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It's True, Some People Get Their Kicks From Being "Financially Submissive"

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This week the New York-based website Gawker published a remarkable story about a Manhattan man who offered to help his roommate cover her half of the rent, simply because he'd enjoy the ... feeling. Well, it'd be more like scratching an itch.

Here's what the man wrote in an email:


I just wanted to say that i'm glad you are adjusting here and everything is going well. I'm writing basically because, well I wanted to ask you something that I was pretty embarrassed about asking while we were talking before. I was wondering if it was ok if I could reimburse part of your rent... I don't want anything in return from you at all, thats kind of the purpose, its kind of hard to explain...

I'm basically a submissive person, in all aspects of my life and I like to submit to other people, i guess its just what makes me really happy in life. If I was able to reimburse some part of your rent or other monthly expenses, I could get that feeling constantly, through being financially submissive to you, if that makes any sense. Of course I'm embarrassed to have actually asked this, and I actually regret this and I apologize ahead of time if I shouldn't have asked you this, and if it makes you uncomfortable in any way, but no one ever got anything without asking, so well I asked for better or worst.... [Girlfriend's name - redacted] would kill me if she knew I asked you this, so I'd appreciate your discretion either way.

The roommate found the note creepy and moved out, opting to pay her full half of the rent somewhere else.

That part isn't surprising, but the story did get us thinking -- are there people out there who enjoy being "financially submissive"? Is that a real thing? Is there something appealing about exerting passive-aggressive control by paying more than one's share for rent, or meals and bills for that matter?

For an answer we turned to Brad Klontz, Psy.D., a financial psychologist based in Nashville, and co-author of Mind Over Money: Overcoming The Money Disorders that Threaten Our Financial Health. Here's what he had to say after reading the man's letter:

A couple of issues come to mind. Regardless of one's opinion about this roommate's invitation to a relative stranger to participate in a dominant-submissive relationship behind his partner's back, there are some clear symptoms of a money disorder. Primarily, this individual is engaging in an act of financial infidelity against his partner. He is making a deliberate attempt to engage in a financial action behind his partner's back. Acts of financial infidelity threaten the very foundation of a relationship. When they are discovered, the other partner inevitably asks him or herself "If they're lying to me about this behavior, what else are they lying about?"

Rather than just an individual act of financial infidelity, such as making a secret purchase, this individual is attempting to engage a co-conspirator, which can make the issue even more threatening to the relationship. Acts of financial infidelity can also be symptomatic of compulsive behaviors. There is not enough information to determine whether or not this behavior is indicative of a more pervasive pattern of self-destructive financial arrangements, but there is a good chance that this individual sacrifices his financial well-being to meet a compulsive submissive urge in several areas of his life.

Okay, so it's true. We can add "compulsive submissiveness" to the list of urges, like gambling or drug addiction, that drive people to sacrifice their financial well-being.

Also on the list?

* Strip club addiction

The enjoyment of driving.

The need to own a private theme park.

You get the picture. People are complicated.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.