The 32-year-old factory worker in Ho Chi Minh City said his five previous relationships ended because of his low income. Women often wanted a man with a higher salary and more money.
“Sometimes it was the other partner complaining about my income, sometimes it was their parents,” he said.
The money issue was the most pervasive discussion that all of Dung’s ex-girlfriends’ families always tried to incite him about. And when they learned how poor he was, they lost interest.
He is now discouraged and no longer interested in dating. He came to view romantic relationships as a luxury that only men with expensive cars or houses could enjoy. Low-wage earners who own cheap motorcycles like him simply don’t have romance, he said. It’s a common saying in Vietnam: “no money, no honey”.
Dung isn’t the only one who struggles to find enough money to maintain a romantic relationship.
Many people in Vietnam struggle to earn enough money to date and get married. Photo illustration by Freepik
A recent report by the Vietnam Institute of Workers and Trade Unions, an arm of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, which studied 3,000 participants, found that 54 percent of Vietnamese workers considered wages a deciding factor in deciding whether or not they should settle down.
Huu Dao, from the northern province of Bac Giang, earns VND8 million ($328) a month. After deducting his living expenses and the allowances he sends to his parents, he is left with 4 million VND for his savings. He avoids thinking about getting married because he doesn’t think he can support a family.
“[I think] Financial matters account for 60% of a couple’s ability to stay together long term,” he said.
Therefore, despite his strong desire to have a family, Dao says he doesn’t think he can have one.
“If my wife has a job, everything will be fine, otherwise we will definitely have difficulties with money,” he said. “Our expenses will also skyrocket if we have children, and I don’t want to be an irresponsible father who can’t even take good care of my children.”
Thus, Dao is not interested in approaching women romantically because he fears the bitterness of being rejected for his lack of money.
“Honestly, I’m not comfortable dating a woman at my current salary,” he said. “Not to mention that any woman with better financial capacity would not be interested in me as a romantic partner.”
Her concerns are somewhat borne out by marriage experts, who say many married couples often find themselves arguing, or even divorcing, due to financial problems. Statistics show that money is the number one argument among married couples all over the world, whether they are rich or poor.
According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, the average age at which men get married has increased significantly over the past 30 years. This change is also widespread in metropolitan and rural areas. And studies have shown that the increasingly crippling cost of living is the main cause of these trends.
Traditional Vietnamese culture and beliefs are strict: the man of the family must be the breadwinner and shoulder all financial responsibilities for the family.
Thus, increasing numbers of men are suffering from severe anxiety as the global economy collapses, inflation and the cost of living rise, and wages remain far below anything that could be considered like a living wage.
The above-mentioned report from the Vietnam Institute of Workers and Trade Unions also found that 75.5% of men in Vietnam believe their income is not enough to meet their financial needs, and 11.2% had to work at least two jobs to cover rising costs. of life. In comparison, only 8.1% of Vietnamese men report having savings.
But that doesn’t mean men are the only victims of financial pressure. A part of the Vietnamese female population also finds their love life difficult due to money problems.
Suong Mai, 30, an interior designer in HCMC, broke up with her ex-boyfriend three years ago after her mother expressed dissatisfaction with his income.
“She [the mother of Mai’s ex-boyfriend] said I wasn’t qualified to be his daughter-in-law,” Mai said. “I think I still haven’t gotten over the pain I felt after hearing that.”
Mai said she has since managed to increase her income to VND20 million. She lamented that if she had earned that much when she met her ex-boyfriend’s mother three years ago, things would have been different.
“At least they could have seen me as a woman who was trying hard in my career,” she said.
Mai said her age is now another obstacle on the path to marriage, although she no longer has to worry about money. Even if she wants to have a partner who she can spend time with after work, who can eat meals with her, and who can accompany her towards better goals in her life, people her age cannot easily achieve this. objective, according to Mai.
So she is still single.
“And I can’t get back with my ex-boyfriend either,” she said.
According to Mai Trung Son, deputy head of the Department of Population Size and Family Planning at Vietnam’s General Bureau of Population and Family Planning, this phenomenon may also cause worrying and disruptive sociological problems in the future.
Son said when people don’t marry due to financial barriers, the population ages at a problematic rate and rationing. This looming proportional imbalance will create an insufficient workforce and harm the welfare system across society.
When it comes to mental health issues, psychologist Nguyen Thi Tam said that building a career while becoming emotionally close to someone romantically has been an important, if not extremely important, part of the human development phase towards maturity between 18 and 35 years old.
As a result, those in this age group who fail to maintain romantic relationships may suffer from mental exhaustion, including severe anxiety, depression, lack of purpose, and a crippling feeling of inner emptiness.
But even being aware of this negative aspect does not guarantee that those who sacrifice their personal lives for financial problems will find a solution.
“People have more options to choose from when they have more money,” Dao concluded. “At least they can settle down and have children much easier than me, who was looking for someone to marry, but in vain.”