How to Talk About Money in a Long-Distance Relationship

Isn\’t it difficult to talk about money? Do you know how much your peers earn? What about your parents? What about your significant other?

Many of us raised in Western societies, at least, find it difficult to discuss money and our financial attitudes.

When you\’re in a long-distance partnership, it\’s essential to learn how to talk about money frankly and honestly.

Why is this so? Since money (or, more commonly, a lack of money) may create a lot of frustration and tension in a partnership. This is more possible if money is holding you apart in the first place, commuting to visit each other is pricey, and/or one person needs to pay far more money than the other to maintain the partnership going.

Talking about money and its position in your life and partnership is the perfect way to escape any mistaken conclusions and misunderstandings. Openness and authenticity on this subject will help to avoid a lot of resentment and disagreement.

So today we\’re going to talk about some questions you might use to start conversations about income.

Some of these issues necessitate the development of confidence over time, thus they are grouped into three groups. We\’ll begin with questions for those in a fresh partnership, then move on to questions for those in an exclusive dating relationship, and finally questions for those on the verge of marriage or moving in together.


But first… Long-distance Relationships and Money Scams

However, before we begin, a word about safety is in order. In my novel, From Stranger To Lover: 16 Strategies For Building A Great Long-Distance Relationship, I put it this way:

“If someone you\’ve just met asks you for money for some excuse, you might think twice. This may seem intuitive, but it bears repeating. It happens more often than you would expect, especially in online and long-distance dating situations.

So, why are you concerned?

For instance, if someone you\’ve just met online requires financial assistance, it means they (a) aren\’t successful at handling their finances and (b) don\’t have a good, reliable network of friends and family that can help them out during a crisis. Both of these factors should make you reconsider if you still want to be in a relationship with this guy.

The case, though, could be more complex than it seems. If anyone you\’re dating online asks you for money, it\’s entirely likely that the person you\’re dating doesn\’t exist at all and that you\’re getting scammed.

The scammer in one popular online dating/LDR scam poses as a businessman with a foreign construction firm or an aid worker. He or she is sent to Africa when forming an intimate online friendship. They then face a life-threatening situation that necessitates an immediate cash injection.

You may assume you\’re too clever to fall for it, but don\’t forget how believable these situations will sound as they happen phase by step and include your emotions. According to a recent Sydney Morning Herald post, the online dating scams they analyzed (including the one I summarized above) “had a conversion rate of more than 50%,” implying that “more than half of people targeted on romance websites end up losing money, mostly to foreign syndicates.”

I advise you to never give money to someone you don\’t know well. However, if you do submit money to someone, do not do so through wire transfer. This is effectively equivalent to sending currency. The trade is complicated to track and almost impossible to reverse.”

But, now that we\’ve had the \”be cautious\” speech out of the way, let\’s look at a couple of money-talking tips.


3 Money Conversation Strategies

Talking about income, especially in a new relationship, can be extremely uncomfortable, especially for those of us raised in Western cultures. So, below are some general guidelines for discussing money that could help alleviate some tension:

  1. Don\’t grill your date on these topics; instead, ask them in a polite, laid-back manner. Pay attention to ease off whenever they seem to be nervous. You should still bring it up again later (though if they are unable to mention money after another month or two of dating, take note.
  2. If you ever feel awkward answering the questions below, reassure your companion that you are not attempting to determine the size of their bank account. Explain why you\’re asking (for example, money is one of the most important causes of tension in relationships, and you\’d like to better grasp their overall attitude about money and spending).
  3. Oh, and be ready to express your responses.


Discussing Money in a New Long-Distance Relationship

In any new partnership (including a long-distance relationship), it is usually not acceptable to pose too specific or sensitive money questions. You may, however, inquire about how their family treated money while they were young, as well as how they treat money on a date.

And if your new love interest\’s financial situation is somewhat different from their parent\’s, learning how they were raised will help you appreciate their current attitudes toward wealth. These queries will also help you consider your own financial goals and attitudes.

  1. Was your family well-off as you were growing up?
  2. Did you ever consider the price of food, clothes, or toys as a kid, or did you take money for granted?
  3. Did money ever feel close or limited while you were a kid? Did you ever feel bad about wasting so much money?
  4. Did your parents choose to purchase high-quality goods or to look for bargains?
  5. In your home, who won the money?
  6. In your house, who made the majority of the financial decisions?
  7. Did your parents fight or complain over money while you were a kid?
  8. Did you get an allowance as a kid? How much did it cost?
  9. Did you serve as a child to supplement your family\’s income?
  10. What did you waste your own money on as a teenager?
  11. In your family, how do people handle and discuss money now? Is it common for your family to lend or donate money to others? Are your parents or siblings extravagant, charitable, cautious, or outright stingy with their money?

Then, you may like to inquire about their general approach to money on a date. Does your wife, for example, assume that the one with the most resources can compensate for everything/most things? Does the guy foot the bill for everything? Can spouses share the cost of a meal? Should they switch dates?

If you\’re in a long-distance partnership, you can not go out to dinner and a movie daily, but addressing this subject may provide you a clear idea of your partner\’s mindset about non-traditional expenditures.


How to Discuss Money in a Serious Long-Distance Relationship

Once you\’ve gotten beyond the \”young love\” point, you\’ll need to address crucial financial issues with your steady spouse while you begin to create confidence with each other.

Long-distance partnerships that last more than several months are usually extreme—just it\’s not worth maintaining the distance because you believe there are genuine opportunities for you as a serious couple down the road.

