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Relationship- am I paranoid or being used?
December 17, 2011 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Am I being used or am I hyper-sensitive about this issue?

I've been in a relationship with someone for 9 months. This is my first serious relationship. I can't seem to get over the feeling that he wants me to get ahead in life

1. I'm a US citizen, he's from a country where a lot of people use people for citizenship

2. I have money and a financially stable future ahead of me, in all likelihood. He doesn't have money but does have a full time job. He's a couple years younger than me and could do really well career-wise, but isn't there yet.

3. When we first started dating, he told me that he will never make enough money to retire in this country (we are both in his country right now). He sounded pretty desperate about his country and likely future financial situation. This is what I remember when I feel the most insecure. His friend also had a conversation with us about how he'd do anything to leave the country. The country we're in is actually pretty great- I wouldn't mind living here forever except that it's not actually my country and I want to be close to family, but could potentially see myself coming back here after leaving for and coming back from grad school

4. Since then, in order for me to try to assess his intentions/get over my feelings about this, he's agreed to live in any country I want to (and considering I'm not in the US now, he has good reason to believe I may never want to live in the US for the long-term), he's agreed to a prenupt (haven't actually done one, just agreed to the idea), and he's agreed that in the future, his income will go to supporting both of us while my income will belong to me (sounds insanely selfish of me, but anyway)

5. It seems one of the easier ways to assess his intentions would be to just stay here forever, but we both know that I plan to go to the US in a few months to go back to graduate school

6. In general I tend to be paranoid about being used, also I've met a lot of people in my travels wanting to be with me or someone else to eventually go the US. It takes me a really long time to trust someone and to trust that someone cares about me...like years.

7. I would love to see a therapist because
I probably should but not a good option in this country for me.

8. I found a list of 'ways to know if you're being used for a green card' and none of it applied to him- he's introduced me to all of his friends and family, he's very loving, very attentive with his time, wants to always be with me, isn't pushing me to get married (he has made it clear he wants to get married, but is willing to wait for several years and has made this clear as well)

9. All of my friends believe that he is good intentioned, and also really like him because he's sweet and polite.

10. My gut instinct tells me that he loves me, but also the general sense of opened possibilities and financial security he gets from being with me, but that he's willing to do his share of the work plus more. But what happens when he doesn't need me for perceived financial security (not actually committed to financially supporting him in anyway) and other such benefits? Is what's leftover enough to make our relationship last?

11. He's paid for 90% of our dates together, non-begrudgingly, but as a result of when at the beginning of our relationship I expressed bewilderment at his wanting to go dutch in a country where the man usually pays.

12. Culturally, and thought-wise, we click together very well, as he's from a culture similar to that of my parents'. This is a big reason why our love 'makes sense' because I've never met anyone before who I felt so close to thought-wise and culture-wise

13. He's written me two books of love poetry, one 75 pages long, one 25 pages long. not sure how this fits in to all of this... and yes, it's clear he wrote it himself, and it's not copied from google or something



As we make plans to move to the US, my biggest fear is that in the process he'll be dependent on me (what if his student visa doesn't work out, will I be expected to marry him right away for him to get a fiance visa? what if he can't patch together the money to live on his own for a few months (I don't want to live together before marriage, archaic as that might sound to a lot of people), will I have to support him? Is this support a good chunk of why he wants to be with me? He tells me I don't have to support him, and has looked into ways to telecommute back to his job in his home country as well as take a loan so he can be a student....but I'm just afraid this will all fall through and I'll have to be his safety net.

I want to marry him someday, but not within the next year. We've talked about this and he's perfectly fine with waiting. We are engaged right now, and I've told him about two years we'd get married, and he's told me we won't get married until I feel safe with him given my fears, and that we won't get married to 'solve problems, because that just makes more problems'

Please help me sort out my feelings- no matter how much he seems to 'pour love on me' I just have this feeling of... insecurity about the whole thing. Is this what a relationship is? What do you think about the whole thing?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
What do you think about the whole thing?

Your question makes is sound like you haven't told him "Hey, I have this fear that you may be using me for your green card. It may be totally baseless. What do you think about that?"

I think you need to have that conversation.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:48 AM on December 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


you haven't mentioned how old you are, but i'd presume pretty young if this is the first serious relationship?

I think in this day and age it is a bit weird to be talking about marriage, pre-nups and things before your 30s.
posted by mary8nne at 7:53 AM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, the one thing I noticed is there is hardly any reference to your feelings about him. It is possible your insecurity is much more a function of your commitment/feelings re: him than on his commitment to you. BTW, there is never any good reason to marry someone other than as a reflection of your commitment to him. Certainly not because "I (will) be expected to marry him right away for him to get a fiance visa?". I would pay much more attention to the quality of your day to day life with him than the ruminations about the future.
posted by rmhsinc at 8:08 AM on December 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


If you've only known each other 9 months, it's okay not to be sure that he's the right person to spend the rest of your life with. However, if you're not sure (and it's overwhelmingly clear from your question that you're not sure), you shouldn't be engaged to him.

