How to figure out potential of a relationship
June 6, 2007 6:25 AM   Subscribe

After dating a man nearing the age of 50 who still rents a small apt, spends most of his money on trips and booze and seeing he still wants significant time with the boys partying, and boating, I guess my question is this: is this guy pretty much an overgrown teenager who will never settle down? In other words: is he a confirmed bachelor?

He has however told me how much he really does want to settle down and become a father. I have been married before and I'm the mother of 11 y/o. I just don't see him settling down- IMO , I just don't see the qualities needed for that in him. Or am I just overreating? When is it best to just trust the gut instinct and move on in the dating pool?
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (69 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
He's not going to change for you, even if you get knocked up. But you don't give any reason to think he's gay.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:33 AM on June 6, 2007

To clarify These Premises, "confirmed bachelor" has for a long time been a euphemism for gay, though it doesn't seem like you were intending as much.

He doesn't sound like he'd be that happy settling down, for what that's worth.
posted by cortex at 6:35 AM on June 6, 2007

In my experience it's always best to trust the gut if only because it never dips its toe in the errogenous zone pool. Move on.
posted by dobbs at 6:35 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, it doesn't mean that anymore? From Wikipedia:"During the Victorian Era, the term confirmed bachelor often was used as a euphemism for a gay man. But the wider acceptance of gay people and same-sex relationships in recent years has made this historic usage obsolete. Meanwhile, the term "confirmed bachelor" now refers just as much to heterosexual men who show no interest in marriage or classes of committed relationship as it does to homosexual or bisexual men."

Who knew. Now get these kids off my lawn.

posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:40 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Not marriage material. Trust your gut.
posted by konolia at 6:41 AM on June 6, 2007

Just because he feels a nagging desire to have some other particular kind of life doesn't mean he is equipped to or will ever do so.

I mean, I really, really want to finish my degree so that I can become a teacher and stay at one school for so long that I become a wise and inveterate pillar of the community. But I am not doing one single thing right now that is conducive to manifesting that reality, so I can hardly expect anybody to regard that as anything but a fantasy of mine.

It's sad to think about the lives we might have led, or would be able to lead now, if we had done or were capable of doing different things. But we are not obligated to validate people's fantasies for them, especially not when we have our own problems and families to care for.
posted by hermitosis at 6:41 AM on June 6, 2007 [5 favorites]

I think you may be confused over the meaning of "confirmed bachelor." You sound concerned that this guy will never want to settle down with any woman and get married, but confirmed bachelor is usually used as code to mean a gay man. However, saying he "wants significant time with the boys partying" makes me think that maybe you're concerned with the amount of time he's spending with guys. Given this ambiguity, it's hard to see exactly what advice you're looking for (wondering if he is gay versus wondering if he will ever settle down for you). I'm going to assume you mean the settling question, though.

The real question is how important do you see settling down in the near future? From your description it seems that even if he is sincere about wanting to settle, he doesn't see it happening for a while. That may be reason enough to move on, depending on your priorities.
posted by piratebowling at 6:42 AM on June 6, 2007

The best predicter of future behaviour is past behaviour - omg - am i channeling dr phil?!? Okay, what's he got going for him that makes him marriage material? yeah, i thought so. Trust your gut. Some people will say anything eg but baby, when we're married, I'll change, just to get regular sex.

(Oh and I'm naive, i always thought confirmed bachelor meant just that - a man who would not marry regardless of his sexual orientation)
posted by b33j at 6:51 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Here is the crux of the matter - Is this man perfectly fulfilled and happy living the way he is? If so, would you still love/like (I don't know the extent of your current feelings) the person he might become were he to change who he is for you?

After 50 years, this guy either has serious issues that he can't confront, or has lived enough and knows himself well enough that he accepts that his lifestyle is who he is and is what makes him happy and fulfilled. If you know this person well enough to assume the latter situation is the case, think about what might happen to him were he to abandon what he knows to be fulfilling to meet your requirements of him. That could go one of two ways: 1) he is able to find fulfillment in curbing part of his lifestyle for the greater happiness being with you might give him; or, 2) he will become an unrecognizable, miserable wretch who is forcing himself to do something un-natural to him in order to pacify you. I think the discussion you need to have with him is which of those scenarios he feels is more possible.
posted by spicynuts at 6:51 AM on June 6, 2007

Spends most of his money on trips and booze and seeing he still wants significant time with the boys partying, and boating.

