Should I pay for him?

Dear Suzie, 

After 13 years of being on my own following the breakup of a 12 year marriage, I have just met a wonderful man and am very happy.  My problem is that due to circumstances he has absolutely no savings behind him, although he does have a job.  Not only do I have a job but I also have substantial savings behind me which he is unaware of.  How and when should it ever come out that I have this money?  If I tell him he might feel awkward and uncomfortable in case his attentions come across as just wanting me for my money, and it might raise doubts in my own mind as to his motives thereafter, which would be a shame as we currently get on so well and are very close.  But if I don’t tell him and we stay together he will find out eventually and might be very hurt that I didn’t trust him enough to tell him.  He moved in to live with me and my adult children last week and this makes the situation increasingly awkward for me as we are closer now than before he moved in and I feel like I’m being dishonest with him.  

 The other thing is that he is £3,000 in debt which he’s coping with quite happily but it makes me feel guilty because I could easily clear this debt for him but that would mean I would have to ‘come clean’!  Also he’s been talking about both of us putting aside £50 per month each into a savings account so that we can built up holiday money. How betrayed will he feel when he finds out that I don’t need to put this money aside and yet I went along with it?

 HELP!!  What on earth do I do?  I would be very grateful for any advice you can give me.


If you were in your 20s and this was a first serious relationship I don’t think you’d have the same doubts. If you had some money put away, you wouldn’t feel the need to ‘come clean’ about it just as you wouldn’t feel the need to quiz your partner about their financial position. Anyone might have something put away, or not as the case may be. You’d expect your respective situations to emerge naturally, as his has because he’s told you he has debt which he’s making shrift to manage. 
The reason it looms large in your mind is that you’ve had years of being in a settled relationship where you both had shared accounts and knew what was each others state. Now you’re back in the single but dating state, you’re assuming the amount you know about each other should be the same, and it needn’t. Yet.

I agree that keeping secrets is inimical to a good relationship. But you shouldn’t expect to give an audit to this man, nor he to you. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent idea to open a shared account for shared activities, especially a holiday fund. Where’s the betrayal in knowing you could pay for it with the wave of a check card? The essence is that this is joint – to be paid by both of you equally. It’s a rather exciting idea to have a specific, ring-fenced fund you can both point to and know is going to finance your next break.  He’s more likely to feel humiliated if you thought it was appropriate to pay for him, and that goes for him settling his own debts too.

 If you’re divorced with adult children and in your own house I would imagine he’d have assumed you have money in the bank. It sounds as if he’s doing his very best to hold up his own end and not to be seen or thought to be using you. I’d respect and encourage this.  

 In all the relationships I’ve observed, my own included, in which money has never been a problem or an issue partners who earned their own money made a proportionate contribution to a household. Whoever earned more paid more. And if there were children from a previous relationship, this was reflected in the proportionate costs.

Either each put an amount into a shared account which paid for all household and joint expenses. Or they divided up the expenses – fuel bills, food bills, council tax etc – and made the division reflect the amount each should pay. Or they split everything down the middle but the higher earner then paid for holidays or other expenses. You can decide between you which way you should play it but I don’t think he would expect you to pay for him nor should you feel you should.

Enjoy your new relationship – and enjoy that holiday when it comes!

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