Thursday, March 26, 2009


I don't want this blog to be just about our move to __________, so, today, I thought I'd cover the subject of money, and how Chris and I, as a couple, have dealt with that over the years.

A few years ago, one of our friends from a gay couple asked us how we managed money. There's no written rules on that, as far as gay relationships are concerned, but I think many gay couples are curious about how other couples handle it. I know I am.

When Chris and I first moved in together, in 1993, both of us worked, and both of us kept our money separate. That is, my money stayed my money, and Chris's money stayed his money...EXCEPT for shared expenses. (I think both of us felt a little insecure about our relationship, which was very young then, not knowing if it would last, and we kept our money separate in case each of us had to go his separate way. Fortunately, that didn't happen.) Every common expense, including rent, food, utilities, and the like, was shared 50/50. I looked after paying everything, gave Chris a detailed list of his portion of our shared expenses, and he wrote me a cheque. That's the system we used for many years.

When we bought our first home together, in late 1994, we shared all those expenses 50/50 as well, again, because it would just be easier that way if our relationship didn't work, and we had to divide everything in half.

After we moved to Victoria in August 2000, we still kept our money separate, and we still shared common expenses. But I made about 60% of our household income, and Chris made about 40%.

I learned from a book I read long before I met Chris that money is power in relationships. The person making more money has more "power," so to speak, and, if something isn't done to equalize the amount of money between two people, the couple is generally restricted, as far as what they can do, to how much the lower income earner can afford. So I tried to equalize the situation between Chris and me by taking on a larger share of our expenses, giving us a better chance to live a less financially restricted life together.

Two and a half years after we moved to Victoria, Chris and I decided to buy our townhouse (the one we live in now and recently sold so we could move to _________). Chris didn't have enough money to help with half of the down payment, so I paid the full amount. But it was at that point that I began to look at my money as more our money. As far as I was concerned, Chris had put in half of the money required for the down payment.

The above financial arrangements between Chris and me as a couple remained in place until I left my job to pursue a writing career in July 2007. Both of us understood that I may not earn an income for some time, but we knew, having sold our condo in Vancouver and having paid off all of our debt, that we could easily live on Chris's income alone.

This was a big adjustment for me. For the first time in nearly thirty years, I didn't earn a penny. I haven't earned anything in over a year and a half now. Sometimes, I feel guilty and believe that I need to earn an income to help with our expenses.

But our lifestyle hasn't changed as a result of me leaving my job, and Chris has been wonderful about supporting my writing efforts and reminding me repeatedly that his money is now our money. He has never once made me feel guilty about not earning anything, and I'm most grateful for that and for his generosity.

When our household income was reduced from two wage earners to one, Chris made me joint on all of his accounts, as I did on mine. When he gets paid, "we" get paid. And I look after all of our finances, ensuring money is set aside for uncommon expenses, paying all monthly bills, and putting aside funds so we can afford to do things in the future. This arrangement has worked great for us, Chris has been completely supportive, and I imagine we'll continue this way for some time to come...until there is another change in our lives.

If I've learned anything over the past seventeen years, it's that financial arrangements in a couple can change as their lives together change, and you have to be prepared to adapt to those changes, keeping what's best for the couple foremost in mind. If you do that, money doesn't become an issue between the two of you.


  1. I'm dating a gay guy now. He used to be well off before, but because of some unexpected events in his life, he lost his business and is now unemployed. He has a five year old daughter. When we dated, he was honest enough to mention these details to me. However, his socio-economic status bothers me a lot. Lately, he borrowed some cash from me to pay off some of his bills. I felt irritated but I just gave in. On the other hand, he showed me to his family the other day. I met his parents and his siblings too! I can feel his honest. But the thought of his financial difficulty draining on me is just a spoiler. I also support my family and pay my bills. And having him, I thought, would be another financial burden, so to speak. But I can sense his sincerity, and I would also feel guilty to leave him just because of his financial status. Lately, he has found a job in the city. But this is just a blue collar job that will not really suffice to his financial needs. I worry that if I pursue this relationship, it's just going to rip my finances too! His family ad daughter depend on him as well. I guess it's going to be my problem as well if I continue to hang on with him. But I can tell that he loves me. Or am I just blinded? Please let me know. Had he been stable with his finances, everything would have run so smoothly in here. Thanks


    For me, Anonymous, the root issue here is, you haven't been with your partner long enough to know whether or not he's taking advantage of you. Obviously, your relationship is still new, and you're not sure you can trust him to land on his feet so he doesn't go on using you.

