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Cohabitation - Help and Advice on Finances / Trust


Motley Gard
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Here is some background (and sorry for long post):

 

My boyfriend and I have been together for 2+ years now. I am 24 and he just turned 26. Decided to move in together probably a year or so into the relationship in anticipation of our rental lease expiration the past April.

 

I travel a lot for my job and hence traveling between 2 apartments in between all my other trips was difficult for me. At the same time, he was ready to purchase an apartment as well. We also love being with each other and have similar living habits - so decided moving in is a natural next step.

 

Shortly prior moving in together in April, an opportunity within my firm came up to work overseas, requiring me to travel 10 days to that location at a time and returning for a weekend (i.e. I spend about 2 weekends at home every month).

 

The move was hectic and my travel was tough on the relationship. In the past month, fortunately, the project overseas had ended and I have been back for about 3 weeks. This is probably (sadly), the first time I have been in our new home for an extended period of time and really get to experience real cohabitation. Issues / questions are 3+ folds:

 

1. Rent: We are both hard working professionals who are financially frugal and live below our means. However, financially, as a banker, he makes approximately, 3-4x my earnings (both with bonus) and his savings are significantly more than mine (1. he has been working longer, 2. he makes more (works very hard for it) and frugal). The apartment is under his name, he paid a significant amount of down payment to allow our monthly payment to be manageable.

 

I pay him approx. 1/4 of total payments (i.e. Mortgage + Monthly assessments). Obviously, I understand his expenses and initial down payments are much larger, and I won't be able to afford to live in that apartment if it weren't for him anyway, so I am fine with paying him rent and living as a renter with no entitlement to the property.

 

The initial verbal agreement (as least the way I understood it), was that since monthly payments are constant, my payment would remain constant as long as we continue to live there. Obviously if the monthly assessment increases, I wouldn’t have a problem paying more as long as it is reasonable and does not put a strain on my expenses.

 

Recently, however, he had indicated to me, that he would like to increase my rent next April. He also asked me whether or not if I am going to get a raise and if so, when I will be getting it. I feel, by being honest with him in the past and letting him know how much money I am able saving, he feels that I should be paying him more. Everytime, I buy something for myself (not a big spender, but let’s say a pair on sale shoes that I use), he would immediately say, “you obviously can afford shoes, so you should contribute more financially”.

I feel he is being unfair here – I am working very hard to save my money and “catch-up” to him and to a level where I feel I can be financially independent. One of the main reasons why I would agree to move in with him is it fit into my financial goals and allow me to live the way I want. As this is a rental relationship essentially, why can he choose to increase my rent because he has access to my personal information? I may agree to a market rate increase, but does not seem equitable, as his payments would shrink as mine increase while he continues to earn significantly more than I do.

 

By him saying that to me, it made me want to protect myself even more as I feel he is keeping his eyes out on my money. If he said “I want you to be financially independent and am glad you are saving. However, if you feel you can contribute more, we should discuss.” I would be more than willing to do so…

 

At the end of the day, he owns the property and gets value out of it should he decide to sell. Thoughts on rent increase and what would be fair and equitable?

 

2. Daily Expenses – as I was traveling constantly, I don’t really have much daily expenses in this partnership aside from my weekend returns. He would sometimes buy groceries in anticipation on my return, and I would buy him dinner/ lunch that weekend (similar amount to what he paid for groceries). It worked out ok until my recent return home.

 

He works probably about 15-16 hour days and weekends, whereas I work 12 hour days and some weekends. I like to make a big meal on Sunday so I can pack lunch to work to save on expenses. Before we moved in, I use to pack his lunch sometimes because I like cooking for him and was a special treat. But now, whenever I cook and bring lunch, though he would not demand me to pack his lunch, he expressed his preference multiple times that it would be “nice” to bring food to work. Being the nurturing person that I am I naturally feel bad if I make food and not pack his lunch. However, at the same time, I feel taken advantage of because I spend about $80 per week on groceries. Now if he would offer to pay for next week’s groceries or take me out to dinner on the weekend, I would be more than happy to do so as I feel that equitable. However, he has not done so. In fact, he wanted me to pay for dinner last time because I had suggested going out (even though he agreed and enjoyed the meal himself).

