Episode 140: "What if my partner is guilting me into paying for all of our dates?"Support the show
On today’s episode, we’re answering a question from local teens about guilting someone into paying for everything.
This is Jessica Skultety, Outreach and Prevention Manager at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic and sexual violence response organization, providing services at no charge to survivors for over 40 years.
Today's question from local teens is: “Dear Ava, What if my partner is guilting me into paying for all of our dates?”
Guilt in general is never okay in relationships. This teen asked us about a kind of financial abuse that happens in many teen and adult relationships, unfortunately.
The guilting could happen directly or indirectly, and if it’s happening in a pattern, it could be abuse, so this would be more than once. A partner might say, “You have to pay for this.” Or, it could be more sneaky or indirect, like “Oh, I left my wallet at home.” Maybe they tell you at the last minute that they can’t pay for something. They could also use gender roles to manipulate you. If you identify as male, they might say something like, “Since you’re a guy, you have to pay for everything.” Again, if this happens in a pattern, this could be an abusive move. That’s because it takes away someone’s power in a relationship and makes it harder to keep boundaries.
There may be times when one person doesn't have a lot of money, and their partner has more money than them. If this person with more money WANTS to pay for things or take care of the other partner, that's okay, as long as that decision is made freely without guilt or pressure. Also, it’s important to note that it's never ok to pay for things as a way to pressure or manipulate someone else - we'll talk that in a later Ask Ava episode!
One partner should never be responsible for paying for everything, again unless it’s agreed upon by both people freely. Can you plan some free or low cost dates? Watch a movie or play video games at home, go for a walk or hike, go for a cheaper coffee or ice cream date, have a picnic or stargazing night, or play a sport at the park.
If someone is guilting you, tell them that you are not okay with it. Suggest some of the activities above. Also start to think about whether or not this relationship is meeting your needs or benefiting you. You can use some of the things here to talk with your partner.
A healthy relationship means having an equal balance of power and control, where both people can make decisions for themselves, give or take away consent, and set boundaries. Having more or better access to money is a form of privilege and power over your partner. Whether you decide to use that against your partner or not is up to you.
This also comes into play if and when partners move in together in their late teens or as adults. People often decide to split rent, groceries, and utility bills, or one person takes on most of the expenses. If there’s an agreement that both people are 100% okay with this and not feeling pressured, that is a healthy arrangement. Partners are also allowed to change their mind about how money is split or being spent, and then they need to communicate that with their partner.
Both people have a right to feel safe, supported, and happy in a relationship, no matter how much money they have. Finances can become a huge problem in relationships, but with some work and communication from both partners, it doesn’t have to be.
To speak with an expert about relationship or sexual violence, call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.