Cheating is one thing.
Financially cheating is another thing. How many times have you heard about someone “stacking paper” and keeping it hidden from their significant other. Is it prevalent? Of course it is.
In a recent survey, commissioned by Forbes Woman and the National Endowment for Financial Education and conducted by Harris Interactive, one in three Americans (31%) who have combined their finances admitted lying to their spouses about money, and another one-third of these adults said they'd been deceived. Worried your partner may be cheating financially?
Here are the top 10 red flags that signal you're being lied to.
1. Changes Topic Away From Money
Boston-based family therapist Carleton Kendrick advises people to pay careful attention to patterns in their partner's behavior that could signal dishonesty. If your partner quickly changes the subject or does not want to discuss money, he says, it's a red flag. They may be hiding something or have deep-seated emotional issues with money.
2. Easily Becomes Defensive After a Money Question
Therapist Kendrick also suggests paying attention to your partner's tone and emotional reaction to your simple money questions. If they are lying and you ask a basic question, "they may have an outsize response like anger, or might try to make you feel like a jerk." Defensiveness or blame directed at you may be a red flag that something is wrong.
3. Insists On Handling Finances Alone
Family lawyer Nancy Chemtob says many of the people she's worked with didn't have a clue about their finances because they allowed their partners to take full control. It's much easier to lie about debt and spending if the other person isn't involved. Warning bells should go off if you ask to share money responsibilities and your partner insists on doing it alone. There may be something in the bills they don't want you to see.
4. Lies To Others About Money
Therapist Kendrick recommends watching your partner's behavior early in the relationship to size up their financial philosophy. Willingness to lie to others about money is a red flag that they will also lie to you, he says. Notice if your partner inflates their income when talking to friends or becomes excited when a waiter or cashier miscalculates the bill to your partner's benefit.
5. Parents Have Unhealthy Money Relationship
Psychotherapist Tina Tessina says money attitudes and behavior are unconsciously learned in early childhood. Therefore, your partner's parents might signal an unhealthy money approach. Have you noticed that they fight about finances? Has your partner mentioned that his parents lied to each other or hid purchases? These clues will help you understand your partner’s influences.
6. Spending Is Inconsistent With Income
Signs that your partner is lying may be staring you in the face. If they seem to be spending in excess of what they earn, it may be a red flag that have undisclosed credit cards, hidden debt or that they are misrepresenting their income.
7. You Have a Negative Gut Feeling
Seattle-based Theo Pauline Nestor discovered that her husband of 13 years had been secretly gambling and had amassed thousands of dollars in debt. She had no idea that he'd been gambling, she says, but did have a gut feeling that something was wrong. Trust your instincts. If you sense there may be deception, there likely is.
8. A Sudden Change In Behavior
Therapist Kendrick emphasizes that people should pay careful attention to their partner's patterns but also to breaks in routine, which could signal that something's going on. If they've suddenly changed their work hours, spending habits or bill-paying routine, they may be hiding something.
9. Browser History Is Frequently Empty
Financial infidelity is even easier in an era when Internet gambling and online shopping are just a click away. If you notice that the browser history is empty, someone likely deleted it. It could be a red flag that your partner is attempting to cover up their online behavior.
10. You've Caught Them Before
Perhaps the clearest indication of money deceit is having caught your partner before. Because money-related addictions like gambling and excessive shopping are difficult to overcome, your partner may slip and then cover it up so they don't have to face your reaction. Embarrassment and guilt are top reasons for money lies in a relationship. If they've lied before, they may do it again.