Help me be a loving partner as I watch my SO throw his money away
June 21, 2013 8:04 PM   Subscribe

I don't want to tell my boyfriend what to do with his money. It's his money. We don't live together so that (among other things) we can keep our finances separate. Plus, it's not like I'm some damn genius or Rockefeller. But I am seriously watching him throw money away and he's not even burning it so as to get the pleasure of watching the flames. Help me be a nice person, stop worrying about it, stop caring, and just let him have his fun. (SO many details follow)

Many years ago, my boyfriend (my "SO") and his best friend ("Friend") went into business together in a field that my SO knew nothing about. They lost their shirts and they both are still struggling somewhat financially because of this (old liens and outstanding taxes and the like).

Flash forward a decade or two. My SO was unemployed for more than 2 years, ending just about a year ago, and he had no savings and was living on unemployment. During that time, I learned that Friend and Friend's girlfriend ("GF") were involved in the Global Information Network, which is a multi-level marketing organization inuring to the benefit of Keven Trudeau. No disrespect intended to any of my SO, his Friend or the GF, but none of them are particularly well educated and they all are a bit gullible. My SO joined the group in order to boost GF's marketing level. While unemployed, he was paying about $150/month to this organization and getting nothing in return. During this time, I paid for pretty much all of our entertainment expenses and I found out about his involvement moments after I had given him a couple hundred bucks to buy an interview suit. I was livid. I still am struggling to regain my financial footing after paying for everything for both of us for 2+ years.

I thought it was all okay and over with when he got a job, but it's coming back again. He was recently laid off. He is actively promoting Friend's new business (his involvement in this is likely to have affected his productivity in his paying job, leading to the layoff) -- including investing about $25k in it, and I doubt it will stop there. My SO knows nothing about the actual business being promoted, and while I readily admit that I do not understand all of the ins and outs of startups, I do work in corporate finance and I simply do not see how the Friend's ideas are monetizable. They have corporate counsel who is not really pulling his weight, my SO has handed over a cashier's check made out to a company that doesn't legally exist yet, I have done my best to protect his interests by giving him some documentation to have executed, but I guess at the end of the day it doesn't matter because there won't be any assets against which to collect.

I try to just stay the fuck out of it and only answer specific questions I am asked. But it is so hard, because really whenever I am around Friend, he tells me some story with wide-eyed innocence that any fool with access to google could see is a scam of one kind or another. The latest is that GF is on Kevin Trudeau's HCG and 500 calorie per day diet. Fine, let her kill herself, but please don't lets discuss this in terms of my diet which is about eating actual food and exercising.

As far as the business goes, the last craziness was a web-based seminar that Friend is asking everyone involved in the new company to sign up for -- it's $3,000 per person. It guarantees that your book will be an amazon best seller. (Friend is writing a book, which is the initial marketing tool of the new company) Or your money back. Scam? Maybe it's not a scam, but I think it's at least very clear that no one in this group understands how little it means to have a book listed as an amazon best seller for an hour. Friend told me seriously that he had sent the organizer a pleading email begging her to allow his group to participate even though the seminar was supposedly sold out. How about the part where you can always tell a scam by the fact that the advertisements create a false sense of scarcity -- have you ever had to beg the organizer of a webinar to allow you to pay to participate?

These are nice people. They evidently are having a blast taking this very seriously. My SO is the only one who is investing actual cash in the business and he seems to be perfectly fine with losing it completely.

Why am I so angry and what can I do about it? 90 percent of the time it doesn't bother me in the slightest. Maybe 95 percent of the time. And then there will come that moment where I'm like, I can't hear another word about this or I will scream.

Help me. I love my boyfriend. He's the kindest, sweetest man in the world. I don't want to see him taken advantage of, yet I know that some lessons you have to learn the hard way, sometimes repeatedly. I can (and do) limit but not completely avoid conversations with Friend about his latest woo woo.

How do I bite my tongue, shut up, and stop stewing over this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (66 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Where do you see this relationship going? I think you should evaluate that very very carefully.

You supported him for two years. I think that was enough and you should not go for three.

You're obviously not your bf's priority, nor is his own financial stability a priority. He acts like your wallet will always be open to keep his social life afloat. Are you OK with that?

Obviously, you should not marry, buy property, or otherwise tie yourself to this fellow. He has the capacity to sink you both.

I couldn't love someone who puts me and them in danger like that. YMMV.
posted by jbenben at 8:22 PM on June 21, 2013 [92 favorites]

I think you would feel less emotionally invested if you were not financially invested. If I'm reading this right, you were somewhat supporting your SO for 2 years, and then when he found (and lost) a job, he had $25,000 laying around for investments? And it took him ten to twenty years to pay off his last bad bet with the same crew? Maybe financially disentangle yourself because you're looking at someone with a 20+ year history of bad financial decisions and being bailed out of them by others.
posted by Houstonian at 8:24 PM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I can't favourite jbenben hard enough. You shouldn't bite your tongue, you should run. This isn't about telling him what to do with his money, seeing as he still owes you money, you floated him for TWO YEARS! You have every right to be annoyed and alarmed. You say he's kind and sweet, I see someone taking complete advantage of you. In other words, your boyfriend is not the only gullible person getting fleeced for their cash here.
posted by Jubey at 8:36 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]

I don't know why you're angry, but anger is a very valuable tool. It tells you that something is wrong. I would examine this situation as if you were outside of it: what is wrong here?

It may also help to think - what advice would you give if it was your friend coming to you with this problem?

Personally, this reads as a red flag to me. He is prioritizing this strange debt dance with his friend over financial security. His financial security certainly impacts you, particularly if you consider this to be a long-term relationship. No wonder you are angry!

I wish you the best of luck as you navigate this difficult situation.
posted by k8lin at 8:45 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

You know you cannot marry this man, right? No matter how sweet/wonderful he is, a marriage is a legal bond and you will be financially entangled with him. It is clear that his financial priorities are not the same a your's.

So, given that marriage is off the table, are you getting enough from this relationship right now to keep it alive?
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:46 PM on June 21, 2013 [12 favorites]

It's perfectly okay to sit down with him and say you willingly supported him for 2 years, and from now on you want to keep your finances completely separate from his. Part of your resentment comes from realizing that you volunteered to pay for everything that his unemployment didn't cover. Forgive yourself for that, and do things differently from now on.

As for having a hard time watching him give money away -- I think that would be difficult for anyone! I'm sure you've told him you're concerned, and he continues on the same path. I suggest that you try to remind yourself not to criticise or complain, not even in your own mind, and see how that goes. There's nothing wrong with you if you can't do that, and it's okay to leave this very nice man if you can't stand how he handles his finances.
posted by wryly at 8:47 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

This man may be your boyfriend, but he is not your partner. Partners work together for the good of the whole AND each other, not just themselves.

