I don't want to feel resentful towards my boyfriend for money reasons
September 16, 2018 1:01 PM   Subscribe

I often have to give my boyfriend money to see him to the end of the month. It isn't his fault that he can't make ends meet at the moment, and I have the spare cash to do this without feeling the pinch. But increasingly when I do this I feel resentful. I feel an utter heel for feeling this way (which unhelpfully can feed back into the resentfulness). Any advice on managing these emotions would be most gratefully received.

Other possibly relevant details:
- Me Cis F, Him Cis M, both in our 30s.
- This is a very unbalanced financial situation; I have a professional job, house, car. He rents, has a low-paid job (career interrupted by health issues over the years).
- We've both had intermittent health issues over the past few years, but his have kept him off work for far longer than mine. He's often on sick pay, which isn't enough to pay the bills.
- His family are pretty hard-up, and there isn't anyone else who he can ask for money.
- He is doing all the right things about trying to make his situation better, like going to Citizen's Advice, applying for benefits etc.
- It's never huge amounts of money. Most months it's about £50, and if it's more it's because of something specific (like needing a new pair of glasses). As I said above, I'm comfortable and it's not a pinch to give him this money.
- This has been the situation for the past nine months or so; in that time there have been a couple of months where he has been able to work and hasn't needed money from me. I think it's the ongoing nature of the situation that's getting to me - but at the same time, I have monthly standing orders to charities, monthly payments for insurance and so on, none of which (usually) give me any benefit at the time but don't generate resentment.
posted by Vortisaur to Human Relations (33 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Can you be a little more specific as to what your actual question is?
posted by clseace at 1:08 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

You resent him because you don't know if he is only seeing you for the monetary help, perhaps?

Does he support you in other ways? Help you with learning or fixing stuff or at least listening when you have a problem? Without requiring more monetary help on the same day? If he does, than focus on thia balance in the relationship. If he doesn't, you may consider that this relationship doesn't match your needs for companionship, but only for charitable behavior.
posted by cacao at 1:10 PM on September 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

This would bother me too. Would you feel differently if it were a regular, planned activity? For example, maybe tell him you don’t want to see him struggle, and you like being able to text him, so you’d like to pay for his cell phone bill moving forward. This will free up some cash for him without directly giving him money.

That said: it might also bother me because he’s a boyfriend, and not “officially” family. If you’re not thinking about marriage/permanent partnership, it’s wise to guard your finances for now.
posted by samthemander at 1:16 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

When my family has had money troubles, and we have found ourselves falling short by the same small amount nearly every pay period (say, under $100), it has felt like we helpless to do anything about it, but in fact there has been an underlying pattern to our behavior. This should have been clear, because we fell short by similar small amount no matter how much money we had—if we owed $400 in bills that week, we'd run short by $75 in the last couple of days before the pay period, and if we owed $200 in bills, we'd run short by $75. In other words, even when we had different amounts of cash, we were somehow always pushing the limit of it to the same degree. We had to recognize this pattern, that there was indeed something we were doing, before we could find strategies to correct it.

It may be that something similar is going on with your boyfriend. In your shoes, I would want to see him taking steps to figure that out—keeping a careful spending record, making a budget, or the like—if I were going to be comfortable helping out every month.

Like samthemander said, if I were comfortable that he was doing the best he possibly could with his resources, I'd be more comfortable with a set agreement than with an ad hoc system of bailing him out when he fell short. I wouldn't want my boyfriend coming to me, hat in hand, over and over again, and I wouldn't want to be in a position of judging and deciding whether and how much every single month. I'd rather have a set agreement.

Many years ago, I lived with a close friend for some years. At a certain point, I was earning quite a bit more money than him, and we adapted to this by agreeing to split certain shared expenses into thirds rather than halves, with me paying two-thirds. In another situation, my partner and I had a close friend who earned much less than we did, and, after much conversation, we agreed that my partner and I would pay when the three of us went out to dinner—we liked to eat out, and were happy to pay if it meant we could enjoy doing that with our friend.

In both of these situations, there was an acknowledgement of the differences in our situations, and conversations about how to deal with it, and together we came up with a plan that was ongoing and mutually acceptable, and that didn't create dependencies or unhealthy imbalances of power. We all knew that our negotiated agreement could be re-negotiated.
posted by Orlop at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2018 [20 favorites]

This arrangement is putting you in an awkward position most months, it makes for a weird power dynamic, and I think the ongoing uncertainty of it is contributing to your unease. (You've helped him roughly 7/9 months, without knowing which month was which until you were in it; the month he needed new glasses changed the amount of assistance you gave him.)

