Dear Penny: My Boyfriend’s Debt and Crypto Loss Cost Me $48K. Can I Trust Him?

A woman puts her hand up to stop her boyfriend from giving her a kiss.
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Dear Penny,

My boyfriend of three years now has charged up $10,000 on my credit card until finally I put a stop to it. He started a business with a food truck and says he will pay me back and not to worry. Well, he’s only giving me $300 each month, and $160 goes to interest.

He lives with me and only pitches in $300 for rent and $200 for bills. The rent is $1,000. He says times are hard for him right now and that he can’t get credit cards because he’s denied due to his “low credit score.” Yet I haven’t seen any proof in the form of denial letters. I don’t fully trust him, therefore I haven’t been able to tell him I love him. He tells me every day that he loves me.

With crypto, he had me invest $40,000 and assured me he knew what he was doing. Well, it’s down to $2,000. He hasn’t shown me anything so I really don’t know if he has moved it to his crypto wallet or what. 

I hate to argue or have discussions because he’s never clear with me. He also owes me $900 cash because he is behind on rent and bills. What should I do?


Dear L.,

Manipulative people thrive when others are perpetually confused, so don’t expect clarity from your boyfriend. Listen to your gut instead.

You know you can’t trust your boyfriend. You know he’s sucked nearly $50,000 out of you over three years. The bleeding will only continue if you stay. I think you know what you should do: You should end this relationship.

Dear Penny

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I wish you could just change the locks tomorrow and have him out of your life. But you’re not going to get any cooperation from your boyfriend once you dump him, so it’s important that you prepare, even if that means you have to delay things a bit. Avoid bringing up relationship issues and your lack of trust in the discussions you need to have. Stick to the financial matters at hand.

Since your boyfriend owes you nearly $11,000, I’d ask him to sign a promissory note for your own peace of mind. At least if he’s willing, you’ll have it in writing that he agreed to repay you. If he fails to do so, you can use it as evidence if you sue him. Of course, getting a judgment doesn’t mean you’ll collect on a judgment. If your boyfriend has no income or assets, odds are slim that you’d recoup your money.

Make sure you remove your boyfriend from any credit accounts if he has authorized user status. Also, ask for a replacement card for each account in case he has your card number stored. You’ll also want to pull each of your credit reports at and confirm that he hasn’t racked up additional debt in your name.

You also need to get information about the crypto he bought with your money. And I get your hesitance to ask questions here given that crypto is notoriously confusing and filled with outlandish claims.

But what you really need to understand here is the five W’s, i.e., what type of crypto he bought, where it’s stored, when he purchased it, etc. If he bought into some obscure cryptocurrency, it’s entirely possible that a $40,000 “investment” could be worth just $2,000 today, though I also wouldn’t rule out the possibility that he took some of that money. You could tell him that you need the information because you’re considering cashing out and deducting some of your losses for tax purposes.

Finally, you need a plan for your living situation. I don’t know whether both of your names are on the lease, but even if it’s only in your name, your state may consider him a tenant since he’s been paying some expenses. If you want to stay and you don’t think your boyfriend would leave if you dumped him, you’ll want to consult with an attorney about the process for formally evicting him.

Even if you follow all the advice I’ve just given, it’s important to be realistic. You may never get your money back. But please don’t let that reality stop you from moving on.

Think about the lessons you can apply to future relationships. Don’t take on debt for a future partner or let them invest money on your behalf.

But the takeaways aren’t just financial. Whenever someone responds with “Don’t worry, I love you” to your legitimate concerns, your reflex should be to run. Arguing is healthy in a relationship. So don’t let fear of fighting cause you to ignore the reality that’s staring you dead in the eye.

If you have more than $1,000 in your checking account, make these moves.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].