Am I being unreasonable to dump boyfriend because of his job situation?
September 19, 2020 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Well, its not as simple as that. Its kind of connected to his personal qualities and also my own relationship goals I guess. I'm finding myself not as attracted to the guy I'm seeing because of a reasonably superficial fact of his life (not having a job) even though he's solid, caring and has lots of potential. Would be interested to hear how others would feel about this.

I (f,36) have Been seeing someone (m,38) for four months. We have great chemistry and hes a really nice solid guy, if perhaps a little emotionally distant. I wouldn't say its the closest relationship, but its been growing at a nice pace. I think he cares a lot about me, in a kind of reserved way. He shows me this through actions and not words and is very considerate.

When I first met him I thought he was super chilled and a good counter to my type A personality. I can be very driven and overwhelm myself with too much to do etc. Although I have built a successful career im veey proud of. Now I'm realising there's a flipside to his relaxed lifestyle.

I thought it strange he hasnt worked in four years, but two years were a chosen career sabbatical and he has loads of great volunteering things he does for good causes. He said he was looking for a job. I didnt think too hard about it.

However, I've realised recently that he really struggles with anxiety and feelings that he's a lsoer when it comes to job stuff, to the point that it makes it almost impossible for him to apply to them. All those volunteering opps are actually clever ways to distract himself for the need to apply to things. He's gone through his savings and is currently selling off shares. He knows he has an issue and that the solution is taking action but instead he reads books about procrastination and writes huge to do lists that overwhelm him and mean he achieves very little.

I'm 36, and want a child. I know that he would definitely pull his weight on a practical level if we lived together, and I would be happy to earn more than him and for him to be a stay at home dad if he needed to be, which he has said he would be up for, but i don't think he is actually that fussed about kids - he said he could take or leave them, and i feel I would need to drive things on that front.

I am already noticing im turning into manager mode on his job stuff... like this week I literally set him a deadline for a draft of his cv and a cover letter so I could review and help. It wasn't great quality, not terrible, but I'm not sure he really had understood the job or at least how to articulate how good he could be at it. I've seen my best friend struggle with having to manage her husband on exactlt this issue

He says he really struggles with selling himself, which is kind of sweet and fits with his humble nature, but I think that after a while, especially if we had w child together, I would find the self defeating attitude a bit hard to deal with.

I know I have huge tendencies to caretaking. I've wasted years being friends with / in relationships with people I realise later I fundamentally felt a bit sorry for them. I realise this is toxic. Perhaps its healthy then that I am actually finding this guy less attractive now I realise that he has this issue and I dont know if i want to tie myself to it?

I feel guilty for this, but since the extent of his issue has become clear I just am finding him less attractive. Its not that I am money obsessed, but security is important to me, as well as ambition. I love going out wirh men who are great at what they do and are clever. This sounds awful, but this guys lack of direction is putting me off. He will faff until the last minute on these deadlines and get super stressed.

Am i being superficial here? He is a gem in other ways. Very values driven etc, and supportive of me. I feel like I would be throwing someone very nice away but just not sure about it.

Would be interested to find out whether you would also struggle with this?
posted by starstarstar to Human Relations (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
He is a gem in other ways. Very values driven etc, and supportive of me.

There are many "solid" and "supportive" men in the world. That's a necessary, not sufficient, reason to have a relationship with a man. There's nothing in this post that indicates you actually like your boyfriend. In fact, the vast majority of this post is about him and how he is rather than you and what you feel about him.

I give you permission to break up with him because you just don't sound into him - regardless of his job situation.
posted by saeculorum at 2:44 PM on September 19 [28 favorites]

I'm of the opinion that if you have to write this much to try to convince yourself (or others) about a relationship, you've already made your decision and you're just looking for someone to say it's okay to do what you want to do.

So here it is: it's okay for you to break up with this guy that you've only known for four months and you don't really seem to like all that much. Don't waste your time or his time on a relationship when you're already halfway out the door.
posted by fight or flight at 2:48 PM on September 19 [29 favorites]

I realize this is a tricky values-based question only you can answer, and it doesn’t have to be here in front of all of us. Do you respect him as a man?

