Honesty and transparency with one’s significant other is considered a mark of a happy and healthy relationship among couples, married or otherwise. But as regards one important topic, such openness is not always the rule: personal debt.

According to new research, one in six individuals in a relationship is hiding a financial secret from their partner. Of Americans who would reconsider their relationship due to secret debt, 70 percent would do so if their partner confessed to $5,000 or more.

These findings are revealed today from an online term life insurance provider Haven Life, which commissioned accredited research firm YouGov to poll the views of a representative sample of 1,124 American adults.

Key highlights from the report include:

  • For women who report financial secrets, top of the list are secret personal purchases (34 percent).

  • More than one in four (27 percent) Americans with financial secrets are hiding a secret checking account.

  • Twenty-one percent have either a secret savings stash or checking account.

  • One in five Americans have secret debt their partner doesn’t know about.

“Money continues to be a difficult topic for any couple, but what’s surprising is how many Americans prefer to hide their spending habits rather than have an honest conversation about them,” says Yaron Ben-Zvi, co-founder and CEO, Haven Life. “Speaking openly about finances is vital for all successful couples, especially at key life stages like moving in together, getting married or having a child.”

The survey finds also that one in three Americans (32 percent) will only discuss financial matters with a partner when the relationship has become exclusive, while more than one in five (22 percent) will wait until after getting engaged.

For couples in Massachusetts (where Haven Life is based), the report reveals that one in five (20 percent) women in the state believe the best time to discuss financial matters with a significant other is after moving in together. This is almost a third higher than the national mean (15 percent), and indicates that women in Massachusetts are more likely to take the plunge into cohabitation without full financial transparency.

“While Americans are increasingly being seen as casual when it comes to dating – they certainly aren’t casual when it comes to talking about money with a significant other,” says Ben-Zvi. “Personal finances are a tricky but vital topic for couples. Financial security plays an important role in preparing for life’s greatest milestones and ensuring that you are paving the way for a better and more prosperous future together.”

See the infographic on the following page for highlights from the survey (click to enlarge image).