Financial infidelity might just be the only kind that doesn’t involve another person. It happens when one partner lies about how much money they have or how they’ve been spending it, Renelle Nelson, LMFT, CST, an infidelity recovery coach, says.
That sometimes can involve another person — like if one partner has been paying for an apartment in another city because they’re seeing someone there — but doesn’t have to. “It’s about the deception… the betrayal,” Nelson says. “When you commit finance infidelity, you’re being untrue about your finances with your partner. And you break the contract you had set up to be honest with each other.”
Of course, not everyone will see keeping financial information private as a breach of trust. Like the other forms of infidelity, it depends on how each person in the partnership feels and the rules they set up. Some couples may have decided to keep their money separate, and that’s totally fine. But if a couple decided to pool their money, and then one kept a secret bank account that they used only for themselves, that’s a form of dishonesty.
If you find out about a secret bank account or that your partner has been spending a lot of money without telling you, Nelson suggests having a direct conversation. “Don’t say ‘what are you doing, what’s wrong with you,'” she says. “Say, ‘what’s going on with this account?’ or ‘why did you make this purchase.'” It’s important to be specific, so that you can really get to the root of the problem.