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Regardless of how many relationships you've had, it is always difficult to manage the financial issues of dating. Different money management styles, income and debt levels are just some of the money matters that the two of you may need to balance. The first step in avoiding the obstacle of financial challenges is to realize that money is a sensitive and potentially problematic component of dating -- and that you need to tackle it head-on. Here are three essentials that will help keep dollars from destroying your budding relationship.

Talk, Talk, Talk

Money is often a forbidden subject during new or developing dating relationships. Remember, however, that dating is generally a "test period" before making a more significant commitment. In order to properly assess your compatibility with your partner, you need to understand where he or she is coming from financially and how he or she deals with money issues.

Additionally, it is the sensitive nature of financial issues that often makes us subdue discussion of frustrations or stress about money. If you aren't upfront about your money-related anxieties, then your partner may assume that stress comes from somewhere else -- possibly something he or she did or said. Be upfront and make conversations about finances comfortable and productive.

Be Compassionate

It's a common scenario: One person in a relationship makes much more than the other and often ends up footing the bill for many of your outings and activities together. Regardless of which role you play, it is important to nip in the bud any possible problems that could develop from a large gap in income level.

If you make more money than your significant other, sit down and address that you often pay because you enjoy your time together and like bringing him or her to the places and events that are special to you. If you're the one making less money, you may want to acknowledge that you understand that your partner is paying for the right reasons, but that you'd also like to try to do things from time to time that are in your budget and that you can cover.

Be Independent

At the Equality in Marriage Institute we get calls daily from men and women who have lost their financial independence during a long-term dating or partnering situation, only to find themselves in a bad place after that relationship has dissolved. "It is critical that everyone gain the knowledge and professional guidance to actively manage their finances and investments, maintain good credit ratings and secure their future," says Lisa Caputo, president of Women and Company, a member of Citigroup. This will enable you to maintain your own good financial standing in a dating situation. Do the necessary research and work with financial professionals in your area to make sure you are on track.

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