why i hid my £10,000 debt from my partner

Would you hide money worries from your partner? Our writer did.

I have a secret to share and it’s not something many people know about me.

But confession is supposed to be good for the soul, so here goes… I’m almost £10,000 in debt.

Over the past few years, a combination of financial mistakes and family illnesses have hit my finances hard and I owe money for the first time in my life.

You’re probably wondering why I would make such an embarrassing admission online and expose myself to unflattering (and probably fair) ridicule from readers.

The truth is, I’m not 100% sure myself.

In fact, I’ve been far less forthcoming with those in my personal life who (arguably) had a right to know.

My boyfriend of two years only learned about my financial situation a few months ago when he offered to buy a house together.

I am far from alone. According to a study by insurer Direct Line, 16% of British couples have debt their partner is unaware of, with average hidden borrowings of £8,293.

In the UK, these hidden debts amount to £69 billion.

While these statistics are shocking, navigating this conundrum is easier than you might imagine.

My debt, my problem

No matter how committed I am to a relationship, I firmly believe adults have to solve their own problems.

Although Direct Line found that 460,000 of those with partners in debt wouldn’t have started the relationship had they known about their partner’s money issues, I wasn’t really concerned about that.

I was more worried about him offering to help me with my predicament.

If I’ve accumulated debts, it’s my responsibility to pay them off, not my boyfriend’s.

The situation is not as bad as it seems

Although my debts are higher than I would like, I make all repayments on time, stick to a tight budget, and have a clear plan to get my finances back in the dark.

“No need to worry others with a situation under control.” At least that’s how I justified my reluctance.

I also make a distinction between good and bad debt and some of my debt is more like an investment in future career options.

A big part of my £10,000 borrowing is student loans and the money I borrowed to finance the equipment for my freelance career: justifiable debt.

Is it even one of his things?

At the start of our relationship, I had no intention of spilling over my finances with someone I had just met.

But when does your partner have the right to know about the financial factors that could affect your future together?

For some, the answer is unequivocal: “never”.

Surprisingly, almost 40% of married Britons in debt believe their finances are not about their partner, according to Direct Line.

Maybe I haven’t “hidden” my debts. Maybe I just kept my stuff to myself.

All I know is that when I confessed to my boyfriend, he was clearly hurt, I hadn’t trusted him enough to confide in him about my issues earlier.

It was a low point in our relationship.

We had talked about everything else: teenage heartbreaks, the death of parents, excruciatingly humiliating first dates.

For some reason, the conversation about money felt like too distant an intimacy.

Are you responsible for your partner’s debts?

Being romantically linked to another person does not automatically create a financial relationship, even if you are married.

In most cases, you will only form a financial association if you apply for joint credit or open a checking account together.

Unless you have made one of these financial arrangements, a creditor cannot sue you for money your partner owes.

There are, however, a few exceptions.

If you’re acting as a guarantor on your partner’s debt, for example, your own credit can be damaged if he doesn’t pay it back.

The benefits of honesty

Although some may believe that their finances are none of their partner’s business, there are definite benefits to having a candid conversation about money, especially when you’re living together.

This will help you make informed decisions on topics such as whether to open a joint savings account or bank account, how much each partner should pay for utilities, and how much life insurance you need (if applicable).

Learn more about couples and finances

The end of the (financial) case?

In case you were wondering, my financial misstep did no lasting damage to our relationship.

But we sure could have avoided a few fiery rows and icy stares had I been brave enough to face an honest conversation with my pal sooner.

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