    Over the years, I've seen a good many gay men fall on hard times and count on family, friends, or partners to get them through it. That's not the problem. The problem, as I see it, is will these men continue to rely on others to help them financially, longer than they realistically should because they lose the interest or the gumption to land on their own feet?

    Your direct question to me was, are you too blinded by all the good things going on between you to see what's really going on before it's too late and he financially ruins you? In the end, only you can answer that question for yourself, based on what's going on day-in and day-out, and what your gut tells you to do.

    If Chris and I had been in this very same situation after we first met in 1992, I don't know if we'd still be together today. But, I hastily add, neither Chris nor I would have counted on each other to get out of a difficult financial situation.

    Less than two years after we met, and less than a year after we moved in together, I left my job without having another one to go to (it's a long story). I was out of work for over six months and knew I was still responsible for paying my portion of our monthly rent, household expenses, and groceries. I collected employment insurance, I depleted my savings, and I spent a pension amount I was entitled to from the company I left.

    Let me be clear. At no time did I count on Chris to make up my portion of what I was responsible for. I would never have asked him to kick in more rent, utility, or food money because I was short. I wouldn't have put our new relationship under that pressure. I would not have allowed him to think I was a deadbeat.

    I'm not saying your partner is a deadbeat. But it seems to me he should have approached family members first, and used all other resources available, to help him financially before asking someone he met not long ago and is supposedly in love with.

    What only you can decide is if what you've seen of your partner lately is the very rare occasion–something he's made a priority to rectify as soon as humanly possible–or if he's the type who will continue to use you over time. You don't want to pass up on the opportunity for a great relationship, if in fact that's what you have, but you don't want to feel taken advantage of either and risk your own financial ruin.

    To your partner's credit, he's landed another job, even if, as you put it, it will not meet his financial needs. At least he knew he needed to get another job. This time will be a test for him. Will he continue to look for a new job that meets his complete financial needs? Will he keep looking for another part-time job to augment his income? Will he scale back his spending, and do without in the short-term, so he can make what he earns work for him? Or will he keep relying on other people, including you, to bail him out of his situation?

    Please see Part Two


    It's easy to go blind into a relationship and not see what's really going on because you love someone so much, and because you want it to work. You are not like that, and I give you a lot of credit. You know what feels right and what feels wrong, and that's why you asked for my advice. That tells me you'll know when the time arrives to cut your loses and move on.

    Some people might tell you to dump the slug now before it's too late. But, from what you tell me, your situation isn't that straightforward. There's some great stuff going on between you and your partner, and relationships are difficult enough to find without throwing away something that could be very good and endure over time.

    So here's a suggestion. Don't provide your partner with any further financial aid. Not a penny more. Tell him how you feel about him–that is, you love him, or you could come to love him–and be clear that you are not in a position to give or lend him anything more. If you stand your ground and your relationship lasts this test, then you'll know it was meant to be. If it doesn't–that is, your partner leaves you because you won't help him–then you'll know it wasn't what it seemed.

    I recognize how difficult what you're going through is. It's important to know whatever happens–you stay together or you don't stay together–is meant to be. And if what you have now doesn't last, then that's only because something better for you is just around the corner.

    In other words, if you and your current partner don't make it as a couple, that's all right. Better to learn sooner rather than later what you're dealing with so you don't get too sucked into it. You will land on your feet. There are lots of great gay men out there who will love you for who you are and not for bailing them out financially.

    Thanks for your interest in my blog, for contacting me, and for trusting me enough to ask my opinion about this important matter. A lot of couples–gay and straight–don't make it because of money issues. If you get through this with your current partner, then your relationship was meant to be. If you don't, then it was never yours to begin with.

    Respect yourself enough to follow what you know in your heart is right for you. I wish you good luck and lots of love in your life.

  4. Hi could you still guide me in this topic? :) i have a lot of issues now with my partner

  5. Of course I can, Anonymous. I'd be happy to.
    But the issue of money is a big one in relationships, with lots of different manifestations. It might be easier if you sent me an email, explaining how money has become a problem for you and your partner.
    I'll do what I can to help.
    Hope to hear from you again.

