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How to deal with a negative boyfriend?
November 19, 2012 7:16 PM   Subscribe

I don't know what to do about my boyfriend anymore.

We have been together for almost 8 months. Lately, there have been some things that have been stressing me out about our relationship. I have tried talking to him calmly, but he takes things way wrong.

He has been out of a job since July. He quit his job of over a year because he felt like his boss didn't appreciate him enough and he worked in a hostile environment. So he left...without finding a new job. He does pay a little bit of rent and he does have student loans to pay off. I cautioned him that it was a bad idea to just leave a job without finding a new one, but he didn't listen to me. I'm sure many people in his life did the same, but he told people he couldn't take it anymore.



He has had some interviews here and there, but he either finds out the person who set up the interview lied about the position or he decides that he doesn't want to do that job after getting more information about how much it pays (one place was 4 dollars an hour and 100 dollars for a sale if he made any) or what he has to do in the job.

He saved up a bunch of money before he left his job, supposedly. Sometimes he spends money and it makes me wonder shouldn't he be saving his money for if he doesn't have a job? I know it's none of my business if we don't live together, but if we did....wow, I'm glad we don't.

He is very down on himself lately. He can be very negative about this whole situation. I have the urge to just flip out on him and tell him "Everyone knows not to leave a job without finding a new one!" I know it's mean. And I've done the same with a job, but the thing is I don't have student loans to pay back, and I'm not in a financial situation where I owe anyone money. He tried to pull the same thing with me when I was quitting my job without finding one, but it didn't really work considering I got a job a week after I quit mine. I'm really aggressive when finding new jobs and follow up a lot, so that has helped me out.

Today he said something on Facebook about how it's funny he can go from being happy to depressed so fast. I shot him a text and asked if he was okay and he said he would get over whatever he was going through. Then a few minutes later he sends a text saying "I want to go to a bar and get into a fight with someone, I am in that kind of mood." I text him back saying "Uhh wtf is wrong with you?" and he sends back "I don't know!!!" At this point I am frustrated and send him this "No offense, but I think you need professional help, which isn't a bad thing. But you are taking this way too far, I mean look at what you just said!" and he replies saying he is hurt I said that because he is joking...right...

I really care about this guy. I truly do, but sometimes his negativity gets to me. I was crying when I started to type all this, but have calmed down a bit. It takes me a lot to cry, so I know he means a lot to me. He has been a very great boyfriend. He is affectionate, caring quick witted, I trust him a lot, and we both agree on things like marriage, kids, and politics. So that being said it is kind of hard to think of dumping him because he is going through a rough time. He just sent me a text saying it was a dumb joke.

We are long distance, but make time for each other at least twice a week which has been fine with both of us. But sometimes when he shuts down it hurts me cause I know it can be like I can go see him the next day or we can make up right then or there if we get into a disagreement. I'm not sure what kind of advice I want..maybe if anyone has been in this situation before or methods I can use when he is in this negative state and him and I are hanging out. Those would be great...thanks.

Throw away email is x_the_heart_breaker@yahoo.com
posted by Autumn89 to Human Relations (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
He sounds pretty immature, It might be a good idea to back off a bit on the relationship until he fits his stuff together a bit.
posted by HuronBob at 7:31 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sounds like a simple "hey, I get that you quit your job because you couldn't take it any more, but now you seem to be quitting life because you can't take it any more, and that's not good. I can't be in a relationship with someone who can't or won't take the basic steps to ensure they have a good, stable, independent life, because you can't be in a relationship with someone else if you're not in a relationship with yourself" is in order.
posted by davejay at 7:38 PM on November 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


Sounds like he needs to sit down and make a plan. At this point he should probably just try to get a job at the local grocery store. They are always hiring because they have high turn-over. The pay will be minimum wage, but better working than sitting on his butt spending money.

I agree with Huron that he does sound immature. If he can't get his act together financially you have to be careful not to let him drag you down with him.

