Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Is It Nosy to Ask my Boyfriend About His Financial Situation?”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss talking finances with a significant other, Facebook etiquette, and moving on to a new relationship too quickly.

I have been dating my boyfriend for over a year now and we live together. I know he has school debt and credit card debt but he refuses to talk about it. He always hides his banking from me and never lets me see bank statements. This makes me really worried but he says he just likes to be private. I know it’s none of my business to worry about his money, but one day if we get married, have children or buy a house I would really like for both of us to be able to communicate about our finances. Do you think I’m being too nosy, and if not, how can I convince him to be more open about his money? — Nosy about His Money

 
You live with the guy and you don’t have any clue about his financial status? Uh, no, it would not be nosy at this point to broach a topic about finances with him. A good way to start: “I really love you and can see a future with you, but I’m not prepared to start planning that future until we’re able to communicate about finances, one of the biggest issues long-term, live-in couples deal with.”

I just this met this guy through mutual friends at a party. We were talking and hit it off just fine. We eventually become friends on Facebook and he left a standard generic message saying “nice meeting you,” and I reciprocated. Well, I commented on one of his pictures, and a friend of mine quickly called me and told me not to communicate with him further. She said it’s too “creepy,” to do that. Should I just quit commenting if he posts on my wall until the next time we actually have a chance to meet? What are the rules of talking to people on Facebook right after meeting them? Is it weird to respond even though he wrote on my wall first or even asking a generic question? — Facebook Confused

 
Your friend sounds nuts. Of course, it’s perfectly acceptable to post comments and messages on someone’s Facebook wall (as long as it’s done moderately). The best way to communicate, however, is privately (then, no nosy “friend” is telling you you’re creepy), so stick to personal messages, regular email, and best of all: phone calls and real live, in-person dates.

I’m nineteen and was with this guy in high school for two years, until just this past February. He was my life and my love for two years and he broke up with me because he wanted to “experiment.” Anyway, now I’ve been dating this new guy for a month, and I really do love my new boyfriend, but a lot of the time I feel like I am going through the motions — the kissing, the holding hands, stuff like that. He’s the perfect gentleman and we’re moving in together at the end of May, but I’m confused as to why sometimes I love him and sometimes it’s like I’m just going through the motions. — Going Through The Motions

 
You broke up with a boyfriend you were in love with and a few weeks later you’re already with someone new you plan to move in with less than three months after meeting? Girl, the reason you feel like you’re going through the motions is because it’s all moving way too fast for you to even keep up with or process. SLOW DOWN, and take time to listen to what your heart is really feeling.
 
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected] and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

29 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Spark April 29, 2011, 8:15 am

    LW2, I agree with Wendy mostly but disagree slightly when she says it’s better to call on the phone/send private messages. At this point in your friendship/relationship, you are barely acquaintances. I think the most casual, easygoing, friendly-but-not-overbearing way to communicate with him is through light and occasional posts on his wall and comments on his pictures. Private messages here and there are great, but if you’re interested in him (at this point, when you guys barely know each other), I think it could be a little overbearing to call him just to chat or to send him lots of emails. Keep it cool and casual with Facebook while you test the waters!

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  • avatar

    Addie Pray April 29, 2011, 8:50 am

    Wendy, you need to have Drew pencil in a royal hat on your pic today!

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    Maracuya April 29, 2011, 9:05 am

    LW 1: He has a lot of debt and he’s embarrassed to tell you how much. He probably doesn’t have much in savings or he feels like he’s not as financially stable as you and he feels ashamed about it. Or he could just be really bad with money and not want you to know. Or he could just never want you to know his financial situation. I have seen the last one in action and I know it exists (if that’s the case, you put a stop to that!)