And you date him why? You're definitely overreating. Cut him out of your diet immediately. Move on.
posted by cashman at 7:12 AM on June 6, 2007

I don't see her trying to 'force' him to change, spicynuts, although that's often what guys assume when a topic like this comes up. It sounds like she's confused, because how he acts doesn't match up with what he says he wants out of life.

What I see is that she wants commitment and knows it. He says he wants commitment, but she isn't sure that's really the case because he doesn't act like a man looking to make a commitment.

To the original poster: consider that he might be saying that simply to keep you around. I'm not saying that he's lying, although that's obviously a possibility: I'm saying that he may be reacting emotionally to the unspoken implication that if you don't get a commitment you'll leave. He doesn't want to be alone, so he desperately searches for something to say that will keep you with him. He may even believe, and strongly, that he wants the commitment, but in reality he really may just want to not be alone, and the commitment is something he'll accept grudgingly so as not to have to start over with someone new.

Is that what you want out of a marriage? Grudging commitment, or commitment borne of fear of loneliness?
posted by watsondog at 7:13 AM on June 6, 2007

My first thought was to suggest that you give it a test run and live with the guy for awhile, but with the 11-year-old at home, that's not such a hot idea unless you're pretty sure that this is a long-term commitment.

In lieu of that, I would try dating him for as long as it takes for some setback to occur. A bout of strep throat or the flu from your child on a night/week that you two were supposed to go out will probably bring out the truth here. Does he offer to bring in a movie and have a quiet time at home keeping your sick kid company? Or, does he act miffed (or uncaring), and then go out drinking with his buddies? That will gauge his fatherhood/empathy potential.

Frankly, it looks like it might be better for you to move on. There are too many women who complain about or get divorced from guys that have his profile. Your child is about to enter adolescence, which even in the most stable families, can bring turmoil and many challenges. You owe it to your child to make these next few years about him or her, not your chaotic relationship.
posted by Flakypastry at 7:21 AM on June 6, 2007

I think I know this guy.

Yes, he says he wants commitment, and maybe in fantasy he actually does, but the reason he's never married is because he's never found a woman who can live up to his standards.

Move along. At the very least, do you want this guy being any kind of role model to your kid?
posted by desjardins at 7:21 AM on June 6, 2007

I think dating a guy who spends most of his money on trips, booze, and boating sounds like fun. But I wouldn't marry him.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:24 AM on June 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

I've always taken "confirmed bachelor" to have at least two meanings (gay or just solidly single), with the meaning implied through tone of voice and context. Either way, a confirmed bachelor is thoroughly out of the heterosexual marriage pool, and this guy sounds he might be a definite confirmed bachelor.

As Hermitosis says, what matters is what he does, not what he says. So trust your gut, and look closely at his actions -- is he doing the things that would make him a good partner? Or is he doing the things that would prevent him from making a good partner? There is nothing automatically wrong with the apartment, the travel, or even the drinking with his buddies -- it is the broader context that matters. Is his apartment welcoming? Is he taking the steps (say, giving notice and dipping into his savings for the downpayment) needed to create a great living situation for the both of you (plus current or future children)? Does he invite you along on his travels? Are his friends basically nice guys, or are they dramatically bad influences who are sustaining unhealthy decisions?

And out of fairness -- what are your rough edges? What do you need to change to become a good partner to this man? How, if you were married to him, would you ensure that he still was able to do the things (travel, drink beer with buddies) that give meaning and enjoyment to his life? Creating a partnership, especially later in life, takes serious compromise and negotiation on both sides, and isn't always easy.
posted by Forktine at 7:28 AM on June 6, 2007

(I, too, always thought that confirmed bachelor means just that...someone who isn't interested in ever settling down. And I have lots of gay friends so maybe we just say "he's gay" versus using a "code term.")

There is a lot of great insight up there. Here's a interesting thought to test things out. If you ended up marrying this guy and something happened to you (knock on wood), can you easily and confidently picture him raising your 11 year old?

