Is Your Relationship Too Expensive?

Geoff Williams | US News Money

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Three key questions to ask yourself before cutting ties.

They say you can’t put a price on love, but some relationships really do cost too much.

Anne Violette admits she has dated some “deadbeats” in her time. In particular, there were two boyfriends who lived with her but didn’t pull their weight, quitting jobs and refusing to find other options, leading to Splitsville. In one such scenario, Violette conducted an experiment of sorts, in which she meticulously tracked shared household expenses for six months. Her findings were infuriating: While she’d contributed $64,000, her live-in beau had only fronted $7,000.

“I must have a sign on my head that says ‘sucker,'” says Violette, a ghostwriter and copywriter from Pearland, Texas, whose book “Men Are Like Wine,” draws upon her sour – and at times expensive – relationship experiences.

They say you can’t put a price on love, but some relationships really do cost too much. And we’re not talking about the high cost of drama or stress or the awkwardness of being a mismatch – all of which can be potential deal-breakers – but the cold, hard cash poured into relationships without equivalency or much happiness in return.

If this sounds familiar, but you’re reluctant to break up because, well, you’re still in love, ask yourself these questions.

Have you both talked about your feelings? It’s one thing to throw out hints that you’d like your significant other to occasionally spring for dinner or at least say thanks for you always being the one to open your wallet, but your partner isn’t a mind reader. You may also have been in this pattern for so long that your partner thinks everything is great and simply has no idea that you’re a smoldering caldron of resentment.

That’s why it’s important to have an honest discussion early in the relationship, says Lisa Brateman, a psychotherapist and relationship specialist in New York City.

Dan Nainan, a standup comedian in New York City, was once in a relationship that began with him paying for everything. So he had a very direct conversation with his girlfriend early on.

“Two weeks into our relationship, I sat her down, and I said, ‘We have been going out for two weeks, and in that two weeks, you have not offered to pay for a single thing. Not for dessert when I buy dinner, or the tip, or a ticket on the subway, anything. Therefore, from now on, if you still want to go out with me, you have to pay for half of everything. If we go to a restaurant, you pay half. If we go on a trip, you buy your own airline ticket and pay for half of the hotel and half of the expenses.”

Nainan remembers she got up and left, but then immediately returned and said: “OK.”

He may have been more direct than many people would be comfortable with, but his timing was smart. Brateman suggests talking to your significant other about your money concerns, if you have any, before you’re in too deep.

“Bringing it up early is important before the problem becomes monumental,” she says. You especially want to have the talk before moving in together, she adds. You could start the conversation by saying something like: “I understand we have different spending styles, but I’m not feeling comfortable with how we’ve been handling our money,” Brateman suggests.


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