Here's what I would say to him if I were you: "Honey, I care about you very much. But there's so much uncertainty in both of our lives right now, and I'm feeling insecure. I'd like for us to go back to just dating, and put the talk of marriage on hold for a while. It's not that I don't love you; it's that I'm getting anxious about planning the future when so much is up in the air, and I'd like to wait a while before thinking about that."

Then, listen to what he has to say. Tell him how you feel. And decide together how to proceed. But above all else, do not marry someone you don't trust, even if you think intellectually that you should trust him. It's a recipe for unhappiness.
posted by decathecting at 8:14 AM on December 17, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm quite familiar with being privileged and living in a country where everyone wants a visa and the paranoia that can grow within oneself under those circumstances after a while.

That said, a couple of comments:

Him loving you and seeing you as a means to a visa are not mutually exclusive. Are you ok with that?

He's a human being and needs to be treated with dignity. You have been making a lot of demands and setting a lot of conditions. If you are going to be in this relationship I think you need to treat him better. (he has to support you but ypu keep all tour money? What?! He has to pay 90% of your dating expenses?) If you can't let go of your anxiety about this relationship (i'm not saying I necessarily could) then I think you need to end it.

If you do come to the US and things don't work out for him, and you can help, yes I think you need to do so. Are you ok with that? Imagine if you got into some trouble in his country - wouldn't you expect your fiancé to help you?

One more caution: he's in something of a power position now because he's in his home country where he is savviest. He will need you more in the US in many, many ways not just financial. Nothing wrong with that but are you ok with it?
posted by n'muakolo at 8:26 AM on December 17, 2011 [30 favorites]


A few thoughts here:

I think your fear of being used for a green card is unreasonable given the evidence you've presented here. You've asked an extraordinary amount of him and he has agreed to it, while not asking you to take comparable risks. I think you are feeling insecure for other reasons, and the green card is just the easiest problem to blame. I think you need to address those insecurities--professionally if possible--before proceeding with any marriage.

I think some of your unease comes from your idea of what a marriage is supposed to be like, and what your feelings toward him are. You keep focusing on his finances and prospects and your finances and prospects, and it makes me wonder if you're seeing this as more of a merger than a relationship. Do you love him?
posted by elizeh at 8:28 AM on December 17, 2011 [14 favorites]


There's no way of knowing whether or not he's using you for citizenship. Just like in any relationship there's often no way of knowing if someone is using you for sex, to get back at an ex, to push off boredom, to get at your inheritance, Please their parents, etc. Sometimes you can find out by having a conversation about it and judging the response.

Sometimes, you just decide that it's worth having the relationship anyway. You have to be a pretty confident person to pull it off, and you have to be willing to be nothing more than disappointed if it doesn't work out.

Having said all that, I'm not really sure why you entered this relationship in the first place. If you're convinced that you're a golden goose in this country because of your ability to confer US citizenship on someone, you should avoid dating anyone who is not already a US citizenship. Your high level of concern about it will introduce a level of vigilance that will destroy even the best relationship you could have with a non US citizenship.

It also sounds like you value marriage in a way that suggests you shouldn't be engaged and so uneasy at the same time. Some people would readily marry a guy they're just boinking in order to bring them home to the US to continue a great fun time a little longer--fully aware that the relationship may not work out.

I'd be more worried, depending on the country, about what happens to my personal rights, as a woman, if I get married, and what the implications are for child custody if I have children and it doesn't work out.

At the end of the day, granting him citizenship under his false pretenses doesn't really cost you anything different than other people risk in their commitments--you could lose face.. Losing custody of your kids, getting a divorce in a country (or a particular state in the US!) that financially (or otherwise) punishes you for being a woman --- those are the risks (of any marriage). Okay, it's a bit embarrassing that he used you for citizenship -- meh. You know, he could woo any girl for citizenship -- maybe he's wooing you because you're someone he likes and can see himself devoted to for quite awhile. That's actually a higher level of regard than some arranged marriages.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:35 AM on December 17, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think your fear of being used for a green card is unreasonable given the evidence you've presented here. You've asked an extraordinary amount of him and he has agreed to it, while not asking you to take comparable risks.

This was my thought too. Reading your post, I kept waiting for the big red flag to come, and not only did it not arrive, several green flags did.

It sounds like all he could do more to allay your fears is agree to stay in country and keep his insecurites about not feeling able to retire there to himself...which is probably a worse idea in the long run.

