Q&A: 7 Minutes With ‘It’s Complicated’ Author Paul Carrick Brunson

Love and relationships expert on his new book, shared values and when a first-date Groupon is fair game

You had to know that I was going to ask about finances and relationships.

Uh oh. [Laughs]

What’s in the book that gives folks guidance on when and how to avoid complicated money problems?

Well, we know that disagreements over money is a top three reason why couples break up, whether they’re married or just dating. In chapter four (Know Your Relationship Vitals), I talk about how it’s important to have shared values. One value that we all have is how we treat and manage money. That’s a value that’s shaped over the course of our lives. It’s critical to have that same value as your partner. You can’t be on two different pages. There can’t be one that’s a spendthrift that wants joint accounts and your partner is all about independent accounts. Those values need to be negotiated. The dating process is really for the identification of values, of personality. A lot of us when we date, we want to know about, “How does he treat the waiter?,” or, “Do we both like Common?” But that’s not what dating is about. Dating is about seeing your partners actions play out as result of their values. Part of that value is around money.

So help me end a perpetual debate: Is a Groupon ever okay on the first date?

Here’s the thing: There’s no yes or no answer to it. Here’s why … because if a Groupon is good for you and you’re dating a woman that a Groupon is not good for, it’s clear you have two different sets of values around money. But if she’s down with it and you’re down with it, you probably have closely shared values.

Do you think our women place too much emphasis on money too early in the dating process?

I think that observing how someone spends their money is very important. I believe that if you want to find where someone’s true interests are, look at where they’ve been spending their money over the last six months. Look at how they’ve been spending their time. So if you’re using that as an evaluation tool, I’d say it’s a good thing.

What’s your dream scenario with this book in the next six months?

My dream is that hundreds of thousands — millions of people around the world really respond to how the book has helped to shape their lives and given them insight around how to conduct relationships. As a result of that there’s lots of things that come with that. There’s money that comes — it’s a business, too. It’s all important, but ultimately the dedication to my book is to my son [Kingston]. And the whole idea is this was my way of telling my son that I’m trying to make this world a better place. And that this is the way that I’m trying to do it.

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