Her reply hit me like a bullet.

Out of nowhere, with tremendous precision and no effort wasted.

At that moment we were just about finished our appetizers. She had left just one half of not-that-ripe cherry tomato on the side of her plate. Me? I was so surprised by the nonchalance of that answer that my arm was left hanging mid-scoop, holding some drops of mushroom soup on a spoon that may as well be feeling terribly confused.

Granted, mine was not the most common question one could ask on a first date, but that was certainly a first.

There weren’t many people in the hotel restaurant that night, which was fortunate. The ambience felt more private, and the soft jazz from the piano lounge was free to roam through the empty spaces.

She looked over her shoulder to the dark, crashing waves outside the windows, which left me time to regain my posture before making an absolute fool of myself. At least she let me think that.

Once our plates had been cleared, I tried to clear the air a bit myself.

“So was it a matter of him not being able to keep up with your tastes?”, I asked jokingly, hoping I got the playful tone right without sounding judgy.

How she laughed and laughed at me. But it wasn’t a mocking kind of laugh, more like one would have one listening to the sweet innocence of a child.

“Quite the contrary” she declared. “In the wheel of money personality, this one was a big spender. He showers me with expensive gifts, and being not so subtle about how much they’d cost”.

I must’ve looked as confused as I felt, because of what she asked next.

“You still think money is about money, don’t you?”

What else could it be about?

“Let me put it this way. Yes, it was very nice getting all those nice things and experiences. And I don’t think he was getting a credit to afford it, but who can tell anyway?” she wondered with a shrug. “Thing is, it became very clear to me that this guy was not putting anything away.”

“Your problem with him was that he wasn’t saving?” As our main courses arrived at the table, I felt more confused than ever.

“Saving, investing, preparing for the future, call it what you want. What matters is, in the long-run, this could turn into a very big problem. That became very clear 5 months in.”

She was now looking down at the salmon on her plate as she cut it. Taking her time with each bite, she continued:

“Problem number 1 - he was only interested in the here in now. All about instant gratification, never wondering where he might want to be one day.”

That did make some sense to me. I know I can work quite the stress tab if I find myself without an emergency fund.

“Problem number 2 - he came to expect some standard of living. It’s not a bad thing in itself, but I know very well what I want to do, even if it does mean tightening up a bit for some time. At some point, his habits were going to be too much of a weight on my own plans.”

"Did you share your concerns with the guy?"

“Yes.  That is why I can say for sure that we weren’t compatible. You may be thinking just facts and figures, but this goes deep into your beliefs, your values. On how you see the world around you. It can say a whole lot about you.”

I had never thought about that. Looking at saving and spending habits had never been on my dating checklist, but I was starting to feel like I was going to pay more attention to this “financial compatibility” thing.

“And that wasn’t something you could work through?”

“In abstract? Yes. With this guy? No. Because there was also problem number 3 - he looked at money as a power exchange. And while I don’t need to be in total control of anything, no-one can expect to control me.”

Time had really flown, because only then I could realize that the waiter handed her credit card back with the receipt of our meal, along with two glasses of sparkly wine.

“Would that bother someone like you?”, she asked.

“I think we could work something out”, I said thinking in surprise that my portfolio could be telling me that there could be something here. “Cheers.”

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