The prosecution: Roland
James resents paying more rent than me and constantly criticises my spending habits
My boyfriend, James, is a great guy but he’s very tight with money. We moved into a lovely two-bedroom flat six months ago when I was on a fantastic salary, working in finance. Then, I changed to work in the charity sector, which I’d always wanted to do, and couldn’t afford my half of the rent.
James is a lawyer who earns a near six-figure salary, and so for him, money shouldn’t be an issue. But when I asked if we could split the rent 70:30 or 60:40 while I found my feet, he made a huge deal out of it. He told me I should “learn to budget” and that he would be “giving me money” each month by paying more rent. I don’t see it like that – he’s simply paying a bit more because he has the means to do so. James agreed to a 60:40 split, but now takes every opportunity to criticise my spending habits.
He waits until the fridge is totally empty so I have to go out and buy groceries. He’s also always telling me to turn off lights, and turn down the radiator because “it’s costing him”. And when I bought a scented candle for our home recently, he snarkily asked “is that really a wise purchase?” before walking out of the room. I can’t remember the last time he planned a date, either.
When we met, he wasn’t like this. He would take me out regularly and we’d both spend our spare income on treating the other. Since he’s started paying more rent, he’s grown bitter. I went travelling last year before this new job and he brings it up often, saying it wasn’t a good financial move. But I paid for it all myself, so why is he still going on about it?
James grew up with less money than I did, and seems to have a scarcity mindset despite his brilliant salary. It’s like he wants to teach me a lesson because I’ve never had it hard. My family aren’t millionaires but when we first got together, he stayed in my family home, rent-free, for weeks. James should remember that when he insists on reminding me of my past expenditures. And if he’s going to help with the rent, he needs to do it gladly, or not at all.
The defence: James
Of course I want to support Roland, because I love him, but this can’t be the case for ever
Moving in together was a big step. I was fairly happy with where the relationship was, but Roland convinced me that we’d see more of each other and that it made financial sense. It has had the opposite effect.
A few months after moving in, Roland decided to travel around South America. He sorted his share of the rent as he was on a sabbatical, but obviously it was up to me to cover all the food and other expenses while he was away for three months. It also put a bit of strain on our relationship, keeping things going over Zoom.
When he returned, Roland quit his job, a move I supported. He’d always wanted to work in the charity sector and he’s much happier now. But Roland does need a lot of help splitting the rent and bills. Having less money is stressing him out in a way I’ve not seen before. I’ve agreed to help out, but of course I think he should make more effort to budget. He still buys lunch at work, or comes home with frivolous purchases for the flat that we don’t need – like the scented candle.
I’m on a better salary than Roland, but it has taken me years to get here. I grew up with a lot less than him and I understand the value of money more. Roland shouldn’t rely on me to fund his life. The travelling was indulgent and if he’d thought ahead, he could have used some of that money to support his career change.
When we discussed the possibility of me paying more rent I was initially reluctant. Of course I want to support Roland because I love him, but this can’t be the case forever – it’s a temporary safety net until he climbs to the next rung of his career ladder.
I disagree that we’re going on fewer dates because I resent him. I just think moving in together means we both make less effort. We take each other for granted – it happens to lots of couples. We could make more time for each other and we should both arrange date nights in the flat. I’ll try not to be so critical of Roland’s spending habits, but I think it’s fair that I keep tabs on the heating or the lights. I’m paying more, after all.
The jury of Guardian readers
Should James continue to pay a larger share of the rent?
James needs reminding that they aren’t flatmates. All this about who pays for what smacks of behaviour that should’ve been left behind in student digs. What’s next – labelling food in the fridge? This relationship seems doomed. James knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Roland seems to be a have-his-cake-and-eat-it type of guy. To go travelling in South America just before taking a huge drop in salary, then expect James to subsidise him seems very entitled. All relationships involve give and take, but I suspect James will become resentful in time.
James seems petty and passive-aggressive. He’s not treating the relationship as a partnership. At the same time, it sounds like he never really wanted to move in together. He even resents having to pay for his own food.
James, your attitude to the house finances is more like a flatmate’s than a lover’s. Roland, you can’t just suddenly “realise” you can’t pay your rent. You’re as bad as each other. But James, you need to stop moaning about one candle.
The conversation on money should have taken place earlier so both of them knew exactly what was going to happen. I have sympathy with James as he is justifiably afraid of becoming a cash cow.