I have met guys like this who, although they have the best of intentions, don't act on what they say. My hunch is that he is one of them.
posted by jeanmari at 7:29 AM on June 6, 2007

Never underestimate the power of "lifestyle autopilot".

Maybe this guy loves his life, or maybe he secretly hates it but can't admit that to himself because it would mean he wasted all those years.

You represent change. So, you need to figure out whether he really wants change or not. Don't ask via an offhand comment, or make a casual remark while strolling through the dairy section of the local grocery store. It should be a serious question, requiring a serious answer.
posted by aramaic at 7:31 AM on June 6, 2007

When is it best to just trust the gut instinct and move on in the dating pool?

Um, pretty much always?
posted by DarkForest at 7:35 AM on June 6, 2007

Also, do you just want a husband-unit, or a relationship, with a an actual person, that defies categorization?
posted by DarkForest at 7:38 AM on June 6, 2007

I think you're dating my uncle. He's the type who says he wants a house and a family, but complains about being stifled whenever he does have a girlfriend. See if he's willing to make the necessary changes (i.e., start saving up for a down payment on a house) before you make any commitments.
posted by Soliloquy at 7:49 AM on June 6, 2007

The fact he says he wants to settle down but has yet to really do anything about that is a bit troubling. He could just be really lazy though.
posted by chunking express at 7:57 AM on June 6, 2007

Sounds like my kind of guy. But seriously, there's something that you do like about him. Maybe it's the fact that he doesn't want to live the lifestyle that our culture demands, I don't know. I do know this: If you drop an ultimatum, you will almost always get the answer you _don't_ want.

My friends and I live like this guy, but we're about 20 years younger. There is a way to work this. You must become friends with his friends. In a genuine way. If you fake it, they will know and will treat you as a threat who is manipulating their friend. Then you slowly show this guy how you would like to live and _slowly_ wean him off the bachelor lifestyle. There are things he wants to do that don't involve his friends. I guarantee it. Do those things with him.

I know this works because a girl eventually got one of our friends this way. Unfortunately, he freaked out after they owned a house and two dogs and she kept pestering him with wedding magazines. So take my advice as you would all advice from the internet.
posted by kookywon at 7:57 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

If he has found what makes him happy I will say more power to him! But I will also echo everybody else and say that significant change is a fantasy on his part.

I'm really glad you've got a good handle on your instincts because somebody else in this situation might be far enough in denial to not even really articulate what her gut instincts are. Now that you know what you're sensing you have to put your trust in it. I bet this guy would be a good buddy and "fun uncle" for your kid but I don't see him changing to be a provider and father.
posted by lorimer at 7:58 AM on June 6, 2007

It's hard to say, without more information (how long have you been dating, for example?), but I'd suggest that it might be worth asking him more seriously about this before calling it quits, as aramaic has said. What do you have to lose?

Speaking as an increasingly confirmed bachelor myself, I know that it's possible to slip into that lifestyle somewhat by accident (or by too often following darkforest's advice). However if the "qualities" you feel he's lacking are ones that are really important, and you're reasonably confident in your judgment, then you might just want to move on. The question in that case is whether even if he were willing to settle down, whether you and your daughter would be really happy with the results. If not, just move on, but if so, it seems like it would be worth at least a bit of time and effort to get a good sense of what this fellow really wants to do with his life.
posted by washburn at 8:06 AM on June 6, 2007

As long as he's not an alcoholic, and not in debt, it sounds like he's livin' life right. I don't see why he couldn't play the role you're looking for as well.

I'm married, may even have kids eventually, and I aspire to live my life like that. Except the boat part.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 8:21 AM on June 6, 2007

As I often say, people with the means to make a choice are generally living the exact lifestyles they desire. As hermitosis points out upstream, it's easy to yammer about the things you want and how your life could be different. But that's typically just fantasizing out loud, because if you really wanted to change, you'd be working out a program for that. So, if this guy is pushing 50 and still boozing it up with the boys, it's not because he's pining for the love of a good woman to set him straight and domesticate's because, well, he prefers boozing it up with the boys.