 

We spilt our electricity bill and internet bill 50/50 (even though I use to only be home couple days at a time). Any suggestions on how to spilt food bills without spoiling the romance? (I don’t need expensive dinners, but it’s nice to be taken out on occasion. I feel now that we have moved in, he does not feel the need to put in as much effort into the relationship as he used to).

 

3. Future Expectations – Career wise: I have always wanted to explore a different career path – although it would most certainly mean lower in pay. I asked my boyfriend, hypothetically, if I found my dream job but that means it would pay less, what he would think. He said that I would be irresponsible to take that dream job, because I should consider my financial obligations (i.e. my rent to him) first. He also emphasized that he would not support me financially in any case, not when we are together now, nor if we were ever to be married in the future. I am not saying that I do not care about money, but I would also like to have the comfort to know that my partner is willing to be flexible financially should I decide to change my career (pay him back after etc.). Am I the irresponsible one here?

 

In hindsight, after reading a lot of forum posts, doing research etc. I know I should have either drafted a cohabitation agreement or have a much lengthier discussion with my beau before we moved in. After writing this, I also realize how it makes me sound like it’s all about me and how it may sound selfish. I love him, I want to be with my boyfriend and I enjoy living with him. However, I am not ready to devote everything (financially) into this relationship, when I also know that he has so many reservations. I just do not feel confident that he is going to support me the way I would support him should he be in a financially precarious position.

 

I want to know if someone out there has a similar experience, I don’t want to move out or give this up yet, and am willing to work on it. But am not sure if he is the right one for me in the long-run. I know I am young now, but money cannot buy time… Confused and would appreciate any constructive help.

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I understand his point....to SOME extent.

 

I understand his point logically, and from a neutral perspective he is right with the rent increase as you would probably reasonably expect a rent increase if you were living in an apt community elsewhere.

 

However, emotionally speaking, he sounds cheap. Me and my SO have separate bank accounts and split things amicably, however, if there were times one of us couldn't come up to snuff 100% this is never a biggie. If i had a situation where my dream job caused me to earn less, my SO would say its ok, i'll get a second job so you can pursue this dream.

 

He does not sound like a strong marital contender at this point as he is too black and white and does not sound supportive of you in your goals and wants to do this finance thing by the book strictly black and white. Successful couples will tell you nothing is ever cut and dry or black and white in the matters of the heart.

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I agree with George. He is acting like your landlord rather than a partner. In fact, he is also acting very controlling and cheap. He was very accomodating in the beginning in order to get to the living together stage...but now that you are at that point, his true colours are starting to show. It sounds to me like he views this co-habiting arrangement as a means to help him with his mortgage. He is treating you like a boarder rather than a partner....and he expects you to "earn your keep". This is not a good setup for you and I can see this getting worse as time goes on. There is no partnership here. You might be willing to work on this..but he is clearly digging in his heals. This is a very clear sign of how he views this relationship...it is about money and convenience. Be very very careful.

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First, my living and income situation are similar. My relationship seems completely different though, as my bf and I both signed the lease for the rent of our apartment, and since we plan on getting married, we sort of think of our incomes as the sources for our life together, not of our life apart. We do have our own accounts and our own savings, but the biggest part goes into our joint account (him more than me because I earn less). The 'reasoning' underlying this is mutual trust. Once we are getting married, there will be no distinction between what is mine and his anyway.

 

Have you discussed marriage? Because it seems to me that he will also suggest you to sign some prenuptial agreement. I agree with the statement that he should stop treating you as if he is your landlord. What happens if one of you loses the job?

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Definitely sounds like a landlord not a boyfriend. Very strange to me, only because Im in a similiar situation but the attitude towards living together in my situation is completely different. My BF makes 2 times more then me, we share a bank account - as if it's ONE. We dont go nitpicking at food, bills, rent (soon to be mortgage) etc. It comes from one account, its "our" money.

 

This whole living arrangement sounds more like a room mate thing then a BF/GF.

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Altho me and my SO have separate accounts, we still see it as our money.

 

I am the one who suggested our separate accounts because I firmly believe one should maintain SOME independence even if married. This might not be for everyone but I wouldn't change it. We have one joint account we deposit money into for bills but our own accounts that our paychecks are direct deposited into.

 

All of that is beside the point tho. Your b/f sounds extremely tight fisted with money. That is a trait i would not find very desirable.

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Altho me and my SO have separate accounts, we still see it as our money.

