This generation is most likely to commit financial infidelity

Just because you haven’t caught your partner cheating on you with someone else doesn’t mean they are not doing it in other ways.

Meet financial infidelity, one of the major problems in any relationship. Financial infidelity is when a partner or spouse spends money, has secret credit cards, or even hoards money in a secret account without the knowledge of one’s other.

It’s become a huge headache in many relationships that can break trust and question the long-term value of the relationship. Signs of financial infidelity range from not knowing how much your partner makes to recently being removed from a joint credit card, according to some experts.

In the US, it’s a major problem — and only on the rise, according to a new survey.

CreditCards.com annual financial infidelity poll revealed that 44% of respondents are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account, or are hoarding secret debt from their partner. It’s a significant rise from last year’s number (19%), albeit the survey didn’t dive into the mischievous spending ways of partners as it did this year.

The survey, which included responses from more than 2,500 adults, discovered that Millennials are much more likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to have committed some form of financial infidelity with their current partner.

“Once it is discovered, the victim of infidelity often finds him or herself questioning what other secrets are being kept – then, suspicion begins to cloud the relationship around issues that don’t even involve money – and arguments become frequent,” said Carissa Coulston, a clinical psychologist, in a press release.

What are people hiding from their partners

As stated, 44% of respondents who are currently married, in a civil partnership, or living with a romantic partner has been financially unfaithful. From keeping a secret account to spending more than their partner would want, here’s a breakdown of just how Americans can two-timing their significant other:

  • Spending more than a spouse or partner is comfortable: 34%
  • Keeping a covert account: 17%
  • Hoarding secret debt: 12%
  • Owning a secret credit card: 10%
  • Having a secret checking account: 8%

Who’s most likely to hide it

Millennials can’t get out of their own way.

Fifty-seven percent of Millennials have deceived their partners financially, according to the study. That’s by far the highest generation to mislead their partners compared to Gen Xers (45%) close behind and Baby Boomers (37%) hiding in the backdrop.

CreditCard.com’s industry expert Ted Rossman said Millennials are more likely to commit financial infidelity because they are more likely to have divorced parents compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

“Living through that experience probably caused many of them to be more protective of their own finances,” Rossman said.

The Pew Research Center found that 63% of Millennials’ parents were married while growing up in 2011, the lowest percentage across Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation. That’s created a “yours versus mine” scenario, according to Rossman, where Millennials are more focused on their financials.

“Yours, mine and ours can work if you agree on the parameters, but not if one person is hiding secrets,” Rossman said.

Why financial deception can be as harmful as physical cheating

The University of Notre Dame marketing professor Emily N. Garbinsky said financial infidelity can have some major implications on your relationship. For one, there’s an argument easier to cheat financially than sexually because it can be done alone. Garbinsky said she always advises people, especially women, to have a $5,000 “slush” account or line of credit in case of emergency.

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