My best friend and I were preparing dinner for her mother this weekend for Mother’s Day and we got on the topic of relationships, finances and trust. Do people still share bank accounts? Are people still going all in, in their relationships or do they protect themselves?
Anyone that reads my blog knows my favorite word is autonomy. I love the notion of being able to take care of myself in every way and not having to rely on anyone for my needs. So, I would never buy anything on credit for someone. I would never have a joint bank account and I’m most comfortable with the concept that this is mine and this is yours.
My best friend had a slightly different take. She said, “Aren’t you kind of dooming it right out of the gate? Aren’t you starting off with a tone of mistrust?
She explained that when you insist on separate bank accounts and you have a yours and mine mentality, it perpetuates an arms-length type of relationship, that there’s no real intimacy and that you’re not really a couple at all, just two individuals sharing a house and a bed.
I’ve been accused of being quite militant in my stance on autonomy, so I try to have an open mind, but I could not get passed the thought that most marriages fail and that if you bet on your relationship working out, you could lose all that you’ve worked for, just based on the statistics. If you’re talking about a second or third marriage, the statistics are even worse. Is that something you’d want to risk half of your pension on? I would rather err on the side of caution, than come home and find the bank accounts have been emptied.
My friend used the word jaded, but I thought my stance on dealing with the emotional manipulators in my life, when it comes to finances, was more an educated opinion. I found out the hard way that a Narcissist would have no qualms about destroying you financially. Some think they’re entitled to use and abuse you in whatever way suites them best and some even find great pleasure in it.
I’ve had clients tell me stories of how their narcissist convinced them to finance a new vehicle for them because they had bad credit. A codependent, who feels like they need to buy love, is a ripe for this type of enticement. In their mind they think it’s another way to enmesh their lives together and provide the narcissist with something no one else can. The problem is the narcissist doesn’t see it that way. The Narcissist is always thinking about him or herself. I’m entitled to it, I deserve it. I want it, it’s all about me….. the consequences are yours not mine. They aren’t thinking about fairness or reciprocity. They’re not feeling the bond. They’re thinking about what can I get away with and what can I get out of you.
Financial Behaviors to Be Mindful Of
Finances are an important part of autonomy, so I’ve compiled a few to be wary of in your relationship:
Your partner is just out of a bad relationship or they lost their job and need a place to stay: Pump the breaks on that one fast. You’re no one’s life line or savior. Let them save themselves and stand on their own two feet. When they’ve got their shit together then they can give you a call. Moving in together is a huge and I mean HUGE step and shouldn’t be made out of someone else’s necessity. Think about what you are gaining when you invest in a partner that can’t take care of themselves. The answer is another dependent.
You’re paying for everything: Genitals do not a relationship make. If all your partner is contributing is their private parts, it needs to end and fast. If they’re getting a free ride out of you, you’re not in a relationship, you’re a parent and I don’t know about you but that’s not the least bit attractive or healthy. It doesn’t matter if they’re 26 and you’re 42. Whatever ego strokes you think that age difference does for you – it’s in your head, because anyone looking at it from the outside sees the truth of your insecurity and believe me you will find out really quickly that it’s not worth it.
Let’s put everything in your name because I have bad credit: Never put yourself on the line for someone you’re involved with. Not your job, your reputation, your children, your credit, or your home. If they have bad credit because they’ve ripped other people or companies off, what makes you think you’ll fair any better? What that shows you, is this person isn’t reliable. They can’t pay their debts and they’re not to be trusted. Your worth is not dependent upon what you can give to someone. People that respect themselves practice self-care and that means not allowing yourself to be taken advantage of or putting yourself in harms way. My ex Narcissist always used to say, “You never really know what’s going on in someone else’s mind.” I know now that that was a warning. People can be sweet and appear to be earnest and trustworthy when they want something, but the moment they get it, you’ll find out who they really are.