Never let him convince you to marry him, move in with him, take out a joint loan or anything that requires you to take on some his responsibility until he's proven for a long while that he can handle being financially independent.
posted by Peregrin5 at 7:47 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Honestly, it sounds to me like you need to back off a bit and let him solve his own problems. Sometimes a job can be that bad that they're really unsustainable. He's got money saved and he's looking for work. It's pretty normal to get down about the scarcity of good jobs, or still be angry about his former crappy job situation.

Don't lecture him about what he should have done or tell him how to spend his money — that's his business. But also don't loan him money or put up with him being angry and negative all the time. Just try to be there for him without letting him away with crap, i.e., he can talk to you about how he feels some of the time, but not all the time, and even then he has to focus on solutions, not on wallowing.
posted by orange swan at 8:11 PM on November 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


You say that you can trust him, but your statement: "He saved up a bunch of money before he left his job, supposedly. Sometimes he spends money and it makes me wonder shouldn't he be saving his money for if he doesn't have a job? I know it's none of my business if we don't live together, but if we did....wow, I'm glad we don't." leads me to believe that you don't trust him, or have faith in his ability to pull through when life gets tough.

At one point in time, I had several long term relationships that went a lot like yours...boys I was dating were not able to hold jobs, or take care of basic needs in their own lives. Sure, they were great boyfriends otherwise (sweet, attentive, caring, nice to me) but it always irked me that their work ethic clashed with mine. If a sense of responsibility is important to you, which it seems like it is based on your urge to reprimand him for voluntarily leaving his job without first having another lined up, then it sounds like you may need to cut your losses and move on.

Like Peregrin5 said, please do not let this boy drag you down. I have been there. It's really easy to let it happen, because love. You start paying for all the dates because so and so is broke right now, and the next thing you know so and so is living in your basement because he's been unemployed for a year. Some people are fine with that, some are not. I was not ok with it, and it sounds like you aren't either.
posted by Gonestarfishing at 8:12 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Immature" makes it sound like he'll grow out of it, which some people never do. Several people I'm related to have had similar patterns to your boyfriend's and they've been lifelong -- e.g., a 65-year-old quitting his job without lining up a new one and then blaming his depression on his lack of a job. Don't assume he'll just get over those tendencies without working on them.
posted by katemonster at 8:22 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do believe that things will be fine for him, but in the mean time I've realized he is someone I would not like to live with when he made a decision like this. I've always been the type of girl who doesn't need to live with her S.O if they have been together for years. My relationships are just different from other peoples. I never talk to him about how he should spend his money. I don't nag him when he buys something like a video game or new clothing. It's his money. What I am worried about is if and when he does run out, how it will impact the way we are both feeling.

What I forgot to mention is he is very weird about where he works. He doesn't like dealing with people, besides the people he works with. He says people feel like they are entitled to everything. I've had my fair share of really bad jobs, but I made it through them and made money to take care of my needs. He went to college, so he feels working in a fast food place or a grocery store is not an option, and that is frustrating.

I work at a temp agency so I am offered jobs every week or so. I either take them or leave them. But he feels like applying for a temp job is the same as working for a fast food/grocery store! I told him they give him a list of things he is certified in and they offer him jobs based on his experiences and certifications. He says he is on the fence of applying to that kind of job...
posted by Autumn89 at 8:25 PM on November 19, 2012


But he feels like applying for a temp job is the same as working for a fast food/grocery store!

In addition to sounding immature he also sounds ignorant and closed-minded. You can decide to put all of this out of your head if his other good traits outweigh the bad (the sex is great, he makes you laugh, you enjoy your time together) but you'll really have to just accept it. Or you can decide to date a grown-up, who lives life with their eyes and ears open.
posted by bleep at 9:05 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


You have my permission to DTMFA. This guy feels he is entitled to fancier jobs than the work you yourself do, but he can't hold down the jobs he has gotten?

it is kind of hard to think of dumping him because he is going through a rough time.