 

I am the one who suggested our separate accounts because I firmly believe one should maintain SOME independence even if married. This might not be for everyone but I wouldn't change it. We have one joint account we deposit money into for bills but our own accounts that our paychecks are direct deposited into.

 

All of that is beside the point tho. Your b/f sounds extremely tight fisted with money. That is a trait i would not find very desirable.

 

Jaded - you know when me and my Bf started our relationship we always said we would have an account for just bills and then our own accounts, somehow that got lost along the way. We always loved that idea, maybe I'll bring it up to him - sorry completely off topic lol

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Thanks everyone for responding. I agree with what you say regarding landlord relationship.

 

1. We sort of discussed marriage, but I don't think either of us are ready. Arwen, you read right through my boyfriend, he would definitely ask me to sign a pre-nup...

 

2. He treats me like a business investment (he woke up one morning and said to me, "I think you are worth my investment") and our relationship as a business deal. I am not sure if this is from his job or if it's his inability to trust (family issues). But he has reiterated to me several times that everyone is out to get his money.

 

3. I am a very giving person, but I don't want to be taken advantage of. I don't know how to talk to him about these topics as I think it's so sensitive to him and he'd just start shifting the blame on me (he's very good at that) and say I'm being unreasonable and illogical.

 

4. Ac143 and Arwen - don't think I should open join account with him. Big step for both of us, I am thinking of having both of us contribute a same amount of fund to buy groceries each month... do you think that makes sense? I just feel like once I start doing this, he is going to start splitting night outs with me.

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Altho me and my SO have separate accounts, we still see it as our money.

 

I am the one who suggested our separate accounts because I firmly believe one should maintain SOME independence even if married. This might not be for everyone but I wouldn't change it. We have one joint account we deposit money into for bills but our own accounts that our paychecks are direct deposited into.

 

All of that is beside the point tho. Your b/f sounds extremely tight fisted with money. That is a trait i would not find very desirable.

He definitely would not agree that marriage / cohabitation means his money = our money. Very protective of his own assets and thinks that since he worked so hard for it, there is no reason he should give it to another person.

 

I think that has something to do with his parents failed marriage and his mistrust of people overall (personality).

 

The thing is, when we first started dating and before we moved in, he use to be quite generous with me (nice dinners, trips to carnegie hall, paid for our small trip on valentines day etc). But once we moved in, he completely changed. Now, I understand the financial burden on him increased, but I also feel shortchanged.

 

Maybe I am not ready to commit on that level (tighten my belt) because I feel there is nothing in it for me (him being more loving or giving me more trust). Or maybe I am thinking too much? I mean, he does make me dinner at home now and then... I am so confused - he always wins in almost every discussion, I start doubting how I feel sometimes. (and I am a good negotiator outside of our relationship!)

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I could not date a man who looked at our relationship as a business deal. Using terms like "investment" as in whether i was a good investment for a partner or not are not terms I'd deal well with. HE sounds way too clinical for me. And i suspect too much for you too.

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Have you discussed marriage? Because it seems to me that he will also suggest you to sign some prenuptial agreement. I agree with the statement that he should stop treating you as if he is your landlord. What happens if one of you loses the job?

 

It may be very likely he can lose his job soon (wall street firings...), and he had indicated to me that I may have to support both of us soon (jokingly, but always a grain of truth). I know he has a cushion for at last 1 -2 years, but I think he would expect me to pay more in rent to support the mortgage (and not pay me back when he is back on his feet).

 

To be fair, he has also been exploring other options, a real estate agent is coming in to give us an assessment this weekend etc. What I feel is, if I lose my job, he would help me out with my rent, but would ask for money back in future.

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Im with JadedStar on this, I dont believe he is ready for a serious relationship. He is ready for a roommate though, which is what I think he needs not a GF living with him.

 

If you are ok with this living situation though - then yes you guys need to go 50/50 on everything, bills, food, cleaning, dates etc..

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I could not date a man who looked at our relationship as a business deal. Using terms like "investment" as in whether i was a good investment for a partner or not are not terms I'd deal well with. HE sounds way too clinical for me. And i suspect too much for you too.

 

Yes he is, I think he is probably too clinical for most people (not just women)...?

 

We are compatible on many levels (interests, living habits, learn and grow together), but I think our definition of commitment is vastly different (I personally think he has issues with trust) and of course, finances.

