The Psychology of Overspending

I talked recently about the psychology of money and it’s mental, and very real, implication in our daily lives. In light of the recession and economic woes many are facing, I’d like to take that one step further and talk about the psychology of money problems.

The Sex and Money Study

The original study connects money and sex and shows that when young men were shown erotic pictures, they were more likely to take a bigger financial gamble than if they were shown a picture of something scary.

Perhaps not-so-surprisingly, the arousing pictures lit up the same part of the brain that also lit up when financial risks are taken. The study focused on the sex and money “hub” of the brain, which is near the base of the brain and plays a central role in what you consider to be pleasurable.

How Money Affects the Sex Hub of the Brain

The flip side is also true and it’s likely you don’t need a study to tell you that financial hardship can adversely affect the sex “hub” of the brain, and make for some rough going in your relationship. Money takes an emotional toll on individuals and couples when there’s not enough to go around, or not as much as you’re used to having.

Ironically it seems that people are much more willing to discuss sex and relationships than they are to discuss finances, but having a financial conversation is just as important. Circumventing this discussion can lead one or both people to act out and commit Financial Infidelity.

When Financial Infidelity Occurs

This type of infidelity often occurs when one person is looking for that emotional high and begins engaging in thrill seeking behavior like overspending, buying big ticket items behind their partners’ back, etc. Basically, doing something that feels good in the moment but has harmful repercussions later.

Of course it tends to be a fact of life that emotions get tangled up in money. Look no further than recent recession/stock market news: in spite of the fact that most people KNEW there was a down turn in the economy, the stock market still plunged on the news of the recession.

But this emotional connection doesn’t mean finances, whether things are going well or poorly, have to be a negative aspect of your relationship.

Obviously honesty is important, and it’s VERY important to be honest and not let the stresses, problems and temptations in your relationship get to the point of an infidelity! Learning how to talk through things you face, both as an individual and a couple, can be crucial to building a strong relationship.


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