It sounds like you have good reason to feel betrayed and be angry. The best way to deal with anger is to walk through it and process it to the other side. Once you have worked through the anger and the reasons for that anger, then you can, if you choose, continue the relationship keeping all finances entirely separate. If you do something socially, you each pay your own way. All the time.

If you cannot overlook this aspect of your boyfriend, then you may need to be rethinking the relationship. He's not likely to change.

You could, of course, suggest some financial counseling, and see what his response to that is...
posted by batikrose at 8:50 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Why am I so angry and what can I do about it?

You're angry because he's a wasteful, stupid person with money and he takes advantage of you for money he doesn't have. You can break up with him, because he doesn't see this as a problem.
posted by xingcat at 8:50 PM on June 21, 2013 [22 favorites]

A friend I know dealt with a similar situation with her husband. In his situation, it wasn't foolish and wasteful business investments, it was foolish education investments.

The guy took out approximately $250,000 in loans for a graduate education, then stopped when he was approximately 70-80% finished with his PhD, deciding that he had changed his mind and "needed to pursue something else." In the meantime, she had been supporting him while he threw money away.

The $250k was racked up over a number of years... apparently he pursued this degree ever so slowly... while in school full time. And while taking out "living expense" loans to buy himself cars, et cetera.

After leaving school, he continued to drift between crises and she was continually left to pick up the pieces... all while dealing with a staggering amount of utterly useless debt that had to be paid down every month.

Naturally, in the end, she got sick of it and divorced him. It doesn't matter how much of a sweetheart your SO is... do you really want to continue to deal with these kinds of completely avoidable crises in the future?
posted by Old Man McKay at 8:52 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

You're angry because you are putting more into this relationship than he is, and he is taking advantage of you (perhaps unwittingly, but still). You say he is sweet and kind, and so it hurts even more that this sweet kind person is throwing away his future, and also throwing away your future together. You supporting him for 2 years enabled him to continue behaving this way, and while it was the right thing to do in one sense (as a partner) maybe it was the wrong thing to do because it didn't allow him to fail. Maybe he needs to hit rock bottom, and realise that he is making a mistake.

I know you love him, but my advice as an impartial outsider is that you should end the relationship. While you two might be a good match emotionally, you cannot marry him, or have a lifetime together with him. You deserve better. You deserve a lifelong relationship, if that is what you want. You need to find someone else for that relationship. I am sorry to say that, because I am sure its not what you want to hear.
posted by Joh at 8:58 PM on June 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

I don't think he is taking advantage of you, at least not consciously. It's not like he's using his money in a way that benefits him at all, or that he's spending his money all on himself. He is making extremely stupid decisions with his money that you are then bearing the consequences for. You shouldn't be biting your tongue. You need to absolutely say something to him about his horrible decision-making skills, and his financial idiocy. He should get financial counseling. He absolutely needs to stop putting money into his friends' business(es), and you need to stop enabling him. If he doesn't get his shit together after you say something, you need to make a decision about what's more important to you.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 9:02 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd really want my partner to pay me back if I financially supported him for two years and he came into some cash. I should top the list. It doesn't even sound like you are on his. Why not?

Sometimes people are so sweet but have a flaw that can't be overcome. It's not that he spends his own money - it is that he is willing to take yours when he doesn't have any, and doesn't see any problem with that. Partners need to be on the same page regarding finances. You aren't. He may be great in other ways, but this is deal breaker territory.

Perhaps the question here is, sweetness aside, why are you letting someone take advantage of you financially? Is it because he doesn't realize he's doing it? Well, maybe he doesn't, but it's not that he doesn't know about financial things, it's that he isn't interested in learning anything on the topic, and he doesn't trust your sensible advice. You can decide that it isn't worth the grief to be with someone like that - an adult that you're not sure can take care of themselves. You deserve to be with someone whose judgement you trust. Save yourself the heartache. This isn't really about the money at all. Basically he's showing you that financially he takes care of himself, and friends, and you take care of yourself, and him. What happens if you ever cannot support yourself? Will he be there for you?

Maybe financially security isn't important to him, but it is to you. That ought to be enough of a reason for him to cut you a check and say thank you for the time you supported him. It's about having a partner who respects that something is important to you, and tries to support you, that is missing here.
posted by It's a Parasox at 9:11 PM on June 21, 2013 [8 favorites]

While unemployed, he was paying about $150/month to this organization and getting nothing in return. During this time, I paid for pretty much all of our entertainment expenses and I found out about his involvement moments after I had given him a couple hundred bucks to buy an interview suit. I was livid. I still am struggling to regain my financial footing after paying for everything for both of us for 2+ years.

Some guy taking $200 from you to buy an interview suit and bleeding you for money while pissing away $150/month on his friend's pyramid scheme is not a nice, sweet guy. Please get therapy.

To answer your actual question: If you stay, the way to stop caring, bite your tongue, etc is to stop giving him money, stop paying for entertainment, etc. That isn't very realistic. Even without living together, it is pretty much impossible to have a close, committed relationship and just let him "sink or swim" and potentially starve. That's why codependence occurs: His dumb choices impact you, like it or not. You are asking us to tell you how to do something that realistically cannot be done.

People who actually care about you will make choices to keep their job, pay their bills, ditch their toxic, leechlike friends, etc. If he actually cared about you, you should not have to ask strangers on the internet how to stop being mad about how he is bleeding you financially. Most people are slow to learn. But the kind of burn he has experienced usually gets through even the thickest skulls. Yet, he persists, with no end in sight. I like to bend over backwards to give people the benefit of the doubt. I can't find it in me on this one.
posted by Michele in California at 9:25 PM on June 21, 2013 [42 favorites]

I don't think you need therapy or a neti pot or whatever, but you probably should really rethink this relationship. It's just going to be more of the same, more of the same.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:30 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Look, man. You don't respect him. You think of him as a wide-eyed rube waiting to be taken by hucksters and--from what you've told us--this is completely correct. So I want you to imagine nothing changes. You guys get married and he blows the wedding budget on the latest surefire thing. The kids need dental work but he's sunk the savings into something else. Imagine this is your future, then decide accordingly.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:31 PM on June 21, 2013 [27 favorites]

Your boyfriend stole from you. He represented to you that he needed money because he did not have enough for a particular purpose (to buy an interview suit), and then used that money (or other money he could have used for that purpose, because money is fungible) to give to a friend's scam business. I would be livid about that alone. Add to that the fact that you felt obligated to pay for his entertainment for TWO YEARS, and that would be a DTMFA-worthy event.

If you're going to stay in this relationship, I think you need to start talking about the future. You've been dating for years, and it's time to have a talk, not just about the relationship itself, but about where each of you sees your lives going. Does he want to get married someday? Does he want kids? What kind of career does he want? Where in the country or the world would he like to live? Does he want to retire someday, and if so what does he want to do after retirement? And same with you, what do you want when it comes to the big, life-altering questions that most young adults are keeping in mind when making major life decisions? What do you want?

