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Debt, One of the Toughest Relationship Tests


Whether the relationship is a personal or professional one, debt is one of the toughest tests any relationship could be subjected to, particularly with regards to our general approach to debt and relationships. In a business relationship the rather selective and contemplative disclosure, partial disclosure or non-disclosure of debt is somewhat understandable as this approach most likely has implications pertaining to the guarding of valuable trade-secrets, but by way of personal relationships, it baffles the mind as to why so many people seemingly choose to add fuel to the potent relationship-killing fire by lying about their debt.

37% of Brits Lie to their Partner About their Debts

Recent research on debt matters and personal relationships found that a staggering 37% of Brits aren’t entirely truthful about their debt to their partners, with the creditors to whom they owe money spanning pretty much the entire spectrum of the different types of debt. 15% of the respondents owed money on bank loans, which is perhaps to be an “expected” category of debt to be carried by a lot of people. While seemingly common, debt on bank loans doesn’t make for the debt-type which people owe the most (and lie about). You’d be quite shocked to learn that of the 37% who lie to their partner about debt, the debt which they lie most about is their mortgage.

It’s safe to say that not being forthright about something as big as what you owe on a mortgage goes beyond being a harmless white lie. 45% of the respondents indicated to lie to their partners about their mortgages. Given the generally prolonged repayment time-frame surrounding even the shortest of mortgage contracts, you’d think that this would be something which more people (if not all) felt was important to disclose as a perhaps a very significant factor to the success of their relationship.

The next biggest debt-type people have and lie to their partners about is credit cards, followed by student loans and overdrafts – 38% lie about their credit cards, 22% lie about student loans, while 21% aren’t honest about their overdrafts. These are still very significant numbers surrounding what are very significant financial standings, which one would ordinarily assume have a huge impact on the development of any relationship, particularly if it’s a serious relationship.

Other debt-types which people lie about to their partners include:

  • Hire purchases (13%)
  • Store cards (10%)
  • Payday loans (5%)
  • Rent arrears (4%)
  • Utility companies (2%)

The study was carried out by leading UK discount site, My Voucher Codes, to which results the General Manager, Chris Reilly justifiably reacted with a mixture of concern and surprise. “It’s important for people to take control of their finances,” he said, following on with some advice to those who are overwhelmed by the inclination to want to sweep their debt under the carpet. “Don’t allow yourself to be swallowed up by debt. It’s always good to talk to someone, such as a debt or money management advice agency. However we would recommend talking to your partner and being honest with them, that way you’re not worrying alone.”

Debt and how we manage it is in itself a huge test for any relationship, because the simple act of having to pay back money as you get it from your various income sources takes a lot away from some of the other things you could have rather used the money for. This can range from small issues such as not having enough money to perhaps go out as often as you like, to bigger, more serious matters such as facing eviction as a result of not being able to honour mortgage repayments. Lying to our partners about the debt however turns what is already a huge test for relationships into one of the toughest tests around – a relationship test which in many instances proves to be just too big for many relationships to survive if it isn’t approached with the required amount of honesty.