¡hola papi!

‘Should I Tell First Dates I’m Rich?’

Illustration: Pedro Nekoi

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack.

¡Hola, Papi!

I am a woman with a decent job and a smallish inheritance. It’s not enough money to pay someone else’s rent, but if someone were to move in with me, I could support them. I bring this up because I’ve been having a hard time getting attention from people I’m actually attracted to, and I’m looking for ways to tilt the scales in my favor. Is there an appropriate way to announce that I could take care of a partner financially? Is this just a terrible idea? I’m a very blunt person by nature, but a lot of people respond badly to that. I don’t want to look like a huge asshole!

Not Quite Rich

Hey, there, Not Quite!

Wow, I’ve made it. My column is reaching minor heirs.

I suppose I’ll say up front it’s a bad idea to bribe people for their affections. Not only that, but I’m not sure your Great Value™ Sugar Mama deal is all that sweet in our present economy, inflation rampant as it is. To be blunt, signing yourself off as “Not Quite Rich” is a sign, to me, that you lack the requisite funds (and perhaps the confidence) to pull it off.

Perhaps my standards are unreasonably high (out-of-touch coastal elite here), but I don’t think I would take up the mantle of trophy husband for anything less than designer clothes and first-class flights to seaside villas. What are we working with on your end? Central air in an industrial Bushwick loft? A basement gym? What qualifies as a “smallish inheritance”? I have no sense of scale for these things. Like, was your grandfather a lawyer, or was he Julio Pringles of Pringles Potato Crisps? Was he the first to vacuum-seal chips in a tube?

I have questions, you see.

Moving on. Your letter made me sad, Not Quite! It sounds as though your more immediate problem is you’re lonely and frustrated with the lack of romance in your life. I can sympathize with that. But it also sounds as though you’re letting your frustration take the wheel. When that happens, we can end up in dangerous territory — like, for example, playing with the idea of enticing someone into a relationship with money.

I won’t say that financial comfort doesn’t appeal to a lot of people or that it’s not something people look for in a potential partner. Certainly it enters the equation in both subtle and overt ways. But your approach speaks to a losing mind-set. It sounds as though you’re looking to win a game (you speak of tilting scales) with a relationship being the prize. The reality is people aren’t prizes to be won, and a relationship isn’t like Monopoly. Ideally, it’s just people who are into each other.

It seems you’re not confident someone will like you for you, so you’ve reached the conclusion that you ought to offer something that is “not you.” To be clear, you aren’t alone in this. Many people are dissatisfied with themselves and crave an imagined romantic partner who will waltz in and make them like themselves more. That craving can put your priorities into desperate disarray. It can put “finding someone I vibe with” second to “finding someone, anyone at all.”

You should take a step back from pondering the ethics of this specific plan to reassess how you see relationships (and yourself) in general. Even if you got what you wanted in this scenario, you would end up with someone who is with you, at least in part, because they’re getting free stuff out of you or because they’re financially dependent on you. This wouldn’t be good for either party. There are healthier dynamics out there. To be honest, there are also toxic ones that are at least more fun.

I get the impression you’re not terribly fond of yourself. It’s possible you don’t see yourself as a person who can get into a relationship without a cash incentive or as a person anyone would stay with unless they were dependent on you in some way. Until you address that, your romantic endeavors will be rocky from the jump.

That’s not something I want for you! I want you to enter first dates with confidence and without feeling you need to drop that you’re an heirish (coming soon to ABC). Maybe take a break from dating to engage your interests, things that make you feel good about yourself.

But whatever you do, do not become a landlord for love, Not Quite. Heal thyself.

(If you are the Pringles heir, I am available for close personal friendship.)

Con mucho amor,

Originally published May 11, 2022.

This column first ran in John Paul Brammer’s Hola Papi newsletter, which you can subscribe to on Substack. Purchase Brammer’s book, Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessonshere.

‘Should I Tell First Dates I’m Rich?’