If you can't shake this feeling no matter what he does, then if you do break up, you might want to make a rule about not dating natives unless they are willing to stay in country, because I can't see any other native doing anything more than this guy has done to allay your fears, unless they're independently wealthy. But that seems like a paranoid and small-minded approach.
posted by mreleganza at 8:54 AM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


One thing to think about is how things will work when you're in the US. When you're in his country, he can operate quite easily. And maybe you're a little dependent on his for ease of operating? (Not sure if there are language issues here...)

Once in the US, YOU'LL be the one who can operate easily. You know how things work (how to set up cable, pay the water bill, etc.) And you're going to have to mentor him through all of this. IME, some men have a hard time with this.

And what about employment for him in the US? It is very difficult for some people to find satisifying work.

And a layer on top of all of this will be culture shock.

Other things to think about:
Are you comfortable with the way that men father in his culture? Assume that he'd be more like his cultural norms than not.
Are you comfortable with being his safety net?

I'm not saying that you can't get thru this, but that I've seen this be challenging for many couples.
posted by k8t at 8:56 AM on December 17, 2011


I'm not sure if you noticed this or not, but the question comes across in such a way that you seem to be reassuring either yourself or us that your fiance is not using you for a green card. My instinct is that you have a sense of uncertainty or paranoia regarding this issue, and you'd like to be told otherwise by a lot of random people on the internet who have no awareness of the subtleties of the relationship.

From what you've presented: no, he doesn't appear to be using you for a green card. And I would agree that your demands on him also seem over the top, which he may now be willing to comply with because he's in love with you and/or is sensitive to your fears, but things may need to become more balanced if you expect him to stick around. If you're his means to a green card, you're a pretty high-maintenance means.

That said, obviously none of us know what your fiance's intentions are. That's something only your fiance knows. You've discussed a bunch of different safety nets for yourself in the case of him taking advantage of your citizenship status, and it sounds like he's been amenable to them all. At this point, it really comes down to how you intuitively feel about the guy.

In any relationship, that's what we end up relying on.
posted by aintthattheway at 9:06 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't see big red flags here about him that justify your concerns. The thing is, it's a relationship, and concerns don't really have to be justified. Your level of mistrust strikes me as a sign that this isn't a good/sustainable relationship -- why doesn't matter, it just isn't.

It also sounds like you want to be with a man who takes on a provider role. You do have legitimate concerns in that area -- he isn't there right now, and whether he will get there is just projecting and guessing (and there are real reasons to question if he will).
posted by J. Wilson at 9:07 AM on December 17, 2011


So I don't think I can have any idea how your fiancee really feels because I can't see how he looks at you. I can't listen to his voice when he talks to you. I can't ask him questions and check in to see if my gut feels like his answers are honest or not.

But you can. Do you? It seems like it's hard for you to really know because you're so wound up. Do you feel anxious a lot? It sounds like you have a lot of fears and like you're trying to manage those fears by controlling the world around you.

But here's my take on things. You won't really have peace of mind if you deal with your fear by trying to change the world, by trying to order everything so that nothing you worry about will ever, ever happen. Because you simply can't do that. No one can. Even if this guy really loves you and tries his best to make you happy, he will sometimes fail. Even if both of you try your best, your relationship might fail. Nothing in this world is certain.

Which can be super scary to hear, I know. But I think once you accept that you're not fully in control, things can get a lot easier. You don't have to carry all this stress around with you. You don't have to wear armor because the world is going to hurt you anyway. But the good news is the world is also going to kiss you and hug you and send you extravagant presents.

Is this guy one of those presents? Is he a combination of bliss and pain, like most things?

What does it feel like when you let go--maybe for just a moment--all your thoughts and plans about the future, all your hopes and fears, and just sit with him and focus on the way his hand feels in yours?
posted by overglow at 9:11 AM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


You know what it sounds like would make you feel better? If he suddenly and unexpectedly came into a lot of money.

I trust that you see how hypocritical that is.

Look, can I tell you what you're setting yourself up for, if you leave this guy without working on yourself? You're setting yourself up for a relationship with someone who doesn't share his insecurities and vulnerabilities with you (so you won't know that he's concerned about his financial future), who treats you callously and doesn't spend his money on you (so you won't think that he's trying to pull one over you), and who doesn't make you feel that you're important or necessary to his life (so you won't think he's only with you while you're doing something for him). All of that, and it'll be only all the more likely that that's a person who doesn't value you as a person and who is using you for his own agenda.

The increased security, not only emotional but also financial, that comes as being in a partnership is something that a lot of people value about marriage, and that's not wrong.