Once you've gotten that figured out, I think you do need to wade into the cesspool of talking about how his actions right now are undermining his goals, and how, if the relationship continues, you rightly worry that they will also undermine your goals. It does sound as though he's a bit, umm, optimistic, to put it mildly, about the prospects of this business, so ask him to lay out his business plan and to set limits on overhead and scale contributions and distributions from/to all the partners, and decide on success metrics that, if not met, will be cause to close the business. Any business that doesn't have a clear business plan is already in trouble, regardless of whether it's an outright scam like this one might well be.

I also think you need to totally cut off contact with the friend and his girlfriend. These people make you crazy, and I think you have every right not to eat with people who judge you for eating. At the very least, any conversation about the business or about the scam or about your diet is off limits, and you must leave the room and refuse to participate if they refuse to stop talking about it in your presence.

You're dating a dreamer. If you want him to be a partner, he needs to be able to fit his dreams into building a real life together, which means compromises from both of you. He needs to be able to create a steady income that can support him and help support your relationship. He needs to care about what makes you happy. And if you're hoping to make this permanent, the two of you together need to plan out whether you're going to procreate or buy real estate or how much to save for emergencies and all of the other decisions adults and families make together, and you need to be able to trust one another to actually stick to those agreements. If you're not both (mostly him, but you a little too, since you need to be able to accept that he may always have these flights of passion, even once the money issues are under control) willing to make those compromises and love the things about one another that make them this way, then I think you need to break up. Sooner rather than later.

Oh, and not one single cent passes from you to him as long as he's doing this. He wants to go out to dinner and a show? He pays at least half. He needs new clothes? He can save for them like the rest of us do. No more "loans," no more "bailing him out." He needs to be a big boy and learn how to deal with this stuff the way adults do.
posted by decathecting at 9:45 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Why is "irrational anger" a tag on this question? Do you actually think your anger is irrational? This is not a trifling issue in an intimate relationship. He is dragging you down into a pit with his ridiculous money problems, and, worse, he doesn't seem to care. Why that is, who knows.

On your end, this is cognitive dissonance in action. OF COURSE you are angry about this. Given the numbers of years you mentioned, you are describing the actions of an adult who is probably not young. Why do you feel you need to coddle him? Why aren't you allowed to be angry when he does things that are damaging to you?

When you say you were livid about that one situation, how did he respond to that? It's not clear whether or not you've communicated your concerns to him. I'm wondering if he is aware of what you think of any of this. Since he's accepted so much money from you over the years, it is wrong for you to think the proper response is to simply "stop being angry" unless you want this man to ruin you financially and emotionally.
posted by wondermouse at 9:50 PM on June 21, 2013 [11 favorites]

I have ranted before about my ex who would blow his entire paycheck on crap within 12 hours of getting paid. He occasionally fell for scams too, though not as frequently as your dude does, apparently.

You can't marry him. He is a financial drain on you and won't stop blowing his own money. And much as you--and I--want to be all, "It's his money and he should do what he wants with it, I wanna be the cool girlfriend and not the dictator," this is not so much the case in practice when they end up kind of living off your money. Joh pretty much says it for me: he may be nice, but you can't marry him and what's the point of the relationship if you can't get more involved with him because he'll suck you dry financially? Which he will.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:58 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The way the question is worded is a little confusing, but I think I understand that he was supporting himself (on unemployment) for those two years, and you were paying for everything you did together? And then for some extras like the suit? So basically you were funding the relationship. If you broke up with him, he'd probably muddle along, maybe with fewer dinners out.

But look, if you've been paying for 100% of the relationship and then some, what does that say about what the relationship is worth to him? Less than his sketchy investments, that's obvious. It's really quite depressing.

Going forward, at the very least, you should do what batikrose advises,
If you do something socially, you each pay your own way. All the time.

But for me this would be a dealbreaker. Your bf may be naive, gullible, whatever, but that doesn't let him off the hook for dealing with his finances responsibly. You don't personally have to get into planning his budget. But you can tell him you have a lot invested in the relationship (both ways), and before it goes further, you want him to see a financial adviser. Remind him he's lost money before and tell him you're worried about where he's headed with these ventures now. Tell him that if he doesn't at least get independent outside advice from a professional, you're not going to be able to stand with him through more financial losses/uncertainty.

(And yeah, where did the $25k come from and why on earth isn't he pouring some of it into your relationship and buying his own damn business suits??)
posted by torticat at 10:14 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

If you're with someone you want to stay with for the long-term, you're anticipating a time when your lives and finances will be merged. This is not a man you can merge finances with.

He may be sweet, but he can't be long-term commitment material, period. Take it from someone who bore the brunt of the financial burden in a failed marriage: the resentment that builds up as you struggle to make ends meet while he's pissing away what is now your mutual money will make a bitter, unhappy end to the relationship later on.... I'm not a big DTMFA person, but ask yourself: wouldn't you rather find the man you CAN spend the rest of your life with sooner than later? Cut your losses, imo.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:15 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Dear OP:
I am suggesting therapy because this has gone on so long that I do not believe DTMFA will really solve it. I stayed as long as I did in my obviously dysfunctional, unhappy (and everyone knew it) marriage in part because I was convinced bailing too soon would be a case of "new face, same old crapola." I wanted to figure out wtf was wrong with ME and not repeat the stupid stuff. You are in corporate finance and knowledgeable about money, yet cannot fathom why you are angry at being bled financially for two years to the point where your finances are in need of some kind of recovery. This runs a good deal deeper than "bad luck with picking boyfriends."

I have read plenty of books on women and money and my mom worked for an heiress whose husband ran through all her money. After the divorce, she had to work for a living. This kind of financial abuse of women runs almost as deep in society as the slave labor of "women's work." When a guy is bled financially by a gf, we call her a gold digging whore and openly acknowledge that she does not care about the man. When a gal is bled, we typically talk about standing by your man, true love, and so on. I cannot even think of a male equivalent for the phrase "gold digging whore."

That is why I suggested therapy. You are being methodically abused and do not even see it as abusive. You think he is sweet and unfortunate. I have known other women like you. You need help.

I wish you the best.
posted by Michele in California at 10:18 PM on June 21, 2013 [47 favorites]

whenever I am around Friend, he tells me some story with wide-eyed innocence

They evidently are having a blast taking this very seriously. My SO is the only one who is investing actual cash in the business

So Friend makes with the big blinky eyes, everyone gets excited about how fun this is going to be, and then your SO hands over money that he doesn't have? I think you should examine the possibility that Friend is not so very nice. Does SO ever say no to Friend?

