My last article discussed how to talk about money in a new long distance relationship. We covered important questions to go over with a new long distance lover to avoid conflicts and false assumptions about money as you get to know each other. We also mentioned how important it is not to send money to someone you do not know well in order to avoid falling for online scams.
After you’ve moved past the “new love” stage, there are important money questions you’ll need to discuss with your steady partner as you continue to build up trust in each other.
Long distance relationships that last longer than a couple of months tend to be serious—it’s just not worth enduring the distance unless you think there might be real possibilities for you as a serious coupe down the line.
So here are some money-related topics you might want to talk about if you are committed to each other despite the distance. You might find it to be productive to email these questions and agree to send your own answers, or to dedicate a webcam chat to talking about these topics.
Be straightforward with your partner, and ask them to be open with you, as well. Reassure them that there are not necessarily any “right” or “wrong” answers. You simply want to get to know them better and figure out where your attitudes and approaches to money are similar, and where they are different.
What is your approach to travel?
Are you looking for maximum comfort, or the cheapest flight around? Are you willing to take multiple flights to save money or do you always fly direct? What about hotels—what sort of accommodation do you generally book?
Who pays for dates?
We listed some questions on this topic in the previous post, but if you haven’t already discussed this issue, now’s the time to do it. Who pays for dates, and under what conditions? (E.g., Should the person who makes the most money pay for everything/most things? Should the man pay for everything? Should couples split the bill? Should they trade dates?)
Who will pay for what on your visits to each other?
Do you think that the host should pay for everything? Are there any cultural components to this? Does your culture have specific guest/host practices that are different from the dating/money dynamic explored above?
Do you have any debt?
Are you paying off student loans or credit cards? Do you have a mortgage or outstanding car payments? What is your approach to debt? (E.g., Are you trying to get rid of it as quickly as possible? Making regular payments? Hiding from loan sharks?)
What is your attitude toward saving and spending?
Are you saving? If not, is it something you are thinking about for the future? Do you live paycheck to paycheck? What are some big purchases you’ve made recently? (These questions are really about understanding your partner’s life right now. You don’t need to be positive you want to grow old and retire together in order to talk about whether they prefer to spend or save.)
What are your career goals?
Do you hope to do something different one day? Would you like to volunteer or take a low-paying job in another field at some point? Does money factor into your career decisions, or do you want to do something you love no matter what?
What happens if only one of you can afford to visit the other?
Let’s say partner #1 is an investment banker in New York City and #2 is a kindergarten teacher in Oklahoma. Should the banker always fly to Oklahoma if the teacher can’t afford to travel to New York? Should the banker pay for the teacher to come to New York?
What if the teacher is a man raised in an environment where men pay for everything and the banker is a woman? In other words, how do you feel about accepting money from or giving money to the other person in order to see each other if that’s what the circumstances require? (Again, remember to be on your guard for scams and never send money to someone you don’t know very well.)
What happens if neither one of you can afford to travel?
Do you keep the relationship going if you have to forgo all visits? When do you start looking for jobs in the same place? How long are you willing to go without seeing each other? You won’t necessarily know the answers to these questions, but you have to be able to talk openly about them.
Practice makes perfect (or, at least, helps)
Some of these conversations won’t be fun or romantic. Long distance relationships require excellent communication. Practice talking frankly about money now. The good news is that it may actually be easier for you to have these conversations than for couples living in the same place because you can do it dispassionately over email. Getting into the habit of talking about finances without awkwardness or embarrassment will do wonders for your relationship in the long run.
Next time, we’ll talk about essential questions to go over before you marry or make a lifelong commitment to your long distance partner. What do you need to ask before your relationship becomes permanent?
Did we miss anything?
We’ve mentioned some questions you can discuss in a serious long distance relationship, but do you have other questions that are important to bring up? Leave a comment and add them below.