I mean, how long have you been together, and what are your long-term plans, if any, with him? This isn't for you to answer here, just to think on it.

I agree that if you were comfortable taking over a regular monthly bill and were to pay that directly, it would bypass some of the awkwardness.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:57 PM on September 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Some interesting facts: Most couples divorce because of financial reasons. Financial problems are often because the man does not make enough money.
Even though you're not married yet, but you already feel resentment towards your boyfriend which doesn't bode well for your relationship. Unfortunately, the resentment probably won't go away and will only get worse unless his financial situation changes.
My advice is not to prolong the agony.
posted by SookieLogan at 2:11 PM on September 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

In your shoes, I would take a long, honest meditative look into my heart and examine whether this is about ingrained gender expectations for the man to provide for the woman but not vice versa. I would try to imaginatively put myself in a man's position and ask myself honestly: would this bother me if I were a man helping my girlfriend?
If the answer is about gender norms, I would try to push through the resentment, and l would tell myself I'm not *obligated* to help if I don't want to -- but if I want to, I don't have to resent it.
If the answer would be the same with your genders reversed, I'd probably think about a way not to stay in this kind of emergency-helping arrangement -- perhaps lend him a lump sum for the year, about the equivalent of what you'd pay all year. If he can't manage that, it's a sign of his own need to organize and plan better, which is a different issue.
posted by nantucket at 2:17 PM on September 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

If you two weren’t together, what would he do instead? Adjust his budget? Ask his family for money? Take on debt? I would talk about this and figure out whether the role your playing is one that you’re ok with at the current stage of your relationship.
posted by vivzan at 2:40 PM on September 16, 2018 [23 favorites]

Okay, so, I have been on both sides of this situation at some point in my life.

The one thing that's not clear is if he repays you. If he doesn't, or says that he will and either infrequently or never does pay you back, is it possible you may feel resentment that you're giving your own money to him each month and not being paid back?

There is a common saying that you should not lend or give away money that you're not OK ever receiving back.

Are you lending him money that you're okay never getting back?

If not, I would start there.

I personally don't believe in lending money to others if I'm not okay with never getting it back. Why? Because it ruins relationships. And it's a terrible, painful, often embarrassing reason for relationships to be ruined. So as a personal rule, unless I'm okay with the person I'm giving money to never giving it back to me, I don't do it. All money that I *do* give is given as a "gift" and I make sure the recipient knows that. If they decide they want to pay it back and do it, that's their decision and right. But I don't expect it.

What are your expectations of him when you give him money? What part of the money lending (or giving) process makes you resentful? Is it when you physically hand it over to him? Is it after you've given it to him and he pays for X or Y thing, and you don't get any money back once he later has cash? Do you wish he would seek out other side income that maybe he could but won't do for reasons that you don't think are valid? Is it because sometimes you see him buy things that maybe he can't afford, and aren't a necessity (this one is a whole separate conversation and I'll spare you the bread and roses talk, but yeah)? Is it because he never really talks about it with you, or engages with you in a conversation about what the money lending means for you as well as for him? Do you feel like your emotions and sense of self worth aren't being addressed? I'm asking because you haven't really said one way or the other.
posted by nightrecordings at 2:41 PM on September 16, 2018 [5 favorites]

It actually sounds like they don't live together (she owns a house, he rents), and nine months seems really early to combine finances to me! I wouldn't do that with someone I wasn't planning to spend the rest of my life with, and it doesn't sound like your relationship is in the place, which is fine.

It sounds like these are not loans but gits, and I don't blame you for being annoyed by them. I also don't think it's a gender thing--in a life partnership, "my money is our money" is quite reasonable, but in any other relationship, someone who expects you to give them money is frustrating. It also sounds like it's not an emergency situation but a general part of his non-budget--you are his supplemental income.

So honestly, I don't really think trying to feel better about it is the solution; figuring out where your relationship stands is. Do you have a life partnership where you are the breadwinner and he brings other things to the table? Or are you just dating, each still responsible for yourselves? I am the low-earner in my marriage and all money is "our money;" there is no resentment or problem there. But there's a big difference between a marriage/life partnership and a dating relationship.