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  • avatar

    TECH April 29, 2011, 9:39 am

    LW1, I understand your hesitation to ask him about his finances. I know it feels nosy because you’re not engaged or married. But like Wendy says, in order to even think about a long term future with someone, it’s important to have that talk. There’s a chance that he’s hiding something, and there’s also a chance he’s just a private person. I know many couples that wait until they’re married to have this conversation, which is a mistake.
    Probably one of the best ways for him to feel like he can talk about it is for you to open about money yourself. If you’re an open book about your finances, he should be as well. You don’t need to look at every single one of his bank statements, but you should have an overall figure in your head of what his assets and liabilities are, his spending habits, as well as his earning potential. Although my boyfriend of a year and I do not live together, learning about his finances has become a gradual process. Part of intimacy is opening up about uncomfortable topics, money being one of them. I’d say something like, “I’m not trying to be nosy, but it would make me feel more secure if I knew what was going on money wise in your life. For us to plan a future together, I feel like this is important information for me to have. It’s not about how much or how little you have. I just want to be able to talk about it together so we can have some expectation of what the future might look like.”

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  • avatar

    Bethany April 29, 2011, 9:57 am

    LW 1, you need to start talking about money NOW. If you plan on getting married or buying a house, his financial problems are going to become YOURS. I’ve always been very open about money and my debt, so it was easy for me and my fiance to have those conversations, but I know it’s not like that for everyone. Think about how hard it’s going to be if you wait to have these talks until you’re trying to buy a house, but his credit is so bad you don’t get approved for a mortgage… It’s going to be a LOT worse if you wait.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph April 29, 2011, 10:34 am

      Reminds me of that free credit report.com commercial where they’re living in her parents basement because he didn’t know before they got married that her credit was bad. That may be an exaggeration, but not by much. If you do get married and he has major debt or credit problems, those problems become yours too. In some places you could even get stuck with part of that debt if you marry and divorce. So if you are discussing a future with this guy, its definitely something you need to know.

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    • Roxy_84

      Roxy84 April 29, 2011, 5:04 pm

      It should have come up in conversation by now unless there was something he didn’t want you to know about, especially since you’re living together. Even if he’s fairly private, things like “i’m still paying off my student loans” or “sweet, i can put my tax refund towards a vacation this year instead of my car loan” usually add up to give you an idea of where he’s at. If these things aren’t coming up, you need to figure out why.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph April 29, 2011, 10:21 am

    LW3- You probably don’t LOVE your new boyfriend. You might like him. But you’re moving way too fast. Right now you may just be transferring feelings you still have for your old boyfriend onto the closest target, this new guy, and not actually attempting to build new feelings for the new relationship. If you really do like him, don’t treat him like a rebound. Go slowly, give yourself time to recover from the breakup, get used to being without this guy you were with for so long, and then to move on into a new relationship. And for god sakes, don’t move in with him if you have these kind of doubts.

    LW2- I slightly agree with your friend (so maybe I’m crazy too?). One comment to one picture is not creepy, but there definitely is a line where if you met a person once and then become facebook friends, its kinda weird to make a habit of commenting on their pictures/posts/etc. often. For example, if you posted an album from a family vacation or something, and then on a bunch of the pictures this guy commented on them, wouldn’t you find that a little creepy? So I guess my advice is, once in a while is ok but don’t stalk the guy through facebook and don’t make facebook commentary the only method of communication you have with him.

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  • avatar

    phoenix217 April 29, 2011, 10:25 am

    LW3 — SERIOUSLY SLOW DOWN!!! You JUST started dating this new guy; how are you even sure you’re in love with him?? Usually it takes people months to fall in love, and especially since you just had your heart broken, those nagging feelings of “going through the motions” are probably something you should take a little more seriously. And PLEASE do not move in with new boyfriend. Certainly not next month. Take some time to really get over the heartbreak and figure out your feelings; you’re only 19, what’s the rush anyway?

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  • avatar

    Meaghan Self April 29, 2011, 10:32 am

    Anyone else think LW2’s friend just has a crush on the guy and is trying to get her friend to back off?

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    • avatar

      jena April 29, 2011, 11:41 am

      Ding ding ding! Yes. That was my first thought.