  6. Alternatively, Anonymous, if you feel more comfortable leaving me a detailed comment here, and you can fit what you want to say in a relatively small space, you can do that too. I'm happy to respond to you either way.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Recently, I received this email from a reader:

    Rick, I crave your advice. So, I recently entered and ended a relationship with a great guy we'll call T.
    For some background, you should know that T is 7 years younger than I and in his second year of University. I graduated from University 2 years ago and have been working since. I figured since he was a student, I would, naturally, have to underwrite the cost of our dates and in truth, every time we stepped into an establishment, even if he asked me to drop him there so that he could buy something to eat, I would pay.
    The issue arose when he asked me, over WhatsApp, to buy him a ticket to go to a soca party (we're in Jamaica, by the way-for your purposes, think a club or a concert), which I wouldn't attend (and to which he didn't intend me to attend) as:
    A.) I hate soca music
    B.) I have work
    C.) He didn't intend it to be a date. He is an avid soca fan (as are his friends) and it was an occasion to hang with them, and go to yet another party (as college kids do-by the way, he's 20 and I am 26).
    The price of the ticket was 2500 JMD, a significant sum-about the price of a meal at a good restaurant. It was nothing I couldn't afford though, and in real terms, that figure works out to somewhere between 20 and 25 usd.
    The request shocked me, however. I thought it was too early in our relationship to make requests for personal expenses. Also, i feared that if I acquiesced, i'd start a habit I couldn't comfortably support. I handled it poorly, but the long and short of it is that I told him it was in poor taste, and-guided by the promptings of a friend-ended the relationship.
    He in turn accused me of being selfish, as I posited that it only right that I pay for dates at this early juncture, but not anything 'personal', which I interpreted as an unwillingness to spend money for his sake alone.
    I like to think that I am kind in spirit. I do believe in giving gifts and I was gearing up for his birthday in March, when we would have known each other 5 months. And if something urgent had come up by the 2 month mark when I had asked for that ticket, I'd help him out. The question is-was I being used? Was he inappropriate? WAs it too early? Or, is it as he says: if not his boyfriend, who should he have asked?

    I secretly wouldn't mind going back, misgivings aside. But my friend warns that the relationship was destined to fail, not least because for the forseeable future (until he graduated) I would be the one footing all the bills and in making the request he did, he betrayed a tendency to mooch.

    What have you to say? I am dying for some experienced gay perspective.

    Thank you.

    1. Here's my comment:

      Dear Anonymous,

      I won’t make you wait for my answer. Besides, if you’ve read any of the posts on my blog, “This Gay Relationship,” you already know my answer.

      Of course you were used, no question about that. And T. had a lot of gall to ask you for money he’d need to attend a club or concert WITHOUT YOU. If he had needed money because he was starving and couldn’t buy food, that’s something else altogether, and you could decide if you wanted to give/lend him some, or not be a part of that. Sure, it’s great to be in a position to help out someone else, but you can’t take responsibility for him either.

      But to ask for money for something that’s completely discretionary (although he might disagree that attending a soca is discretionary)? Come on. He knew what he was going, and he showed a decided lack of character putting you in the position he did. You did exactly what you should have, and what your friends thought was the right thing to do––namely, left him. Let him figure out how to stand up on his own two feet or find another sugar daddy.

      I think, however, that you may have contributed to his brazenness by paying for so many things previously. I understand it’s nice to be a giving person, but perhaps you sent him the message that you were happy to help him out, financially, no matter the situation, which led to his behavior. Watch that. Sometimes, there’s a fine line between being generous and finding yourself being taken advantage of.

      Money is a funny thing, particularly in relationships where one person earns more than another. On the one hand, the person making more money (you, in this case) may not want to be restricted to doing only what his partner (T, in this case) is able to afford on a much lower income. But, on the other hand, you shouldn’t be expected to pay for everything either, no matter how much you like the guy, can afford it, or want to. A compromise is needed here: Sometimes, you do together what you want to do, and you pay for both, if you’re so inclined. But, other times, you do only what the other person can afford to do, which may be anything that costs little to nothing. I’m sure I don’t need to give you suggestions on what that could look like.

      If you read my blog post called “Money,” you will know Chris and I, despite being in a relationship for many years, kept our finances completely separate. We both supported ourselves, and we never asked the other for money. That arrangement didn’t change until we’d been together fifteen years, when we knew the relationship was solid, and we wouldn’t be used. Before meeting Chris, I’d seen so many situations where some gay men took advantage of the generosity of other gay men that I swore I’d never find myself in that predicament.

      I suggest you take care of yourself, and your financial situation, the same. If that spells the end of a relationship, then so be it. Better you find out what you’re dealing with up front before investing yourself, especially emotionally, in an arrangement that will end up only hurting you.

      One final thought that I learned a long, long time ago: Money is power in a relationship. Think about that and understand how it may have applied in your relationship with T.

      Thank you for your interest in my blog and for sending me your question. I hope everything works out for you.