Stay if you're happy. But don't hold your tongue - tell your SO that this makes you angry. Tell him that it is hard to be in a relationship with someone who won't take good care of himself. Tell him it's ok to disappoint Friend.
posted by balacat at 10:22 PM on June 21, 2013

He's an utterly irresponsible freeloader who has fallen into a cult that exploits people they way he was exploited. MLM is a cult, make no mistake.

I'd be ditching that MF already. There is only grief in his future and that of anyone he can use. You included. You've described a pathologically f'ed up person.
posted by spitbull at 10:30 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You're not financially separate. You are wasting your security on someone who is allowing you no control over what he does with that security. Think of yourself, your retirement, the security of your future children, and do one of two things: one, require that he pay you back an estimate of what you spent supporting both of you. Two, require a significant amount of control over his finances--although the ship has already sailed with that cashier's check.

Stop trying not to control him--you should be controlling him more if you're going to be losing out, or you should be genuinely separate which means him paying you back for what you did for him. Right now you have the worst of both worlds. You lost a bunch of money and security and you don't even feel like you can say anything about wonder you're stressed and upset.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:00 PM on June 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

There are lots of kind and sweet men in the world who are not uneducated, gullible, irresponsible, inconsiderate, and perpetually unemployed. You don't need to put up with such things just to be with a kind and sweet man. In fact, I guarantee you he is definitely not the kindest and sweetest man in the world, because if he were, he wouldn't be doing things that have this kind of negative impact on you. But also remember, ultimately it's your fault for letting yourself be in that role. In that regard, you are the problem here, not him, because you are the enabler and you are tolerating what he's doing.
posted by Dansaman at 11:27 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Depending on the how I interpret the context your SO seems to range from criminally negligent with money to downright mean to those he mooches off of.

Let's assume he's actually a nice but flaky guy. At some point if someone is really just that unmindful of scam artists he's a danger to everyone around him. Would you be friends with a guy who thought it was fun to run across interstate highways? Or do highly dangerous drugs? If not why are you with a guy who is just as dangerous with money?
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 11:33 PM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Falling in love with a genuinely lovely human being who is also, incidentally, foolish with money, is not a psychological issue (which requires addressing in therapy [in my opinion]), however, your anger is indeed justified. He has the absolute right to pursue whatever business ventures he chooses, but he too has the responsibility to deal with the consequences of his investment decisions without your financial assistance. It appears you've been living separately for quite some time - if you're both comfortable continuing this arrangement indefinitely and you can too completely remove yourself from his financial woes, there's no legitimate reason why you can't or shouldn't continue the relationship - not every, "prince" and, "princess" wants or needs to reside in a castle and make babies together happily ever after.
posted by Nibiru at 11:45 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hey, I'm not as doom-and-gloom as some of the posters, but I have to agree with their conclusions. I have supported my father for a while and while he has been difficult, he has been able to present some baseline care for our shared financial situation. If one party is throwing away money, it never goes well for either party.

I would strongly recommend getting your distance, your own place, and maybe you can still hang out and bang or whatever. But even sharing an address can be a liability if the other person is stupid enough with money. There are ways to get entangled in his mess even if you never share a bank account. If you cosign for a loan, or he gets involved in tax evasion, the law can start casting a wide net in audits and other expensive, awful things that you can avoid by keeping your distance.

Let me give you a real life example:

You put your name on an LLC agreement, or even as a bookkeeper, for one of his businesses.

It goes under, but he doesn't properly file the paperwork to shut it down. And he forgets those last withholding payments that should have bee sent to the IRS. The reports don't get filed, the fines go way up, and soon you're the only person the IRS can find with signatures on paperwork that has any money.

It's not a good place to be. Trust me. Follow your heart, but don't forget to use your head.
posted by tripping daisy at 11:45 PM on June 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I married a man like this. I kept working to dig us out of holes, and working and doing without. In the end, I left him and I resented him getting half of the value of the sale of our house, because if it'd been left to him, there would have been no house, and he nearly lost it on me several times from acts of irresponsibility. He's gone through all the money from that now, in less than 2 years, despite earning nearly 100k per annum, and is borrowing off the kids. It's not like he does anything, except eat junkfood and play WOW. Seriously, no matter how wonderful he is, you can do better, you deserve better. Unnecessary poverty sucks more than the regular kind.
posted by b33j at 12:01 AM on June 22, 2013 [14 favorites]

It's perfectly fine to act on that advice. This guy has a major flaw that will always drain you and diminish your independence, and I guarantee you that this guy is not ready to be in a relationship and you deserve better. The only condition under which you WOULDN'T deserve better is if you yourself have a major issue that makes you incapable of having an honest and respectful relationship with someone, in which case you should not be dating him anyway.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:47 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

The very first thing you've got to do is, Shut Your Wallet. Starting immediately, NEVER again lend BF a single penny: not BF, not his Friend, not GF.

If BF is unemployed, that's HIS problem, not yours; his bills are exactly that, HIS bills, and he's the one who has to figure out how to pay them. (And if he ends up homeless, don't let him move in!) Don't cosign anything, don't have anything to do with any of their business ideas or financial schemes (don't hand them any more paperwork), don't hand any of them any money ever. Basically, keep EVERYTHING you have totally separate from any of these people. Keep in mind the airline oxygen-mask rule: always put your own oxygen mask on first --- you can't help anyone if you pass out before them. In this case, that means keeping yourself financially secure before anything else.

And that includes social situations: in restaurants or bars, insist on separate checks for each of you --- don't pay for BF's drinks or meals, don't accept "I'll pay you back later" from ANY of them. You pay your way, and BF and Friend and GF should pay for themselves.... and if they can't pay, then they shouldn't run up a bill, right? If you're going to pick up movie tickets or something for any of them, tell them to give you the cash IN ADVANCE. And if this means that Friend and GF don't want to be around you, well good!

From what you write, I'm guessing that BF is at least 40-50 years old, which means that he is NOT going to change his ways: his path is set. I'm sorry if cutting off his access to your money would mean BF drops you, but that might be good too, because it sounds like he's been using you for years.
posted by easily confused at 2:49 AM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

He is not the kindest, sweetest man in the world. He is either a delusional, lazy idiot or he is a user who presents with a smile.

That he * won't* work a job -- which is how you describe him between the lines here -- means he isn't even a man, no matter how old he is, unless he is a con man. Grownups know money comes from working, not webinars and amazon best-sellers.

Run, don't walk, in the opposite direction. No one who could fall for a Kevin Trudeau scam is worth your time. He is only with you for your money. Staying with him makes you as gullible as he is.
posted by spitbull at 3:48 AM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]

Why am I so angry...?

You're angry because you are being manipulated and taken advantage of.

By blowing the money he could be spending on his own entertainment and clothing, knowing full well that you will fund those things for him, he's literally spending your money by proxy.

