Is it reasonable to ask your partner pay half the bills if you are living together?
And does it matter if it’s the man or the woman doing the asking?
A few weeks ago, The Guardian published a letter from a young lady in a year-long relationship. In it, she asks if she should pay half the bills since her partner earns far more than she does. My quick answer was “yes” but days of Facebook discussions made me realize that people see this issue VERY differently. And many of these differences have to do with the way we see the world, what we consider to be a partnership, and how comfortable we feel being financially supported by others.
As with all advice, the details make the difference.
- She has £10,000 of debt (about US $13,000).
- A chunk of the debt is owed to her Dear Boyfriend who helped her pay off credit card debt. After all that help, she is still barely getting by.
What’s the problem? Well, she wants to move into his house. Not a big deal, right. Except…she’s pissed that he makes three times her salary, is sensible with money, and has the utter nerve to suggest that they split the mortgage and the bills 50/50. She is upset that “he could help me without any cost to himself, yet won’t.”
Bad Dear Boyfriend!
Or is he?
Here are 7 reasons I think it is absolutely reasonable for her to pay half the bills and couples should have detailed conversations about whether they will split the bills and how they plan to if they do.
7 Reasons I Think She Should Pay Half The Bills
1. She is a woman.
- Much of the discussion I have seen online centres around the fact that Dear Boyfriend has money but not that the letter writer is a woman. It is important.
- It is the 21st century and, if there is no greater rallying cry from equality, it is that this woman has the capacity to do what women before her could not, that is, pay her own way. If she is to get the benefit of all the forward progress that has allowed her to have her own income, then she should conversely be expected to assist in the heavy lifting of dismantling the patriarchy by paying for her own shit.
2. She’s in her late 20’s.
- She’s officially a big girl now, with big girl responsibilities. Life ain’t cheap and life ain’t free so she has all reason to cover her own bills now. Those bills include housing and utilities.
- I love mango trees as much as the next girl but she’s old enough to be able to pay to not live under one. I found it curious however that she didn’t tell us how old he was. He may be the same age, slightly older, or much older. Either way, she seems to want sympathy for her stage in life without allowing us to see where he is on his journey.
3. She has a career.
- Not only does she have a job. People, she has a “good career”. If that isn’t the sign of success, I’m not sure what is! She has, therefore, signaled that she is perfectly capable, in the broadest sense, of paying for her life, and you know, the bills.
4. She struggles to get by and has $13,000 (£10,000) in debt.
- Homegirl has that good career going on for her. And I’m proud of her. But she also has debt.
- Now, debt isn’t by itself an awful thing. Some people have debt and are working to haul themselves out of it. Dave Ramsey, Mr. Money Mustache, and Millennial Money Man are all great resources for people to pull themselves out of debt. And there are amazing stories every day of people slogging through the darkness of paying off debt. Such is life. But even the people with debt still try very very hard not to go homeless. And with your good job, sorry, career, I’m sure with some elbow grease and sacrifice, that debt will be knocked off in no time!
5. She paid off a chunk of that debt by borrowing from her boyfriend.
- Oh dear. We were doing so well. But, Dear Boyfriend is pretty awesome it seems. Instead of leaving her to the mercy of the super high-interest rate on her credit cards, he loaned her enough money to buy a nice used car, to go on a world tour, or to gain interest. Because who just uses their money to gain compound interest and retire early?! Who does that?!
- But Mr. Amazing Dear Boyfriend decided that, with about 12 months of companionship and the joys of relationship life, he would give her this chunk of change. And that makes him awesome. Especially since it cleared her credit card debt and now allows her to use the credit card again!
6. They’ve only been together for about a year.
- Many of the comments I have read in her defense come from a place of discussing marriage or other long-term commitments. People considered how they did it in their own long-term relationships, then imported it into the scenario given.
- But they’ve been dating for a year. Not 2, not 3, not 5. And while time is no indicator of commitment and affection, they hadn’t been living together this whole time. So this nice man and this nice woman are in the honeymoon period of their relationship. All is well in the world and everything is fine. They are also already seriously financially entangled since she owes him a giant chunk of cash.
7. He makes three times her salary, has a house, and is sensible with money, She hasn’t been.
- She has found a paragon of virtue. She has achieved the pinnacle of success. She has found a man who makes much more money than she does. Congratulations!
- He is a catch. And she says she respects his financial prudence. She says. But she struggles with money and therefore has not shown the level of financial prudence that he has. And I’m not getting the feeling she thinks he has a right to ask for that.
- This is, therefore, a wonderful opportunity for her to practice solid financial management!
What Do You Think?
Who pays? Does it matter who has more money? If one person owns their home? Are these particular circumstances different from the norm? Let me know!
And in all things my loves, be kind to yourself!