Imagine if you committed to not 'using' someone in a relationship: You'd never live in an apartment/home that you weren't paying for all on your own, you'd never have kids that you couldn't have had without him (even if you're married to a fertile man, you'd go out and get a sperm donor or adopt a child and do not let your husband be on the birth certificate or recognized as a legal parent or take on any financial responsibility for the child), you wouldn't go any any vacations you couldn't afford on your own, or take any financial risks that you couldn't on you're own, you'd never go on his health insurance, etc.

Or, start smaller. You'd never let him take you out for dinner.

Your insecurity has left you in a place where you're using him, while at the same time not feeling loved or secure, or very loving towards him. Sounds like a lose-lose.

Love is risky. Financially and emotionally. Many people think that love is worth a lot of money and a lot of risk. They might value love so much that it will be worth spending money on even if they know that the relationship will probably not last long or that they'll get hurt, for the joy and meaning of enjoying time with someone they love.

It sounds like you don't love this man enough to take those risks. That's fair enough. I agree with what J. Wilson said - you don't need to justify your concerns. You should also stop letting him spend his emotional and financial resources on you. And most importantly, you should do what you need to do to get to an emotional and financial place where eventually you will be able to take a wise risk.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:16 AM on December 17, 2011 [23 favorites]


Oh-- and one of the problems with bringing this up to him is that the "right" guy --the one who loves you for you and doesn't care about citizenship--he may be so offended by the accusation that his trust in you is broken and he may no longer want to be with you.

You're in a real pickle.
posted by vitabellosi at 9:29 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have money and a financially stable future ahead of me...He doesn't have money but does have a full time job
he's agreed that in the future, his income will go to supporting both of us while my income will belong to me
He's paid for 90% of our dates together, non-begrudgingly

... and you think you're the one being used?! Really, what more can he do? He's agreed to support you as a couple even though you make more money than him and probably always will. He already pays for most of your dates. I agree with the poster above that says you should break up and only date US citizens.

But what happens when he doesn't need me for perceived financial security (not actually committed to financially supporting him in anyway) and other such benefits? Is what's leftover enough to make our relationship last?

We can't answer that. Do you think there is nothing to your relationship other than that? I really don't see how he could be doing any more. You say there's no red flags from guides you've read, he's willing to sign away any right to your money and use his to support you as a couple, he writes you poetry and has integrated you into his family and social life. He's willing to wait years before getting married.

Would someone invest years of their life and a great deal of money into getting a green card if they thought they had no future in their home country? Probably, if they were desperate enough but there's no way to tell and you could ruin a potentially good relationship by worrying about it.
posted by missmagenta at 9:29 AM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Read back over your question and try to imagine the question that he would ask. Something like this:

"My girlfriend insists that I pay for everything, even though she makes more money than me. I've agreed to sign a prenup, and agreed that she gets to keep all of the money she makes, but that my money will go to supporting both of us. All of her friends like me, and I've tried to show her that I care (I even wrote her a couple of books of love poetry), but she still seems to think that I might be using her for a green card, mostly because of the country that I'm from. How can I make her see that I care about her, and I'm not using her?"

I guarantee that every single person who answered that question would tell him to break up with you, and for very good reason. As far as I can tell, you have two options here.

1. Wake up to the fact that your behavior in this relationship has been, to this point, incredibly selfish. Your whole question is about your fears and your insecurities, and doesn't display the slightest bit of concern about how anything you do affects him. This is not a viable state of affairs for a relationship, and the only way for this relationship to work is for you to commit to changing it right now.

2. Break up with him so he can find someone who doesn't treat him this way.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:10 AM on December 17, 2011 [32 favorites]


"Him loving you and seeing you as a means to a visa are not mutually exclusive."

This. The idea of marriage is not the same in every country, and there's nothing wrong with that, but you should be aware of it.

I married a man from Morocco, which is known for its citizens wanting to cultivate relationships with Westerners for visa purposes. If you go out there and read all the horror stories, you'll never be satisfied with your relationship. Your fiance is doing everything right, but your "tests" (meeting family et al) are not guarantees of anything at all.

Also, reading over your question, you know very little about how fiance visas work. You can't just "marry him right away" and then get the visa. You have to apply for the visa, wait for it to process, he's allowed to come here, and then the two of you have to be married within three months, or he has to go home. I won't go into all the details of how these types of visas work, but you have a lot of research to do if you decide to go down this path. Be aware that if you marry him with this visa, you are *legally* his safety net as far as financial support goes.

The last thing is, of all the women I know who were married to Moroccans around the same time as I was (we had a group on Yahoo), only two are still married, out of a group of about 20. I don't think, by any means, that is is solely due to the men wanting visas and then heading for the hills as soon as they got them. I think it's because marriage is HARD WORK, even without the extra challenges of an intercultural relationship added to it.

You don't trust this guy one bit now, how do you think you can have a solid relationship? Go back home and go to grad school. Keep in contact if you want. If your relationship survives, and you stop imagining that he's just planning on you as a "safety net," then you can revisit the idea of marriage.

