Millennials, money and love

Picture of a man proposing to his girlfriend. 
Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • Young people who are just beginning to explore the world of dating or are still on the market are known to prioritise financial alignment with their prospective partners. 
  • But, if these interviewees’ views are anything to go by, money is really not everything 

Every girl would like to marry a rich husband. I did it twice. But what divides girls into two groups is this question: do you first think of money and then love, or vice versa?’

So goes one of the world's famous quotes by American actress Hedy Lamarr.

This is a dilemma that many young people face when choosing future partners. Do you say Yes to someone because of who they are, or do you make that decision purely based on their financial status?

This age old discussion is perhaps the reason the word ‘gold digger’ was coined in Europe in early 1900s.

We spoke to four young adults who share their thoughts and beliefs on relationships and finances, and what their priorities are when it comes to searching for a life partner.

Domnic Wasonga, 22, believes some women are stuck in the past and remain too obsessed with the size of their partners’ pocket.

Photo credit: Ondari Ogega


I don’t think a person’s financial status should be solely used to decide whether to be with someone or not.

This is because money comes and goes. The financial status might change at any time due to several reasons, including job loss or unforeseen circumstances.

For a long time, young people have been blamed for putting money first in every decision they make. Our generation has been branded ‘materialistic,’ especially women, and some men have taken advantage of this and used money to control women.

While I appreciate the fact that the world has changed and women are now taking up more roles in the family setup, some women remain too obsessed with the size of their prospective partners’ pocket.

For instance, I know of women who rely entirely on their partners to fulfill all their needs.

To me, love comprises a diverse set of emotions, experiences, and expressions. It is about emotional and physical intimacy, and it is not in any way determined by funds.

I believe in taking care of my girlfriend's emotional and physical needs. I try to always offer a listening ear, and to always be present in every way. Giving her financial support is never a priority to me. I believe love transcends finances.

I might be broke today and then secure a good job or start a thriving business tomorrow. My goal is to find a partner with who I share common interests and principles.

Before settling, it is important for me to build friendship with my partner. This way, I have time to understand her better, know what she likes, and how she handles money. I am particularly keen to know how she would behave when I have empty pockets.

If presented with an opportunity, I can comfortably date a woman who earns more than me, as long as there is respect.

Love, trust, respect and cooperation are the foundation of a happy and healthy relationship. Even if she takes up more responsibilities, I believe love will always conquer.

I will feel at home if the lady in the picture does not use her financial status to look down upon me. Of course, I will still try as a man to fulfil some of her needs, but only those that are within my abilities.

You don’t want to end up marrying a woman who will strain you financially and leave you regretting for the rest of your life.

My advice to the youth is, choose partners who can live within their means. Have a partner who is open-minded and ready to invest.

Before deciding to date someone, take your time to make them aware of your earnings and financial objectives.

Also, communication is key in a relationship, especially when it comes to money matters. Be open and talk about your financial expectations, spending patterns, and any financial worries. Having clear lines of communication might help avoid financial misunderstandings and disputes, lest you call someone’s daughter a gold digger.

Brian Odhiambo, 27, says someone’s financial status should not be among the factors to consider when look for a romantic partner.


I once dated a woman who was very materialistic, with lots of demands. At the time, my photography business had not picked up and the money I earned could not even cover all my needs.

However, she could not understand any of this. She was always calling me for money to buy this and that, without considering my financial instability.

At one point, I realised that she was also borrowing money from other men to fulfill her financial needs. When I found out, I quit the relationship.

Currently, I am in another relationship and my girl’s demands are manageable. Communication is key in our relationship. I have made a point of making her understand the situation when I am not able to give her money. And whenever I am in a position to, I am generous.

We understand and support each other financially when we can. Of course, I know and understand that men should be providers. Even the Bible says that men should head the household. If you provide well for your girlfriend, she becomes satisfied and will hardly be tempted to cheat.

Women love to be pampered. They need surprises, and gifts, however little, and like to be taken out once in a while.

As much as I would like to do all this, I expect my girlfriend to understand my position, and help me live within my budget. She should not be too demanding.

What I have come to learn, however, is that some women are over-dependent, and some will demand to be taken out or bought for fancy gifts simply because their friend’s boyfriend did that, even though they know very well that you are not stable enough to meet their demands.

Women love good things. They want to smell nice, travel and receive gifts regularly, but they should be reasonable.

This is why before settling, I take my time to know one's background so that I can understand her character. I never want to end up with a partner who is materialistic and cannot control their thirst for money. Age is also another major factor. I can never be comfortable dating a woman who is older than me.