On the other hand, Hollywood has just taught us that if you're Katherine Heigl, you can entice Seth Rogen to abandon a life of aimless slacking and debauchery for a committed relationship and fatherhood, so anything's possible, as long as you are one of those two people.
posted by Midnight Creeper at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2007

I don't see why you're equating his recreational and financial choices with an abstract inability to commit in general. Maybe he'd be happy to commit to someone who didn't demand he change. There are plenty of women who value time alone or with "the girls," spend their money on fun rather than houses and cars, and like to drink...

If you can't get on board with his recreational and financial goals, then it's your relationship that has a problem -- don't blame it on his abstract status as a "heterosexual confirmed bachelor."
posted by footnote at 8:39 AM on June 6, 2007

If you believe life imitates art, watch Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers, and You, Me and Dupree. Moral: men who revel in bachelorhood eventually discover and appreciate the joy of a grown-up life.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:45 AM on June 6, 2007

I don't see her trying to 'force' him to change, spicynuts,

I wasn't saying she was. I was saying she needs to figure out if she WANTS to if she knows that this guy is indeed happy and fulfilled the way he currently lives his life. If the only way she can see to want to stay with this guy is to make him "settle down" then she needs to figure out if changing him in that way is something he actually wants to do or if he will be doing it simply to pacify her while in fact being miserable. If she can be happy with him the way he is, if in fact HE is happy that way, then she need not change him at all.
posted by spicynuts at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2007

still rents a small apt, spends most of his money on trips and booze and seeing he still wants significant time with the boys partying, and boating

Choosing to rent and apartment, enjoying travel, boating, and hanging out with your friends don't have any bearing on whether a person might want to commit to someone and help parent their child. Many married people live in apartments. If you go out to the lake, you see many families with children out boating. It sounds like your vision of life with a husband does not include these things.

You need to take a look at what you are assuming goes along with marriage and see if it goes along with what he is assuming goes along with marriage. The first step in this doesn't involve him at all -- you need to sit down and really think about what you want in your life, and what you need in your life. Not what the culture around you tells you marriage "should be" like, but what you as an individual need. Now you can communicate with him and find out if these are compatible.
posted by yohko at 9:19 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

first of all, any dude who's nearing the age of 50 and still "spends most of his money on trips and booze and seeing he still wants significant time with the boys partying, and boating" is just…sorry to say, but that's just pathetic. and generally aren't too interested in change, especially the kind of change that they perceive as possibly curtailing their "fun."

second of all, trust your instincts. we have them for a reason.

if you just want to date and have fun with this guy, it sounds like he's the guy to have fun with. but if you want a commitment and you want to settle down and have kids with this guy…please don't! if he was serious, he would have taken steps toward that kind of life with you before this discussion came up, and without any arm-twisting.

i'm with watsondog on this one. i think he's just saying he wants the same things as you in order to keep you around. if you want something more than just a fun time, i would encourage you to think about moving on. you don't want to be the one at home dealing with the kids and the day to day while this guy is out living it up with "the boys."
posted by violetk at 9:28 AM on June 6, 2007

Try being 100% explicit about how you would expect him to behave in your future relationship. It might help you to avoid some future problems like the ugliness of this relationship. It might scare him away. If so it might be for the best. If not, then you'll still have to trust your gut about whether he's deluding you and/or himself. Make sure he's aware of and is signed up for all the gory details, the lack of freedom, and the mundane but relentless and inescapable responsibilities and expectations.

Really, I think people enter relationships too easily and for the wrong reasons, expecting a person to play a particular role in their life, rather than simply having a unique, personal, dynamic, living relationship that may not fit the pre-defined roles society hands us.
posted by DarkForest at 9:32 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

I know a gaggle of these guys.
A group of guys that all hang out together and live the lifestyle you talk about- all about the same age.
He may want to get married or whatever but i think he'll never change.
If you are happy with your lifestyle exactly as it is I guess don't dump him.
But the guys I know don't wanna stop hanging out in the cigar bar, having golf trips to Hilton Head, or sailing trips with the boys for anything.
I will say the one of the group that I knew was boyfriends with my best friend and treated her family and daughter like gold and was like a father to her. He is a kind, generous, classy, successful, thoughtful and funny guy. He just didn't want to give up his indulgent lifestyle and it wasn't physically heathy or really what my girlfriend wanted for her life.