People like this are ALWAYS going through a rough time, because they feel entitled to better conditions than they are willing to work to achieve.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:23 PM on November 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


Your boyfriend sounds full of himself.

The entire year after I had graduated from college with a B.S. I had worked temp jobs and grocery store jobs while also volunteering my time for free to get the required amount of hours and experience to apply for a teaching credential program at the state university.

You really do need to evaluate if this guy has the drive and initiative you're looking for instead of just being a warm body for your bed. I'm certain you can find plenty of warm bodies who are better prepared for life than he is.
posted by Peregrin5 at 9:38 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


It sounds like you're frustrated that your bf cannot deal with what are, to you, me and most other people of his age and life experience, fairly simple obstacles. You feel he should be able to take care of this stuff without putting it all over the people around him so you can get on with the enjoyable part of your lives. I couldn't agree more, to be honest. Being with someone who cannot deal with the basic tasks of living, freeing up time for enjoying life, is just not worthwhile imho. There are people in far worse circumstances with few to no advantages who are able to still act in their own self interest, not enjoy watching things spiral downwards and actually enhance their loved one's lives instead of just letting the bad vibes run free all over their friends and family.

Run, run far away. And find someone who has their shit together.
posted by fshgrl at 9:55 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


He sounds annoying and I doubt he will change very much, at least over the short term. If you don't feel that you can put up with it I would think about moving on. If you have no plans whatsoever to move in with him/have joint finances or anything else that might drag you down, then maybe it'll end up okay.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:08 PM on November 19, 2012


Okay. Some harsh shit coming down the pipeline, and I apologize in advance. You're boyfriend is acting like a child. His view is narrow and entirely self-centered. He might treat others well in the short term, but he's demonstrating a real lack of self love here. I've been your boyfriend in the past. You know what I realized? It's unfair and self-centered to expect others to cater to your own wallowing when you aren't willing to expend the necessary effort to change things yourself. You can throw a line to a drowning man, but don't go in that water, because trust me, you'll go under. It's a painful, horrible reality, but a reality it is. I won't say dump him outright if you think there's a glimmer of hope that he'll show initiative. The signs don't look so hot though. We all have to carve our own paths, and he seems unwilling. I don't know how much of this you've put to him, but if he cares about you and himself, he might respond well to a reasoned explanation as to why this is not okay with you. If you say that you're unhappy and it's because of his own deep dissatisfaction (leaving out any criticisms of his past choices, because that only sparks conflict) and you give him a little time to respond in good kind, you'll see how willing he really is to change. The best you can do is cheerlead for him. How long you opt for that approach is up to you, but I wouldn't waste more time than necessary on it. Life's too short to remain unhappy. Best of luck to you.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 10:16 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


He may be depressed or have other mental health issues. None of us can say for sure whether he has deep character flaws or whether it's something else that's a symptom of a treatable illness. We are just strangers on the internet. If I were you I would at least try to see if he's clinically depressed before writing him off as someone who will never change.
posted by xenophile at 10:34 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel a bit more sympathy for your boyfriend's position than it seems most do in this thread. You said he has savings, so it's not like he's mooching off of you. If you're not sharing finances and he hasn't borrowed money from you, it's his own business how to manage his job search and his money. I don't see how this makes him immature or full of himself.

I also don't *necessarily* think he won't ever get his shit together. Personally I was unemployed for over a year, and I really resented people suggesting I was going about my job search wrong, or that I was too picky. It wasn't that I thought I was "too good" for some jobs, I knew what I could and could not handle in a job, and I had savings. I've been on the other side too - my partner was out of work for over a year after we moved in together, living on savings. A few years later we're both employed and doing fine. So, I would gently suggest you back off a little on the job search/money angle, and let him handle that on his own.

