Lies About Debt Worse Than Political Differences for Couples

Financial infidelity can be a major issue in relationships.
  • Seventy-one percent of Americans in committed relationships say they have lied about or hidden a financial matter, a new survey found.
  • Men are most likely to lie about buying electronic devices, while women are most likely to lie about buying clothing.
  • Dishonesty about debt, earnings and purchases is seen as a bigger relationship issue than religious or political differences.

Money can be a source of tension for many couples, especially if there’s financial infidelity — an instance where a partner isn’t honest about their debt, spending or other money matters. Financial infidelity might be more common than you think, and it could even be happening in your own relationship.

To find out how people in serious relationships really act when it comes to their money, The Ascent surveyed 1,000 Americans who are married, engaged or in committed relationships, and asked them about their own experiences with financial infidelity. Here’s what they found.

Related: Hiding This Much Debt From Your Spouse Could Lead to Divorce

Spending in Relationships

The survey found that people in relationships, particularly men, often sacrifice purchases they want to make for the sake of their relationship: 65 percent of men and 47 percent of women said they have wanted to own an item their relationship prevented them from having.

But there’s still a good chunk of committed Americans — 61 percent — who have bought something they knew their partner would object to. And in most cases — 82 percent of the time — this purchase, unsurprisingly, led to an argument.

The good news is that most people reported being open with their partner about their finances, with 82 percent saying that they are transparent when it comes to money. Seventy percent even said it’s easy to talk to their partner about money.

Also See: 25% of Americans Wish They Asked This Important Question Before Saying ‘I Do’

How Common Is Financial Infidelity?

If you think your relationship is immune to financial infidelity, you might be surprised to find out that 71 percent of people in relationships admitted they have committed at least one act that would fall into this category. The most common form of financial infidelity is hiding the price of a purchase, followed by hiding a specific item purchased. Other common forms of financial infidelity include lying about a purchase price, and hiding or lying about debt.

Overall, women are more likely to be guilty of financial infidelity than men, with 73 percent of women and 67 percent of men confessing that they have hidden or lied about a money issue.

Check Out: This One Money Habit Can Ruin Your Relationship, Survey Finds

These Are the Purchases Women and Men Lie About Most

The survey asked both genders what types of purchases they have lied about to their partner, and the types of items varied between men and women. The purchases men lie about the most are electronic devices (39 percent), alcohol (29 percent) and gambling and hobby-related purchases (both 25 percent). Meanwhile, women lie about their purchases of clothing (54 percent), gifts for others (32 percent) and cosmetics (24 percent).

Lying About Debt Is Worse Than Having Political Differences

The committed individuals were asked to rank the severity of potential relationship challenges on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “no problem” and 5 being an “extreme problem.” Perhaps surprisingly, couples ranked financial infidelity as being more of an issue than having political differences. “Deception regarding debt” was rated a 3.5, “deception about earnings or assets” was rated a 3.2 and “deception regarding purchases” was rated a 3.1 — all above religious differences (2.6) and political differences (2.5).

To foster open communication in your relationship, find out six ways happy couples talk about money.

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