Questions to ask yourself: What would happen if you didn't give him money? How would he react if you said no--either because you didn't have it to give, or because you didn't feel comfortable with this? What would happen if you guys broke up? Do you think he would stay with you because you give him money, even if he wasn't feeling the relationship?

I would bring this up, probably with something like, "I know you're struggling to make ends meet; your budget has fallen short a lot in the past year. Can I help you work on ways to get your finances in shape? Are there other resources I can help you research and access, can we look at making you a detailed budget or finding another source of income for you?" Basically, offer non-monetary help about his overall financial situation, rather than a life raft. I also think that saying, "My helping you out with cash every month is not sustainable; it seems really important that you get to a point where your expenses and your income line up, so you can be more financially secure." Because this is true; if he needs your money, he's not in a good place, and neither are you.

Good luck with this!
posted by gideonfrog at 2:53 PM on September 16, 2018 [15 favorites]

He is living beyond his means, which is not good. If you dumped him, what would happen to him?

Is he truly skint or does he (do you both together) spend frivolously? Is he going out to eat and drink when he could stay home and cook a cheap pot of spaghetti? Is he buying other silly shite he doesn't need? What would it take for him to spend £50 less each month? And if it involves some joint activity (restaurants, etc.), could you both cut back your spending a bit that way so he's not always in the red and you're not always feeling used?
posted by pracowity at 2:59 PM on September 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

His health setbacks have caused significant career setbacks; would you be more comfortable loaning money, or funding, some manageable job-training-related undertaking? He's applying for benefits, but that can take a lot of time for processing.

Whether it's getting certifications/other qualifications to help offset the time lost in his current field, or shifting into a different field which better suits his (ongoing?) medical circumstances, helping him advance to a more secure situation might ease any resentment. Especially because he doesn't have family or other connections to fall back on. Right now you're assisting with the monthly shortfall, and since you clearly care for him very much I'd imagine his possible long-term precarity is a concern.

Consider what your ideal situation would look like: even if it's not fully achievable, it's a starting point. Then you can work backwards, incrementally, from there.
posted by Iris Gambol at 3:05 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

You resent him because he’s a burden to you.

It might not be because of situations within his ability to control. Nobody plans to have health problems. It’s nobody’s fault that his family struggles financially. Nonetheless, he is a burden and will continue to be one for the foreseeable future.

You can select from one of the following:

1. Stop giving him money and explain to him that you’re not comfortable being the person he turns to for money.
2. Keep giving him money and try to reframe your mentality around the idea that being a partnership means sharing both of your resources to the benefit of both of you.
3. Realize that this situation will continue for the entirety of your relationship and bail.

You’re the only one who can say whether the other things that your boyfriend brings to the table make up for the £50+ that you have to pay him every month. Like, if he’s making your favorite dinner after a hard day at work, and does really thoughtful things, and pays back in emotional labor what you give him in cash, then that would be something.

If this were a temporary situation with a definite end date where he would no longer need money, and he were otherwise a wonderful person, then that would be something.

If this is a relationship that revolves continually around his problems, where every month a crisis comes up that you have to step in and solve for him, then I would recommend thinking hard about whether you want to be the fixer and the parent in a relationship that’s supposed to be a partnership. It’s not just handing over a small amount of cash that you can easily afford, it’s the consideration and the responsibility that YOU have to take to make sure HIS life doesn’t go off the rails. Not your lives together, not your mutual future, just his life whether you were present in it or not. And if he needs a handler to step in and fix his shit for him all the time, that does not bode at all well for the hypothetical time in the future when you might need him to step in for you.

When I was in a relationship with a guy who similarly had regular crises from which he repeatedly needed someone else to bail him out, that was an enormous amount of resentment for me. It wasn’t the issue of whether I could technically afford to do it, the issue was that my relationship became another job, except a job that cost me in terms of money AND work. It cost me far more than it repaid. It was not a source of support and respite where I could lean on someone when I needed it—that support and respite went in only one direction, and in other ways I was still on my own.

If that sounds familiar to you, like I said, you should do some hard thinking. Relationships are supposed to be for all the people in them, not just for one person to be the means of support for another. If you left, he would have to figure out another way to get his glasses and make up for that extra £50, just like he did before you showed up, but you know what, that is his responsibility as an adult, not yours. It is reasonable to expect a partner to be self-supporting, which is a lot different from needing a hand up once in a while.
posted by Autumnheart at 3:59 PM on September 16, 2018 [37 favorites]

In your shoes, I would take a long, honest meditative look into my heart and examine whether this is about ingrained gender expectations for the man to provide for the woman but not vice versa. I would try to imaginatively put myself in a man's position and ask myself honestly: would this bother me if I were a man helping my girlfriend?

