: I lost everything, but started over and bought a home. My boyfriend wants to pay off my mortgage and split the proceeds

United States

Dear Quentin,

I’m 43 and finally made it out of my own financial hell. In my early 20s, I dated a man for over a decade who promised me the world, and made good on none of his promises. I bought and financed a lot of things for us based on those promises, such as cars, furniture, and excursions on credit. I also gave a lot of money — money that I didn’t really have — to family and friends. 

All these bad decisions led to me eventually having to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I lost everything, and I had to start over. My boyfriend and I split up. Family and friends didn’t come to my aid. I have since changed my financial habits. I no longer believe in buying property with boyfriends, and I do not lend money or do business with family or friends. 

By saving and sticking to a reasonable budget, I was able to buy my first home two years later. I started meaningfully contributing to my retirement and investing in my future. A year ago, I sold my home and bought a duplex with the profits. I live in one unit and rent the other unit. My plan was to use the property to subsidize my income in retirement.

‘In my early 20s, I dated a man for over a decade who promised me the world, and made good on none of his promises.’

My dilemma is that I am dating someone new. He earns more money than me and we have different lifestyles. He requires luxury in everything he does. He rents an apartment in a wealthy neighborhood, regularly splurges on pricey dinners, and does not believe in budgeting. In two months of dating, he has professed his love for me and invited me to come and live with him. 

He doesn’t like where my duplex is located, and he is pushing me to sell it. I’ve been sticking to my rules of not doing business with boyfriends. I have not asked this man for anything financially, and do not complain about my finances or my living arrangements to him. My property has increased over $ 200,000 in market value since I purchased it. 

Fast-forward to today: My new boyfriend is offering to pay off my mortgage, and split the proceeds from the sale, then buy separate properties in another location. I really like this guy, but red flags are starting to go up. My fear is that I’m being targeted for a scam. Is an offer like this worth considering?

Ready to Respond

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Dear Ready,

Beware of love bombers.

Take this scenario: Say you paid $ 500,000, and it’s now worth $ 700,000 and there is $ 250,000 left on the mortgage. Your boyfriend pays off $ 250,000, you sell for over the asking price and each receive approximately $ 350,000 after tax. Your boyfriend makes a profit of $ 150,000. You walk away with $ 350,000, but have no house.

His offer is predicated on the assumption that you buy separate homes, will one day marry and co-mingle your assets. That’s a lot of ifs. You could sell now, and walk away with $ 450,000. But why do that? You are happy where you are living. The best part about your boyfriend not liking where you live? He doesn’t have to live there.

He professes his love and offers to provide the cash to help you pay off your mortgage, and walks away with a tidy profit off your hard work. That’s assuming he hasn’t got plans to walk away with the lot. Isn’t it great you don’t need anything from him? This home belongs to you. Don’t do anything to jeopardize that.

The best part about your boyfriend not liking where you live? He doesn’t have to live there.

You worked hard to get back on your feet, and you should be very proud of what you have achieved. It took grit, patience, resilience and humility to acknowledge your past mistakes, and vow never to repeat them. You are correct to look over your shoulder at the past to inform the present.

Along comes another character with dollar signs in their eyes, and the appetite for an opportunity. He is right on cue. I believe we often endure the same hardships again — and again — if we have not learned what we were supposed to learn. Your lesson: Don’t put other people’s needs before your own. 

Your boyfriend has something you want: love and affection. You have something he wants: a home with equity.

Ask yourself what you got out of relationships with those fair-weather friends. Their time? You can now enjoy your life on your own terms. Their flattery and affirmation? You are enough. You have proved that real self esteem and a sense of integrity starts at home. The feeling that you are needed? You need you. 

Your boyfriend has something you want: companionship, love, affection. You have something he wants: a home with equity. I am sure that your friends and family — those who marvel at your newfound independence — are cheering you on, and can’t wait to see what you do next. Choose independence over codependence.

The commitment you made to yourself is — like the proverbial raincoat from your childhood — reversible. Don’t buy property with boyfriends, and don’t sell your own property with a boyfriend. You have come too far for that. If you need money in the future, you always have the option of selling your duplex.

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