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Can’t buy me love
Nov 5, 2020
Season 3

Can’t buy me love

What are you saying to other people with how you spend your money? And what's it say about you? Plus: We need your help with an upcoming episode.

This episode originally aired in our first season, in September 2019. We’re off this week working on some reporting, and we need your help! More information on that below.

Venmo is both a functional payment service and a social media platform, so our everyday transactions might become performative — whether we intend them to or not.

Privacy researcher and coder Hang Do Thi Duc downloaded all of Venmo’s public transactions from 2017, around 200,000 total, and used the data to follow the lives of five strangers. Looking at the data, she was able to track a drug dealer’s cannabis business, one woman’s unhealthy eating habits and a couple breaking up.

And whether we mean to put ourselves on blast or not, people make assumptions all the time based on others’ spending habits. Because the way we spend money — or don’t — projects a certain version of who we are to the world.

This week, we learn about how hard it can be to “break up” when you can follow your former flame’s brand new, blossoming relationship with a simple tap of a screen. And we’ll hear from another couple who thought they were saying one thing with their Valentine’s Day gifts — but really, they were saying something else. Plus: How often can your date duck out on a bill before you get suspicious?

One more thing: For an upcoming episode, we’re looking at the idea of success and how people define it. A lot of ideas about who we’re meant to be as adults get instilled into us at an early age, by the things we see our parents do or the expectations they set for us.

We’re curious: Growing up, what did success look like to you? And how has that changed as you’ve gotten older? Let us know by calling us at  (347) RING-TIU, or (347) 746-4848. You can also send us a voice memo at, or fill out the form below.

The future of this podcast starts with you.

We know that as a fan of “This Is Uncomfortable,” you’re no stranger to money and how life messes with it — and 2023 isn’t any different.

As part of a nonprofit news organization, we count on listeners like you to make sure that these and other important conversations are heard.

Support “This Is Uncomfortable” with a donation in any amount and become a Marketplace Investor today.

The team

Megan Detrie Senior Producer
Hayley Hershman Senior Producer
Phoebe Unterman Producer
Camila Kerwin Producer

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