I ask this because I cannot be sexually or romantically attracted to somebody I don’t respect. YMMV.
posted by nathaole at 2:51 PM on September 19 [6 favorites]

If this is the same guy in the previous questions, you've had to fake orgasms and you've written a litany of bad things in this question...
posted by saturdaymornings at 3:14 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]

It sounds to me that you're afraid to break up because you, he, or other people might look at it like you dumped him because he's jobless, and you don't want to be someone who would end a relationship over a job, because there's so much more to life than jobs and money.

And yeah, if he was super excited about being a stay-at-home dad and being a homemaker, you'd be dumping him because of money issues, or unfair gender-based expectations, or something like that. But you're thinking about ending things because he doesn't seem to know what he wants out of life, or how to manage his own life, and doesn't seem willing to take steps to either move forward or get help with those things. To be in that situation at 38 is a pretty big warning sign for someone who is looking to start a family, to say the least.
posted by skewed at 3:23 PM on September 19 [18 favorites]

This doesn't seem to be a good person to have a kid with on the timeline that makes sense for you.
posted by needs more cowbell at 3:27 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]

Yeah @skewed I think there is something to what you say. I feel guilty because I know he's really struggling with the job stuff and feeling like a loser, and i don't want to make it worse. But that's not a reason to stay.

Going to bite the bullet tomorrow and have a chat.
posted by starstarstar at 3:29 PM on September 19 [13 favorites]

I just reread your last question. THAT guy? He is absolutely not the guy for you. You need to break up with him and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it either.
posted by Jubey at 3:34 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]

If someone I was dating felt this way about me, especially 4 months in, I would hope they would dump me. I would be devastated to find out someone saw so little to like about me but plodded through anyway, robbing me of the opportunity to find someone who actually enthusiastically enjoyed and respected me as a person.

Not saying you are bad or wrong to feel that way fyi - just wanted to be explicit about how your assessment reads. What you do and don't feel is very clear.
posted by amycup at 3:34 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]

One of my best friends could have written this post a few years back. She didn't, she stayed with that guy, he never changed one bit, and they recently separated which devastated her financially (even though they'd never married). Cherry on top is that they never had a kid, despite her really wanting one, because this guy wasn't...quite...ready. Now her fertility window is closed. I'm a total stranger begging you to break up with this guy.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:43 PM on September 19 [16 favorites]

It doesn't sound like the issue is that he doesn't have a job, it sounds like the issue is that he has a deeply avoidant personality and copes by actively distracting himself from dealing with things that bother him, which is bad sign for other aspects of a relationship. He doesn't have to be a bad person for you to feel that your relationship isn't going where you'd like it. Especially if you feel it's bringing out aspects of your personality that you feel are maladaptive for you. Not every issue has to be overcome successfully; sometimes it's fine to just move on.

But you guys have only been dating for 4 months. It is okay to break up with someone for ANY reason at 4 months, including that they wear shoes you don't like or have a weird laugh or really love the novels of David Foster Wallace. The very point of dating is to identify this stuff.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 3:51 PM on September 19 [25 favorites]

Perhaps its healthy then that I am actually finding this guy less attractive now I realise that he has this issue and I dont know if i want to tie myself to it?

I just want to speak to this question. Yes, it is healthy to recognize that you are about to fall down a familiar rabbit hole and it is a sign of growth that you are questioning it.

Knowing what you want, need, respect, admire, desire from your partner and feeling the lack of those things is not inherently superficial. Even when it feels that way (because of what society/our friends/our values tell us is important vs not that important), I really hate the idea that anyone should settle for someone who is basically the relationship equivalent of "meeting expectations."
posted by sm1tten at 3:51 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]

This is not a healthy dynamic for either of you. You're stepping in to be the project manager of his life, which will simultaneously make him resentful of you while exacerbating his feelings of low self-worth. The more you push in, the more he'll pull back, both emotionally and functionally. You can't make him more ambitious, and you can't cheerlead, organize or shame him out of his current funk. Walk away and wish him the best.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:01 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]

Usually in the first months of a relationship, couples are pretty smitten with each other. It sounds like you aren't feeling that. I think that if his employment status is bothering you now, it'll bother you more and more as time passes. You need to listen to your own doubt.
posted by wryly at 4:02 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]

1. Don't date for potential. He is what he is. Period, full stop.

2. In what way has this guy shown you he would pull his weight in parental duties? You literally had to GIVE HIM A DEADLINE to look at a draft of his CV. A DRAFT OF HIS CV. Having a kid is 5 million bazillion times harder than making a draft of your CV.

