Op-Ed: Shouldn’t I live up to my own expectations?

Ranted by Yana Vorontsov to Cara Lau

This is part of our Op-Ed series where we feature third-party opinions and thoughts on the ways finance affects our lives. The authors are not so much giving advice, as they are sharing experiences. Some will make you think, others will inspire, and we hope all of them will give you something to talk about.

After a heated argument, he calmly turned to me and asked, “But what are you doing with your life to achieve what you’re asking of me? You don’t own a car or a house, why should I?”

R.I.P. that relationship. But I learned a lot that day.

My parents have always been deeply involved in my life, helping me navigate work, school, friendships, and of course, my relationships. Even though their opinions tend to be old school, they’ve been through a lot – moving countries twice, starting from scratch, educating themselves, building a family, pursuing careers – so I can’t dismiss them entirely. Plus, they have a way of knowing my strengths and weaknesses. My father, in particular, has been eager to tell me what kind of man I should have in my life.

“He has to have a good career. He has to own a car. His parents should be well off, so they can afford a proper wedding. He should have investments and money in the bank. He should be able to support you while you’re on mat-leave, or if you lose your job. Oh, and he should be personable and cultured. And be able to hold good conversation. You know, Yana, you should find a man who would ask you ‘Babe, what’s your favorite pizza?’ and then take you on a private jet to Napoli.”

Strangely, I’ve always dated men who never fulfilled a majority of my father’s checklist. Maybe it was rebellion? Or maybe I wanted to achieve them myself but was never conscious about my aspirations. Maybe I’ve always known that having those expectations for someone is unrealistic if I myself have only recently achieved an independent lifestyle.

People say you should “date up, not down.” But for me, a healthy relationship is better when you’re dating equal. Not that you both have to be making six figures, but your outlook on finance is important. I’ve realized that how you save and invest money can be a real deal breaker. If your partner doesn’t value long-term goals and prefers to live unconventionally or if they aren’t interested in working a stable nine-to-five job, you have to ask yourself if you’re okay with that. And if you aren’t, is it because you feel insecure about your own situation and expect them to make up the difference?

I certainly was.

Illustration by Yana Vorontsov. We make taking financial ownership approachable and relatable.