The things where he said he can go from happy to depressed so fast, or he feels like fighting, don't seem that terrible to me. It sounds like someone who's a bit moody and stressed out and wants to vent. Sometimes I need to express some darker thoughts or feelings and I do share those with my partner. If he's freaking you out with that stuff, by all means talk with him about how it's affecting you. I just don't see anything that makes him sound like that awful of a guy and just wanted to interpret his behavior in a slightly more charitable light.

For me the bottom line would be, do you trust him? Do you trust him to be responsible and get it together when he needs to? Or do you think his behavior now signals long-term incompatibility in how you deal with finances, how much security you need?
posted by asynchronous at 11:20 PM on November 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


What you are describing doesn't sound like you and your boyfriend are a great fit.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:39 PM on November 19, 2012


I thought I saw a bright red flag waving until you said that you and he don't live together or share finances. Now it's more of a dull yellow flag (?).

Whether he's depressed (challenging), lazy, immature, self-righteous (bad) or a man with a plan and the unwilliness to settle for less than his desires (good) is irrelevant. What matters is whether you can be happy with him and the person he is. If his life choices irritate you this much, consider the reality that the kinds of choices he makes are unlikely to change, regardless of your opinion. (Unless he is depressed and begins recieving treatment, which may or may not have an effect).

It sounds like you're annoyed because he's not doing what you think he should do. That's fine, but he's not going to change. Is this something you can cope with or not? That's what you need to decide, not whether your boyfriend is right or wrong.
posted by windykites at 6:54 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


IF the way you feel about money does not match then end the relationship here. It will just get worse.

No getting around it. in marriages Money is the biggest reasons for divorce.
posted by majortom1981 at 7:52 AM on November 20, 2012


Clearly you're not okay with him, because here you are on the green telling us all about it.

Ask yourself, "am I having fun yet?" I wonder, because I can't think of anything less fun than a guy, in another city, who has incredibly high expectations for a job, and who doesn't feel any sense of urgency to actually get out there and get one.

His money isn't your concern, so congrats on being cool with that.

However, there are many levels of compatibility and while he may be hitting the "great sex' and "amusing when he's in a good mood" levels, he's failing miserably on other, just as important levels, "work ethic", "ability to self-motivate", "teamwork", "seeing other people not as actors in his movie, but as individual souls with their own destiny."

Based on your description, your boyfriend is a narcisist. He has no esteem for others and makes his decisions based on his own needs, rather than the needs of anyone else.

He's depressed because his world-view is not meshing well with his world. In his world-view he believes that he's incredibly awesome and deserving of working with the best and brightest. Rules? Those are for people who have no imagination or intelligence. He's completely baffled as to why the world isn't beating a path to his door with lucritive job offers.

I think you need to assess, not what's wrong with him, but what is it about him that makes him right for you?

If your feelings are changing, it's okay to admit it and let him go. That's part of being in a relationship, discovering all aspects of your boyfriend, under all circumstances.

What you say is that you want to be someone who will be practical about his work and money. What you've discovered is that your boyfriend isn't that person. He may never be that person, no matter what you say or do.

How does that work for you?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:05 AM on November 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to comment on one part of your post:

"Everyone knows not to leave a job without finding a new one!"

Sometimes what everyone "knows" is hogwash. At one point in history, everyone just knew the earth was flat!

Personally I've never regretted leaving a job before I found another one. I find that when I operate from a position of honoring my own needs, including the need to be treated respectfully by an employer and by coworkers, I am happier and more productive, as well as give better interviews!
posted by parrot_person at 9:08 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


He says people feel like they are entitled to everything [...] He went to college, so he feels working in a fast food place or a grocery store is not an option [...] he feels like applying for a temp job is the same as working for a fast food/grocery store!

You do see the irony here, don't you? Someone who is acting the way your boyfriend is acting has no business at all complaining about other people's entitled behavior.

