My ex didn’t make much money of his own but he did come from a wealthy family. Money was never a huge draw for me but it was for him, and before I knew it, I was spending cash I didn’t have on expensive clothes and other things just to keep up with him and make him happy. Needless to say, it was a terrible decision.
I felt the need to hide who I was. I had a great childhood with tons of wonderful memories, but I did grow up in what’s considered “the bad side of town.” I also didn’t have any money for college, leaving me with a lot of debt, and I’d been working since I was 14 years old. Meanwhile, my boyfriend was working his first job ever in his early twenties and had zero college debt because Mommy and Daddy paid for everything. At one point he even said, “I just don’t understand why anyone would go to college if they can’t afford it,” then proceeded to stare at me blankly when I tried explaining that most people these days actually can’t afford it but their job opportunities are far more limited if they don’t go. I eventually stopped talking about my background because of how visibly uncomfortable it made my boyfriend.
To him, money was everything. He constantly compared how much money we made and he was always talking about various rich billionaires he held as idols. In an attempt to make others think he was living a much more lavish lifestyle than he actually was, my boyfriend would also frequently post Instagram photos of himself fanning out any cash he had or posing with all his “swag.” At one point, he even went to Las Vegas with his friends and blew all his money on a ridiculously huge suite just so he could brag about it on social media. I always thought this behavior was kind of silly but harmless until one day he decided to tell me, “You know, I’d post a lot more photos of you if maybe you dressed nicer.” Yeah, ouch.
He was disgusted by the fact that I shopped at thrift stores. I wore hand-me-down clothing all during my childhood, and my sister and I actually bonded in our teen years by going on shopping trips to thrift stores. It wasn’t like I never bought new clothing, but I still enjoyed the occasional trip to the local Goodwill. When my boyfriend found out, he was visibly repulsed, expressing disbelief that anyone could be comfortable wearing old clothes. He then took this as an opportunity to point out that I never shopped at any “good stores,” AKA stores like Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Gucci, Armani Exchange, etc.
His passive aggressive comments prompted me to start “upgrading.” As time went on, my boyfriend became more comfortable putting down the clothes I wore and making “jokes” about how I didn’t seem to care about the finer things in life. What can I say? It got to me. I started small, getting some nice underwear. Before I knew it, I was frequenting designer stores and trying to find deals on their sales racks. But shopping, like many other things, is a slippery slope. Eventually even the sale stuff didn’t seem good enough and I started blowing money on the latest full-price items. Needless to say, thrift store shopping became a thing of the past.
I’d never owned any designer clothing before I dated him. I’d like to point out that I never owned a single designer item until I was in this relationship. It wasn’t that I didn’t think this stuff was nice or that I simply didn’t care, as my boyfriend assumed. Instead, I just didn’t think any of it was worth the price. Why would I ever spend $100 on a shirt when I can get a perfectly good one for less than $20? Unfortunately, my boyfriend just didn’t understand this way of thinking. To him, clothing brands made a person. And to him, I was “brand ignorant.”
No matter how much I bought, it was never good enough. You’d think that my boyfriend would have at least appreciated my efforts to some degree. After all, I was spending all this money in an attempt to please him. However, he still continued to find ways to passively criticize me. Even worse, once I started buying new clothing, he turned his attention to other “old and worn out” items in my life that he deemed in need of an upgrade. I guess I should have seen at this point that he wasn’t helping me—he was just a huge jerk.
My boyfriend’s parents were still paying for things he wanted. I knew that he still relied on his parents way more than I did on mine, and I also knew that his parents were wealthy. What I didn’t know until much later in our relationship was just how much he turned to them for money and things he wanted. Turns out they were the ones who were responsible for literally all of the designer items he flaunted regularly. Yuck.
I ended up selling the clothes after we broke up. When we finally did call it quits, I shamefully realized I’d spent a few thousand dollars on designer clothes, so I began selling them. Even though I didn’t make back everything I spent, getting rid of it all definitely helped me get through the breakup.
The experience has made me hesitant to date people from wealthy backgrounds. I really hate to judge anyone before I get to know them, but I’d be lying if I said that this whole experience didn’t make me want to avoid dating any more rich people. And I really don’t like the fact that I now notice when people are wearing designer brands, which is something I never really saw before. Not long after my boyfriend and I broke up, I had a great conversation in a bar with a guy who was wearing a nice watch and an Armani shirt. When he asked me out, I suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable and politely declined. Past relationships affect us in weird ways, I suppose. I sure miss being “brand ignorant.”
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