Handle That: How To Approach Finances When It Comes To Dating And Your Relationships
Money is something most couples don’t want to talk about. You’d like to think that no matter your financial situation or his, your love is too strong to be shaken by such material matters as money. But like it or not, money isn’t just money. It largely determines your feelings of stability and stress in your life. If those two things are messed with, then immediately so is your relationship.
Don’t loan big amounts
It’s so tempting to help out the man you love when he needs a loan, but treat loans the way you would treat moving in with somebody: don’t do it unless you believe you’ll spend the rest of your life with this person. Otherwise, it will be very messy if things don’t work out. You would have to continue to interact with that person until he paid you back, which would greatly hinder your healing process. If you stayed together, and he struggled to pay you back, his guilt and your resentment would add a lot of tension to the relationship.
Pick up a few big things, if you can’t pick up the regular small things
If your partner likes to lead a lifestyle you can’t really afford, filled with lots of meals and drinks out, but he is happy to cover you, occasionally pick up the check on big things. Even if it’s just one pricey dinner every couple of months, or the hotel room on a trip, this shows your partner you don’t take him for granted.
Move somewhere you can both (sort of) afford
Moving into a place that your partner takes up most of the rent on can be a slippery slope. Many couples report that the partner paying most of the rent inadvertently begins covering more and more of the house expenses, and eventually even more of the rent. It’s a trap because, if the person with less income gets in an even tighter situation, the couple doesn’t want to have to find a new place, or stop living together, so the partner with a higher income has no choice but to pay more. But then it feels more like a child/parent relationship than a romantic relationship between equals. Do yourself a favor, compromise on a place that you can afford to pay for almost 50/50.
Don’t keep tabs
Everybody likes to be paid back. You’re not cold-hearted for having that reflex reaction of wanting to be paid back, when you cover your partner for a movie ticket or meal. But when it comes to small things like that, just remind yourself that that person brings so much to your life just by being in it. If that $10 or $30 isn’t going to make a difference in you paying rent that month, don’t ask for it back. It kills the romance to be keeping track of the $5 here and $15 there that you owe each other.
Give in the ways that you can
Giving doesn’t have to mean spending. There are plenty of ways you can enhance your partner’s life without money. If you are in a financial situation in which monetary gifts you buy him will look (to be honest) flimsy in comparison to the ones he can get you, don’t buy him a gift! Offer him an hour long massage, or bake him his favorite desert, or organize a small surprise get together with all of his best friends that he’s been trying to see for a while. Whether we like it or not, we can begin to feel like a burden on someone when they are the only one spending money on the relationship. That leads us to resent them when they pay for us. Doing nice things for them is an easy way not to feel like a burden.
Let him make his investments
Starting a company, taking out a loan, quitting his boring 9 to 5 to begin his startup…these are the things men have to do to become great men. It can be scary to be with a man during his transition time from a 9 to 5 worker bee, to the owner of his own business. This time often involves big loans, staying up all night to work, and taking a large financial hit for a finite period of time until things take off. But, don’t stop a man from taking his financial risks. Only those that take risks receive big benefits. He may fail, but he has to try.
Understand why he is the way he is
The way people feel about money relates to something much deeper than just financial concerns. Perhaps your partner grew up very poor and even though he has money now, is in the habit of being a penny pincher. Perhaps he grew up very privileged, and is accustomed to having the best of everything, whether he can afford it or not. Be sensitive about the way you approach money matters, because they are closely tied to who he is at his core.
Be honest about your financial situation
Don’t constantly cancel on nights out with your partner because you fear you can’t afford it. Don’t make up stories about why you’re living in your crumby apartment. If you want a truly intimate relationship, you should be able to show your partner your weaknesses, and that includes financial weaknesses. It may feel awkward at first to tell your partner what sort of income you make and that you can’t afford certain things, but once you get over that hump you can avoid many other awkward situations. Your partner will be more mindful of you and what you can afford.
Be able to talk about money
Again, since your issues with money are often rooted in your childhood, talking about money can be sensitive. If your partner has some criticisms of the way you handle money, you feel that he is criticizing you as a person. Remember: your partner isn’t trying to attack you. Put your issues aside and focus on the matters at hand. If you cannot talk about money, you’ll find yourself in confusing and stressful financial situations later.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you’re trying to learn about investing your money, or saving your money, or if you have a bit of a shopping addiction, don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help. Everybody could use a small adjustment one way or another in the way they handle money. Tell your partner you want to make that change and ask him to help you. When we handle money in a way we didn’t want to, that guilt will often make us lash out at our partner, or act distant from them. So give your partner the chance to stop that from happening.
Remember mortgage loan applications…
If you plan on spending your life with somebody, there is no point in hiding facts about your finances because they are bound to come out as soon as you and your partner apply for a joint loan on anything. And then, when you can’t buy that house/car/start that business because of your credit history or debts, your partner will feel lied to.
“What’s mine doesn’t have to be yours”
Don’t feel that you have to share everything with your partner if you get married. There may be jewelry, an old vintage car, or perhaps a property that’s been in your family for years that’s meant to be kept in the bloodline. Or maybe you have just owned something on your own your whole life that you have a very close connection to and is a part of your identity as an individual. Your partner should understand that it’s healthy for each person to have some things that are just their own.
Debt can be shared
Depending on the state you live in, if you marry a man with debt, you will take on his debt. And then, your assets are up for grabs for the debt collectors because your assets are his assets. If you’re the one with debt, your partner is the one at risk. If you really love the man, this is another reason to be totally honest about your finances.
Set budgets for trips
Travelling can be a very stressful activity with regards to money and your relationship. The person with more money might have a go-with-the-flow mentality while travelling, and want to buy everything in sight. To avoid getting roped into that, figure out what your budget is before the trip. Inform your partner of that budget so they know it’s a real thing. That way, it’s less awkward while on the trip to have to say, “Sorry…I can’t afford to go champagne tasting.”