Excuses are easy to come by in relationships.
We spend so long conjuring up the ideal image of our partner and looking for them in a whole host of places, it becomes easy to latch on to anything that even remotely represents what we believe to be our “soul mate.”
Sometimes this means the red flags we can so readily see in other people’s relationships are invisible to us. We opt for excuses when we should be taking a hard look at our partner and what they are or are not bringing to the table.
This was precisely my predicament. My boyfriend’s financial missteps and continued irresponsibility were blazing red flags – to everyone except me.
If you haven’t stopped to consider if your relationship could be headed down a path of financial turmoil, look for these red flags.
Red flag #1: Your partner isn’t taking care of his or her debt.
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First things first – are you aware of how much debt your partner currently has? While some push this conversation off for months, or even years into the relationship, I’ve learned the importance of laying all the cards on the table early on. That way you understand the situation you’re walking into.
If you know your partner has thousands of dollars worth of debt that they are either avoiding altogether or don’t have a plan for tackling, this could mean they aren’t interested in taking care of their financial responsibilities. A walk down the aisle could suddenly make their growing debt problem your growing debt problem.
If they are willing to work on their debt but are simply too intimidated or don’t know how to start, that doesn’t have to be a red flag – it can simply be a jumping off point for working together towards a solution.
Red flag #2: Your partner spends recklessly.
Spending looks entirely different when it’s not your money. An addiction to shoe shopping could quickly go from comical to a point of contention once finances are commingled.
So now is the time to pay attention to how your partner spends his or her money. If they are reckless and often don’t have enough to stretch to the next payday, that could impact the lifestyle you are able to live together.
In addition, if your spending habits and beliefs don’t align, you could be in for money fights – and potentially divorce – down the road.
Red flag #3: Your partner doesn’t think about the future.
One of the biggest red flags I should have noticed in my own relationship was the stark difference in how we both viewed the future. I saw it as something to save and prepare for and he saw it as something to think about later – or never.
If you are looking to retire at a young age while your partner is more interested in the instant gratification of spending money today, you may never be able to fully reach your goal. It could simply be too big of a difference to work through.
Money goals are paramount in creating a strong and stable financial foundation – are you both prepared to set them together?
Red flag #4: Your partner lies about money.
When I was confronted with money lies I naively brushed it under the rug, telling myself it wasn’t my money and therefore, wasn’t my business. In reality, I should have been asking myself why, if it wasn’t my money, he was lying in the first place.
Money lies – just like any other type of lie – are extremely hard to overcome. Every lie simply leaves another crack in the foundation of your relationship and points to the possibility of bigger lies you just haven’t uncovered yet.
Managing money together requires a great amount of teamwork and honesty. If your partner isn’t capable of those things, you’re in for a rough ride ahead.
Red flag #5: You have different views and beliefs about money.
Money beliefs – those we have acquired from birth to adulthood – play a huge part in how we manage our money on a day-to-day basis. If, for instance, I experienced bill collectors calling my home when I was younger, there’s a chance I could now feel powerless and out of control when it comes to money. This could mean I adopted a very short term view and don’t manage money in a way that benefits me or my future.
Negative money beliefs can be changed over time, but only if we are able to see the way they impact our lives and be willing to work towards shifting them. If your partner isn’t a willing participant in this process, that could be a monumental struggle.
What relationship red flags do you think are important to pay attention to?