This is because as a man, I need to be respected as the head of the relationship, and I am not sure if this will be the case if I date an older woman.

While a partner’s financial stability is never a big deal to me, I would want to know the profession of my potential spouse.

My work as a photographer involves lots of travelling, and sometimes shooting until late at night. If I was to date a teacher, for example, she might struggle to understand this schedule.

Dating a woman who earns more than me would also never be a challenge. This is because we might meet when we are earning the same but who knows? She could get a promotion later in life.

Of course, I won’t leave her because of that. However, I will continue taking up my responsibilities. For instance, if we are living together, I can never allow her to pay rent or buy furniture. I will do my best to pay for such things.

 My advice to fellow young people is that they should look for a partner with who they share ideas, and can create something big together. Also, do not just settle with someone who solely depends on you for finances.

If she is jobless, help her start a business so she can be independent.

Lucy Okeyo, 23, says she does not mind dating or getting married to someone who earns less money than her.


I don’t have a problem with a man spending on me if he thinks that is the right thing to do. If he feels like buying me gifts or taking me out, well and good.

On the other hand, if he believes I do not need that much financial attention, I’m okay with it too.

That said, I do not believe that a man’s pocket should determine whether I date him or not. I once dated a financially unstable man and we stayed in the relationship for quite some time.

He was from a humble background compared to me but we decided to do cost sharing since we were cohabiting at that time.

Most of the time, however, I would take the lion's share of bills and payments. I always paid rent and would do our monthly shopping.

Not once did I ever look down on him or cause any unnecessary drama. He was my choice and remained my loving partner for the period we were together.

What I did not like about him, however, is the fact that the little cash he would get from his hustle was all channeled to betting.

I tried to talk to him, not once or twice, but my advice fell on deaf ears so I decided to quit.

As a woman, I would like the man I am dating or my husband to invest in me financially.

Every woman loves beautiful things and wants to be well taken care of. But there are also women who are out to exploit men and convince them to direct all their finances to satisfy their unending desires such as expensive shoes, make-up and clothes.

While a man who does not care about his girlfriend’s needs might end up ruining the relationship, a woman who demands “queen treatment” without considering the man’s pockets will also bring down the relationship.

Love is all about mutual understanding. When looking for a partner, I am always keen to know their age. Dating a man who is way older than me is a No.

While his family background matters a lot, one’s physical appearance and financial status are never part of what I look for.

Additionally, I can comfortably date a man who is earning less than me.

No situation is permanent. One might have money today but the following day, things might change. Respect is key in such cases to ensure the man still feels comfortable.

Most people believe that when a woman earns more than the man, she will end up disrespecting him, but that is not the case all the time.

In such a scenario, I would treat my man the same way I would expect him to treat me when I am in the same situation.

Frank says he values genuine affection and respect the most in a partner.
Photo credit: Ondari Ogega


Love is a mutual feeling of connection with another individual. It involves making compromises and sacrifices to accommodate a partner.

Before I decide on dating my partner, I always prioritise several factors to achieve a fulfilling and lasting relationship.

One of the key things I look out for is one’s character.

Shared interests and compatibility are also important considerations to make, and respect is also very crucial between two people who were once strangers but have decided to get into a relationship.

While the pressure to live a lavish lifestyle is important to many young people, I don’t think my financial status should determine the kind of woman I choose.

The key question to ask is whether the partner is committed to the relationship, and if she is willing to actively pursue her life aspirations while at it.

Just a year ago, I was a student at Maseno University and was solely dependent on my parents for survival. But, I still managed to have a girlfriend.

 While I am not stable right now, I am still able to provide for one or two of my girlfriend’s needs, and I am OK with that.

Men are expected to be the primary breadwinners, but for things to work, there has to be a lot of respect and communication.

In some cases, some women rely too much on their partners, leaving them overwhelmed with responsibilities.

This is also common in university and is the reason women end up dating older men with fat pockets.

I have no problem dating a woman who makes more money than I. I would consider it a strength – a demonstration of her independence and career success.

Genuine affection and respect for one another are what I value most. Her higher income would not be a problem at all if she values my thoughts, respects me, and especially if we have a strong emotional connection.

Love surpasses financial differences. A lasting relationship is based on shared values, emotional connection, and trust rather than on who makes more money.

Those who are seeking marriage partners should invest in financial education and learn to speak openly about budgeting, saving and investing.

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