3. In most of your questions about relationships, you talk about wanting a child. I get it. It's real. It's important to date with intention, and let that be known and date someone who also is excited about parenthood. This is NOT that person. This is a person you have to CONVINCE to have a baby. That's not dating with intention. That's desperation and it never works out well. I hope you do have a baby because it sounds like it's something you want very much, but having it alone with helps from friends and family is way better than having it with someone you have to drag along every step of the way. Friends of mine who dragged partners into the kids/marriage thing are now divorced or unhappily married.

4. Please stop selling yourself so short. Wanting your partner to be a functioning member of society is not being "obsessed with money." Wanting your partner to be employed is ... not superficial?? (Also is this guy sitting on millions of dollars or what? Or just running through his savings and/or credit?) And I'm glad that he's supportive of you and nice to you. But this doesn't make him a gem. This makes him a non-shitty human. Being supportive of you and nice to you is BASELINE partner material. It doesn't get you extra gold stars.

5. You guys are only 4 months in. You've already seen how avoidant he can be when it comes to work. This avoidance WILL come out in your relationship the longer you date, the more intimate and serious it becomes. You're already sensing it. These dudes tend to freak out and then cut and run at the worst absolute times.

6. My sense is you're probably both fine people who are on different paths. You guys hung out for a little bit on the same path, and that has value. But it's okay to diverge once more (especially because it doesn't sound like you're very excited about him at all), and see what comes up next. There's a better future for you both.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 4:06 PM on September 19 [37 favorites]

Please don't have a child with a man who is indifferent about having kids. Raising a child is hard -- being a stay at home parent is especially hard -- and subjecting a child to a primary caregiver who could "take them or leave them" is a really really bad idea.
posted by basalganglia at 4:18 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]

@namemeansgazelle brilliant answer. On the avoidance thing, I can see the signs already. Interesting you say that he could cut and run at the wrong time. I needed him emotionally last week and I found him a bit crap. He tried, but was not a natural in providing support. And hes mentioned his ex also ended things because she felt unsupported when she was going through a difficult thing.

I am going to end things tomorrow. I guess this is dating with intention. Go me!
posted by starstarstar at 4:19 PM on September 19 [33 favorites]

“ he hasnt worked in four years”
Unless he’s got a trust fund or great luck as a day trader, he’s not a good choice as a BF, much less a life partner or father. He’s 38, not 18.
My husband was the stay-at-home parent for our kid, but he always had a side gig and/or found ways to bring in some cash, while I worked full time.
Four months is fine for a fling, but you can do better.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:44 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]

OP, best of luck. Based on what you shared here, that seems to be the best choice (though not the easiest one). You're a brave person!
posted by too bad you're not me at 4:54 PM on September 19

I'm unemployed because of covid and I was fully prepared to be like "yeah maybe you're not being fair" when I read the initial description. But - four years? And he's run out of savings and still can't bring himself to even apply for anything? You're not actually thinking of dumping him because he doesn't have a job. You're thinking of dumping him because he is not currently functional in some very important ways that you are not in a position to fix.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:58 PM on September 19 [19 favorites]

I've know enough people like showbiz_liz mentions (out of money and still absolutely won't work), and an ex of mine couldn't maintain holding down jobs. I would not date someone like that again. And he's 38 and is like this?! Fuck no, that one's not going to improve unless some massive psychological change and a clue bat happen on his head. You want a guy who can take care of his own shit.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:04 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]

If I were you, I would move on from this relationship. Not because he can’t find a job but because you are failing at letting that be his problem and his alone. Don’t sign up to be a mother of an adult or a manager of someone who it’s not your job description to manage. If you can’t accept someone as they are, don’t sign up for a lifetime of resentment that you can’t change them.
posted by matildaben at 5:50 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]

I feel guilty because I know he's really struggling with the job stuff and feeling like a loser, and i don't want to make it worse. But that's not a reason to stay.

Yes exactly. You're not the one making things worse. These problems existed long before you and they'll exist long after you're gone. You're not responsible for him, whether you stay or go.