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      • avatar

        Maracuya April 29, 2011, 12:31 pm

        Yeah, who calls someone immediately after they post something on facebook? THAT’s creepy.

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    • avatar

      caramelpuff April 30, 2011, 2:24 am

      Thank you! Sounds like she’s jealous he isn’t responding to her posts.

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  • avatar

    kdog April 29, 2011, 10:43 am

    It seems to me like a lot of people are focusing on LW #1 needed to know the actual figures. As far as debts go I think that is VERY important, at the end of the day spending and saving styles, not bottom lines, will be the make or break for most people.

    We all have different ideas of what is responsible and irresponsible spending. And sometimes, the amount someone spends or saves isn’t as important as what they are spending/saving for. I would try opening up a hypothetical discussion with your bf about what he would like to save for (or what debts he would like to pay off), how he plans to do that. It’s relatively inobtrusive and can go on from there. It will definitely be very important to go deeper, but it’s at least a starting point that could shed a lot of light on how the BF feels.

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    • avatar

      Guy Friday April 29, 2011, 1:23 pm

      I agree with your suggestion, and — not to appear rude to other posters, because it’s not my intent — but I think it’s a MUCH saner response than “OMG! You need to know everything NOW!” You definitely want to know about potential financial land mines that your significant other is bringing to the table, but the figures aren’t as important as the concepts. But another consideration, LW, is whether you’re actually contributing to the hostility by being judgmental about his finances without intending to.

      Case in point: my SO was lucky enough to have folks who could afford to pay for her college tuition. Nothing wrong with that; I hope to do it for our kids someday. However, I had to put myself through undergrad, and then had to take out student loans for grad school, so I have (in my eyes) a huge amount of student loan debt. My SO — having no experience in this kind of thing — equates student loan debt with debts like credit cards instead of (more accurately) mortgages, and so she freaks out whenever she hears anything related to student loans and how large it is compared to my salary at the moment. My solution? I’ve stopped discussing finances with her, because I don’t want to go 12 rounds every time it comes up. Is it possible your guy feels the same way about this?

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  • avatar

    BlueBella April 29, 2011, 11:17 am

    Oh, Facebook etiquette. I wish Emily Post would publish a book on it already.

    Nevertheless, it sounds like your friend is being a little weird. Facebook is such a polarizing thing for some people. Definitely be a bit conservative, since you don’t really know the guy that well yet, but I don’t see any problems with the occasional post/comment, especially if he’s reciprocating.

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  • avatar

    BoomChakaLaka April 29, 2011, 11:20 am

    LW 1: I would have said back off, but since you guys are living together: honestly how can you not know his financial situation and you’re living together? I would even like to know the financial situation of my roommates before living with them, so of course I’m going to need to know some numbers about the guy I’m planning on spending my time with. Wendy’s suggested comment is very eloquently put, so definitely take it.

    LW 2: I don’t think its creepy, but it might be a bit much too soon. I would definitely stick to private messages as well until you guys meet up more. I wouldn’t go commenting on anyone’s picture (that I’m not in) unless I really know that person.

    LW 3: You’re letter kind of struck home because I was definitely in a similar situation. The love of my life left me after 4 years and I totally started dating my rebound just so I could have someone. But I felt like I was just going through those motions and not really being in a relationship. Trust me, you’ll never be happy that way, so take time for yourself to think about what you like in this new guy, and to finally process what you feel for your ex. Once you have those feelings sorted out, you’ll definitely be able to make a good decision.

    And just to tell you the ending: after taking a few months to be by myself, I realized that I was in love with my new guy and was definitely over my old guy. I just lucked out that he also wanted to be with me too and we’ve been dating for 4 months!

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  • caitie_didnt

    caitie_didn't April 29, 2011, 11:28 am

    LW3: are you for real??? You are 19 years old! I’m getting a serious “need a man to take care of me” vibe from you.