 

The more I write, the more I am unsure of why I am with him, I have lots of self-reflection to do.

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Im with JadedStar on this, I dont believe he is ready for a serious relationship. He is ready for a roommate though, which is what I think he needs not a GF living with him.

 

If you are ok with this living situation though - then yes you guys need to go 50/50 on everything, bills, food, cleaning, dates etc..

 

Ac143 - I guess on certain levels (sorry feminists!), I am still slightly traditional and romantic at heart. I know I am an educated professional women and am suppose to be strong and independent, but a part of me like to be nurtured and taken care of... I am fine with splitting living expenses, but if every date will be split - to me, that is almost a deal breaker?...

 

I want to talk to him about all concerns above, but feel he would think I am being selfish, immature, and vying for his money.

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Yes he is, I think he is probably too clinical for most people (not just women)...?

 

We are compatible on many levels (interests, living habits, learn and grow together), but I think our definition of commitment is vastly different (I personally think he has issues with trust) and of course, finances.

 

The more I write, the more I am unsure of why I am with him, I have lots of self-reflection to do.

 

Well, these reflections are quite important I think. I get the impression that if things were the other way around income-wise, you wouldn't ask him for an increase of the rent, nor would you ask money back if he lost his job and you'd have to support him.

 

The issue is not the money, the issue is the level of commitment. To me, he seems much less attached than you are (you being the more committed person). A too big difference in this respect can cause a lot of issues between people. Obviously there are a lots of things that make you two work- and this does not necessarily translate into an advise to end the relationship. My advise would be to really have a serious talk about this though.

 

I am sorry for asking, but how is the emotional attachment in the relationship from his side? Do you feel like you are equally committed in that respect? I mean, money is just one (very surfacy) aspect of living together...

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You should be able to talk to him about these things, its important. Speak your mind too, you aren't asking for too much. Its your money too - he will make out in the end once he sells his place, but you need a place to live so you have to pay rent (regardless if its with him or not) but his whole logic behind it just seems very clinical.

 

I think when you are in a relationship you should take your partner out (on dates) or whatever without even questioning who is paying for this or that. Its part of a relationship, romantic nights out here and there. It would be a deal breaker for me if my BF NEVER took me out. Like I said we have a joint account, so it comes out of "our" money regardless but he sometimes setups a nice night out or in. Its the thought that counts.

 

And yes - it seems like you are more emotionally involved in this relationship then him. It all seems about money to him, which isn't what your relationship should be 100% revolved around.

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I am sorry for asking, but how is the emotional attachment in the relationship from his side? Do you feel like you are equally committed in that respect? I mean, money is just one (very surfacy) aspect of living together...

 

I think he is very much emotionally attached to me and we love each other very much. With that said, however, I think money and emotion to him are two completely separate realms. In my perspective, I believe money is a top concern for him in a relationship. Probably has something to do with our income inequality as well as his past relationships (and his parents failed marriage), but also that I have "less to lose" in a relationship / marriage.

 

As finances are so important to him, I feel if he cannot be vulnerable (sensibly) or trust me in that aspect, I do not have his commitment? Am I making sense here? (and in turn, I feel a need to protect myself financially etc. I'm afraid it's going to be a downward spiral, self-fulfulling prophecy)

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Oh boy..this guy has issues...the fact that you feel that you can never win a discussion with him is very troubling. Like Jaded said, he sounds too clinical...he also sounds very controlling and very cold...calling you a good investment is very inhuman. Honestly, he has been in the money field too long and can't seem to see humanity. People who are completely driven by money, who don't see people as people but as dollar signs or as threats to their money, are not pleasant people to be around in the long-term. Sure they can be fun and nice...but underneath it all is a very cold and calculating, selfish attitude. They will not give the shirt off their back unless something is in it for them...preferably money. I could not handle being with someone like that.

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I agree... before I speak with him though, I need to figure out what I want from the conversation myself and ultimately where I think the relationship should be heading and how we can get there.

 

It sounds so silly, but if I don't have that written out, I can lose my thought process and he won't listen to me (as he says he cannot follow my train of thought).

