Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Check-Bouncing Boyfriend

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the check-bouncing boyfriend.

Nicole: Well, in general, you do not owe your girlfriend/boyfriend financial transparency, nor are they entitled to the details of your money situation. What you CAN expect is that responsibilities will be discussed and upheld. One question I think you could ask is can you afford to stay in THIS apartment?

Danny: I think you do owe your boyfriend/girlfriend some financial transparency when you make their rent check bounce and then lie about it!

Nicole: That’s because there has been a responsibility breakdown! It doesn’t mean someone needs to lay out their various cards/accounts for perusal.

Danny: I mean, if the LW is saying “You need to show me your bank statements for the last six months,” then no, that would not be reasonable. But it sounds like the LW is just saying, “Hey, can you tell me if you don’t have enough money in your account to cover your half of rent this month so I can plan accordingly?”

Nicole: If you want a partner with whom you can share financial expectations and honesty, which it sounds like the LW (and many people!) would prefer, this is not the guy for you.

Well, the issue there is lying or dodging due to embarrassment. And if it’s the latter, talking about the cost of the apartment is a necessity. The letter doesn’t say he’s spending a bunch of money on other stuff. I personally would break up with him

Danny: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if he has a lot of student loans, or parents to support, or if he’s been buying a ton of inflatable furniture.

Nicole: bc he’s been disrespectful of her needs

Danny: Especially because the LW has already given him money and THEN he kept the rent-check-bouncing a secret. And they only JUST moved in together! And the only other thing we know about him is that they “have a lot of fun together.”

Nicole: This is why we move in together! This is the exact thing you want to find out.

Danny: yes! you found out that this dude is not a good roommate

and that unless he does a pretty significant about-face, the best way to work through this is to live apart

and while you’re living apart, why not break up with him! there are lots of great guys who will not borrow money from you and then lie about whether the rent check is going to bounce

Nicole: I am sure he also has various gender insecurities about being outearned by a girlfriend but do not let that convo distract you from the real issue: you gotta pay rent every month.

Danny: yeah, also, if his gender insecurities mean he’s cool letting you find out the rent check bounced on your own, then he’s doing a lousy job dealing with his gender insecurities

Also the LW may not be a woman and this angle might therefore not apply, but it’s worth throwing out there

Nicole: Right. ALSO, you are both in your early thirties. You’re not 21 and still figuring out how to live independently. This is a serious relationship between adults, who you expect will be relatively honest and up-front even if they’re broke.

Danny: yeah it would be entirely different if the situation were: “My boyfriend has a lot of debts and struggles to make ends meet, but he’s relatively up-front with me if his money problems are going to affect me/our living situation”

Nicole: Right, totally different

Danny: but the lying is just like—is that his long-term strategy? what if you two bought a place together? or got married and had a joint checking account? what if your credit were tied to his?

Nicole: Now, she says he’s a great guy and this is the only thing, but everyone says this, and also it’s a massive thing as you start the process of intertwining your lives

Danny: yeah the greatness is non-specific and the big flaw is serious, ongoing, and affects your living situation, LW

Nicole: Yep, if you were looking to buy a place or get married, you both need to lay out your credit reports and hash out literally everything

Hiding things like this is a big deal! If you really do love this guy, by all means, stop living together and keep dating. But that rarely works—moving out because of a big issue and then staying together

Danny: yeah, if you’re already in a position where you’re giving him money and he’s being evasive/shady about where that money is going

That bodes ill! Realllll ill.