    LW2: I think Facebook can be a great way to get to know someone casually, but it has to transition to real life pretty quickly. My ex and I met at a conference and he added me on facebook and posted the standard “nice to meet you” stuff on my wall, then after we ran into each other a few months later, began talking to me through the chat feature. Obviously, that was a pretty clear sign that he was interested in me and from there we quickly transitioned to more personal communication. But facebook acted as a great starting point- since we lived in different cities I don’t know how we would have gotten to know each other without it.

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  • avatar

    baby.blanka April 29, 2011, 10:29 am

    LW1 – I live with my boyfriend and we plan on getting married one day as well. We keep our finances separate since we have a very different set of bills. Anyways, we definitely don’t balance our checkbooks together, we rarely talk about our own financial issues unless there is a problem. My boyfriend started to become extremely frugal (like, more than normal) and it turns out he was saving for future wedding plans. He wanted to save to be able to provide for me, so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. It’s a good thing to keep open communication but if he is extremely secretive, there might be a good explanation instead of a shady one… either way it couldn’t hurt to try to find out.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph April 29, 2011, 10:31 am

      Its a good point, maybe he’s put a down payment on a ring and doesn’t want you to know.
      Of course, its important to figure out if thats a ring for you or a ring for his other girlfriend… or because he has a wife and 4 kids in North Dakota that he sends money to every month!

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    • avatar

      baby.blanka April 29, 2011, 12:07 pm

      LOL yes that’s true! Like I said, find out either way. I loved that Mr. Blanka was concerned for my financial well being, because it really benefits both of you in the end if you work towards the same goal.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie April 29, 2011, 10:41 am

    LW1 Love makes your head spin but money makes the world spin. You’ve been together long enough to trust each other with finances. If he doesn’t trust you or himself enough to reveal his portfolio then it’s going to be difficult to evolve into becoming a family. You don’t need to audit but both of you should have an overall picture of what’s going on. That’s just simple respect.

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  • avatar

    LTC039 April 29, 2011, 12:09 pm

    LW1…Lack of communication is a major reason, besides finances, that couples don’t work out. If you guys are living together, have spoken about marriage, but your boyfriend can’t talk to you about his finances, you guys are doomed before you even begin.
    Sit down, have a talk with him, as Wendy said, & depending on his reaction you can decide whether this relationship will have a good foundation or not. Good luck, I hope your bf opens up to you.

    LW2…Your friend is a jealous b**ch… Ignore her.

    LW3…Rebound, rebound, rebound! Take time for yourself! You’re 19! You have your whole life to co habitate! These are the years you need to live to fullest. Living with a guy you’re not even sure you’re in love with is a big mistake.
    Good luck!

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    • avatar

      spaceboy761 April 29, 2011, 1:05 pm

      @LTC039

      LW2: These are the things that guys think and hope that a woman says first.

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      • avatar

        LTC039 April 29, 2011, 1:40 pm

        Yeah…& especially if he reached out to her first. I think that’s an open invitation!

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  • avatar

    mf April 29, 2011, 12:13 pm

    LW 2: I think it was a good idea to comment on this guy’s photo, particularly if you’re attracted to him. It sends the message that you want to get to know him and that you might like him; but it isn’t quite as personal as if you texted/called him right away. If he doesn’t reciprocate your messages/comments, then back off and see what happens.

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  • avatar

    Nina April 29, 2011, 12:15 pm

    LW3, when I was in my teens/late teens I had my first love and first live-in boyfriend break up with me saying they wanted to “experiment”. My first love and I had that sort of fairy tale romance-my second love cheated on me, and used his desire to experiment as an excuse to cheat) Although I do believe you have a bit of growing as a person to do, and should defninitely slow down with the new guy, I can understand how heartbreaking it can be to hear from someone you love that ‘experimenting’ and dare I say (probably) sleeping around is better and more appealing to them than a meaninful, faithful relationship with you.