He's manipulated you by putting you in between a rock and a hard place, basically giving you nothing but crappy choices:

1) you pay for entertainment vs you don't get to have a social life with your boyfriend

2) you buy him an interview suit vs he won't get the job if you don't (and as a consequence, his/your financial problems continue unabated)

3) you accept the relationship on his terms (including his stupid, shitty financial behavior) vs you break up with this "kind, sweet" man (and deal with the emotional pain a breakup brings with it)

Which of those choices is the happy choice? Which of those options feels good to choose? None of the above. And you are angry because the reason those are your only choices is because of his behavior with money, behavior he could change but chooses not to.

He knows you don't want to sit at home every evening/weekend, and he knows you don't want to go out alone, so he knows he can do what he wants with his money and you'll pay for everything.

He knows you want him to get a job because you are tired of paying for everything, so he knows he can do what he wants with his money and you'll pay for his interview suit.

He knows you don't want to break up with him because you love him and breaking up sucks in any case, so he knows he can fuck you over financially and you'll stay in the relationship and put up with it.

By using what you want against you, he's grabbed ahold of all the power and choice in the relationship and you feel powerless. Why would you NOT be angry?

You get your power back in one of three ways:

1. You change the rules of the game - whenever he puts you in a situation where you have to pay for him vs other crappy choice he believes you won't choose, you always choose "other crappy choice". In effect you are re-educating about what you will put up with in the relationship. This has a very small chance of working to get him to change his behavior, but it will take a long time and it will suck for you.

You'll sit at home or go out without him rather than pay for his dinner and movie ticket. You'll watch him lose the job opportunity because he has nothing to wear. He will try to wear you down, he will try new tricks and tactics to manipulate you into paying for things, and you must remain absolutely committed to not paying for anything he should be paying for, not even once. Because if you give in to a new tactic, you will only be teaching him that the new tactic works.

Does this sound exhausting and not-fun? Yes, and it will likely be that way for a long time, if not forever. Some people would rather escalate their manipulations to truly ugly levels rather than give in and behave in the reasonable way you want them to.

2. You stop playing the game - You leave the relationship, cut off contact, and poof, his power over you is gone. A very simple solution to the problem, though not easy.

3. You choose to accept - and stop being angry about - that this is the way he is and he's not going to change, and figure out how you are going to pay for the relationship from now until eternity, with little to no help from him. You accept it by acknowledging that you are the one making the choice to do it. People do this all the time - resignedly support partners who are financially dead weight, because they otherwise enjoy the relationship.

Or, you can remain in this tense, angry, resentful state indefinitely. People do that, too.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 3:59 AM on June 22, 2013 [31 favorites]

No disrespect intended to any of my SO, his Friend or the GF, but none of them are particularly well educated and they all are a bit gullible.

I find it hard to understand how this isn't just 'I wish I did not have this disrespect.' It is hard to have a good, equitable relationship with a person you perceive to be poorly educated and gullible. And it is impossible to not agree with your assessment of him as that.
posted by kmennie at 5:39 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Casino addicts lose their money, but they keep gambling anyway, because it feels so damn good. Your SO's business fantasies feel good to him, so he keeps pulling the handle. He's an addict, and you need to treat him like one. Tell him the truth. Don't believe anything he says. Set boundaries. Protect yourself. Try to get him to go to a meeting.
posted by markcmyers at 6:00 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Speaking as the daughter of someone with similar (if less extremely damaging) tendencies - think long and hard about raising a family with him.

It took me a long time, some bad decisions and a couple of desperate situations, to finally understand how money works - saving, self-discipline with spending, budgeting, the value of planning ahead - because I was raised in a home with similar attitudes towards money as your SO's. My father and mother had separate accounts, with her earning about a third of his paycheck, and he got into sketchy investements, and my mom - bless her! - and her money were very easily parted. They never managed to make a budget for themselves, let alone stick to it.

Being a child with needs, it was frustrating and even traumatizing to experience their frustration, and even resentment whenever we needed them to buy us something unexpected - books for school, allergy medicine, pay for a school trip, get us new shoes, etc. All money talks were fights, we learned to fear asking, and to stop expecting stuff for them.

My parents are good people, in their hearts they are kind and they love us. But life with children is even more unpredictable than life as a single person, and if parents can't manage to control their finances while they are young and relatively unburdened, their family life will be mined with conflict. If you both can deal with that not letting it hurt your kids, then fine. My parents made us feel like we were asking too much, when we knew they could have afforded it if they'd just smartened up.

Your kids will likely grow up feeling insecure about money and your ability to aid and protect them in an emergency. That stuff leaves scars.
posted by in girum at 6:03 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]

Honestly, of my gf did this, I would just dump her. I couldn't respect someone that repeatedly gullible on any level. You haven't said what you think there is to salvage from this relationship, but I'm sure you can find whatever it is in someone else.
posted by empath at 6:04 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm with Ghostride The Whip: "You don't respect him."

You may love him to bits, but not being able to respect your partner -- in your case because of his demonstrated inability to learn from his mistakes -- that's just not a healthy basis for any relationship. And that's probably why you can't stop stewing over it.
posted by moody cow at 6:07 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Really, it could be *worse* than addiction. MLMs are cults. They mess with peoples' minds, decision making processes, sense of self, and basic identity. I was reading along thinking this guy was just an irresponsible flake, but when you got to the MLM part I recognized right away what you were dealing with. I have lost a friend to an MLM. I spent a lot of time looking into the subject, years back, and concluded that they really operate *exactly* like any religious cult. Your SO is on the hook. He is probably hiding expenditures from you.

When you've seen it a few times, you realize what it is. It's a glazed, desperate, otherness that comes over those who have been looped into a cult. In this case (as in many) it's a cult that plans to bleed your SO as dry as they can financially, specifically *by* bleeding everyone he knows and can con into continuing to support his "business" ventures dry financially. They are trying to get you into the cult, but failing that, to take as much money from you as they can. It's how MLM works. There is no product. No one will ever sell thousands of copies of their "book" on Amazon (what's this schlub going to write a book about? How to get rich by joining an MLM and sending him more money, is what.). It is *all* *a* *giant* *confidence* *game* and you are a *mark,* certainly to your SO's friend and girlfriend, almost certainly at this point to your SO himself.

Look carefully into the subject. You have lost this person to an MLM, and only bankruptcy awaits if you don't get him out of your life.

MLMs are all the same. They operate by convincing people they too can con the people around them into giving up all their money for nothing.
posted by spitbull at 6:08 AM on June 22, 2013 [9 favorites]

WAKE UP. You don't support him, you RUN from him. Keep your wallet closed.

Grown people don't do this. He's not acting like an adult.

