Taking Financial Ownership

How to leave a financially dependent relationship

by Danielle Alexandria

I’ve been in a long-term relationship with my partner for 8 years. I haven’t been happy for a long time and I want to leave him, but I’m afraid I’m not financially stable enough on my own. I have a steady income, but I count on him so much to help me financially. He helped me set up my RRSP, and he is who I go to if I have any financial questions. We mostly take care of our own bills, aside from what goes into rent and utilities, which we split, and I pay less because I make less. I’m not sure if I can afford to live on my own after sharing expenses with someone for so long. He’s a nice guy, I just feel stuck and I don’t want fear to keep me in a situation that isn’t right for me.

Dear long-term relationship,

I really want to acknowledge your desire to move your life forward now!

Change always brings the unknown, and that is bound to create fear. But I believe something bigger inside of you knows it’s time to let go of playing small and embrace more of your power and potential.

I also want to reassure you that you’ve got many things going for you! You have a steady income, an RRSP, good spending awareness, and you clearly value the importance of managing money well.

You just need to create a plan to manage the changes – both financial and emotional. Here’s what I suggest.

Step 1: Understand your numbers

In order to understand your options and make good choices, you’ll want to spend some time becoming familiar with your key monthly numbers:

-What is your gross (pre-tax) and net (post-tax) income?

-How much are your other necessities (including utilities)?

-What are your total financial obligations/debts including savings?

-The rest should be spending money.

Getting clear on these amounts will allow you to create a realistic budget and arrive at a comfortable range to spend on rent.

As a rule of thumb, rent should not exceed 30% of your gross monthly income.

From here, the simplest of budgets follow the 50/30/20 rule. Allocate 50% for all necessities, 30% for spending, and 20% for financial obligations, saving, and any investing.

You don’t have to make the leap to renting on your own just yet. That might be too much of a stretch for you financially. You also appear to be the kind of person who enjoys living with others. Why not share with a friend or perhaps a new roommate? If you decide to move in with a friend, they can also provide emotional support during your transition – win/win!

Based on where you live, you might want to plan for 2-3 months to find your new home.

Step 2: Make a plan to end the relationship and recruit emotional support

You are attempting two of the three biggest changes a person can make in life at once; ending your relationship and moving to a new home (the third is starting a new job!).

I’d recommend thinking through how you could stage these events so they don’t both occur at once and overwhelm you.

It sounds like your boyfriend respects you and wants the best for you. How does it feel to give yourself the option of ending the relationship romantically but continuing to live together while you look for a new home? It would also give him some time to adjust to the changes as well.

Of course, this is highly personal and may not resonate with you at all.

If not, then you may want to begin looking for a new home now and have the conversation once you find it.

However you decide to end the relationship, expect emotional turbulence. Fear in particular can be challenging to work with, so I’m glad you’ve raised it. You’re also likely to feel a mix of regret, uncertainty, sadness, and loneliness. Allowing yourself permission to feel these ‘negative’ emotions is the path to arrive at the other side of confidence, happiness, and security.

Now is the time to reach out to friends and family to ask for their support in advance. Having a team in place will help you weather the storms during your time of transition.

You have a strong history together, so I’d also suggest looking at what else might be keeping you with your partner. In what ways are you receiving security besides financial means? Who else could you receive this from? How can you cultivate the ability to give this to yourself?

Here’s a proactive suggestion for any second-guessing that might occur. Before you end things, video or audio record yourself talking about all the reasons why you want to leave the relationship. In challenging moments, play it for yourself, or ask a friend to send it to you as a reminder that you made the right decision.

Step 3: Financial education

Financial education is a long-term journey. You don’t have to do everything at once, and based on your situation, you don’t need to.

The biggest opportunity I see for you is to reclaim the role you’ve given your boyfriend to take care of your finances. It’s time to bring this home to you!

If you make step 1 your priority, that’s enough for right now. By creating a simple budget, you’ll be set up to manage your largest concern; expenses.

Since you already have an RRSP, it sounds like investing isn’t a pressing concern for you at this time either. Of course, I do recommend learning the basics so that you feel more confident (and ensure your money is doing what it should!)

The recent 3-part stnce series called “The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Investing” would be a great resource for you. Check it out here.

Apart from this, the stnce recommendations hub has plenty of resources to help you learn about all things money.

I’m sending you my very best wishes for success and happiness! You got this.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Equitable Bank. Any information provided is for information purposes only and Equitable Bank makes no representations as to the validity, accuracy, completeness or suitability of any content. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional or undertake your own research before making financial decisions.

 

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