Relationships are all about trust. And while some people are okay revealing the ugly truths about their family background, past relationships, and even personal weaknesses, they sometimes leave financial problems off the table. Money is an uncomfortable topic, especially if you sense the guy you’re dating has his financial house in order.
Don’t let fear of judgment keep you silent. The sooner you tell the truth, the sooner you can move on. Here are four rules for telling your new guy about your financial problems.
1. Don’t bring it up on the first date
Regardless of how well the first date is going, as a general rule of thumb you should never bring money into the conversation—and you definitely shouldn’t disclose financial problems.
You’re in the “getting-to-know-each-other” phase of the relationship, so there’s still a tendency to pass unfair judgment or make assumptions about one another. At this point in the game, neither of you are invested in each other, and you’re still figuring out whether this is a relationship you want to pursue.
If your date has good credit, money in the bank and makes wise financial decisions, learning about your money issues might be a deal-breaker He might feel your financial messiness isn’t worth the hassle. Get to know each other, and then get candid about your finances.
2. Don’t wait too long
Although you shouldn’t talk about financial problems on the first date, you shouldn’t put it off for too long either. If you hold off until you’re discussing your future together, this can cause problems in the relationship. You need to have an honest talk once you begin opening up and having deep personal conversations with each other.
The time frame depends on how fast the relationship progresses. If you’re spending every non-working moment together within the first two weeks and getting serious fast, bring up the issue sooner rather than later. But if it takes longer for the relationship to progress, you might be able to wait a couple of months. You have to make that determination.
3. Develop a game plan before speaking up
Learning that you have serious financial problems can make your guy nervous. He might have envisioned the two of you buying a home together and starting a family. Finding out about your money or credit problems can throw a wrench in the plans.
To put his mind at ease, don’t bring up the topic until you have a clear plan in place for resolving the problem. You can’t change what’s already happened. But if you acknowledge your mistakes and set goals to undo the damage, he might cut you some slack and help you reach your goals.
4. Make sure your actions speak louder than your words
If you want your guy to disregard your past mistakes, your current financial habits must prove you’re moving in the right direction. If you have bad credit due to poor choices such as overspending and maxing out your credit cards, continuing to spend money with a credit card can put doubts in his mind. If he feels you’re not financially mature, he may put the brakes on the relationship until you learn how to manage money more responsibly.
Fighting about money can cause tension and get the relationship off to a bad start. Fortunately, financial problems don’t have to interfere with your relationship. The key is being honest and upfront as soon as it’s appropriate, and proving by your actions that you’re ready to make better choices with your money.
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