If you have doubts, have reasons to feel mistrustful or feel something is off about your relationship don’t try to buy them or trust them with your stuff: We all know or have heard of women who get pregnant to try and save their relationship. They make the mistake of thinking that a baby will change things and keep their partner around. In the same manner, you’re not going to change the dynamic of your relationship by what you can give. If you have to buy love it isn’t worth having. The same can be said about trust. If you feel someone isn’t trustworthy, by God, don’t trust them.
Don’t let your partner use your debit card or know your pin# or your online bank passwords: Again if you’re partner can’t afford things, then they should be going without, You are not responsible for granting their every wish – you’re not a genie. Anyone that would ask you to pay for their things is suspect and if they can’t afford to pay for little things I certainly wouldn’t trust them with my money. Trying to establish trust is done slowly, little by little, not with giving someone the keys to your vault. Imagine if you give Kenny your debit card to buy a case of beer and he disappears with your debit card and everything in your account, while you were just trying to build a little trust.
Don’t let someone be in charge of your finances: I know many people who have no idea what’s in their bank accounts or even how to pay their bills, because their partners take care of everything. What happens if something happens to that person or your relationship? If you’re in front of a divorce lawyer and they ask you what your assets are – what are you going to say? How easy would it be for them to hide assets or horde money as they plan to leave you? Your finances are important and you both need to be involved in the decision making process. Never leave this to your partner. You should both know what you have and how to manage it.
“We share a bank account,” my best friend’s mom said as we sat down to dinner, but we’ve been together since we were 17 and times were different then. “If I was single now and involved with someone, there’s no way I’d share a bank account with them.”
She continued, “I think it depends on your age. When you’re in your 20’s you don’t have anything, so you’ve got nothing to lose. When you’re over 40, you’ve got to think about your mortgage, your kids and your retirement. At that age you have to be more careful and you have to think about your health and how long you’ll be able to work for. Age catches up to you, you know. If you plan and make smart decisions when you’re young, the sooner you can retire and the more comfortable your lifestyle will be.
“Your finances are your security. No, I wouldn’t trust anyone with what I’ve worked hard for. No man (or woman) is worth that,” she said matter-of-factly, taking a sip of wine.
Wise words from a wise woman. Happy Mother’s Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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My husband is a dangerous psychopath. He is out of state, in a medical building. I needed to become his POA to do something for his health care. He refused to go there, so I told him I want a divorce. His last words were; ‘No, matter what you do or say or where you go, I will take care of you.” No one does anything about this.” It turns out that I’m already the POA & I found out through his benefits. His signature & my son-in-law’s signature was on the papers & my husband by passed me. My son-in-law makes 4 times more than I do. Here stole my identity & took out all my Social Security. I had called the card in time to stopped it & the card refused & let the fraud go through. I have to wait 90 days for the amount to be replaced. I know who it’s & they did nothing to stop it. Then, I was having trouble with the bank I wanted to leave & they were refusing to close my account. It took an hour, when I was ill & I collapsed. They actually threatened me with the police & I stood my ground. This bank is getting reported to the FTC. They told me I needed a POA. Then I found out by benefits that I’m the POA. The fraudulent POA stole my cell phone acct & 4 years of salary & nothing is done about. I set my boundaries & no one listens. Could have stopped fraud & the card refused. I have an anxiety illness that you collapse. They tell you, if you feel it, sit down. Don’t risk hitting your head. So you do & you get threatened with the police. If you can’t move, you can’t move & then you get threatened & called crazy. I can handled this any longer. 4 events today, when I’m not well & very high blood pressure & no one gives a damn. How are you suppose to heal, when over & over, again & again it feels like you are a guppy in a sea of sharks. No matter what boundary I set down no one listens & then I get threatened & labeled. I have gotten so sick what is the point. This is not going to stop. Even men are going through this too. We live in a toxic world.
I used to be a text book codependent. I was married to a narc in my 20s, had kids with a different narc in my 30s and now I am 40, single for years and doing well in my life. There is not enough room on this page for me to describe the sheer financial devastation that was inflicted on me by these terrible individuals. I am way behind my peers in terms of finances and status, and had I not been in these relationships I am confident I would be in an entirely different position at this time in my life. Just one example – my ex husband had terrible credit so I foolishly put our house in my name. A mortgage I could never afford on my own. When I left him after three years of his depleting my every resource I almost lost the house, my credit was ruined, and he also took appliances and furniture – all of which I paid for. My biggest regret in life is being so “generous” with my money. Do not make the same mistake!
