With a recent poll conducted by a major European bank finding that up to 37% of people admit to engaging in some form of financial cheating, rising to over 40% for American couples with shared assets, renewed attention is being paid to the concept of financial infidelity. There is a higher occurrence amongst younger people, particularly millennials, suggesting it may be on the rise. More sociological literature and studies are beginning to analyse the patterns, data and tendencies surrounding the matter.
What is Financial Infidelity?
Financial infidelity has been defined as ‘engaging in any financial behaviour expected to be disapproved of by one’s romantic partner and intentionally failing to disclose this behaviour to them.’ Studies from UCL indicate that financial infidelity can do more damage to a relationship than sexual infidelity. Thus, financial infidelity remains a vitally important issue to address.
A review and collation of previous research conjectured that 25% of relationships will be affected by romantic and sexual infidelity over their duration. These numbers suggest that romantic and financial infidelity are entwined with one another. Romantic infidelity has been identified as ‘engaging in sexual activity with someone other than one’s partner’ or ‘devoting emotional resources to someone other than one’s partner.’
Redirecting emotional attention to another party can constitute romantic infidelity, as does the redirection of finances. The inclusion of financial resources plays an important role in supporting and sustaining the affair. It allows allow redirected emotional resources to be supported by expensive extra-marital gift giving and experiences powered by redirected capital. This, and other trends suggest that romantic affairs are increasingly reliant on the presence of financial infidelity. Thus, it renders financial cheating an increasingly suggestive sign of the occurrence of a romantic affair.
How can signs of financial infidelity shed light on the existence of romantic infidelity? Here are some significant signs that can spotted in the financial trails left by romantic infidelity. These will hopefully helping partners to more easily reach the truth.
Increased Spending: a change in situation
The first and most obvious place to seek signs of infidelity is the credit card statement. Viewing pay checks can be another effective way to spot any potential diversions of relationship funds. The unhappy conditions that lead to an affair may include a lack of time and money spent in the relationship. During these quiet periods, increased spending on statements may be a sign of emotional and financial resources being committed to another party. Recently psychologist have begun to see extra-marital affairs as a way of seeking self-validation and the self-fulfilment of fantasy. This element of an affair can often motivate high spending. The cheating party seeks to build a lifestyle around unfulfilled romantic fantasies.
It is however important to carefully consider whether evidence from statements is enough on its own. Entries on statements should perhaps be cross-referenced with financial evidence from other sources. For example, suspicious changes in the partner’s overall behaviour, as unexplained transactions could be the work of fraudsters, rather than a fraud in your relationship.
Cryptic Card Statements: vague and suspicious transactions
A romantic affair brings with the revelation of unseen or unrecognised feelings, passions, and interests in its participants. These qualities lead to equally novel and unexpected financial decisions. The financial trail left by a romantic affair will often be signified by spending on such things as hotel accommodation, jewellery, expensive and unexpected bars and restaurants, second phones, and businesses in distant, evasive locations. Affairs are, in the words of L.A. based psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasala, ‘very expensive.’ Recent research suggests the average affair will cost the cheating party over $2600. This amounts to a very large, and seemingly unavoidable financial footprint.
Another step for effective investigation is to raise more innocuous, but still unexpected, changes in expenses with your partner. Small but still substantial changes in fuel prices for example can signify journeys undertook to inconspicuous meeting places. These seemingly simple questions can lead to obvious incongruities in the answers, explanations or stories supplied. Hesitations and contradictions may provide more evidence of a romantic affair taking place. Whereby a stealthy affair is funded by the less concealable financial participant.
A guilty partner may try and deter their spouse from viewing statements by surreptitiously hiding statements. Otherwise, they may angrily raise objections to investigation on the grounds that financial privacy is a right. However, viewing shared or individual accounts is an expected part of marriage. Both partners should be free and willing to reveal their substantial financial actions to each other with nothing to lose.
Illicit Services and Purchases: their disguised trails
In contrast to the secret spending previously mentioned, more illicit purchases such as escort or prostitution services, or even specialised and expensive online pornography, will often draw on bogus names to mask their appearance in bank statements. Brief investigations can better confirm or deny their veracity. Escort services commonly extend into the hundreds of pounds and dollars. Often with incongruities between the business or service name and the amount money spent can reveal these institutions. Bistros, gyms, unused garden services or other vague miscellaneous names on transactions could indicate use of intimate or illicit services.
A partner may be aware of the risks of a financial paper trail. Thus, they could be working to deliberately circumvent it in their pursuit of illicit services. A common and frequently observed tactic includes breaking up a larger sexual services bill. This would entail breaking a bill in the hundreds of pounds, into a series of separate, but rapid cash withdrawals from ATMs. Fortunately, banks now log the locations and times of ATM withdrawals and can share this information with account holders. Several large withdrawals from an ATM in one location and in rapid succession may indicate a partner’s attempt to cover-up. Especially if the withdrawals occur the vicinity of a suspicious establishment.
Out-going Numbers: increased time and money spent going out
Increased inconspicuous spending must ultimately be powered by both financial means and increased time spent outside the relationship environment. Sudden changes in once familiar and long-established timetables can be a sign of something amiss. More frequent short-term absences may quickly become weekends away, all disguised as banal trips. With this expansion of ambition and daring comes an increased financial footprint. These larger expenses for longer trips may be absent from statements. If this is the case, it would implies that there is an additional private account kept hidden from view. Otherwise, another party is supplying the funds for the excursions.
More obvious expenses for accommodation may be hidden. Smaller expenses on accessible cards can be equally as telling. For example, meals in unexplained or intimate environments suggestive of the larger, more extravagant affair and expenses hidden from view. A much more visible sign of infidelity is going out more. This will often entail the cheating partner spending much more on their physical appearance.
Financial Separation: requesting a separate account
Supporting a double life will require double the assets. More elaborate extra-marital cheating will need supporting by a well-financed series of secondary accounts and contracts. These would usually involve a second bank account, credit card and mobile phone. Reaching any one of these hidden assets will inevitably yield the rest. An unrecognised new mobile phone or bank cards are key pieces of physical evidence. These can help you cut through analysing messy paper trails.
A partner may try and circumvent financial secrecy by openly requesting a private bank account. This comes with the motive of keeping their financial transactions more easily hidden. A private or secondary account can be a very natural part of maintaining a healthy degree of freedom and autonomy within a marriage. However, deliberately evasive, secretive, or even hostile behaviour surrounding discussions of the second account may suggest dishonest practises.
The changes in behaviour brought about by a romantic affair entail reflective changes in financial habits. Though behaviour remains difficult to read, and affairs function with tightly maintained secrecy, the standards and technology of our finance service providers remain a touchstone for investigations into suspected infidelity. Though partners may lie, financial statements and tangible evidence often do not.