    As nessisary as it can be for some people to need to be single/see a lot of people for their personal growth, I have never been that type of girl-I completely understand how heartbroken that can leave you feeling when the other person does chose that over your relationship.

    definitely slow down though. take this opportunity to just be yourself, grow and experience being you (your wants and goals) – try to find your own place, or rent a room. Its hard, I know! But in the end you will feel strong and know when being with someone is right-not just “going through the motions”.

    Good luck and hang in there! xoxo

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  • avatar

    Fairhaired Child April 30, 2011, 1:35 am

    LW1: when i first saw the title of this I was so nervous to see Wendy’s reply because sometimes I too feel like I am too nosy with my boyfriends finances. However, the way I was raised (by a single mother) I was always taught to be aware of finances but still be able to do everything by myself if I have to. So where I am very well off in my finances, credit score etc. My boyfriend.. not so much. And at first he did not like talking about it, but since I was usually in the room when his mom would call to talk finances with him, I started to ease myself into knowing more by going “oh why ‘d your mom call” and then Id get a little information at a time – it was easier to talk about when his car broke down and had to be fixed and his mom paid for it since he didnt have the money so i could easily go “that sucks how much did the car cost to get fixed anyway?” and then followed by “well that was nice of your mom.. so you are going to pay her back what.. x amount of money per week?”. etc

    Now that my bf and I have been living together for 8 months, I have no problem asking him while we are out “how much money do you have in the bank? I can get this date if you want” Which is.. rather blunt but I think he understands that I’m looking out for him too and want to pull my share. Anyway i agree with others, if he seems so secretive about it then ask it in a more casual way first, such as “I was thinking of getting a new ____ and i’m going to save money for it, what do you think” that way it starts about you and then you can ask him if he’s saving for something or how paying off students loans is going etc. But never let the financial subject fully drop, just keep asking questions every now and then and get more “detailed” in the type of question to find out information each time. You def. need to talk to him about the future and that you see one with him and want to be more open about finances and be able to casually talk about it without either of you feeling bullied into letting go of information.

    LW2: I think its creepier to start sending private messages right away myself. If its light and causal then its fine to write on someones wall “great to see you last night” etc. I dont like when people send me private messages about nothing.. and then its like “you could have just put this on my wall..” If you plan on having a full out conversation then yeah put it in a message, or use facebook chat, but just a casual “I like that picture” or whatever is fine to post on peoples walls etc. However, maybe your friend knows something more about him than you do or she could just be jealous and like him herself.. who knows. Facebook is complicated and so is trying to cultivate a friendship with anyone through it.

    LW3: I would not move in with him. In fact, if I were you I would sit down with your current boyfriend, tell him that he’s been great to you and you really appreciate it, but you need to figure out things for yourself and how you feel about everything (him you your ex the world etc). I would break up with him and do a little soul searching and patch your heart up before trying to give it away again. But, if you want to stay with him I would def. be more open to him and let him know you need space or to slow down. But do not do not rush into moving in with him. If you dont feel like being intimate with him every time you CAN tell him “I just dont feel like it right now” and if he is a gentleman as you say then he will understand that you are still trying to get over your ex and he may wait for you, or he may not. Sometimes (STILL) I dont always feel like saying I love you back to my boyfriend, not because I dont love him, but because at that moment I may not feel especially lovy dovy, and I feel like the words are over used sometimes so I want him to KNOW when I really mean it. So sometimes when he says “I love you” I say “thank you thats good that you love your girlfriend” and just smile and laugh. I explained ot him early in our relationship that I’m like that pretty much with every relationship, and to not take offence. So he knows that when I smile and fling my arms around him and say “I love you” then I am extremely happy and very loving feeling towards him at that time, and I think it makes him appreciate it more.

    So.. end note, if you dont feel like kissing him, then just say “not right now, I’m just not feeling it” and then you can either appologize or explain why or not. You dont really have to give him a reason why, or feel bad for not wanting to be intimate in some way. Its about what makes YOU happy, and not just the fact of going through the motions.

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    • avatar

      Fairhaired Child April 30, 2011, 1:35 am

      holy crap that is long – SORRY readers

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