My boyfriend has said that I’m stingy a couple of times now and I just wanted a second opinion because I disagree. I’ve been with him for a year and it seems we have different approaches to handling money which is beginning to irritate me. He earns about 800 pounds more than me a month but is going through a divorce and has to pay child maintenance for his daughter, which I know is expensive. Classic scenario I know, but in the beginning he took me on lavish dates, payed for everything, almost to the point I thought he was absolutely loaded (I’m not at all influenced by how much money someone has, but it was a welcome surprise nonetheless). Over time this proved not to be the case and I was happy to go Dutch with him up to a point – sometimes I’d have to say, look I really can’t afford to pay even half for this so can we do something else tonight? Sad but true – I work in a low-pad creative arts job, say no more. For many months now he’s asked to borrow money from me at the end of the month. It sounds awful, but I’ve felt really reluctant to do this as I am so broke myself. I’m very careful with money as I’ve never had much but he’s said I’m stingy a few times now, and it really bothers me. Sometimes it’s a real mission to get the money back too and I have to ask many times, which again makes me feel like a tight-wad. When he has money he’s very generous towards me, but when he has none he just expects me to lend it when I’m heavily in overdraft myself. How can we find a way around this? I love him and don’t want it to get into a huge issue. He just doesn’t understand -or believe, that I have no money! (By the way, he has bipolar disorder, which I think partly explains his impulsiveness with his own money).
Money is emotional currency in a relationship and is often a concrete representation of the dynamics. The bipolar issue and the extravagance is, indeed, likely to be linked — so your setting limits is not only conscientious, it is necessary. It sounds like the two of you could profit from having a financial counselor or a couples therapist work with you on a realistic budget. This will keep the two of you from careening into overdraft when the end of the month comes around.
If you have the name of a couples therapist that you know has experience and capability with money then I would use that person. Some therapists are excellent with emotional issues and not good with financial ones. Be sure to find one who knows his or her way around budgets and finance. Otherwise a competent financial counselor can set the parameters for you and this can help keep you both on track and keep this issue from growing arms and legs.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). My Boyfriend and I Handle Money Differently. Psych Central.
Retrieved on November 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/11/30/my-boyfriend-and-i-handle-money-differently/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 30 Nov 2013) Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.