had some of my best memories with partners on drives along the Pacific Coast Highway with $3 elote (Mexican street corn) on hand. This year, I celebrated my birthday at a taco stand with friends, and it felt great knowing that I wasn’t asking anyone to overextend themselves by buying a $4 taco. 

Of course, I’m happy to give and receive bigger gifts later in the relationship, but at the beginning, I’d rather keep money stressors out of the dating game and focus on getting to know someone.