So, if you\’re loyal to each other considering the gap, here are some money-related issues you may like to discuss. You may find it useful to email these questions and agree to give your responses or to devote a webcam chat (or two) to discuss these topics.

Be honest with your mate, and expect them to be honest with you as well.

Assure them that there aren\’t always \”correct\” or \”wrong\” responses. You just want to get to know them better and determine where the views and approaches to money vary.


1. How do you handle traveling?

Are you searching for the most luxury or the cheapest flight available? Do you mind taking several flights to save fuel, or do you want to travel direct? What about hotels—what kind of lodging do you usually book?


2. Who pays for the dates?

We addressed several concerns on this subject in the previous column, so if you haven\’t already, now is the time to do so. Who pays for dates, and under what circumstances? (For example, does the individual with the most money pay for everything/most things? Does the guy foot the bill for everything? Can spouses share the cost of a meal? Can they switch dates?)


3. Who would pay for anything when you see each other?

Can you believe the host can foot the bill with everything? Is there any cultural significance to this? Is there a particular guest/host tradition in your community that differs from the dating/money dynamic discussed above?


4. Do you owe some money?

Are you repaying college loans or credit card debt? Do you owe money on your house or owe money on your car? How can you deal with debt? (For example, are you attempting to get rid of it as soon as possible? Do you make daily payments? Trying to save loan sharks?)


5. How do you feel about investing and spending?

Are you putting money aside? If not, is that anything you\’re considering in the future? Do you depend on a paycheck for a salary? What are some recent large acquisitions you\’ve made? (These questions are intended to help you appreciate your partner\’s current life.) You don\’t have to be certain that you intend to grow old and retire together to discuss what they prefer to invest or save.)


6. What are your professional objectives?

Will you want to try something new one day? Do you want to volunteer or work in a low-paying career in another profession at any point? Is money a consideration in your job choices, or do you choose to do what you enjoy regardless of the cost?


7. What if only one of you can manage to see the other?

Assume partner #1 is a New York City investment manager and partner #2 is an Oklahoma kindergarten teacher. Can the banker still move to Oklahoma if the instructor is unable to go to New York? Will the banker foot the bill for the teacher\’s trip to New York?

What if the instructor is a guy who grew up in a household where men paid for anything and the banker is a woman? In other terms, how do you feel about accepting or sending money to the other party to visit each other if the conditions call for it? (Once again, stay on the lookout for spam and never give money to anyone you don\’t know well.)


8. What if none of you has the financial means to travel?

Do you keep the engagement moving if you can\’t see each other? Where do you begin searching for work in the same location? How long do you think you would go without seeing each other? You do not have the solutions to these issues, but you must be prepared to discuss them frankly.


Do we still need to worry about this because we\’ve just been married for 5 months?

A word about being in a \”strong\” but not fully committed partnership at this time…

Any of these discussions would not be enjoyable, loving, or even comfortable. But don\’t worry, one of the most significant benefits of being in a long-distance partnership is that it allows you to hone your contact skills. This is yet another place where you can put your skills to use!

Another bit of good news is that you can find it simpler to hold these talks than couples who live together and you can do so objectively by text. Developing the practice of discussing money without awkwardness or humiliation would benefit the partnership in the long run.

We\’ll go through some important questions to ask before marrying or making a lifetime engagement to your long-distance spouse in the section below. What questions do you need to pose before committing to a relationship?


How to Discuss Money in a Long-Distance Relationship Before Moving In or Marrying

So far in this post, we\’ve covered:

  • We discussed critical issues to discuss with a long-distance lover to minimize financial conflicts when you learn to know each other as the partnership becomes more intense.
  • It was said that it is critical not to submit money to anyone you do not know well to prevent falling victim to online scams.
  • We discussed how it may be challenging and uncomfortable to talk about finances, but it is essential for building confidence and understanding with your spouse.

It\’s time to start wondering whether your friendship has the potential to be long-term.

Before you get engaged or make concrete arrangements to stay together in the future, you should have responses to these concerns. Know, if you discuss finances, make sure all parties are well-rested and the internet/phone connectivity is stable–and don\’t hurry it. These may not be simple talks, however, they are essential.

To begin, if you haven\’t already, make sure you\’ve discussed our questions for people in a dedicated long-distance relationship (above). Before you get married, it\’s particularly crucial to know about your partner\’s mortgages, saving and expenditure patterns, and job ambitions.

Then you may inquire:


1. What is your annual salary?

This one isn\’t really interesting to discuss, and you certainly don\’t need to bring it up whilst the partnership is still young. However, if you use terms like \”forever,\” \”marriage,\” and \”future,\” you must be prepared to speak openly about figures.


2. Do you assist those in need, such as aged parents or a child?

Is this a long-term or conditional arrangement? Are there any cultural obligations? Do you anticipate your partner assisting you with these contributions? (I\’ve seen relationships fall apart over this issue; make sure you understand the priorities when it comes to giving money to family members.)


3. What are your thoughts on wealth disparities?

What if one side earns slightly more than the other? What if those positions were reversed? Would either of you quit your job if you have children? How long will this last? Have you ever been laid off, and how did you deal with it? Chances are, either or both of you would be unemployed at some stage. It would be beneficial if you know what to anticipate from past times of unemployment, so discuss it now.


4. How do you treat charitable giving and cause support?

Do you make monthly contributions to your favorite charities? Do you provide sporadically as openings present themselves? Is it essential for you and your wife to compromise on the causes you want to help financially? Is it a problem if one partner would not wish to donate to charity?

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