Are you seriously suggesting there is a gendered expectation for a man to provide for a girlfriend in the form of handing over a wad of bills every month? There are mainstream expectations, "imaginative" expectations that are out of the mainstream and then there's supposed expectations that are plain bizarre, which is what this is. I can assure you that I and every other woman I know would feel degraded if circumstances forced us to beg the man we were sleeping with for cold hard cash each and every month as a regular thing, even if he did not mean to degrade us and even if we both did our best to treat it as gift and not payment. If we chose to ask only him for financial aid instead of any of our friends of much longer standing, simply because we were sleeping with him and not them, we would feel ashamed. and I'm not sure we would be wrong to feel that way.

Men do not seem to feel this way. The reasons why are both obvious and uninteresting. But pretending men are happy to take on ostensible peers as dependents but not the reverse isn't helpful to a person who's already giving and giving, as women are so often asked to do, and already feeling guilty for not doing it with a big enough smile on her face.

OP, I am not faulting or shaming your boyfriend for being poor. I have had days where I wouldn't have eaten if somebody hadn't bought me a meal. I am not ashamed that I let friends do that for me, on those days, and it isn't all to my own credit that I had days like that and not years like that. But I have to ask, where are his friends? Where is everyone in his life besides his family who's known him for more than the year or two you have? You say there isn't anyone he can ask, except you: why not?

What you can do in a relationship, if you have more money, is pay for the dinners. pay for the dates. make sure that spending time with you costs the other person nothing, because spending would strain them and it doesn't strain you. Give moderate, reasonably-sized, thoughtful gifts. Pick up an extra set of whatever you get at the grocery store and leave it when you come over. If you live together, pay a bigger share of the bills proportionate with your bigger salary. That's all good and normal and humane and kind.

but saying that you "have to" give him an unending stream of petty cash because he "needs money from [you]" to is not good, whether it's normal or not. Every time this happens, he is asking you for a remarkable and unusual favor; he is breaking a social boundary that exists between most people who are not married or related. and you have normalized it to such an extent that you are the one feeling guilty for not having the right attitude about complying, even though you do comply. Your compliance is a choice and an act of huge generosity each and every time you make it. If I were you, I wouldn't have made it more than twice. You don't have to be me, but you aren't at his mercy and you don't have to solve his life.
posted by queenofbithynia at 5:23 PM on September 16, 2018 [36 favorites]

You resent him because he’s a burden to you.

I would modify that statement in this way: you resent it because you don't know if he will keep asking for more and more. Sucking you into a hole. Right now you say it is money you can afford. What if over time it becomes money you cannot afford, but having set the precedent, you feel an obligation to keep giving?

Solution: decide what your boundaries are now and stick to them. If it's to give no more money, stick to that. If it's a set amount, be (very) clear it will be that, and no more. If you want to pay for a bill and nothing else, say it. The imbalance, and resentment, come from uncertainty, imo. (How much will he need this month? What if he has an emergency? And so on. There is no limit to this until you set one.) You say he has signed up for benefits. To me this indicates that he is capable of taking care of his own needs, and you have to trust that he will continue to take care of them on his own. This will sound harsh, but trust me, he does not need your help. It is instead convenient for him to have it, and still more convenient for him to have you believing he cannot survive without it.

Money matters are very, very contentious and can and will ruin relationships that work well in other ways. Decide what your financial values are, tell him what they are, and if he still tries to get more help from you then you want to give, well, time to rethink being with this guy.
posted by Armed Only With Hubris at 5:39 PM on September 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Do you want to be his girlfriend or his banker?
Can’t do both.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 5:49 PM on September 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Google "sunk cost fallacy". Essentially, it means the more you invest in a bad decision, the more difficult it is to admit that it was bad, and to stop funneling time/money/effort into it. It feels like if you just keep trying, then you haven't yet lost. But you have. By "calling it", you acknowledge your losses and stop or limit future ones.

I think it is time to admit that this has not been a good investment. You are already resentful, and there does not seem to be any resolution for this in the near future. Your question asks how you can manage your feelings of resentment, but I think you should use them to guide your decisions.