In general you seem kinda judgy of yourself for having these needs and preferences. It's not wrong to want to be with someone who can take care of themselves, whether it's financially or health-wise (e.g. eating healthy, seeing the doc).

You already know what you need to do and why. Go you for making the decision to break up with him.
posted by foxjacket at 6:36 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]

"He tried, but was not a natural in providing support."

I'm not a naturally good cook, I'm a good cook because it was important enough to me to spend time studying and practicing and keeping at it even when it didn't feel like I was progressing at all. You deserve someone who will do this kind of work for you, to try to give you support, even though he's not a natural at it.
posted by disconnect at 8:15 PM on September 19 [4 favorites]

Despite talking quite a lot about money / having lots of investments and also enough savings to never have to work again, he has let me somehow do all of the grocery shopping for every visit we've had. Majority of these have been me going to his city, which is nicer to hang out in as it's close to the countryside, so I'm spending money on train tickets AND about £80 at least every single time.

This is a direct quote from your previous question. So I gather he was lying about all his money?

posted by ananci at 8:20 PM on September 19 [13 favorites]

I think it's a sign of mental health that you're realizing that the two of you, while friends and compatible in many ways, are mismatched in the area of ambition. You clearly need someone you can respect in that area to create a happy, long-lasting relationship. It really has little to do with whether or not he has a job. You want a family - it's time to move on.
posted by summerstorm at 8:43 PM on September 19

You actually don't need any reason to break up with someone. Zero. You could just have a wierd feeling, or not like his socks. You don't have to justify it or figure out of its working out or not. If you want to go, just go.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:27 AM on September 20 [8 favorites]

Regarding kids: “I can take ‘em or leave ‘em” is code for “Oh, bloody HELL, NO.”
I know this because I’ve used it myself.
He doesn’t want kids, and he doesn’t want you to press him for a job search. Proceed from there.
posted by BostonTerrier at 6:22 AM on September 20

People getting hung up on the last post, op mentions the last boyfriend is 41 in the previous post, and this one is 38. So without clarification better to not assume it's the same man.

Op I agree with the consensus. I'm glad you're waking away. He may be a real sweetheart and I think that's why you're struggling with the decision, but it doesn't mean anything if you're incompatible with your future goals, and you definitely are.
posted by Dimes at 11:31 PM on September 20

Hi all, Just to let you know I ended things. I actually feel really sad about it - he was really lovely. He only said nice, sweet things when I was ending it too and said he understood.

On the kids stuff, he actually said he definitely does want them - but he would be okay if it didn't work out, and that's what he meant when we had originally discussed this. He said that he can't pretend he hadn't envisioned a future with me and that this had been the nicest, most drama free relationship he'd had, and he thought I was amazing (I wish he'd said this actually in the relationship - it may have changed my views).

He did say that of course it was too early to say that he felt like having kids specifically with me, which I agree with. I countered that with the fact that I felt he just wasn't set up for them properly so that probably wasn't going to happen anytime soon. He wasn't able to disagree, and said he should get a job before his next relationship.

Really missing him. He was so kind and supportive and we had the best sex I'd ever had. I kind of enjoyed being the 'alpha' in the relationship in some ways - it felt like for once, I was front and centre of the relationship instead of a man. But I probably need to think practically and get a real grown up at this point.
posted by starstarstar at 9:11 AM on September 21 [5 favorites]

It's easy to look back and see the good stuff in a relationship. But I urge you to re-read your previous posts to help you remember the 'bad' stuff. Just look at the cons list here! It's twice the length of the good list.

I'm glad you broke up with him. When you find a better partner, you'll feel a great weight lifted and you'll see that this guy was never the right answer for you.
posted by hydra77 at 9:46 AM on September 21 [4 favorites]

It's easy to look back and see the good stuff in a relationship. But I urge you to re-read your previous posts to help you remember the 'bad' stuff.

I totally second this, from experience. A few weeks after my most serious boyfriend and I broke up, I sat down and made a list of all the things I didn't like about the relationship. Just processing. Months later, when I was feeling sad and lonely and wondering if I'd made a mistake, I reread the list and it made me feel loads better about my decision. (And now I'm friends with him and he's happily married to someone else! The list wasn't about hating him. It was just about remembering why breaking up was a good idea.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:53 AM on September 21 [3 favorites]

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