Financial infidelity: A third of us hide credit card and loan details from partners

Financial infidelity: Man hiding finances. (Getty Images)
Are you guilty of financial infidelity? (Getty Images) (getty images)

Almost a third (32%) of us keep information about our credit cards, personal loans and savings a secret from our partners, new research reveals – a form of 'financial infidelity'.

And more than a fifth (22%) of us in relationships only reveal our salary to a partner after a year or more of dating, with 5% keeping it hidden forever, the study of more than 2,000 UK adults from Capital One UK found.

Meanwhile, 43% refuse to have a bank account with their partner altogether, thinking it's not necessary and overcomplicates a relationship.

But while this 'financial infidelity' may seem secretive, it also shows how common it is for couples to lie to each other about money, which isn't always done out of spite, but can be simply a way to retain independence and privacy within a relationship.

Money shouldn't be a dirty word, and being in a 'financially healthy' relationship can only have positives for both parties involved.

“It’s key to be clear with your partner on what your expectations are within the relationship and also what your individual circumstances are," advises Anna Williamson, television presenter, life coach and dating expert, who has partnered with Capital One UK.

"Relationships are strongest when they’re founded on honesty and trust, both of which you can only have when you’re communicating with your partner and being open with them – and that includes your financial background, current circumstances and worries.”

Read more: Sexploitation online is on the rise: Here’s how to stay safe

Married couple looking at finances. (Getty Images)
While many see the financial benefits of getting married, 'love' is still the primary reason for doing so. (Getty Images) (Maskot via Getty Images)

But why do we lie about money in relationships in the first place? "Well, that is the golden question," Williamson said on BBC Radio Leeds.

"There can be so many reasons, it can be learned behaviour, perhaps we grew up with a certain attitude around money or certain behaviours we’ve seen around money. Perhaps we’ve had previous relationships where there’s been some sort of issue or challenge around it.

"But I do think collectively, it’s not unusual for us all, even as a nation, to recognise that speaking about money is a bit awkward. I think we’re been brought up like that."

Williamson added that one of the main reasons for couple breakdown is arguments or awkwardness over finances, and "what it really comes down to is vulnerability", with some people feeling inferior around money, and some the complete opposite.

Read more: Financial control: 'My wealthy ex-husband left my two children and I homeless'

And when it comes to getting married, it seems we're also increasingly protective of our own earnings and wealth, with 37% of those polled considering a prenuptial agreement, which happens before marriage.

Half of those thinking about a prenup are doing so regardless of earnings and instead for security reasons, while the other half would draft an agreement if they were earning considerably more than their partner before marriage.

While individuals in couples can want to keep their finances to themselves, many also cited financial security as a deciding factor for getting married (17%). This is reflected in the majority of us thinking that those married are 'better off', with 80% of respondents citing benefits like combined income and savings, as well as greater security if one partner's finances become at risk or take a blow.

However, despite this slightly more practical view of marriage, 77% still state that 'love' is their primary reason for saying, 'I do', with having children (29%) a secondary motivation.

Read more: Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly are ‘twin flames’: What the new relationship buzzword means

Woman taking control of finances in relationship. (Getty Image)
Are you the one who takes control of the finances in your relationship? (Getty Images) (PeopleImages via Getty Images)

It seems there's also a significant split in opinion about financial responsibility within couples. Some 31% of those surveyed say they take control of the finances in the relationship because they've always been in charge of their own and feel they would be the better person to take the lead.

Meanwhile, 7% of partners pick up the slack as they believe their other half is not confident dealing with the money side of things.

It's also apparent that an entirely balanced financial relationship is uncommon, with less than a quarter (22%) of couples sharing their finances equally.

Read more: The pandemic's pressures have caused a third of us to fall out with loved ones

While there is no one size fits all, there are some ways you can try and have a more financially healthy relationship. Here are Williamson's top tips:

Schedule monthly money meetings

Choose a time that doesn’t eat into romantic time. Money isn’t a sexy topic so it’s best to separate romance from finance. The more regularly you chat to your partner about finances, the shorter these conversations become and eventually it becomes as normal a topic as asking each other what you fancy for dinner.

Consider a joint bank account

This is a huge and often healthy step for any relationship. A successful relationship is based on trust and honesty and a joint bank account can allow a couple to be more financially open with each other which, in turn, can lead to more trust within the relationship.

Merging your finances will allow you to navigate financial pressures as a team and plan for your future together, but you may also want to have another separate account too for independence, especially if you have very different spending habits or different salary levels.

Learn to compromise

Can you afford that additional video subscription or that expensive gym membership? Whether you’re a saver or a spender, you need to communicate your expectations with your partner and establish what is a reasonable level of spending. By communicating honestly and clearly from the start, money is less likely to become an issue later on.

Watch: Savings expert Martin Lewis reveals thousands of pensioners could be owed £3,300