You'll Never Guess How Many People Think Financial Dishonesty Is a Form of Infidelity

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  • 49% of people think that dishonesty about money is a form of infidelity.
  • 25% have kept a purchase a secret from their partner, and 9% have had debt their partner didn't know about.
  • Avoid financial dishonesty with your partner by discussing money regularly and promising not to judge each other.

It's not just a little white lie.

Secret purchases. Debt that your partner doesn't know about. Is the occasional lie about money really a big deal, or is it a good way to avoid arguments?

We know just how many people take this seriously, thanks to the Couples and Money Survey by Orion. Based on the results, a large portion of couples don't just think financial dishonesty is an issue. They consider it a form of infidelity.

How couples feel about financial dishonesty

A whopping 49% of people agree with the statement that dishonesty about money is a form of infidelity, according to Orion. That includes 20% who strongly agreed and 29% who somewhat agreed. There were also 26% who neither agreed nor disagreed, 15% who somewhat disagreed, and 9% who strongly disagreed.

It's clear that for many, financial infidelity is on par with cheating. Attitudes about this varied by generation, and it's strongly correlated with age. Here's the percentage who agreed with this statement in each generation:

  • 61% of millennials
  • 51% of Generation X
  • 43% of baby boomers

Unfortunately, financial secrets aren't all that uncommon in relationships. Orion found that 25% of respondents kept a purchase a secret from their partner for fear they might disapprove. In addition, 9% had debt their partner was unaware of.

Even though millennials are most likely to disapprove of lying about money, they're also the most likely to do it. In fact, 43% of millennials had kept purchases secret, and 24% had debt their partner didn't know about.

How to avoid financial dishonesty in your relationship

Whether you agree that lying about money counts as infidelity or not, it's always something to avoid with your partner. It may seem worthwhile to avoid an argument, but the truth usually comes out eventually. When it does, that financial dishonesty is going to lead to ongoing trust issues. Your partner will question what else you're lying about, and they won't be sure if they can believe you going forward.

So, how can you avoid financial dishonesty in your relationship? There are a few steps you can take:

  • Promise not to be judgmental with each other. Partners often hide purchases and debt because they're worried about what the other person will say. Make sure your relationship is a no-judgment zone.
  • Set time aside to talk about money. Check in with each other about your financial goals and challenges regularly, ideally at least once per month. This way, money will be a normal subject to discuss in your relationship, and not something you only talk about when there's a problem.
  • Get the big things right, and don't sweat the rest. What's most important is that you and your partner can pay your bills and set aside a portion of your income for your savings and investing. If you're both doing that, there's no reason to worry about how either one of you chooses to spend their "fun money."

Like many aspects of a relationship, being open and honest about personal finance requires both sides to do their part. You both need to commit to not lying about money, which includes not hiding anything from each other. For that to work, both partners also need to agree that they won't judge or criticize each other about financial decisions. If you can do that, your relationship will be better off.

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