“Financial infidelity” is a type of dishonest in a relationship

MJust like emotions, time, and energy, money is on the list of things you naturally invest in a relationship, whether you spend it directly on your partner or on the things you do together. And just like the emotional and energetic investments you make in a partner, so do the financial investments you can bring to the partnership. As a result, withholding important financial details from a partner can be a form of infidelity, much like physical or emotional cheating, because it misleads a partner about your overall commitment to the relationship.

“Whether or not you’ve decided to pool your finances with a partner, your financial situation is likely to have an impact on your relationship,” says Maya Maria Brown, relationship expert and creative strategist at relationship wellness app Coupleness. “For example, if your partner wants a lavish vacation and expects to split the bill, but that’s not in your budget, you need to talk about your financial approach to vacation planning. Or if you are expecting an inheritance and plan to donate a large part of it, but your partner wants you to keep it for your future together, there is a discussion about that.”

“If you’re not honest about your financial situation upfront, chances are your partner will feel deceived when the truth eventually comes out.” —Maya Maria Brown, relationship expert

Overall, the life merging that occurs in a romantic relationship tends to imply the money of all parties involved – which is the main reason why hiding money matters can have the effect of cheating on a partner. “If you’re not honest about your financial situation upfront, chances are your partner will feel deceived when the truth eventually comes out,” says Brown. Not to mention that intentionally withholding information from your partner about something affecting them can affect the trust in your relationship.

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But just like emotional and physical cheating, financial infidelity isn’t always so clear-cut in practice. Do you have to reveal everything about your financial situation to a partner? And at what point in a relationship should one share money matters? Below, financial and relationship experts explain what financial infidelity really looks like, why some people do it, and how avoiding it through honest money talk can help protect your relationship.

What constitutes financial infidelity?

Hiding financial matters from your partner that deceives them about your financial status can be viewed as a form of infidelity, says financial coach Dasha Kennedy, wellness expert at wedding planning website The Knot. Even if you don’t intend to deceive your partner, keeping secrets about the money you have (or don’t have) can have this effect. Just as flirting with someone who isn’t your partner could be perceived as emotional cheating, even if you don’t set out to cheat or hurt your partner.

However, since every relationship is different, there is no single rule by which money matters should be disclosed in order to avoid financial infidelity. That’s why it’s so important to coordinate early on with your partner about the money issues you want to share, rather than how you would communicate other relationship expectations, Brown says.

However, if you would feel dishonest about not being open about a specific piece of your financial puzzle, it generally bodes well that holding it back constitutes financial infidelity, Brown says. “This could include any debt you have, such as credit card debt or student loans, savings, an upcoming inheritance, your credit history, any investments you have made, and your spending habits.”

Withholding such things can quickly lead to financial infidelity as they are linked to elements of your personality, your past and the life you may be able to lead in the future. And in many cases, the consequences — good or bad — of those secret savings, debts, or investments will directly affect an eventual partner, raising the question of why you hid them in the first place.

“One of the most common financial matters that spouses keep from each other is a personal credit card,” says divorce attorney Hailee Zabrin, income partner at Berger Schatz law firm. “Often a person does this to bill for personal expenses that they don’t want their spouse to know about for some reason.” But when they can’t pay the credit card fees on their own, debt suddenly becomes the problem of the hitherto ignorant spouse, she says.

Even in situations outside of marriage, or when the partner is not held responsible for a financial matter that was previously withheld from them, the withholding of important financial realities can be viewed as infidelity. This is true for the same reason that secret emotional investing could be considered emotional cheating: a partner does not have to know of an act of unfaithfulness for it to constitute cheating.

Why are some people tempted to withhold the truth about their finances from a partner?

The underlying reason for financial infidelity is different for people who are dishonest about a financial challenge (like debt, credit, or a credit card spending habit) than for people who are hiding a financial benefit (like a secret savings account, trust fund, or estate). ).

In the case of the former, the decision to keep it at rock bottom is likely to spring from a place of shame or fear, Brown says. They may worry that their partner will think differently about them (or even leave them) if they find out about the secret debt or loan. While in the latter case, the person may be holding onto a secret stash of money and may be struggling with trust issues or feeling insecure in the relationship, Brown says.

“It’s best to be honest about financial challenges, both because they may affect your partner and so that your partner can help you navigate them.” -Braun

If you fit into the first category, Brown suggests talking to a therapist to make it more comfortable to share what’s going on with your partner. “It’s best to be honest about financial challenges, both because they might affect your partner and so that your partner can help you navigate them,” she says. And if you belong to the second category, then it is worth evaluating the quality of your relationship as a whole in more detail. Holding on to money due to a lack of trust in your partner could mean it’s time to end the relationship, Brown says.

Why it’s so important to share financial matters with a partner

As mentioned above, your financial situation directly affects your partner’s livelihood. “An unexpected financial stroke of luck, like an inheritance, or challenges like debt, bad credit, or poor spending habits can affect your partner’s life,” says Brown.

For those who are married, this influence is legal: “In the state of Illinois, for example, if two people are married and one spouse incurs debt during the marriage and then fails to pay his creditors, those creditors may obtain judgment against an asset affecting the spouses hold together,” says Zabrin. “If the judgment is not fulfilled, the jointly held property may be sold or liquidated to pay off the debts of just one spouse.”

But even in unmarried relationships, the financial situation of one person could have a direct impact on how the other can shape his or her life. “Money influences every decision you and your partner are going to make,” Kennedy says, “determining where you live, what kinds of dates you can have, and even decisions about having kids or getting married.” Though those things do too Beginning a relationship may not be on your radar, “Once you start having conversations with a partner about bringing aspects of your life together, talking about your financial situation is an important step in making those plans,” says Brown.

Perhaps the most important thing to discuss first with a partner is your spending habits, says Kennedy. “Knowing your partner’s spending risk factors, or whether they tend to spend impulsively or responsibly, can help you be on the same page when it comes to investing, paying off debt, and managing bank accounts.” Once you’ve started, Having these kinds of conversations about money allows you to dive even deeper into “how you’re feeling about your finances, what’s making you nervous, and what’s on your wish list,” says Brown.

Achieving this type of deep financial alignment with a partner can be a great boon to the longevity of your relationship and help you avoid the money disputes that are often cited as a leading cause of divorce.

And from an even broader perspective, being open about money can lead to more intimacy and connectedness in your relationship overall. Talking about your finances not only relieves you of the stressful burden of keeping a secret from your partner, but also gives your partner reassurance that you’re comfortable with being vulnerable around them. (While a partner who is being lied to about money is bound to wonder what else you could be lying to them about, Brown says.)

Financial compatibility and openness are important for reasons that go well beyond the practical, says Kennedy: “It plays such a big part in the success of a relationship because it shows a couple’s ability to communicate effectively about sensitive issues.”

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