Vinod, a 38-year-old author, has learned that love is sometimes a luxury that comes at a high price. The bitter conclusion came to him after his girlfriend cheated on him for money for years while he – for fear of being alone – continued to maintain the relationship.
“He did not make much money, so he borrowed money from me, which at first I thought was okay,” Vinod told VICE. “In the beginning, he told me what he was going to use the money for, for example, to go to work or for food, clothes and bills. But over time, it became a habit for him to borrow money from me. I let him get used to it, and I should not have it. “
Vinod even kept track of how much money he was lending, but when he noticed that his friend was not ready to pay them back, he eventually asked him where the money actually went.
“He avoided my questions and kept teasing me with phrases like, ‘Honey, I have to pay you back. You know I want to take care of you.’ He was very convincing. I think we like that believe in scammers because we are afraid of being alone and because we do not take financial fraud seriously enough, ”he says.
The pattern Vinod fell victim to is known as “financial infidelity” when someone withholds certain money matters or financial decisions from the partner.
Financial infidelity covers a wide range of behaviors. These can be things that may seem small or trivial – like not informing your partner about your online purchases or not saying anything about the high bill for a work drink. It can also be about much more serious matters, such as redirecting money from joint accounts, or lying about income or debt. Borrowing large amounts of money without a partner’s permission, or hiding bank accounts or credit cards are also forms of financial infidelity.
A Nibud survey showed that more than twenty percent of respondents did not always agree with the partner’s consumption. A 2015 UK survey found that one in five participants lied to their partner about their income, while one in four lied about their debt.
The pandemic has also had negative effects on the financial health of the relationship. Recent research from Utrecht University and Radboud University showed that eight percent of adults believed that the pandemic had a negative effect on their relationship. Economic stress was mentioned as an important factor.
That was also the case with Rami, a 28-year-old lawyer. A year after she moved in with her boyfriend in June 2020, she noticed that he had a strange consumption pattern for, as she understands in hindsight, “keeping up with the look”.
“He was fired a month after we moved in together, but did not tell us then,” she says.
For a year he maintained that lie, and everything seemed normal. He paid his share of the rent and contributed equally to the daily expenses. But then he began to defer his payments under the pretext that his salary came too late. Sometimes it seemed like he had no money for weeks. One day, Rami’s friend called her. It turned out that Rami’s girlfriend had borrowed money from her with a promise to pay them back soon, after which she never heard from him again.
“When I confronted him about it, he broke down. He had built up debts to half a dozen people, including two of my own friends, who never told me that before he joked about them, ”she says. “He kept borrowing money from people, thinking he would eventually find a good job and pay back the debt. But that job did not materialize, and the debt kept piling up. ” Rami broke off the relationship and moved back to his parents.
Financial infidelity is also often a source of misery in divorce. Daniel Coombes, director of a London-based family law firm, told The Guardian: “When it comes to divorce, debt building is really sad” because the court can only work with what’s there. “If anyone has spent all the money, they are gone,” he added. In many cases, Coombes noted, the extent of financial infidelity often comes first during divorce proceedings.
It is therefore important to recognize the signs of this kind of infidelity in a timely manner. According to AD there are a top 3 ways people “cheat financially” – secretly expensive purchases, secret savings accounts and hidden debt.
It told Dominique Broadway, a consultant specializing in financial understanding CNBC that partners should consistently take more time to discuss financial matters with each other. Partners should go on “money dates” more often, she believes. We need to do more “sharing and talking”, by which she means opening the accounts together or even making a spreadsheet to keep track of the common economy.
Making a spreadsheet can go a little far for many people, but you can also prevent a lot of misery in your relationship by simply being honest about money and shopping.
This article was originally featured on VICE Asia.
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