If I were you, I would feel resentful too. I have given too much in relationships before (money in some cases; more often, my caring and effort) and in no cases did it end well. You're over-giving here and it isn't going to end well if you continue.

I don't accept practically that you are the only possible source of funds for him. For example, there are googobs of charities that specialize in handing out glasses. Sounds like he didn't even try to find another solution before turning to you. Unless he is literally on his death bed, which it doesn't sound like from the post, he should be making more of an effort not to sponge from you.

People have suggested that perhaps you're resentful because of gendered expectations or because you're unsure whether he would still be with you if you weren't financing him. I'd like to add the possibility that you resent him because he's a man in his 30's, and you're a woman of the same age, but you're in the position of playing mommy every month. You've somehow been guilted into--or guilted yourself into--a parental role, when this was supposed to be a romantic relationship.

Have you told him that you're becoming resentful? If not, I would suggest doing so right away. A good partner would understand why you might feel that way, and work to find better options so he won't need to keep taking money from you month after month. A partner who is not healthy for you will try to make you feel guilty and re-focus the conversation to be exclusively about his needs. Pay attention to how he reacts: Is it the reaction of someone who cares about you and is capable of being a mature partner?

Good luck.
posted by nirblegee at 5:53 PM on September 16, 2018 [6 favorites]

Please forgive my snooping, but in an earlier question about a mooching boyfriend (Not sure if this is the same fellow?) you mentioned a previous boyfriend who *also* relied on you financially. This is a pattern of you choosing boys that sap away your financial resources for their own purposes, leaving you no better off, and most likely, in a worse situation.

By your thirties you should be able to have a relationship with an adult who can support themselves and be a partner to you. Obviously, these imbalanced relationships serve *some* need for you, the trick it to recognize how to fulfill that need without yet another man view you as a bank machine, or worse yet, give you a STD (sexually transmitted debt). Let this one go an spend that fifty pounds on yourself.
posted by saucysault at 6:15 PM on September 16, 2018 [22 favorites]

If this were a temporary situation with a definite end date where he would no longer need money, and he were otherwise a wonderful person, then that would be something.
If this is a relationship that revolves continually around his problems, where every month a crisis comes up that you have to step in and solve for him, then I would recommend thinking hard about whether you want to be the fixer and the parent in a relationship that’s supposed to be a partnership.

Oooh yeah, been there done this, more or less. I am happy to be out of it. Honestly, it was a burden issue. I kept thinking, what happens if we get married and somehow I become incapacitated and he can't take care of himself, much less me if I can't take care of both of us? I think I would have been resentful as fuck if it had continued and I had been having to support him entirely (we didn't live together) all the time and he could never take care of himself.

In this case, it may not be "his fault" and he may be doing "everything right," but the situation is what it is and doesn't sound like it has any realistic hope of changing. And either you have to decide to be his banker/mommy for the future, or stop doing that. Some folks are okay with taking care of someone else financially for life, I turned out not to be one of them and it unnerved me that he could not take care of himself without someone stepping in. Maybe that is what is going on with you.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:15 PM on September 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Resentment kills relationships and it's understandable why you're feeling so resentful right now.

I agree with so much of the advice up there. I can relate from past experience and can tell you I'd never ever do the same again. As others have said, it's one thing to ask to borrow a bit once and then pay you back but this is different. He's using you and has no plans to stop. I feel for you because I've been there before myself; those relationships never worked out so I've finally learned to not do it ever again.

This whole situation doesn't bode well for your relationship future but, if you do want the possibility of a happy future with this guy, stop giving him money. He can always have an overdraft on his bank account for that extra £50; it may be uncomfortable for you and upsetting to him but his life is his own responsibility and he can learn to deal. If you want help those less fortunate than you, by all means do; however, a romantic relationship is not the place to try to fix societal economic inequalities.
posted by smorgasbord at 8:11 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

“you don't have to solve his life”

This. x100. You don’t have to solve his life. He is a grown man. Nine months in, pay for only the fun things both of you want to do, not give him handouts.
posted by moiraine at 12:25 AM on September 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

I think you should try to find a way to gently talk to him about how it's making you feel, admitting that you sometimes feel a bit resentful over the money (e.g. next time he asks). This is not about blaming him - it sounds like you've been saying 'it's fine' to both him and yourself, but on some level it's come to a point where you're not completely fine with it.

