Joint Accounts

My Debt Is Sabotaging My Relationship

My partner doesn’t understand why I don’t want to move in together until I’ve paid off my loans

Kristin Wong
Published in
3 min readOct 7, 2019


An illustration of a sweaty woman with her hands out, balancing a fiery dollar sign on one and her partner on the other.
Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Dear Joint Accounts,

Due to some terrible financial decisions I made earlier in life, I’m now very, very in debt. I’m living with my mother as I pay it off, but I feel like I’m barely making a dent, especially because health issues have made it difficult for me to keep a job.

Recently, my debt has become an issue in my relationship. My boyfriend is looking to move to a new place soon, and he wants me to move in with him. Obviously I want to move out of my mom’s house, but it feels financially reckless when I have such a long way to go before I’m out of debt, and my boyfriend doesn’t seem to understand. He’s frustrated that I don’t want to take this next step, I’m frustrated that he’s not being sensitive to my money problems, and I don’t know what to say to get us back on the right track.


Not the Right Time

FFirst of all, kudos to you for being so focused. Paying off debt should always be a financial priority, and it’s smart of you to want to do as much as you can, as quickly as you can. But it is possible to be too diligent and put your whole life on hold. If you’re going to be in debt for a long time no matter what, paying it off is going to have to coexist with other things you want to do. At some point, you’ll have to assess how to move forward, even with that debt.

Finding that point depends on a variety of factors, but mostly, the amount of debt you have left and how long it will take to pay it off. Ask yourself: When will you get out of debt if you stay put and keep doing what you’re doing? What will your budget look like if you move in with your boyfriend, and how much will doing that set you back on the path to reaching your goal?

Another, somewhat uncomfortable question to think about: Do you expect this relationship to last? And if it doesn’t last, would you regret your decision to move in together and extend your time in debt, or would you still appreciate that you had the experience?



Kristin Wong
Writer for

Kristin Wong has written for the New York Times, The Cut, Catapult, The Atlantic and ELLE.