A January 2022 U.S. News & World Report survey found that 30% of respondents have experienced financial infidelity in their relationships. This is typical because one party has more control over the finances or the person has underlying issues affecting their habits.
What is Financial Infidelity?
Financial infidelity is when one partner keeps critical financial information from the other party, including income and debt, investments, and spending habits.
Since money is integral to our survival, this type of secrecy can lead to disputes, arguments, and, ultimately, mistrust.
The Impact of Financial Infidelity
Nearly 40% of those in a relationship have created a hidden credit card to keep purchases from being discovered by their partner. This shows that this type of behavior is pretty prevalent.
However, financial infidelity can be damaging to individuals and the relationship as a whole.
Financial infidelity can cause an atmosphere of suspicion and doubt in a relationship.
Not knowing where your money is going can worry you and lead you to question the other person’s honesty and trustworthiness. Secrecy can hinder the couple’s future finances and purchases.
Without proper communication around finances, you and your partner might be constantly stressed about money and how to meet expenses. In the end, these actions hurt both parties.
What to Look for if You Suspect Financial Infidelity
Trust your gut feeling when you suspect financial infidelity. In the same U.S. News & World Report survey mentioned, respondents saw these signs when experiencing financial infidelity.
1. Secret or Hidden Transactions
If you suddenly notice large and unexplained transactions on your joint account or your partner’s credit statement, this could be a sign of financial infidelity.
This isn’t simply overspending; it’s a person actively choosing to withhold info and move money around behind the other’s back.
2. Reluctance to Share Money Matters
Couples should always have a healthy dialogue about money, regardless of how much each of you earns or how well off you are.
If one suddenly finds it difficult to share their finances or they become distant or unresponsive with the other, it could be a sign of an underlying issue.
3. Incorrect or Overdrawn Balances
If you share an account, an incorrect or overdrawn account balance could be a sign of financial infidelity.
If you don’t share an account, you can assess whether they’re able to pay bills or pay off loans or investment accounts, but only if you’re both responsible for these matters.
4. Unexpected Package or Statement
Some people may throw out a receipt, keep it on them, or get an electronic receipt to avoid suspicion. They may also make a purchase online and hope that they’re home to pick it up.
If you suspect financial infidelity, check for any receipts or boxes that may be lying around.
What to do if You’re Experiencing Financial Infidelity
There are many reasons why financial infidelity occurs, ranging from sheer entitlement to embarrassment over debt. Addiction or mental health issues could cause people to have disregard or unawareness of the repercussions of financial actions, both minor and major.
Before addressing financial infidelity, you should try to decipher intent. You have a right to be angry, but shame never corrects behavior. However, getting to the root of the problem can.
The best thing to do is talk to the person, but before doing so, ask yourself:
- Are their actions malicious or selfish?
- If so, are they selfish because they’re interested in reaching their own financial goals?
- If so, is the source of your anger due to different priorities or negligence?
- If it’s negligence, do you feel safe speaking to them about changing?
- If you don’t or don’t know what to say, do you have someone who can help you?
- Are you able to approach your partner in a non-confrontational way?
- If not, can you write a script or get a financial advisor to help?
If you’re in a new relationship, you can use this opportunity to determine if you can get on the same page about money. If you’re married, you’ll need to review past budgets made together and try to get your plans back on track.
Repeated financial infidelity may need to be addressed in couples counseling, but if you’re afraid to confront your partner, that may be a sign to get out.
Couples have unique financial situations and backgrounds, which can affect how they view money. Keeping the money discussion open with your partner is best for the relationship.