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How to talk about money with a potential partner

A young couple in a coat are holding a balloons heart in the city street. Valentine's Day. money
It can be tricky to talk about money with a potential partner but, before you consider committing, you need to know where you stand. (Lacheev via Getty Images)

It’s the season of heart-shaped-everything, when the pressure on every date is dialled up to the max. So with Valentine's Day approaching, it’s going to come as no help to learn that in among all the other dating stresses you face at this time of year, you have to keep watch for financial red flags too.

Financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown recently ran a piece of research asking people to name the worst financial secrets to find out on a date. Some 16% would be most put off by someone not expecting to have to work for a living while being in a lot of debt would be a red flag for 15% of respondents.

Discovering someone was bad with money generally would be a deal-breaker for 7% of people.

The results varied across the age groups — 21% of those aged 55 and over would be put off if someone had a lot of debt, compared to 8% of those aged 18-34.

However, being very careful with money was a red flag for some people too. One in 20 said the worst red flag would be if their date didn’t offer to pay — this was a red flag for both men and women. Meanwhile, one in 20 said they’d be put off if their date used a voucher to pay for the date. Men were twice as likely to say this was a relationship-ending mistake.

Read more: How to prepare your pension to live to 100

It’s easy to see why money worries can be concerning for a potential partner. Even the nicest person is going to become less of a catch if they’re going to make your life more difficult and complicated financially.

The problem is that it’s often difficult to know whether someone has money issues. It’s hardly something they’re likely to bring up on a first date. It can also be difficult to ask, for fear of looking mercenary.

However, if you don’t tackle the subject, you can discover a problem too late, when you’re already committed, so it’s worth considering how to talk about money with a potential partner.

How to talk about money with a potential partner

It's important to do this sooner rather than later. It doesn’t have to be the first date, but before you consider committing, you need to know where you stand.

If you’re struggling to broach the subject, start with something easy, like whether they’re a spender or a saver, or what they dream of achieving with their money.

If they’re cagey, you may not want to put them under pressure, but eventually you need to get to the point. If they keep avoiding the subject, you can’t afford to follow their lead — you need to come out and ask them if they have any money concerns.

Read more: Who holds the purse strings at home – and why it matters

It can help if you’re open about any issues you have, or anything you have been through in the past, so they feel comfortable talking about it.

And once they’ve been honest with you, don’t rush to judge. If they have money problems, it’s not necessarily the end of the relationship.

You will need to take steps to protect your own finances. So take your time to consider how it could affect you, and whether you’re prepared to take it on.

However, like with any other aspect of your date, you’re not obliged to live with anything you don’t feel comfortable with – regardless of all the extra pressure you may feel to couple up at this time of year.

Watch: How to talk to your partner about money

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