I apologize for being a bit harsh with you, but you're not ready for this.
posted by HopperFan at 10:23 AM on December 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you throw up enough hurdles, one of them will eventually prove insurmountable and you will lose him, thus proving that he never really loved you. Congrats, well played!

his income will go to supporting both of us while my income will belong to me (sounds insanely selfish of me, but anyway)

It doesn't sound insanely selfish, it IS insanely selfish. There are a million ways to bundle a marriage, but at its core it is a partnership. What you're describing is indentured servitude.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:23 AM on December 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


"his income will go to supporting both of us while my income will belong to me (sounds insanely selfish of me, but anyway)"

The reason he's ok with this, assuming he's from an Islamic culture, is because that's the way it's supposed to work. The husband is responsible for supporting the household, and the woman can spend her income however she likes.

I won't get into how this idea actually works out in real life, you should just be aware of it.
posted by HopperFan at 10:31 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I forgot to put a link:

"If the woman has any earnings during her marital life, by way of investments of her property or as a result of work, she doesn't have to spend one penny of that income on the household, it is entirely hers."
posted by HopperFan at 10:34 AM on December 17, 2011


Everyone seems to be forgeting another huge concession she's asked him to make: "he's agreed to live in any country I want to." So although he'll be footing the household bills, she'll still have total control over where they go.

Another vote for a breakup. This does not sound like a healthy relationship.
posted by Hermes32 at 10:39 AM on December 17, 2011


It doesn't sound like you love him, and it doesn't sound like there's anything he can do to change that. The green card thing is a red herring. That's the feeling I got from reading your question.
posted by wondermouse at 10:40 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think you love him either, and you are looking for more and more to pile on until the thing collapses. You are only nine months in -- you should be feeling free, not cornered. Maybe a break is in order. I feel for the guy.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:53 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


He must really like you, because I'm sure it is entirely possible for him to find another American woman to marry that wouldn't place all these demands on him. You're basically insisting that he buy his way into your trust, and then wondering if he doesn't really love you. To me, it doesn't sound like you love him- it sounds like you are going to be using him to finance the life you want, and you are worried that he is going to do the same to you!

I agree that you are probably not ready to be marrying anyone. Sometimes partners have to support each other financially, even if that wasn't the original plan. Money is not a way to prove someone is trustworthy.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:02 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi anonymous,

I think many people in this thread have been too hard on you.

My sister was in almost your exact situation five years ago, and she married him. It turned into a complete disaster. From my perspective, your concerns are valid and you’re (rightly) trying to protect yourself. Even if your boyfriend does truly love you, I think he should be able to understand your concerns without being so hurt that he can’t discuss them, and without being “devastated” by your lack of trust. People seem to be sympathizing with him because they have cast him as the innocent, righteous lover doing everything he can for the woman he loves. While that is very literary and grand, I think that sort of love is less magically rare than people tend to believe. I guess what I’m saying is that love does not automatically make someone righteous, and even if it is true love, there are still valid reasons to break up sometimes. With a few exceptions, love is pretty cheap, in other words.

If you had said something like “he’s the best man I’ve ever met in my life, fantastically intelligent, cultured, and one-in-a-million” then I might be inclined to advise you to throw caution to the wind. The reality is that he sounds like a cliché, average young European man, and you are young and not experienced enough to know that your chances to find love are more varied than you think. People are castigating you for wanting security and telling you that you should feel guilty that you don’t truly love him and love conquers all- that’s just not a realistic message. It’s just not.

I watched my sister go from a confident, accomplished, independent and brave woman travelling alone overseas to someone crippled by debt, ashamed of herself and unhappily married. She is now in her early thirties and has waffled on divorcing this man for five years. Here’s some of the problems they faced:

-He didn’t speak English well enough to live in the states, she had to pay for a tutor
-She has to pay the bills and fill out all the paperwork for him. Sometimes he forgets or doesn’t understand how, and this gets her in trouble
-He couldn’t hold down a steady job, still can’t, and does intermittent construction work now
-In response to the pressure of moving here, he has become an alcoholic. Falling down drunk, and will not get help because he does not understand AA, “it doesn’t work that way in Europe”/it is a sissy Americanized thing
-Same with therapy
-No one in our family likes him, though we honestly tried to give him a fair run, and we are now in the unfortunate position of supporting her, which undermines his “masculinity” and leads to him sulking and isolating her more
-They have lived separately, then moved back in together many times. He cannot be totally independent, she feels guilty, it’s a vicious cycle
-His idea of masculinity is very skewed by his culture and his own father, and this compounds his problems fitting into US culture and making their marriage work
-She will never be able to pay off their debt. Pretty much ever, at this point.
-She’s afraid she’ll never have children, and she’s ambivalent about breaking up because she doesn’t believe she can do better. I have seen her get attention from guys who are fine, and she’s developed this complex because she’s in the middle of a maybe-divorce, and she’s too ashamed now to move on

