How to Spot Financial Infidelity (and What to Do About It)

How to Spot Financial Infidelity (and What to Do About It)

I’ll admit it: I’ve gone through a partner’s phone to catch them being unfaithful. But while I scoured their texts for proof of infidelity, I didn’t think to also head on over to their banking apps for a different kind of cheating: financial infidelity. Now, I can’t endorse the sort of privacy violations that I’m personally guilty of. At the same time, there are red flags of financial infidelity that you shouldn’t ignore.

“Financial infidelity” is when your partner secretly spends money, hides accounts, accrues debt or makes financial decisions that affect you without your knowledge. It damages trust and can ruin relationships. You might consider splitting your finances to save your relationship, but if you’re married, your finances are already legally merged. Here’s how to spot potential problems and address financial infidelity if it occurs.

Watch out for red flags

Some warning signs your partner may be financially unfaithful include:

  • Acting secretive about money and finances
  • Being protective of their wallet, financial statements, and accounts
  • Unexplained expenditures or withdrawals
  • Sudden desire to have separate bank accounts
  • Being vague or evasive when discussing finances, jobs, and/or income
  • Having a lifestyle that exceeds their income

If you notice any sketchy money behaviors, it may indicate financial infidelity. Don’t ignore red flags or write them off as them being private. After all, this is money we’re talking about. You can bounce back from a broken heart; bankruptcy is another story.

Review accounts and statements

Take an active role in your joint finances. Review credit card bills, bank statements, and investment accounts on a regular basis. Look for any suspicious activity. Do you see cash withdrawals you can’t explain? Unfamiliar vendors? Account withdrawals you didn’t make? This may signal secret spending or hiding of money.

Run a credit check

Request a copy of your credit report and check for accounts or loans you don’t recognize. And check your partner’s credit, too (ask them to get a report and tell be upfront about your need to look at it). Debts and inquiries you’re unaware of could mean financial unfaithfulness. Even if there’s no infidelity, it’s important to have the full picture of your finances—so running a credit check is never a bad idea.

Follow up on discrepancies

If you find red flags, unusual activity, or things that don’t add up, don’t hesitate to talk to your partner. You must ask your partner to explain mysterious withdrawals, debts, or investments. Tell them you’re concerned and request full transparency moving forward.

Set financial ground rules

If your partner confesses financial dishonesty or you two have issues with money secrets, set clear ground rules to rebuild trust. Insist on 100% transparency with financial accounts and that all spending decisions be joint ones moving forward. Consider counseling to get to the root of the problems and dishonesty. More specifically, we cover how to find a financial therapist here. Financial therapy combines financial advice with psychoanalysis, giving you a way to unpack the emotional or behavioral barriers to your financial well-being.

Financial infidelity destroys relationships. But if you catch it early and confront it directly, you can potentially stop it in its tracks and get your finances back on track. Setting any kind of boundary is daunting, but you can’t afford to stay quiet about your money. If you need help opening up a money conversation with your partner, here are some questions to see if you’re financially compatible. Don’t ignore warning signs—be proactive to detect and address financial unfaithfulness.

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