You've gotten good advice upthread, and I think you really need to at least consider putting this relationship in the past, but one fairly minor suggestion I have if you plan on staying for now is this: resist the urge to respond to things like that Facebook post of his you described. It sounds like texting him about that only led to you getting upset, and really, all you're teaching him is that vague, attention-seeking proclamations to no-one in particular are a good way of getting a bit of drama. He even got to act/be "hurt" because of your very good suggestion that he get help! All in all it sounds very passive and aggravating - something that will enable him to maneuver (deliberately or not) into the position of "victim," making it all about him without having to actually address the problems involved. Give that all a pass by just letting future posts or texts of that ilk pass by unremarked-upon.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:50 AM on November 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Personally I've never regretted leaving a job before I found another one. I find that when I operate from a position of honoring my own needs, including the need to be treated respectfully by an employer and by coworkers, I am happier and more productive, as well as give better interviews!

Are you respectful of the people in your life? Do you make decisions based on what's right for you and everyone around you? Do you accept the fallout from your actions? Because the OP's boyfriend is doing none of those things, and he's dragging her down.

Autumn89, he's not supporting you, he's not doing what he needs to be doing, and he's not taking the help you offer. From this side of the screen it's very clear to me that this relationship isn't working for you. You have every right to your feelings. I've kind of been where you are, and it really sucks when you care so much for somebody that you put your own life on the back burner, only to have it not be enough. Sadly, it will probably never be enough.

I'm sorry for what you're going through. Take care of yourself, and find people who will positively affect your life.
posted by disconnect at 12:35 PM on November 20, 2012


You don't need this kind of nonsense in your life. If he is not a responsible person, nothing you can say or do will make him one, and it is hell to be in a relationship with an irresponsible person.


You need someone else and not this dude. So sorry.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:34 PM on November 20, 2012


Thanks for the advice everyone. It really sucks, but I think I might have to dump him soon. All other aspects of our relationship are great, but the negativity does sometimes get me down. I USED to be a very negative person, but I've changed that. I tell myself when I am down, that I have been in worse situations and made it out fine. I've shared these kinds of things with him and he agrees, but still has that negativity there. I want him to be happy.

But it almost seems like he'd rather be depressed then happy......
posted by Autumn89 at 4:05 PM on November 20, 2012


You have to decide whether the two of you are compatible, and if so, how you can work out your problems (if you want to). However, I did note one thing in your question that strikes me as a bit off:
He has been out of a job since July. He quit his job of over a year because he felt like his boss didn't appreciate him enough and he worked in a hostile environment. So he left...without finding a new job.... I cautioned him that it was a bad idea to just leave a job without finding a new one, but he didn't listen to me.... I have the urge to just flip out on him and tell him "Everyone knows not to leave a job without finding a new one!" I know it's mean. And I've done the same with a job, but the thing is I don't have student loans to pay back, and I'm not in a financial situation where I owe anyone money. He tried to pull the same thing with me when I was quitting my job without finding one, but it didn't really work considering I got a job a week after I quit mine.
To distill this down to the essentials: you quit a job without having another job lined up, and yet you criticized him (and still want to do so) for doing the exact same thing you did. There are some differences in the circumstances, but student loans can be deferred (or interest added to the principle, if the total deferment period has been used up), and other loans can often be negotiated. If his job really was toxic, it might have indeed been better for his mental health to quit, even without a new job lined up.

I'm not saying that his was the right decision, only that you both have made the same decision to quit your job before lining up a new one, and now you're criticizing him because it didn't go as well for him as it did for you. Would you be saying the same if it had taken you a month, or three months, to find your next job?

His response to unemployment is a valid issue, but focusing on his decision to quit is counterproductive.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:52 PM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


We finally broke up. He is still without a job. To the last person who commented, that is not the point. HE has things to pay back like loans and rent, and I do not have any of that. And I haven't been without a job in over 6 months. That is what makes us different.
For all those who offered their advice and point of view, thanks.
posted by Autumn89 at 5:14 PM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


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