Not to scare you, but she was in your exact position. She was your age, and wanted to come back to the US for graduate school. He is not a bad guy. He is very sweet and polite, and did the exact same thing your guy did- offered to pay their living expenses and pay for her phone, things like that, while she tried to save money and go back to school. He was very romantic, cooked for her, all of that. The thing is that it is possible to trust someone’s good nature and still not believe that they understand what they want, or will want in a few years. He may truly believe that he is going to love you no matter what, but he also has no idea what he is really in for. You are both young. I think it’s probably best for you to have more life, work, and dating experience before you commit yourself to marriage.
posted by stockpuppet at 11:24 AM on December 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


FWIW, I believe you are subscribing to a marriage model that is very American, and it's something I think truly undermines our happiness in this country, and undermines us generally as a society here in the US.

We look at marriage as a business transaction, not as an opportunity to build a loving home and family (even if that "family" is the happy couple and their favorite plant, or whatever.)

My first marriage had a lot of "yours" and "mine" going on it, a lot of comparison between material contributions and keeping track. It was hard to feel good even when I was doing well in my career because there was a lot of judging going on.

I'm so much happier today. I'm thrilled my husband isn't like this (also from a Muslim country, btw.)

I don't think it's unrelated that along with experiencing the greatest amount of emotional security I've(we've) ever known, I'm (we're) also the most financially secure.

Just another data point for you to consider.
posted by jbenben at 11:25 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


[helpful answers, less eye-rolling please, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 11:29 AM on December 17, 2011


It seems, from your post, that you have everything you could hope for (prenup, living in a country of your choice, him supporting you while you keep your income for yourself). You are STILL worried about being used for a green card. I'm not sure there are any more hoops you can establish for him to jump over so that you can get over your insecurities.

Think about how you would feel if someone wrote this about you. I think you need to let him go, not for you, but for him. He deserves a trusting partner, not a master.
posted by gadha at 11:32 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and it's OK if you don't love him. I just think that, this being your first serious relationship and you're already engaged after 9 months, you two may have rushed into things without really giving it time to see if it would work for both of you.

It sounds like maybe you're engaged to him because, objectively, he is a perfectly decent and good man and he hasn't given you any big reason to break up with him. He hasn't done anything wrong. But know that a guy doesn't have to be a jerk in order for you to want to end a relationship with him.

If you don't feel like you really click with him, even though he is very nice and spends money on you and writes you love poetry, and you're not excited about the possibility of spending the rest of your life in a relationship with him and having him come back to the US with you, that is an excellent reason to end the relationship. Don't wait until you're married and still unhappy to decide on this and then have to either go through the divorce process or remain in a marriage that you're not comfortable with.

I just have this feeling of... insecurity about the whole thing. Is this what a relationship is?

In short, No.
posted by wondermouse at 11:46 AM on December 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think he should be able to understand your concerns without being so hurt that he can’t discuss them, and without being “devastated” by your lack of trust.

Where are you getting this? I just reread the OP and don't find anything remotely close to suggesting that he feels hurt or devastated (weird that you put that in quotes since it's not in the OP) by her misgivings.

People seem to be sympathizing with him because they have cast him as the innocent, righteous lover doing everything he can for the woman he loves.

No one is doing this, we're just waiting for an indication that he has done something - anything - to indicate that he's just using her for visa possibilities. If his country and status are enough to warrant killing off this relationship to protect against this sort of emotional fraud, then she should not be dating natives of his country and status. What post are you reading?
posted by mreleganza at 11:48 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


anonymous posted">> he's agreed that in the future, his income will go to supporting both of us while my income will belong to me

And you're complaining that he might be using you? You might want to rethink that. I understand your concerns, and stockpuppet's comment is certainly sobering, but the problems here do not point in only one direction.
posted by languagehat at 12:05 PM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't want to derail by responding to mreleganza's comment, but I hope it is okay to clarify.

Where are you getting this? I just reread the OP and don't find anything remotely close to suggesting that he feels hurt or devastated (weird that you put that in quotes since it's not in the OP) by her misgivings.

Sorry, I has vitabellosi's comment in mind, not the OP:

Oh-- and one of the problems with bringing this up to him is that the "right" guy --the one who loves you for you and doesn't care about citizenship--he may be so offended by the accusation that his trust in you is broken and he may no longer want to be with you.

mreleganza: No one is doing this, we're just waiting for an indication that he has done something - anything - to indicate that he's just using her for visa possibilities.

