money in heart

How To Talk About Money In A Serious Long Distance Relationship

Shannon Young Advice, Communication & Conflict 15 Comments

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.

money in heartLong 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.

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Comments 15

  1. I II have been an online relationship almost a year now. We have never met , but talked and we think we love each other. He is in another country working off the coast of Nigeria and needed money for a project. I have helped him a lot and finally I told him I could not do it any longer. Now he is sending money thru walmart to walmart from colleagues to me to send to him. So far it is all above board. I stopped talking to him because of the anyone asking for money you haven’t met is a scammer. I blocked him and he found a way to get to me to tell me how much he is in love with him and that he will never have me do anything or give him money ever again, so I start talking to him again and immediately ask me to go get money from walmart and send to Nigeria. He says everything is legit. Today we got back together after I blocked him and we talked for a bit but immediately with the money I am to pickup and send to Nigeria. Then he started asking me about one of my credit cards and could he pay it off and then I could charge on it. I was not talking to him for 3 days and he was so desperate and would never as ask me to pick up money and send and we are right back to square one. I told him I would get a job (im on disability ) to help him but I can’t due to health problems. He told me he would be with me if I had got a job like I said. How can someone be so loving and then turn around and start the money thing again. I love him and want to meet him but I wonder if it would be a good relationship. I hate to just shut him down again without meeting.

  2. I’m steve met this girl once immediately fell for her, this is the first time am into any relationship (26) we started chatting though I’m far away I try to express myself and let her understand that I love her beyond imagination little by little I was able to convince her that I truely live and care she’s still in school but my problem is … She always demand for money and I always help her out by meeting all her needs but recently I notice some changes in her behavior she hardly call me nor receive my calls like before and she don’t always chat me but when I told her about the changes she always apologize and telling me that she know I was thinking she’s with someone as in trying to assure me she will wait for me no matter what but I’m really confuse I don’t know if she really love me or shes just interested in d money we started dating abt 4months ago but I sent her like 500 dollars but she always demand for more though she will always tell me that she’s missing me

    1. Hi Stephen… This is really hard but I would advise you NOT to send her any more money for now. Use the money you save instead to go and meet her in person. If she’s not happy to meet you in person then she’s not really interested in you, just in being financially supported. And if she DOES want to meet up, but then spends most of her time talking about money, ditto. All the best, I know it’s really brutal when we’ve fallen for someone hard to think that they may not feel the same way about us.

  3. am Vivien,am in a longdistancr relationship with a guy I met 7 months back,I have already welcomed him to my place yet for him he hasn’t welcomed me to his place,before hr could lend me money then of late hr just changed and whenever I ask for some cash the answer I get is no,we do communicate a lot, more so in the evening,at times I feel we are not meant to be together but he says hr loves me,are we heading anywhere?

    1. Hi Vivien, It’s impossible for me to even begin to guess whether you have a future together. But I am curious about the pattern you describe of you requesting money or borrowing it, and how he began by giving it to you and then stopped. Have you tried to talk openly to him by asking him how it makes him feel when you borrow money from him? That would be a good topic to ask him questions about and listen carefully to what he says. Also, you could try asking him what he means when he tells you he loves you. Does he see a future for you or hope for one, or is he mostly focused on the present?

  4. I went away to go for a vacation until i met this girl back in 2014
    we were friends to begin with, went out a couple of times. As soon as i told her i came here for vacation, her voice started to change, i can tell she wasn’t a happy camper, So anyways, She’s working as a bartender, went on cruiseships traveling doing big things for herself. We lost contact, and started chatting on december 2015, I came to see her on february Gave her gifts unexpected, and she was so happy, We ended up seeing each other/dating since february 15th passed valentines day, every now and then, we go out, places, restaurants, bars introduced me to her close friends relatives. then after she asked for favours and i helped her out, no problem.

    She’s working on a side and tells me she’s not making much and I hear her out

    Now here this! She told me she had an idea and wanted to build her dream bar, and told me she had investors putting lets say $5000, and offered me to put the money down, and she said after she will pay me back. I had lots of patients and tryed to play it cool, took me 5 months to pay it off. Didn’t say nothing to her. I’m very dedicated and supportive to my girl. and then when i call her to asked if she’s ok, she ask me for $300 US for groceries, paying some bills, its pending. It made me feel uncomfortable. So at 1st i told her, I’m broke. she said (its kool, i don’t know what to do.)”
    so i told her ill pay you $100US. she thanked me, This long distance relationship is nice but sometimes i don’t know what to do with her situation.

    I need help in this.
    What should I do?

    1. Hi John, It sounds like you really care for her. And she cares for you. But–to be blunt–it also sounds like she’s using you for money. If you start to feel uncomfortable with giving her money, listen to those feelings!! If you can’t or won’t give her money for things for a while and she leaves you, then she wasn’t in the relationship just for you. It’s your choice, of course, because it’s your money. But you could also offer to help her in other ways. If she’s always asking for money you could offer to sit down with her and look at her budgets and income and help her get a better sense of what she can spend so she’s not always running short. If she’s sincere in learning how to manage her money better, she might take you up on this. If she’s just using you as a piggybank, she probably won’t.

  5. Hi, I’m in a long distance relationship with a man I met through a mutual friend. He is from my home town but he is currently attending college about a 5 hour drive away. He is living off of his GI bill and doesn’t work. We are both about 30. I work full time and I always pay to travel to see him, I pay for 90% of everything we do together because he constantly says he is broke. I can no longer afford to keep up with this relationship even though I was only seeing him about every other weekend. He makes no effort to try to come see me and doesn’t make much of an effort even when I go see him. I have expressed my concerns about this already and he just says that he is fine with waiting to see me until I can afford it. I feel like this relationship is strictly one sided but he insists that’s he cares for me deeply and that he just can’t leave because he needs to study and do homework on weekends. I really need some advice.

    1. Hi Kira, It sounds to me like you know what is happening here – you’re investing in someone who does care for you, but probably not enough (or in the ways) that you want and need him to. It’s painful to face, but given what you’ve described and articulated yourself (that you can’t afford to keep this up – financially OR emotionally) I would suggest you act to end it now and move on. If you make a break, he may discover that he needs to put more in to avoid losing you. If not, you’re better off without him.

  6. Hi, i like this site. Im in a long distance relationship and every time i ask for money my boyfriend withdraws and when i ask we talk about it he goes silent. Then he comes back as if nothing had happened. We have been together for over 1 year.


  7. Hi, my boyfriend and I have been in a relationship for 3 years in May, and I’m struggling with money just to support myself now. He told me before that he doesn’t mind giving me money and asking for help he’s the sweetest guy ever and really will give it. I’ve never asked him for anything involving money but now I just don’t know how to ask him without sounding desperate or anything

    1. Gosh, these conversations are so tricky, aren’t they? One way you could approach it is to be transparent about how you’re feeling. Tell him this makes you feel icky and you don’t want him to feel pressured and you’re nervous about setting up a dynamic where you feel beholden to him… and then explain your needs. Also, tell him he doesn’t have to respond straight away. Tell him to go away and think about what you’ve said before he feels the need to respond. All the best, Lisa

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