Many would probably agree that money communication is essential in any committed romantic relationship. What is not clear to many, however, is how soon you should bring up the “money” discussion when you are dating. Should you bring it up and if so when? What questions should you ask, what questions should you not? Will knowing certain things make or break the relationship? How much information do you want to share or not share with the other person if they were to ask you some questions regarding your finances?
These are all important questions to ponder when you are out there in the dating world. If financial health is something you value in a relationship, then the money talk should happen early on. For example, if you know that you are looking to find that one person that you want to spend the rest of your life with and financial peace is something you consider a requirement, it might be important to know if the person you are considering has a history of collecting debt and has filed for bankruptcy a couple times over.
So how do you know it’s time?
1. If you have discovered a mutual attraction between you and the other person and can see yourself being in a committed relationship at some time.
If you begin to envision that one day you might want to explore the option of being in a committed relationship with someone that you are dating, this is an indicator that it is time to begin the money talk. It’s important to know if the person you are growing an attraction for has the same values and beliefs as you do when it comes to managing finances. If this person doesn’t, you could potential clash on an issue that can make or break a relationship in the future. You need to be in a position to assess early on if you want to commit yourself to someone that has either different values and/or beliefs or has other commitments that you may or may not be ready to take on.
2. If you are beginning to date more and there becomes an expectation that you will be financially responsible for many or most of your outings, yet you know that you can only afford to spend so much.
If you are finding that you are in a situation where your income is limited or you are beginning to spend well beyond your means to impress someone, this can lead to a path of trouble. For one, by not communicating your circumstances to someone that you are beginning to date more regularly, you can begin to set unrealistic expectations and create room for dishonesty. It is important to establish clear financial boundaries and expectations early on.
3. If the other person begins to ask for money?
This should be a very clear sign that it is time to talk. If you are being asked for money, yet you haven’t explored a healthy line of communication when it comes to finances, this can lead to a great deal of trouble down the road. It is important for both of you to know what money means to the other and what values and expectations you place on finances in a relationship. Questions to explore might be how did the other person get into a situation in which they need to borrow money. Is this reflective of their habits?
4. If you begin to find that you are making commitments in other areas such as moving in together.
If you have discussed or made the decision to make the commitment to move in together or to share in the responsibility of joining in debt, it’s definitely time to have the “money talk”. The make this decision before the “money talk” can be a detriment in the long run. For example, if a person decides to move in with someone that has bad credit and has a history of not paying their bills on time, they may later find out after it’s too late. It may be important to know if someone is proactive when it comes to managing their finances versus reactive for instance.
The reality is that most people find it difficult to talk about finances. Financial talk is something that hasn’t been talked about or encouraged by most families. We only talk about it when it’s too late. As a therapist and certified money coach, I always encourage my clients to be open to this process and to understand that it is healthy and can be productive. The good news is that healthy communication of finances often serves as a set up for success in any relationship. It’s not talking about it that often leads to a set up for failure.