Ah, the new relationship. Everything plays out like a romantic comedy — you send each other cute messages, pick up a new CD “just because it reminds me of him” and bliss out while watching bad reality TV and ordering in Chinese. Until suddenly, the brakes screech on because you suddenly have your first disagreement. Not fight, mind you, but just enough friction for you to stop seeing everything through love-tinged glasses and realize that you’re dating a human being, not the main character from your favorite movie.
So, what’s a newbie couple to do when money friction starts to infiltrate a relationship? When things are still new, you don’t want to lay all your bank statements on the table, but you do need to know whether or not you’re compatible with your financial philosophies. By knowing how to fizzle out friction due to finances, you can learn a lot about your new paramour while getting back to that blissed-out state you missed.
Decide how much to share
It’s up to you to decide how much about your financial situation you want to share. Give too little information and you might cause even more friction based on misunderstanding. Share too much and you might send your new boyfriend packing with all of your financial baggage. Somewhere in the middle is best. You should give a general idea of your financial situation — are you a starving student or a studious saver? — without having to break down your entire budget. Save that for when things get a little serious.
Gauge your partner’s financial philosophies
Without sitting your partner down and grilling her about her retirement plans, you should get a general idea of how she spends and saves based on how she acts when you’re out together. If she’s one to whip out her card at the first sight of shoes, you might have a spender on your hands. If she looks expectantly at you each time the check comes, she probably has more old-fashioned values. Or, if she’s the one to scrutinize every item on the grocery list, she might be more of a saver. Figure out what type of philosophies your partner has and you won’t be surprised when money conversations undoubtedly crop up in the future.
Okay, so you might not completely agree with the way your partner spends and saves. But until you get more serious and there are shared expenses involved, you don’t really have any control or say in how your new boyfriend deals with money. In fact, bringing it up too early or criticizing the way he handles things could be seen as completely controlling. Until you’re ready to make more of a commitment, keep your funds separate and your opinions to yourself.
New relationships can be tricky, especially when it comes to money. You definitely want to make sure that you’re compatible when it comes to how you deal with your funds, but you don’t want to lay too much on the table to start. While talking about money is a must, you can hold off on the heavy budgeting and combining of funds until you’re sure that this one is really going to stick.
Have you ever felt money friction in a new relationship? How did you deal?
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