Part 1: The hidden dangers of financial infidelity

Simply put, financial infidelity is lying to your partner about money. Like cheating, financial infidelity is done in secret, and with activities and behaviours that are hidden from your partner.

Financial infidelity starts with small, seemingly harmless things. Maybe you bought a luxury bag just that one time. You probably thought it best not to let your partner know about it.

But that’s the danger of financial infidelity: it very often doesn’t end with just one lie. That “one” lie tends to leads to another to cover up the piles of receipts of impulse purchases you tried to hide.

Financial infidelity doesn’t just involve secret purchases. It takes many forms – like lying about your income or not telling your partner about a bonus you received.

Good intentions

Sometimes, one commits financial infidelity even with good intentions. Some people might give a one-time or continuous financial support to their in-laws, other relatives, or friends in a time of need.

Others apply for loans in order to save a failing family business. The interest grows, but the business still isn’t profiting. Before they know it, they’re in deeper debt than they were before. Worse, they haven’t even told their family yet.

If you don’t discuss making big financial decisions with your partner before committing them, then you just might be guilty of financial infidelity too.

Studies show that men and women commit financial infidelity in different ways. Men are more likely to hide big purchases and lie about their salary, while women are more likely to lie about being in debt.

Experts believe it’s because men and women tend to have different perspectives and attitudes when it comes to spending.

Red flags of financial infidelity

• You discover purchases you did not discuss or agree on

Maybe you noticed that your partner has a brand new phone. You asked them when they bought it, and they say they got it over a week ago.

You also notice that your partner has been dining out in fancy restaurants a little too often within a week, and going on unnecessary shopping sprees.

You also just found out that your partner already bought that sleek new condo unit even though you said you should think about it more carefully first.

• They suddenly take an interest in gaming or e-Sports

There has been a growing concern over the addictive effects of video games and e-Sports on people all over the world.

Video game addiction now poses a serious health risk, but it also takes a financial toll on the people who get in too deep.

Your partner may first pick up video gaming as a harmless hobby, but could end up spending too much money on in-game purchases.

Over time, multiple small purchases grow, and before you know it, you and your partner would be dealing with mounting credit card debt.

• They get emotional when you bring up money

When you ask your partner about money, how do they respond? Do they get angry at you for asking? Do they start crying in defence? Or maybe they avoid answering altogether?

After all, you are both consenting adults in this relationship. Therefore, you should both be able to discuss financial matters in a reasonable and mature fashion.

If they respond negatively when you bring up finances, then something’s not right.

• You lose cash or notice irregular transactions

It’s the end of the week, and you’re reviewing your budget. You log online to your joint bank account and see that you’re missing maybe a few hundred dollars.

You’re definitely out of budget, and you didn’t even make those withdrawals. Maybe your partner would even ask you outright for cash, or they could just secretly take it from you.

• They become overprotective about money

Does your partner rush to get the mail and sift through it before anyone else in the house can? Do they volunteer to pay the bills on their own?

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since maybe your partner really is responsible with finances.

If you notice a habit where they start to prevent you from seeing or accessing the family’s bills and bank statements, then that seems to be a cause for concern.

• You start receiving bank statements from accounts you don’t know about

This is a pretty obvious sign that your partner is keeping secrets about their finances. It’s one thing for them to purchase all sorts of stuff way out of budget, but another to actually open an account for their secret spending activities.

It could be a credit account where they’re filing loans without your knowledge or where they’re accumulating debt from shopping sprees. Rarely is the secret account good news since some people want to save for a rainy day fund for their families.

Remember, a relationship is built on trust and communication. If you can’t talk to your partner about money, how can you trust each other with it?

This article first appeared in

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