Is he completely terrific and you don't mind the time alone?
posted by beccaj at 9:35 AM on June 6, 2007

second of all, trust your instincts. we have them for a reason.

Always intrigued by this claim. If I'd spent my life so far trusting my instincts, I'd never have got a job I really enjoy, never gone abseiling, probably never got on an airplane and certainly never have asked anybody out. It sounds like you judge this guy's lifestyle to be pathetic, though, as does violetk, and it doesn't really matter if you're right or wrong: it's what you think.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 9:40 AM on June 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

first of all, any dude who's nearing the age of 50 and still "spends most of his money on trips and booze and seeing he still wants significant time with the boys partying, and boating" is just…sorry to say, but that's just pathetic.

No, what's pathetic is that you judge someone else's choice by your own narrow definition of how to live life. If this dude is happy living the way he lives, what the hell difference does it make if you think it's pathetic? The poster needs to determine what is acceptable TO HER, not to you.
posted by spicynuts at 9:54 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

This guy is approaching Fifty years old and lives like a frat boy. He does not appear to have any reason or desire to grow up or make any changes in his life whatsoever.

Not even the perfect woman with a crowbar could remove this guy from his entrenched habits.

Said frat boy probably gets lots of "lifestyle reinforcement" from his buddies, so any chicks would be seen as an intrusion, or at least a threat to the tribal customs.

Be a good example to your 11-year old and ditch this guy.

Time to trade up.
posted by Carnage Asada at 9:56 AM on June 6, 2007

Traveling, boating, having friends--these sound like hobbies. Are you uncomfortable with a man that has hobbies? If you weren't in the picture how would you like him to spend his time? Watching TV and double checking his portfolio every evening? Sounds to me like being busy and social is healthier than being a wallflower-in-waiting for you.
posted by sourwookie at 9:59 AM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

That being said, I bet there is another issue here and it is probably best to go with your gut.
posted by sourwookie at 10:00 AM on June 6, 2007

wow, spicynuts, defensive much?

i happen to think it's pathetic. you obviously don't. i'm not getting all over your crack because you don't agree with me.

if he wants to live that life, i'm not telling him or anyone like him not to. i'm just telling the poster that if she feels like that's not something she wants, then to move on because she doesn't sound like she's all that into settling down with someone like that.

cripes, get over yourself.
posted by violetk at 10:00 AM on June 6, 2007

if he wants to live that life, i'm not telling him or anyone like him not to. i'm just telling the poster that if she feels like that's not something she wants, then to move on because she doesn't sound like she's all that into settling down with someone like that.

I dunno... if you call something "pathetic", I think plenty of people would take that to mean you viewed it as something that shouldn't be done.

To the OP -- it's hard to judge based on our lack of info, naturally. If you want a partner who is going to devote 100% of his time and energy to you, this guy doesn't sound like that person. On the other hand, I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing. I would hope that in 2007 couples (married or otherwise) can be secure enough in their relationships to be able to maintain their own hobbies and relationships as individuals (especially when the guy is 50!) rather than doing *everything* as a couple. Naturally, there is a balance to be struck. But if this guy is someone who you think would be a good partner and father, who just happens to enjoying boating with is friends on occasion, then I would encourage you to stick it out, and develop hobbies of your own. If, on the other hand, you think you and your children will always come second, then yeah, he's no good for you.

There's always shades of grey -- it doesn't have to be all or nothing in terms of the time you spend together. In fact, your relationship would probably be healthier if you maintained your own separate lives in addition to your new partnered life.

Think of it like a Venn diagram, perhaps.
posted by modernnomad at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2007

I'm just trying to picture the gender reversal here -- a 50 year old women who has a great, tight group of girlfriends she hangs out with often, likes to travel a lot and spend time outdoors, and decided to scale down her material life to have the time and money to pursue these interests. Would anyone be calling her pathetic and immature? Didn't think so. Instead, she'd be praised for living an Oprah dream of personal fulfillment.
posted by footnote at 10:31 AM on June 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

I must admit that I'm rather creeped out by the meanness of some of the remarks some people have been making about the man in question here. I mean, aren't too many people having children nowadays? And are boating and spending time with one's friends such terrible things? Is travel so terrible? Or alcohol? What, exactly is the problem here? What should a single man his age be doing? Is the problem that he should be doing charity work or being a political activist in his spare time? Performing spiritual exercises?

