The Gumtree Blog

The real cost of relationships today

Thursday 2 February 2017, by

By Dr Rebecca Spelman, Registered Psychologist

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it’s likely many people will be looking at their relationships (or relationship status), so I’ve teamed up with Gumtree to look at how relationships impact the financial and emotional wellbeing of people in Britain today. From going on first dates, to moving in together, to getting married and sadly on occasion, to break ups – we’ve looked at what relationships cost people and what you can do to help navigate these relationship milestones.

The findings of the study by Gumtree revealed that break ups are not only emotionally draining, but are financially costly too, with people’s most serious break-up costing on average £6,717 – rising to £8,162 for men. However, it’s not just breakups which dent our bank balances, as cohabiting is also costly with Brits spending £1,560 on things for the home when moving in with a partner.

Whilst finances can seem far removed from romance, the findings also highlighted that money was the cause of arguments for nearly a quarter of British couples (23%), so it’s clear that the cost of relationships is emotional as well as financial.

Therefore, to help make conversations about money whilst in a relationship easier, I’ve devised some strategies which you can use whether you are in the first throws of love, moving in with someone or getting married.

  • Have an ‘exit strategy’ in place outlining how valuables will be divided if and when a relationship ends. For example, if you are moving in with your partner, approach them with the idea and position it as a way to manage the situation in an open and honest way if things ever change. Breakups are often very stressful; however, we can mitigate against avoidable strain with a little forward planning and willingness to let go of possessions as we transition from one life stage to another.
  • If you do find yourself in the midst of a break up, often, both parties are left with belongings and assets that were once jointly owned that neither party needs or wants anymore. In these situations, giving away, selling or finding a new home for these possessions can be a therapeutic step to starting the next stage of your life – whilst also potentially easing difficult financial circumstances.
  • It’s always easier to work out logistics with money before rather than after you have actually had to pay something out. Instigate a conversation with your partner ahead of any events or milestones where you are both going to be paying, be that your first holiday together or moving in together, so you are clear up front of who is paying for what and how that is split.
  • Be clear on what you can both afford to spend (and what you are both willing to spend). Don’t do into anything with your partner before you both have the same expectations on spend. You might want to splash out on a high end fridge for your first home, while your partner might be thinking more along the lines of a functional starter fridge. And think about where you can compromise, without causing resentment.
  • And finally remember relationship transitions, whether that’s positives ones such as weddings or sadder occasions, can be stressful so make sure you share the load emotionally as well as financially. Have an open dialogue with your partner, get advice from loved ones and set realistic expectation on both what you can afford and what you can achieve.

If you have any tips you would like to share on this topic, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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