If you don't want to break up, don't. Say this to him, "I love you but I HATE your financial decisions. I am not giving you any money for anything. In fact, I believe that you owe me money from your last spate of unemployment. So if you and friend want to give your money to a felon, that's your lookout. I'm done being your bank, and if you don't get your shit together, I'm done being your SO. Who do you trust with money? You and your friend, who have lost $$$ between you, or me, the one with a stabile job and who has supported you all this time? The best predictor of future success is past performance. Based on what I've seen, you'll both be living in a cardboard box before Labor Day. Just don't come crying to me when it happens."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:37 AM on June 22, 2013 [8 favorites]

You're probably shocked by this thread. It's kind of a bucket of cold water.

How do I bite my tongue, shut up, and stop stewing over this?

To answer your question very specifically, you create zero financial entanglement. Results will follow.

It's totally possible to be in a happy, loving relationship with an alcoholic, or a gambling addict. You just have to have your own life, and zero dependence on the problem person. One good place to start is not being in a position where you're abused and taken advantage of, because we feel angry when that happens. As you do. Reasonably.

If there's no engagement in your life with his series of willfully, hilariously bad choices, it's likely you won't have cause to feel angry.

But I don't understand at all why "shutting up" is a goal of yours. Is your idea of a relationship one where two adults don't share their opinions and experience about each others' choices? That is not my idea of a mature or healthy relationship.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:20 AM on June 22, 2013 [12 favorites]

I don't get (and I know someone said it above) how you supported someone for two years and then they suddenly had 25k to give away? That doesn't make sense. You are (I'm assuming from your job in corporate finance) a smart, educated and level-headed person. Why are you mixed up with this boyfriend and his friends? Really, go to therapy, drop him and move on with your life. Maybe that wasn't your question "how do I bite my tongue etc" but it's the only answer that goes with this situation.
posted by bquarters at 7:43 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

I agree with the others... this looks like a relationship you should leave asap.

I imagine it's painful and scary to imagine the near future without your SO. Perhaps you dread the humiliating feeling that goes with admitting you invested too much money and time with your SO and his friends. This feeling is very common. As you grow and heal, the humiliation can change to acceptance of lessons learned, and you will feel self-respect.
A fresh start is scary because there will be a big void. It's daunting to think you will need to find a new social circle, and eventually a new boyfriend.

SUGGESTION: Start small and start NOW. While you are in the midst of grappling with this decision, find something new for yourself alone. Do volunteer work. Go to meetups. Go to a book discussion. Put your foot in a new world. Important: Do not include your SO in these activities. He and his friends would see your new activities as a place to grow their MLM. IMO, you need a healthy activity separate from all of them.

Look for areas where you can get emotional support outside of the boyfriend/MLM group. Can you spend more time with family? Church? A self-help group? This is a stretch, but you might consider looking into a 12-step group, like

Wishing you a happy healthy future.
posted by valannc at 7:52 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like others here, I could not be intimate with someone like this, it would just be too frustrating and upsetting.

> How do I bite my tongue, shut up, and stop stewing over this?

You can choose to bite your tongue, but there is no way to watch someone you care about hit themselves in the head with a hammer and not get upset about it.

If you want to stop stewing over this, you'll have to stop caring about him. If you stay with him, you have to accept this foolishness as part of the relationship.

> I don't want to see him taken advantage of, yet I know that some lessons you have to learn the hard way, sometimes repeatedly.

I think you should assume your boyfriend will never learn, and any money he manages to save will get pissed away on a new scam a few years after it is accumulated.

I know a 50 year old man who sent several thousand dollars away to a variation of the Nigerian bank account scam last year. Everyone he knew, including his mentally retarded sister, told him it was a scam, and he did it anyway. He, too, is a genuinely nice guy. He makes an honest living driving a truck, saves his money for a while, and then squanders his savings on something foolish, over and over. Don't expect your boyfriend to change.
posted by mattu at 8:08 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I apologise if this was already asked but -- why do you bite your tongue? There is a way to communicate that you think your SO is making poor financial choices that doesn't include telling him that you think he is gullible and not well educated. Especially when it's affecting YOUR financial situation as well as his.
posted by sm1tten at 8:29 AM on June 22, 2013

I think based on the majority of comments, what you should do is abundantly clear. But I wanted to add that in addition to your current situation, you need to think about your future. Because this might be part of a pattern that you repeat--and possibly have repeated in the past.

Do you like being a mommy to a thoughtless, self-centered little boy? Because that's what this relationship is. Look at your SO and see him for the "sweet" little boy he is. He does not respect you, he does not respect the time and emotions that you have invested in the relationship. He does not think like an adult, and you are being put in a position where you are his mother figure, swooping in to save him again and again. He not only can't commit to you, he can't seem to commit to a job. He was "laid off" multiple times? You should ask yourself why that happens to him again and again.

So, OK, you're no genius, you're no Rockefeller. But I'm guessing you make a steady living and you pay your bills and you live up to your responsibilities -- and then some. You deserve better from your "significant" other.
posted by BeBoth at 8:56 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would strongly recommend getting your distance, your own place, and maybe you can still hang out and bang or whatever. But even sharing an address can be a liability if the other person is stupid enough with money. There are ways to get entangled in his mess even if you never share a bank account. If you cosign for a loan, or he gets involved in tax evasion, the law can start casting a wide net in audits and other expensive, awful things that you can avoid by keeping your distance.


Having watched my husband's involvement with an audit, I don't think you realize how serious this is. He has a tax lien and is choosing not to pay that off but rather to pour money into MLM schemes? You do realize that the IRS can, and will, drain money from his bank accounts to cover missed payments, right? His credit is likely destroyed. You can never hope to buy a house together; renting is likely to be next-to-impossible.

This is serious, serious stuff, regardless of whether you live together. I think the advice to consider the type of future you want together is right. Forget paying for entertainment expenses. Are you satisfied by the idea of your relationship never progressing, not to marriage (because why would you want to be financially entangled with such a person) or to cohabitation without putting your own property and financial security at risk?

If he is as kind and sweet as you say, I think it's time for tough love. He needs to stop paying for these things, needs to settle his tax debts, or else you need to leave. This situation is far too risky for you to tolerate it, and right now, you're enabling behavior that is not only toxic to him but likely illegal as well.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:59 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Speaking as the daughter of someone with similar (if less extremely damaging) tendencies - think long and hard about raising a family with him.

This. Oh god this.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:11 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

From the OP:
I very much appreciate the perspectives offered here & would like to clarify a couple of points:

-- He did not ask me to pay for as much as I did during his unemployment. That was my choice and I wanted it to be a free gift. After I found out about the MLM, I scaled back tremendousiy.

-- He came into some money this year when one of his prior employers, in whom he owned stock, was bought in a full cash transaction.

-- He has loaned me some money (probably 50% of what I need) to help me out of my hole. But he doesn't know the extent of my issues. That's on me.