I have plenty of respect for such higher things; but it's also no mean talent to be able to enjoy life, and it sounds like the fellow in question is managing to do this with some success. Good on him.

Does the questioner want to share her life with his? That's a separate question, of course. But there's no need to produce gratuitous denunciations of this guy as some sort of abhorrent wastrel.
posted by washburn at 10:44 AM on June 6, 2007

nearing the age of 50 who still rents a small apt, spends most of his money on trips and booze

I dated this guy a few years ago; at the time, I also rented a small apartment and drank and went to the beach and etc. We figured we'd be wastrels together.

As it happened, we bought a house in the country, and are expecting a baby in August. Largely his idea to do both.

I don't know that anybody would have expected either of us to do so much settling down. I disagree that these things are entrenched frat boy blah blah -- responsible behaviour does not always require being a bore; I can think of no reason why I, Mr Kmennie, or your young man should not have spent their time drinking by the water when there was no reason not to. What were any of us supposed to do, sit by the fire and knit?

Agreed re. A bout of strep throat or the flu from your child on a night/week that you two were supposed to go out will probably bring out the truth here. I was quite sick for a spell while we were dating, and that did make certain things obvious.
posted by kmennie at 11:14 AM on June 6, 2007

cripes, get over yourself.

posted by spicynuts at 11:29 AM on June 6, 2007

You know what, the guy expresses a desire to settle down and become a father. That's perfectly valid and I don't see any reason to question it.

But look at it this way. When he says, "I want to be a parent," coming from exactly zero years experience in marriage and parenting, that's rather different from the original poster's experience, which is 11 years of parenting and presumably some cohabitation along the way.

The desire is probably valid, but I bet the guy doesn't know much about marriage or parenting, compared to the original poster. He has no idea whether his desires are realistic or possible because he doesn't actually know what it means to do it.

So for the original poster, you'd probably be putting up with a learning curve, just as you would with a 21 year old. I don't think that disqualifies the guy. But you may not want to be the relationship expert, helping this guy along in his ignorance, for the next 10 years of his evolution as a person. Maybe what your gut is saying is that you want someone you wouldn't have to train?
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:43 AM on June 6, 2007

Sounds like he has energy and a continuing lust for life. Is this bad? Is your time with him fun? Do you go out together on the boats, with the boys? Do you really want a guy who at 50 is pottering around in carpet slippers? What's a "potterer" going to be like at 60? I mean, dump him by all means, but you know by now that nobody's perfect. Are you? Will the next guy be better? Will there be a next guy? Isn't the fact that he's still a party animal and hands off with your (not his) child in fact a relief, at times? How would it be if he wanted to be a full-time step-dad, might you not resent that? He's told you he wants to settle down and become a father. Can't you take him at face value? Most people don't fib about such things, why should he? I would suggest you seriously consider having a baby together.
posted by londongeezer at 11:52 AM on June 6, 2007

any dude who's nearing the age of 50 and still "spends most of his money on trips and booze and seeing he still wants significant time with the boys partying, and boating" is just…sorry to say, but that's just pathetic.

I agree, it's pathetic.

Spending most of his money on trips and booze is not just a lifestyle choice, it is objectively unwise --- suggesting a lack of financial responsibility, at the very least --- and it would be crazy for another person to set up housekeeping with him.
posted by jayder at 12:03 PM on June 6, 2007

Growing up is for old people.

All the vitriol in this thread about simple differences in lifestyle and priorities is somewhat surprising to me.
posted by yesster at 12:42 PM on June 6, 2007

Here's some followup from anonymous:

'This is so I can respond to numerous questions and since I prefer to respond anon, then I guess I have to hope TPTB will allow this part deux.

