Hello. I’ve been in a relationship for 4.5 years with my boyfriend. I have a better job and make more money than him. Right from the start, he has been borrowing money from me but he still has never paid me back. I feel like I pay for everything in relationship I am always doing things for him but I never see him do anything for me. Even when we go on vacations, I pay for everything from flights to hotels to food. Recently he asked me if I would pay half the money for his bike. I am starting to feel like he is just using me but I don’t know. Am I overthinking this?
Having a higher salary than your boyfriend, does not mean that you need to cater to all of his financial needs, and you are not obligated to provide anything that makes you uncomfortable. It is very important to establish certain financial boundaries in relationships. There is a difference between giving your partner gifts, because it makes you happy to do so, and feeling pressured to bear financial burdens in your relationship.
Financial boundaries and why they are important
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Boundaries are certain limits or rules that you place to protect your mental, emotional, physical and social well-being. Financial boundaries are rules that you establish around your finances in order to protect your financial well-being. These boundaries are not rigid, instead, they change based on your needs and circumstances.
Financial boundaries cover several areas such as personal financial details and information, lending and loaning finances, sharing financial burdens, etc. Setting boundaries ensures that you can continue to interact with people in a healthy manner, without giving more than you are able or willing to.
Related Reading: Signs Your Boyfriend Is In The Relationship Only For The Money
Here’s a short guide on how to go about setting financial boundaries:
- Lay the ground-work. This includes asking yourself questions like: What is your current financial ability? In what ways would you prefer to use your finances? How much are you comfortable with sharing with others? What are your financial goals – both on a short and long term basis. This ensures that you have clarity regarding your boundaries.
- Communicating your boundaries. Once you know what you are comfortable with doing for others financially, you also realize what you are not comfortable with doing. Then comes the harder part of saying no to requests or demands which extend you beyond a point you are comfortable with. This includes friends, family and even your partner.
- Offer alternatives. Having financial limits does not mean that you need to remain excluded from things. Say for example, due to your financial boundaries, you are not able to go on a trip with your partner while bearing both of your costs. In that case, suggest an alternative that is more affordable to both of you.
Here are a few alternative ways you can still help and support your loved ones without involving finances:
- Providing emotional support
- Sharing certain opportunities which can improve their situation
- Sharing and practicing financial advise which can help them improve their own financial state
- Celebrating achievements which are not monetary
Despite communicating your boundaries clearly, if someone makes you feel guilty or pressured into violating your financial boundaries, that is not a healthy relationship.
Related Reading : My boyfriend is marrying me out of pity
Balancing the give and take
It is very important for relationships to have balanced give and take. This imbalance becomes harder to spot in relationships where both partners have warm, positive feelings towards each other. In this situation, the person who gives less than the other might be thinking they are giving enough, and thus be frustrated and confused when their partner is upset about it. On the other hand, the person who gives and gives, will eventually grow tired and develop a deep resentment towards their partner.
This leads to frequent fights, feeling distant from each other, emotional and mental exhaustion.
It is also important to consider how much each partner is able to give. A person could be giving the relationship their all and it might still not be enough for their partner. A realistic idea about what you and your partner are able to give is necessary.
The way to go about establishing this balance is through communicating your needs and boundaries. It is your responsibility to communicate both what you require and how much you are able to provide. It is important to remain mindful of when you are exceeding your own limits when it comes to giving in the relationship.
Trusting your experience and instinct
If you feel like you are being used, if the situation feels unfair to you, it is okay for you to believe in your experience. A partner who is all too comfortable with asking and not providing, is not a good partner. Many times the things that make you uncomfortable in your relationship might be normalized in your culture. That still does not make them acceptable. Your emotions and experiences are valid because they exist.
While there are no fixed “normals” in a relationship, bearing the entire financial burden can become tiring. If your partner is capable, they should be splitting expenses with you. If not, there are other ways the two of you can spend time together which would be less financially demanding for both.
You get to decide your own financial boundaries. If you are comfortable with your current arrangement and it does not harm you, there’s nothing wrong with it. However, if this arrangement leaves you feeling used, tired and uncomfortable, it needs to change
Yes, that is cause for concern. This habit of your partner’s can become a financial burden on you eventually. Their behavior also speaks to how responsible they are when it comes to money.
Financial compatibility plays a huge role in determining the success of your relationship. First and foremost, try to communicate your doubts about the future with your partner. His financially irresponsible behavior can have negative consequences for the both of you. Secondly, remember that it is not your responsibility to fix your partner. If he does not see a problem in his behavior, or if he seems uninterested in bringing about that change, it is not your responsibility to force him to change. You deserve to be with someone who gives due importance to factors which impact your future together.