-- It is very ckear to me that, were the situation reversed, he would happily support me in whatever frolic I chose.

-- I am not expecting to ever live with or have children with him and that is fine with me -- more than fine -- this arrangement is perfect for me and I have a full life with or without him.

-- As soon as he got his last job, I stopped paying for anything except things I want to do that I consider it a favor if he joins me. But dining out, etc, -- that's all him now.

-- We had a very tense conversation about the MLM and how he was treating my finances (he was also giving money to his freeloading adult son during that time and that has also stopped), and he knows that if I catch a whiff of Trudeau in any of his own dealings, I'm out the door. The fact that Friend is still a cult member is a sore point but was, I thought, harmless.

-- In other words, this IS his money that he is throwing away and it is not causing me any current damage, so I feel petty and vindictlve and elitist that I even care.

Thanks so much.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:37 AM on June 22, 2013

-- In other words, this IS his money that he is throwing away and it is not causing me any current damage, so I feel petty and vindictlve and elitist that I even care.

I think you should trust your instincts about this, and quit minimizing them. Again, if he has outstanding tax debts this is a big, big deal. What's more, the schemes you describe are predatory--they depend on taking money away from the uneducated and the impoverished. Why would you want to support that? You're not being classist or whatever by not enabling his behavior, and your attempts to just be "nicer" about it are really nothing more than ignoring your good instincts.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:49 AM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]

He has loaned me some money (probably 50% of what I need) to help me out of my hole. But he doesn't know the extent of my issues. That's on me.

I don't understand. Was this the hole you got into by supporting him during the time he was unemployed? Is that the same hole as this: During this time, I paid for pretty much all of our entertainment expenses and I found out about his involvement moments after I had given him a couple hundred bucks to buy an interview suit. I was livid. I still am struggling to regain my financial footing after paying for everything for both of us for 2+ years.? Or is there another hole we're talking about? Because if this is the same hole, then... I mean... how is that "yours" and "on you"??

There's a lot going on here, but I think two things are obvious:

1. It is OK to not be ok with your boyfriend being an easy mark and a fool. Just about everyone needs to respect their partner in order to want to be with him or her. You see that he's an easy mark and a fool. For most people that right there would be the deal breaker, not something to seek advice about how to embrace.

2. Beyond being a fool, your boyfriend is taking advantage of you by not prioritizing paying you back for everything he soaked you for during his unemployment/investment spree. The fact that his past actions show that he's perfectly fine with spending your money while subsidizing his friend's scam, makes you uneasy about trusting him in the future, even though you hope he's changed his ways. This is also legit. Past performance, etc.

I'm sorry this sounds cruel but if you were my sister this is what I would tell you. If I were in your shoes, this is what I'd hope my sister would point out to me. I wouldn't want smokescreens about how to override my own instincts and standards.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:10 AM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't understand why him giving you money towards reversing the debt you incurred by supporting him for 2+ years is considered as him "loaning you money to help you out of your hole".
posted by elizardbits at 10:23 AM on June 22, 2013 [10 favorites]

This relationship is not the bargain you think it is right now.

We did not misread your Ask, (or at least I didn't, I was aware your finances were separate, etc.) the update does not change that you are involved with someone who makes PROFOUNDLY dangerous decisions. There is NO WAY to turn off your internal warning system as you watch him careen towards disaster again and again. It's not possible, this thing you are asking. There is no technique to only "half care about" someone you are in an intimate relationship with.

It sounds like you've set up some great boundaries going forward that will cause him to lie/hide a lot about how he is spending his money, a strategy he's already used previously when dealing with you on these issues. This lying/hiding thing will work for both of you until the truth blows up his life, and by association, yours. Then you'll be livid all over again about his poor choices and the outcome!

Now. About his son......

YOU have ZERO business getting between them. That situation is none of your business. I imagine this guy's son inherited his fathers poor relationship with money and - argh! You are not family! You do not live with your boyfriend! A parent can support their child at any age and for any reason. It is NOT NOT NOT NOT your place to control their relationship. Plus, if the son was not previously in any conflicts with you (and I get a definite whiff of previous conflict here), you've made an enemy of this man's son for certain. Wow. Step away from this parent/child relationship. It's none of your business.

I don't have a clever conclusion because you seem committed to trying to ignore what is, fundamentally, impossible to ignore.

We don't have a magic technique to help because it doesn't exist.
posted by jbenben at 10:59 AM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

He has loaned me some money (probably 50% of what I need) to help me out of my hole. But he doesn't know the extent of my issues. That's on me.

Well, to be fair we don't know yet what this means. It could mean that the OP does burn money for the pleasure of the flame, whether that flame is clothing, vacations, technology, cars, education, etc. Exacerbated by the shouldering of their joint entertainment for two years, sure.

OP, I think you should disclose the extent of your issues. If he doesn't know that you have $40K in debt, I would imagine learning about it would change the way he views the acceptability of your financially eating the aquarium membership or whatever while he attends a $3K webinar.
posted by vegartanipla at 11:09 AM on June 22, 2013

I hope this man is mindbogglingly good in bed. And is doing some of your housework and brings you breakfast in bed. Because he has performed some incredible mindwarping magic on your perception of what is acceptable treatment financially. I sincerely hope that is rooted in him adding to your quality of life in extraordinary ways. "Loaning" you 50% of the money you need to get out of the hole you dug for his comfort is not some kind of favor.

So, based on your update, and as the mom of two aspie sons who have never held paid jobs but are contributing members of my household, if you want to let go of the anger, you need to "count your blessings." Make a list of all the good reasons you have for being with him. Decide if that really makes it worth it. If so, sure, stay. (If not, well, bunches of people already said DTMFA.) Keep clear boundaries financially. And the next time your blood starts to boil about this do two things a) change the subject and insist he drop it and b) remember the awesome sex, breakfast in bed, or whatever it is he is doing for you that makes you want to stay. And let it go.

We cannot 100% control anyone or anything in life. If you really think this is a great relationship except for this little nit, then do not let this little nit grab your attention. Just don't. (If you can't let it go, revisit the possibility that it isn't just a nit.)
posted by Michele in California at 11:29 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

Your relationship is the epitome of the sunk cost fallacy. Your boyfriend, maliciously or not, purposefully or not, has divested you of a serious chunk of change, leaving you struggling to get by. I do not think you would be as willing to downplay the serious implications of his poor investments and financial manipulation of you if you had not spent so much money on him.

This is not a situation that is going to improve. Cut your losses.
posted by fox problems at 11:46 AM on June 22, 2013 [4 favorites]

You seem quite intent on rationalizing the choice to stay with a dishonest con artist who is using you for financial support when he needs it and hoping eventually to take much more from you, almost certainly. That you think it's your fault that you don't like this and distrust his intentions is a sign that he's actually a very good con artist. This is what they teach you in MLMs: how to use people who love you or care about you until you've bled them dry, and how to have zero conscience about conning people.