 

Like I said, he used to take me out to really nice places when we first started dating, and it got less and less frequent as our relationship continues. I would ALWAYS offer to pay for dessert or drinks after dinner, or take him out to a more affordable meal as a gesture of appreciation (and because I want to) i.e. it was never a one way street. Now? I feel like he wants me to start paying because we are living together and he is "struggling to pay all the bills". --> I have a feeling, if we have the joint fund, he wouldn't ever take me out to a nice date ever again...

 

Thanks for all your thoughts here... at the end of the day I have to assess if I can be with a person whose life revolves around money 24/7 because I cannot waste my life being unhappy (I am a happy person really!). Any more advice or tips would be appreciated as well (if I contribute more financially, does that mean he will view that as a sign of commitment or use that as an opportunity to take more money from me?...)

 

Any guys point of view out there? Am I being unreasonable?

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It sounds so silly, but if I don't have that written out, I can lose my thought process and he won't listen to me (as he says he cannot follow my train of thought).

 

Oh dear...this is your boyfriend, not your boss. If you are walking on eggshells in order to communicate with him...if he doesn't have the patience to listen to you and get clarification so now you feel the need to write it down and rehearse before talking to him...this is very very bad. You do not have a partnership here. He is very very controlling. This is going to get worse. You should not have to live like this.

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I just boldfaced some things I wonder about.

 

First, him not following you could simply be a consequence of him not actually listening. It is interesting how he shifts the blame to you whose thoughts are so hard to follow (allegedly, I have problems whatsoever in what you write here, btw). I find this a bit odd, but maybe I read too much into it. Do you feel he knows you? Does he understand you, also when you can't express it? I don't know, for me that is kind of important.

 

Second, he is not struggling with the bills on that income (the one that allows him to live 2 years on savings, I think few of our peers can actually say this). Did you BOTH decide on the house? Or is it his decision to live in a house that is necessarily paid by both of you? We chose to live in a house that would be affordable (more or less) for either of us (slightly expensive for me, he could afford more). It's stupid but because we're not married yet, if one of us were to die, the other would at least be able to live there and not have to deal with moving directly. Once we marry, it will be possible to combine our incomes with a different math when it comes to buying a house. Ok, I am wandering off, but you get the picture.

 

Third and most importantly, I think that he is SO obsessed with money and keeping more for HIS savings that the more you can contribute for 'your part', the more he can put on his savings account. Him not treating you to things is a bit indicative of that too. It does not necessarily mean that he is a bad partner and it also doesn't mean that he doesn't love you... , but he does have an issue with money that complicates your future together- and that needs to be addressed.

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Altho me and my SO have separate accounts, we still see it as our money.

 

I am the one who suggested our separate accounts because I firmly believe one should maintain SOME independence even if married. This might not be for everyone but I wouldn't change it. We have one joint account we deposit money into for bills but our own accounts that our paychecks are direct deposited into.

 

All of that is beside the point tho. Your b/f sounds extremely tight fisted with money. That is a trait i would not find very desirable.

 

Hi Jaded:

 

Completely off topic from arwen / crazyaboutdogs (which I will address later) posts.

 

I really like the idea of the joint account for bills. If you don't mind my asking, do you both contribute 50/50 to that account or is it proportionate to your income?

 

I am thinking 50/50 as those expenses have to be incurred regardless of how much either of you earn (assuming spend is according to lower earner's budget).

 

Thanks for all your help, I appreciate everyone's thoughts and advice - it's useful to know how other people are handling these situations and know I'm not alone!

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I think you should tell him to back off the money thing or your jumping ship. I mean give me a break this guy apparently cares about you but then gives you a hard time because he makes more money then you and you can't afford to pay the same amount of bills. I would love to have this guy as a friend. Hey _____ I lost my job and got kicked out of my apartment, do you mind if I crash with you till I get back on my feet? Sure no prob just sign these loan agreements saying you will pay me rent for the time your here. Wow thanks friend.

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I think you should tell him to back off the money thing or your jumping ship. I mean give me a break this guy apparently cares about you but then gives you a hard time because he makes more money then you and you can't afford to pay the same amount of bills. I would love to have this guy as a friend. Hey _____ I lost my job and got kicked out of my apartment, do you mind if I crash with you till I get back on my feet? Sure no prob just sign these loan agreements saying you will pay me rent for the time your here. Wow thanks friend.

 

Haha. George, I can't help but smile from reading this. 1. That's most probably exactly what he is going to do. 2. Probably explains why he doesn't have that many close friends..

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