You certainly approached the question that way; as if it was more like, "are there any glaring inconsistencies in what he's doing?" and that's fine. I was trying to address the OP in the latter half of her question when she asked:

my biggest fear is that in the process he'll be dependent on me ... I'm just afraid this will all fall through and I'll have to be his safety net.

Please help me sort out my feelings- no matter how much he seems to 'pour love on me' I just have this feeling of... insecurity about the whole thing. Is this what a relationship is? What do you think about the whole thing?


I agree with you mreleganza that there are no glaring inconsistencies, I think I was trying to get across the point that it may not matter. . I also agree with muakolo when they point out:
Him loving you and seeing you as a means to a visa are not mutually exclusive.

Emotions can be confusing and people can have good intentions and still do things for partially the wrong reasons, that's all I meant. He may not be a scam artist, but he still many not be as totally sincere as one might hope, or as even he may think he is, either.
posted by stockpuppet at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2011


"But what happens when he doesn't need me for perceived financial security (not actually committed to financially supporting him in anyway) and other such benefits? Is what's leftover enough to make our relationship last?"

Hopefully what's left over by that stage is a deeper and abiding love and all the other intangible things that make up a good relationship.

" ... I'm just afraid this will all fall through and I'll have to be his safety net"

Again, if you love him, and he loves you, it's OK to be a safety net for each other, in whatever way each one needs it. It isn't a question of "having to" do something, it's all about wanting to. It sounds like you're focussing a lot on the financial angle to this relationship, and hanging a lot of your suspicions and fears onto that and not so much on what you and he give each other emotionally.

Are the worries you have about being used for a green card and being on the hook for supporting him financially masking some other fears - is that possible, do you think? For example, might your parents or family at home disapprove of this relationship in some way? That obviously isn't a reason to end a relationship, but if you are perhaps subconsciously anticipating some push-back from home (or even comments and criticisms about you being used in the ways you've expressed here) this might be how you're processing that - by setting up your own barriers in advance of those you're expecting from parents. I know your friends are supportive, which is good, but they're not your family.

I also think if it's a first serious relationship, in a foreign country, with all the glamour and stresses of living away from home, you are naturally going to be at a higher emotional pitch than normal. I think it's wise to consider very carefully whether you might be getting swept along with the beauty and strangeness of it all a little bit (and this really isn't intended as a criticism).
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2011


I'm sitting four and a half years on the other side of this. It's not entirely the same, as he didn't really want to live in the US, but came here to be with me.

We are getting divorced this week, due to some of the issues related to such an intense move and how much life changed both of us.

Memail me if you want to talk through it. I've been there.
posted by guster4lovers at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I also agree with muakolo when they point out:
Him loving you and seeing you as a means to a visa are not mutually exclusive.

Emotions can be confusing and people can have good intentions and still do things for partially the wrong reasons, that's all I meant. He may not be a scam artist, but he still many not be as totally sincere as one might hope, or as even he may think he is, either."


I just have to say something about this, and I apologize if I misinterpreted - just because he may have thoughts of getting a visa doesn't mean he's not sincere overall, nor would that be doing something for the "wrong" reason. We Americans have our own ideas about marriage (i.e. marrying mainly for love, which doesn't always work out so great) - while other cultures factor in other things (money, family, future possibilities) when deciding on a life partner.

Also, OP, please pay attention to what guster4lovers said. The shift in power dynamics when a foreign partner comes to the US is no joke, and often results in a relationship failure.
posted by HopperFan at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are you sure you're ready to be engaged and planning a wedding? In some respects your questions sound more like you're not ready to trust ANY long-term relationship than that you can't trust this particular person.

for example: I'm just afraid this will all fall through and I'll have to be his safety net

What is a committed relationship if not a safety net of sorts? Emotional, social, financial - your partner is who you lean on when things go bad. Of course there can be (and should be) boundaries to that, and those boundaries are different for everyone. But to categorically deny all economic assistance to your partner now and forever (who, might I point out, is moving countries to follow you) seems a little harsh.

All relationships involve risk. If the risk level of moving together is too high for you, maybe you should head to grad school alone and see how things work long-distance for awhile. Nine months isn't really all that long, especially to go from zero to engaged. A little space might help you clarify your feelings.
posted by hms71 at 2:43 PM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't see anything in your description which would indicate he is using you. There's never any way to be certain, but everything you've listed is favorable. You might consider, however, that if you were to turn things around and look at the situation from his perspective, he might have questions about whether you are using him. Please note - I'm absolutely not accusing you of deliberately trying to take advantage of him. I do think that you may be going so far in an attempt not to be taken advantage of, that the effect might be to stack things in your favor at his expense. Marriage is supposed to be an equal partnership - not a zero-sum game.