Good post Sav!
Even in the beginning of dating, I was with my Narc for just a few months and I was already paying for nights out, dinners, getaways, food, gas, hotels, etc. Note I made quite a bit more, but he had money for what HE wanted to do and buy for himself. But going out to a steakhouse was my responsibility even if it was his idea! Financial abuse can start very early in a relationship too, I now have my eyes wide open. Being in my late 40’s, why should I subsidize someone else’s lifestyle? A good man will respect more equity in spending.
This is such a key issue to personal safety and autonomy. After a bad divorce in which my husband stopped paying on a car we both had taken a loan out on (and he got the car), I’ve had to deal with credit issues. I decided then that I would keep my finances separate and it has been a good decision in all my relationships. I disagree with your friend’s assessment that you don’t truly share as a couple if your have separate accounts. That was probably a belief that older generations believed but in our times I have not had a problem with keeping a separate financial system. I think this habit avoided more problems than it created. Even in the best relationships, where trust has been earned over time, and finances become mingled, trust can erode. People can change. On friend of mine, after a long-term second marriage, had her husband betray and deplete their retirement account due to a secret affair. The marriage ended when both were in their 60’s and 70’s and the resultant money she had to expend to hire an accountant to untangle his hidden withdrawals nearly cost her her house. So even after trust and time, I just think it is wise. Really good blog, Savannah. I don’t think love is betrayed when you are wise. And love, really, is earned and re-earned each day. This is a good reminder to me that there is always a co-dependent part of me that I have to watch out for, the part of me that thinks I can do/pay/purchase my partner to love me. The reality is far scarier. I must stand on my own and believe I am worthy of an equal and equally responsible partner. Not that I can do everything and stay in control and — in return — not get hurt, abandoned or betrayed. I just don’t think we can have love without risks though my little scared co-dependent self does her best to minimize them!
My little co-dependent side also thought I was being loving, helpful and fun to take my Narc out or buy something he wanted. Why wouldn’t I buy something for the man I love?
But it wasn’t ever reciprocated and I knew deep down it wasn’t, but I kept on allowing it for the connection. It became easier because i knew if i balked in any way, he could/would get immediately angry. I had to keep that I’m mind as sometimes it was just easier to pay. I would have 1 beer and a chicken sandwich and he’s have 4-5 beers and seafood. WTH?
When I stopped getting excited when he had a big cool idea for a weekend getaway or out to a fancy place to eat, his interest waned and then we just watched tv. He was in a better mood going out and me paying. I’m still trying to forgive myself about how much I spent on that user..
Yep. Absolutely. Every part of this. Love your example of the Mum at the end. It’s not mistrust but the ultimate, most important, fundamental part of self care. Your security, your future, your life. My first partner borrowed money on a joint account and bought furniture which I would have saved up for. I stopped paying in to it after that. I never did know where his money went. He earned twice as much as I did but I paid off my part of the mortgage and kept bills (I still do)and when it ended I was able to show what was mine.
I know this is about finance but, in addition to not sharing bank info. never let anyone know any of your online passwords whatsoever.
Love you but you hit my pet peeve – “pump the brakes” or “take a break.” now, back to “autonomy” – to a one, every narcissist I’ve met had trouble with IRS. They just can’t bring themselves to pay their fair share (see the current occupant of the Oval Office)! So, as soon as a new love discloses that – run! The other aspect of this is I always have two accounts – the one I collect my own pay in and one I share with a life partner that has a certain, finite amount I contribute each month for joint expenses. That way, I can “test” for trustworthiness without risking my main income. I do this with my kids, too. I call it, “Trust But Verify!”
I just had to mention, my Narc filed tax extensions for up to two years after taxes were due. He didn’t believe in paying on time like everyone else. Plus he was self employed so made it appear like he lost money each year with write offs to keep his taxes minimal. He had plenty of money.