Instead, it is about solving, as a team, the emotional problem that is starting to result from the situation. Since it has the potential to affect your relationship negatively, your feelings about this are not just your problem, but his problem too, and he should have an interest in finding a solution to that. In the long run, trying to hide and suppress your feelings is not going to do either of you any favors!

If it's a good relationship then you will be able to have a mature, open and understanding two-way conversation about it, and he may be able to propose options that you would feel bad about asking for directly (e.g. he plans his budget more tightly, or offers to pay you back at some defined point, or just gives you back more in the way of non-monetary gifts in exchange for yours, such as spontaneously doing stuff you don't like doing).

On the other hand if he immediately gets defensive and tries to make you feel like this is only your problem to solve, and implies that you should just stop feeling this way because it's petty, then you will have learned something about the relationship that you are investing so much in. In the long term, do you want a relationship that is close enough to share all of your finances but not close enough to be able to talk about feelings like this?
posted by d11 at 1:17 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seems like my earlier comment got deleted, so I'll rephrase. In the UK, which is where you are, it's far less normal to keep finances separate for an extended period of time. Generally if you actually like someone, you trust them with your money. Class comes into this also. At the end of the day, it sounds like you've both had hard times but you've been luckier than him. Do try to remember that this has almost nothing to do with morality or 'worth' and that nothing about your luck makes you more 'deserving' than he is. Generally if you love someone it's a lot easier to share things with them as freely as you can. In my book, and generally for most people I've encountered socially, unless there's a reason to keep finances separate (eg mine are separate from my partner currently because we're still long distance and are in different countries for most of the year) you'll usually just get a joint bank account fairly early on in a serious relationship. Even if you don't, there's no expectation that you'll keep finances scrupulously separate, and mostly there's a lot more easiness with money, with the exception of people who are notably uptight. I think because the UK has both more safety nets and more of a social fabric in general, people are for the most part less terrified about being generous. It seems likely to me that the reason you're feeling so conflicted about this is that you're reading a lot of relationship advice from the US, where different norms prevail. I suggest you cut back on that, or at least take it with a pinch of salt.
posted by Acheman at 4:15 AM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

you'll usually just get a joint bank account fairly early on in a serious relationship

I also live in the UK and this is so not my experience. Or at least, nobody I have ever met has combined finances *before moving in together*. Before marriage, sure, before co-habiting, nope, and I get the impression here that the OP is not living with her boyfriend. And trusting someone you like with your money early on can end terribly, and sometimes does, when it turns out they suck with money.

On the other hand, it sounds like he has some genuinely difficult circumstances and might be trying his best. In your position I might offer to just pay for all our dates together, or the phone bill every month, or something specific that isn't just handing over a random amount of cash, which would also make me feel slightly uncomfortable? I move slowly romantically though, so to me a 9 month relationship would still be young.
posted by stillnocturnal at 5:29 AM on September 17, 2018 [9 favorites]

My girlfriend and I are in a similarly unbalanced financial situation where I’m the higher earner and we don’t live together. I have an automatic debit set up to transfer a fixed amount to her bank account each month. This makes the money kind of “out of sight, out of mind”, and based on your comment about how your standing orders to charity don’t bother you, this might help you feel less resentful. For us, this gives her the ability to pay for some dates and pitch in for things, so even though it might be a wash overall financially, it just feels better than me paying for everything when we go out. YMMV, but it works for us.
posted by doctord at 6:48 AM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

But pretending men are happy to take on ostensible peers as dependents but not the reverse isn't helpful to a person who's already giving and giving, as women are so often asked to do, and already feeling guilty for not doing it with a big enough smile on her face.

Um, this was harshly directed at me, and a pretty meanspirited misreading. If you read my whole answer it's obvious that I don't think she is supposed to accommodate him; I do know that there's still an implicit gender norm that can make women feel weird for being "the provider" and on the off chance she'd be happy picking up the slack for her SO except for that, it's worth considering. Jeez.
posted by nantucket at 7:13 AM on September 17, 2018

So you're a bit of a sugar mama. Does he add more value to your life than you could get spending the same amount of money on some other form of entertainment?
posted by Jacqueline at 7:48 AM on September 17, 2018