There's nothing at all wonderful about him. He just has you fooled, but good.
posted by spitbull at 11:54 AM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, it's malicious and purposeful. He was a paid up member of one of the nastiest MLM scams out there, he still associates with MLM scam artists, and funds their scams. Either he is delusional, a moron, or a very immoral person. Those are the only possibilities.
posted by spitbull at 11:56 AM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

You're angry because he's prioritized his relationship with his friend over his relationship with you, and is destroying any chance that you can build a future with him. You don't need to learn how to avoid your anger, you need to face your anger head-on, because that is your inner voice telling you that you are not being treated well.

I think the odds that he will change his ways and magically value you over everything else are very small, so if it were me he would be out the door. But if you don't feel ready to make that break, you need to have a come to Jesus talk with him -- it's time for him to choose what is most important to him.

He might not understand that Friend's "business" is a pyramid scheme, but he DOES understand that he has been drawing on your money to subsidize his lifestyle, so he can afford to keep subsidizing his friend's dreams. He is not a child and he did not do this accidentally. You are being fleeced.
posted by ravioli at 12:17 PM on June 22, 2013 [5 favorites]

Other people's MLMs are really hard work. First they try to court you, then they judge you, then they shame you, then, when that doesn't work, they just try to wear you down. Of course you're angry, hearing that itchy, high pressure, judgy bullshit while knowing how it's screwing someone you care about it just horrible. It's designed to constantly get a reaction, you can't ignore it, and it's really toxic so seeing someone you care about fall for it (again!) just sucks.

Since you seem to realise you don't have a closer future with this man, just tell him to stow it. His money and business is his problem, you don't want to hear about it or be part if it. Same goes for his friend, he drops the whole thing or he's not someone you spend time with any more. And yes, your boyfriend may choose this shit over you but fuck him if he does because no decent man would.

I've had to deal with things like this from a close family member and this was the only way to sanity and maintaining a relationship with them.
posted by shelleycat at 12:52 PM on June 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

In other words, this IS his money that he is throwing away and it is not causing me any current damage, so I feel petty and vindictlve and elitist that I even care.

You care because you love him and you've invested a lot of time/money/thought into this relationship, but his actions are causing you to lose a lot of respect for him. You lose respect for him not only because of the actions themselves, but because they have caused you harm. Keeping physical and financial distance from him won't make it easier to keep emotional distance from someone you're in an intimate relationship with.

Your involuntary emotional response is not petty, vindictive, nor elitist. It's there to try to protect you from further harm. Don't forget that.

It is very ckear to me that, were the situation reversed, he would happily support me in whatever frolic I chose.

No. You're talking about parallel universes here. The situation isn't reversed, and it never will be reversed.
posted by wondermouse at 1:34 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

Your boyfriend sounds like he needs an intervention. Surely he has other friends who are concerned as well?

But really consider the therapy other people have suggested. From the sound of things, you are to your boyfriend as he is to "Friend".
posted by Candleman at 2:57 PM on June 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

Candleman nails it. Your boyfriend's "friend" has instrumentalized your boyfriend as a sucker (not a friend, but a mark, the "friendship" is entirely feigned) and a source of cash no matter what the cost to his life. And now your boyfriend has the same disease and sees you the same way. This is the very essence of MLM "marketing." This is how the cult works. Someone referred to the "sunk cost fallacy" above; by the time someone is well and truly hooked by MLM thinking, their entire identity has been transformed by a discourse in which "success" -- desperately sought -- only comes from exploiting the next person in the chain. If you can't turn on your former friends and family and use them, you fail. Failure is painted as far worse than estrangement.

And gradually, this way of thinking comes to infect the MLMer's entire way of relating to other people, not just those in his/her "downline," but everyone they deal with turns into a source of money and self-esteem. The *most* insidious effect of MLM is that it monetizes intimate relationships as a strategy, so that it destroys families, friendships, and yes, romantic relationships.

MLM is really, really like a zombie movie. Once you are bitten you lose your humanity and just live to eat other people and turn them into fellow zombies.
posted by spitbull at 3:18 PM on June 22, 2013 [7 favorites]

That's why codependence occurs: His dumb choices impact you, like it or not. You are asking us to tell you how to do something that realistically cannot be done.

"Codependent" was the word that came to mind for me, too.

Keep dating this guy, or don't, but keep your finances totally separate and also eliminate the liabilities he has brought to the party. However many thousand you have spent on this guy is cheap compared to what he could end up costing you. Honestly, I think you should be worried about identity theft and stuff like that. Criminal acts may not be in his character, but his friends are almost certainly capable of them.
posted by BibiRose at 4:34 PM on June 22, 2013

So let me see if I have this right.....
BF throws money high, wide and handsome at 1) his freeloading adult son, 2) at his Trudeau-cultist Friend and Friend's GF, 3) at a business venture that failed because he and Friend didn't know what they were doing, and 4) at Keven Trudeau's Global Information Network MLM. He is frequently unemployed, and was heavily subsidised by you for two years; you are currently carrying at least $40K in debt yourself because of this, and that's AFTER darling BF has "loaned" you half of what you need to repay the debt HE got you into.....

Why in heaven's name are you still with this user?

I'm sorry if all the answers you're getting here aren't what you WANT to hear --- apparently what you really want is some validation that there's no reason for you to be angry with this warm, loving man, when in reality you SHOULD be angry: you should be EXTREMELY angry at how he is dragging you down with him, and you have every justification for that anger.
posted by easily confused at 4:52 PM on June 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

I get what you're saying about your financial support earlier being a gift - that is, something that wasn't necessarily asked for, and you freely gave, without expectation of being repaid. Since it was a gift, he is not technically responsible for digging you out of this hole.

But when you had money, and he didn't - you gave it as a gift. When he has money, and you don't, he loans it to you. Even if he wasn't involved in the reason why you are in the hole now, this differing style of thinking about money, and how you support your partner when they are struggling is notable.

I mention it because you could become more like him - a person who loans, rather than gives - but if yours is a giving nature, why not find someone who won't abuse it? Who is similarly minded and gives to you when you're down? I think your way of being in the world is lovely, and a real gift. And I think a perfect response to that gift would be to do what it sounds like you would do - think about all that the other person has given you, monetary and otherwise, and gift them in return. I imagine your partner wouldn't even have to ask. That's no so much keeping score, but being conscious of those who have helped you. You aren't a sucker for giving the gift of two years of support - he's tone deaf and self interested to not pay you back in kind - in kind is as a gift, not a loan.

No, maybe you shouldn't expect it, but the fact that it doesn't exist in your relationship might feel angering.
posted by It's a Parasox at 7:49 PM on June 22, 2013 [6 favorites]

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