You've listed a lot of good things that he's bringing to the relationship, but you haven't mentioned anything in particular that you are bringing to the relationship. I wonder if there's a self-esteem issue at the heart of this. Is it possible that you don't believe you have anything special to offer him except your citizenship status and so you fixate on the idea that he must be using you for that end?

I don't know if you are ready for a committed long-term relationship with this man or anyone else at this point. It's reasonable to take your time in the early stages of a relationship so that you can get to know them well and realistically assess whether you are likely to make each other happy and healthy in the long run. When the time comes that you decide to go for the long-term, however, you need to be ready to take a chance and commit to giving everything you can to each other. There is always the possibility that everything will go horribly wrong. There's no reward without risk. What doesn't work is insisting up front that you must always get more out of the relationship than your partner.
posted by tdismukes at 3:26 PM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


We don't know the details, and asker is anonymous, so it's hard to judge (or should be) if anon is behaving badly.

Anon, maybe the fact that you could offer him citizenship/visa options affected his initial attraction to you. People get together for all sorts of reasons. Would it be okay if he loved you because you're really pretty? a good dancer? a good kisser? Re-frame your thinking. He treats you well; he treats you with respect, he acts loving.

"Would you still love me if..." is a pretty common question. But it's not answer-able. Go read some John Gottman, and really pay attention to his behavior, and yours. If you end up having a genuinely wonderful relationship & life together, it will simply be good, and won't be about who's getting what benefit from whom.

In many cultures, people get married to a person chosen by their family. Many of those marriages are wonderful. Some aren't. Relationships and marriages don't have guarantees. If you break up because he only needed a visa, you'll be heartbroken. If you break up because of an affair, you grow apart, the cultural divide is too great, whatever, you will be just as heartbroken. The best way to stay together is to be be good for/to each other.
posted by theora55 at 4:56 PM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe all of this has nothing to do with what is really going on. Maybe you are just too young and not ready/wanting to get married yet and these reasons are popping up to avoid marriage. Maybe you are still finding yourself and aren't ready to take the marriage step.

I sometimes find myself creating issues when it really comes down to just me not wanting to do something, so I subconsciously start looking for reasons not to do it.

Just a thought.
posted by Vaike at 7:08 PM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


i agree that being in love and wanting a visa aren't mutually exclusive, it is, and will be for a long time- your reality if you stay with this. i would be careful- having been in your shoes (though at home) I've learned a few things.

1) the visa process is long and hard. you'll probably have to end up getting married before you want to, you guys will probably end up between a rock and a hard place...
2) Don't count on him fulfilling his potential or having a great job if you do get married... my former husband was from a background where the lowest middle class job in the states was more than he ever thought he'd have and he was/is happy to stay there despite being really smart and speaking a million languages.
3) You'll probably end up supporting him financially through the process... you can't work for months while waiting for a visa that allows you to.
4) "you married me for a green card" said during a fight is really really hurtful (unless its true)

I could go on and on, but at the end of the day you don't sound like you're in love with him, and if you sponsor him in anyway for a visa then you're kind of using up his one chance to be sponsored... if I'd split up with my husband anytime in the first 2 years he would have had to go home and couldn't come again via marriage...and his whole family lived in the states so that complicated things... Good Luck!
posted by misspony at 2:49 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In general I tend to be paranoid about being used,

It does sound that way. Not to say he may not in fact be attracted to you partly because of your money or your citizenship. But also, it sounds like you have enough issues with this stuff so that you are not ready to be engaged. If your hand is being forced because you are going back to the US, then the timing may just be wrong for this relationship. Basically you would be doing him a terrible disservice if you married him while trusting him as little as you do right now.

Do you have mega-money, like inherited millions? If so, then this issue isn't going to go away on its own. Money is a huge reason for marital tension. If you suspect that anyone who is interested in you is interested for the money, it's going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy; at the very least, if your money is in the forefront of your mind, that in itself will affect relationships even if the other people didn't care about your money to begin with.
posted by BibiRose at 7:00 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I has vitabellosi's comment in mind, not the OP:

I think you must mean my second comment: Oh-- and one of the problems with bringing this up to him is that the "right" guy --the one who loves you for you and doesn't care about citizenship--he may be so offended by the accusation that his trust in you is broken and he may no longer want to be with you.

This was a hypothetical and speaks more to the bind she's set up. The (hypothetical) guy who truly isn't interested primarily in a green card may be offended to hear that there's been doubt all along. If it is going to be her suspicion, no matter what he does, then it would be a thankless task to try to prove otherwise to her.

I have no opinion about whether her real guy is using her---see my first comment--- I have no opinion about whether he's actually "hurt" or "devastated" in real life. I just think that if a guy is all heart, and on the up and up, having this come up in conversation, might break that heart.
posted by vitabellosi at 5:44 PM on December 18, 2011


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