The "subject" is almost 50, a professional ( lawyer) has little to no savings, has rented since he left his parent's home, has no desire to buy a property- he just wants to spend his free time boozing it up with his boating friends and friends from work and going on many far, exotic trips. Yet he claims to want to get married, become a father and for all intents and purposes; wants to settle down. I am a divorced woman with one child. I just don't see the potential there. Or am I really just being unfair? We had the talk about learning how to be responsible in many areas such as mgmt of money. So what does he do the next day? He suggests we go out. While we're out, he heads to the wine shop and proceeds to buy 5 bottles of wine. Am I crazy to want to run in the other direction. I think by the time a person reaches 50, no one can motivate them to change. They are pretty much set in their ways. Am I totally wrong????????????'
posted by cortex at 12:56 PM on June 6, 2007

Hmmm.... sounds a lot like my husband, except he was 10 years younger and did own his own home. He didn't party, but he did spend his weekends hanging out with other Harley riders and having a few beers, and wasted his money on big boy 'toys'.

That was before we started seriously dating. I saw very clear signs that he was ready and willing and capable of being an excellent husband and father. Now the Harley has been traded for a pick-up truck, he rarely drinks, we have 3 sons and the last toy he bought (and the 50 toys before that) was for them. And the $ he used to waste is now invested for our future.

So my questions are:

Does this man you're dating take you and your son on the boating trips?

Is he gradually spending less time partying with the boys, and more time with you?

Can he handle 'boring' nights of watching a video at home and helping with your son's homework?

Does he have a financial plan for getting out of the apartment? Does he have any financial plans at all?

Does he only drink with the guys? Can he do without drinking? Is he an alcoholic?

If you don't see any of these signs of 'settling down', then yes, trust your gut and move on. But if he's making a sincere effort, and doesn't seemed 'freaked' by a quieter lifestyle, then give him a chance: Some guys just form habits, they get used to what ever is going on and don't see a pressing reason to change. My husband made the adjustment seem easy but that was because he really wanted it.
posted by LadyBonita at 12:58 PM on June 6, 2007

I think there is no way this is going to work out.
The guy sounds like my dad, you sound like the woman he broke up with, even though they were very happy together, because they wanted different things. She wanted to settle down and have babies, he wanted to sail around the world.
He ended up marrying a wonderful woman who also wanted to sail around the world, which they did. The girlfriend married a man who wanted to settle down and have babies, which they did. Everybody's happy, but they wouldn't have been if they had stayed together. I think you need to move on.
posted by bink at 1:08 PM on June 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

There's no need to combine your finances with his. Let him spend his money how he wants. Take what he has to offer in terms of a relationship, and stop expecting more. If that's not enough for you, then yeah, move on.

People at 50 can change. But really, why? There is somebody (or a series of somebodies) out there who will fit his life exactly.

I really don't get the notion of changing someone, or even asking them to change. It's inherently paternalistic. Take him at face value or walk away. And try to do so without judgement.

BTW - Often attorneys -- after years of dealing with quite a variety of other peoples problems -- develop a deep inner sense of different modes of life and their consequences, even if that depth doesn't show. I've seen it many times where attorneys know really intimate details about people, and they see stark disconnects between espoused values and behavior and they know how fate/luck/whatever can really fuck with a life that should be objectively successful. It is possible that this guy has seen what living life "proper" does for long-term happiness in some people. Maybe he's not a simple pig-happy frat boy. Maybe he's a Socratic pig. (IANAA, but I screwed a few)
posted by yesster at 1:11 PM on June 6, 2007

I just don't see the potential there

So why is there a question here? Make the decision you want to make. Is there some other pressure on you to decide to be with him?

am I really just being unfair?

Unfair to who? Him? Not at all. It's totally your choice.

I think by the time a person reaches 50, no one can motivate them to change.

I think it's very hard to 'motivate' anyone to change, regardless of age. Motivation to change can come from within or it can come from a change in external circumstances. Finding the right person can motivate change (which is not the same as saying that you can change another person).

They are pretty much set in their ways.

Maybe or maybe not. But I wouldn't by any means count on him changing. If he's not acceptable to you as he is, then I'd have serious doubts.
posted by DarkForest at 1:17 PM on June 6, 2007

Upon reading your update - yeah, dump him.
posted by LadyBonita at 2:15 PM on June 6, 2007

After seeing the follow-up (thanks Cortex), I say no.

Are you of child-bearing age, or are you only referring to your 11 year old? I just ask because the way it's phrased in both statements it kind of left the door open for a newborn...?