People seem to be being really harsh on the boyfriend-taking the OP's statements at face value- he's gainfully employed, the reason his career has stalled is due to medical reasons, there's no mention of irresponsible spending or excessive debt and he is taking steps to manage his situation. It seems that MeFites widely acknowledge the difficulty of people pulling themselves out of poverty and reject "just world" financial fallacies (i.e. all it takes is a good work ethic to succeed) so I'm not quite sure why he's getting so little sympathy. It's also a fairly nominal sum of money for a middle class person to spend; plenty of people spend more than that a month on a storage unit to hold their collection of moldy books and Grandmother's china. If he's generally a good boyfriend and you don't have the sense that he's only in it for the financial aid, it doesn't seem like that big a deal. The relationship will possibly progress to cohabitation eventually, at which point, if he no longer has to pay rent he'll be able to make a positive financial contribution to the household. Having said that, don't rush in to cohabitation. If you really think you can't get past your resentment, that's OK. It may simply be that you don't feel comfortable helping someone out financially and that's your decision to make- you're not a horrible person if you prefer to be with someone who's more financially independent. Your life, your choices.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 7:53 AM on September 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

If your boyfriend is a typically decent person, having to ask you for money every month has to be agonizing for him. Because typical adults have a level of pride that makes having to ask for help again and again one of the most humiliating things ever. They'll try anything else before having to ask the same person for help more than once.

So ask yourself: how does he feel about having to ask you for help? Is he clearly uncomfortable? Is he trying to find ways to make up for it, by helping you in other ways?

Not showing signs of discomfort and not trying to make up for having to ask for help are both red flags.

I'm wondering if you might feel resentful because at some level you realize he's too comfortable with regularly asking another adult for financial help. That's not a good trait in adults, and doesn't bode well for relationships, since those types are seldom into egalitarian relationships, but more into what works best for them.

Listen to your feelings and think about how he acts about getting assistance from you, and let that determine how you proceed in the future.
posted by Lunaloon at 10:06 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

It isn't his fault that he can't make ends meet at the moment

Fault isn’t the right word, but it is his responsibility to pay his own way and he’s not living up to that right now. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, it’s just where he’s at.

I think it might help clarify your resentment to keep that in mind. Once again I’m not suggesting a judgment or course of action, simply that approach the issue from a different angle.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 10:07 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I would take a long, honest meditative look into my heart and examine whether this is about ingrained gender expectations for the man to provide for the woman but not vice versa

I think the thing is: there's a huge difference between a man who doesn't necessarily embrace the gendered role of the 'provider' but who takes on the role of the 'supporter' instead (doing the emotional labor, etc) - and a man who insists that the gendered standard of him being a provider is unfair but who doesn't voluntarily take on a new standard either. The latter is often interesting and fun: the latter is a mooch.
posted by corb at 11:25 AM on September 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

ingrained gender expectations for the man to provide for the woman

But the OP isn’t expecting her boyfriend to be her provider, she is expecting him to be an adult who looks after themself. That isn’t really a gendered expectation, that is a mutually-adult-in-a-relatively-new-healthy-relationship expectation.
posted by saucysault at 1:21 PM on September 17, 2018 [7 favorites]

It seems that MeFites widely acknowledge the difficulty of people pulling themselves out of poverty and reject "just world" financial fallacies (i.e. all it takes is a good work ethic to succeed) so I'm not quite sure why he's getting so little sympathy.

I have some sympathy but at the same time I'm biased by historically seeing folks like this not improve, whether they put effort into it or not. He may never be able to dig himself out. What it boils down to for me is, is the OP okay with being the wallet in the relationship indefinitely/forever? That is the bottom line situation here to me. Sure, right now it's $50 a month and you could compare that to a date night out with dinner and a movie or whatever, but it's kind of chronic as is and it could increase if he ends up in more financial trouble. If there's that expectation that she's always gonna cough up that $50, what happens when next month he needs $100 and a few months after that it's $500 and a few after that he's $1500 in the hole and there's a pattern of giving money established? How easily can OP say no once it gets to the point of her feeling uncomfortable and like she's responsible to keep him afloat and he'll drown without her?

I know some people who are totally fine with being the wallet and presumably make enough to support someone else forever. (I do admit it is kind of a mind flip when the woman realizes that she's going to be the wallet in this relationship though. We are perhaps not used to that.) I kind of feel like that is the issue. How likely is he to not need financial help in the future? Not great odds as far as I can tell, so she needs to decide if she will keep putting out money when needed or break it off. If she can be truly fine with it or always feeling secretly deeply uncomfortable.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:17 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

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