I'd say no. He's been living it up for a while, and seems a tad impulsive. He's probably ga ga over you and doesn't want you to go away. Watch his behaviors, not his mouth. Also:

Whenever you're called on to marry some guy.
And you're hampered by not having any.
The simplest way to solve the dilemma you'll find,
Is simply by flipping a penny.

No, not so that chance shall decide the affair;
As he's passively standing there drinking.
But as soon as the penny is up in the air,
You'll suddenly know what you're thinking.

--Piet Hein's drunk uncle.
posted by cashman at 2:28 PM on June 6, 2007

upon reading the update, yeah—everyone who got on my case because i thought it was pathetic: you're right…a nearly 50 year old lawyer who has little to no savings because he's been too busy spending all of his free time and money boozing it up with the boys and traveling is the perfect guy with whom to settle down.

i'm all for having fun and staying young as long as possible but there is such a thing as knowing when to be a kid and knowing when to man up. i don't know that a lot of guys get that.
posted by violetk at 2:32 PM on June 6, 2007

If he really has little or no savings, and you do, then dump him. Even if he wants to be a father, he doesn't have the fiscal responsibility to back it up. If neither of you have savings though, what are you bringing to the table in your next relationship?
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:35 PM on June 6, 2007

you're right…a nearly 50 year old lawyer who has little to no savings because he's been too busy spending all of his free time and money boozing it up with the boys and traveling is the perfect guy with whom to settle down.

Sure, he's not the guy for most people to partner up with, maybe not for anyone. But he's making his own choices and not harming anyone. I don't get the pathetic part at all. Do you think everyone that does not make the same choices or have the same goals as you is pathetic?

when to man up

Oh please.
posted by DarkForest at 3:20 PM on June 6, 2007

What does "man up" mean to you, violetk? The gentleman in question is a "confirmed", or shall we say dedicated bachelor - at least until now when he may want to change. Should he have been saving his money just in case he found someone to settle down with, rather than just enjoy the life he made for himself? Do you really think life's template is as simple as go-to-school, graduate, get a good job, marry, have children and support them all like a good man should? Awfully prosaic.

I'm not disagreeing with the consensus here - I do think the couple in question is almost certainly unsuitable - but sheesh this is really not solely about the guy, its about the posters choice too. Can she live with a man of that description, not only whether the man can change to fit her needs. It's kind of a two-way street you know and it seems quite obvious that both parties are quite set in their ways.

And there's a pretty darn easy way for the poster to figure all this out sans the comments in the Green. Ask, and be honest with the person in question. Honesty and forthright communication - the new answer to relationships based on 50's era TV sitcoms.
posted by elendil71 at 3:23 PM on June 6, 2007

Your fella sounds like how my fiancé would be in about 15 years if he hadn't met me.

First of all, I don't think there's anything wrong with him from the information you gave. So he's living the life he wants to live...what's wong with that? Not everyone feels the need for the McMansion, SUV, et al.

I think the fact that he says he wants the things you want is a good start. Now is he responsible, kind, an all-around good person? Or is he an alcoholic or a womanizer or something else unsavory?

If he's a good guy he may not have found the right woman yet because there are not a whole lot of women willing to go along with even a modified version of his current lifestyle. Do you think you could balance he could balance a family life and his "hobbies"? Are you willing to pick up the slack areas where he's a little weak (such as financial planning, perhaps)?

I'd say keep dating him for awhile and the answer will become clear before too long.
posted by Jess the Mess at 3:52 PM on June 6, 2007

Do you think everyone that does not make the same choices or have the same goals as you is pathetic?

no, but i do think that i get to think he is pathetic. sheesh, ppl, get off my case for having an opinion. like i've said before, i don't get all on yours for having ones that differ from mine.

and by "man up" i mean to be responsible. if he wants to be with this woman and help her raise a kid, maybe spending all of his money on booze and boats and trips isn't really the best way to go about showing her he's serious, is it? as others have pointed out, it's also just personally fiscally irresponsible.
posted by violetk at 5:14 PM on June 6, 2007

If he doesn't have savings, and all he does is rent, and he's practically fifty, that is totally irresponsible. He's nearing retirement age. What is he planning to live on when he's older, or heaven forbid he get ill or disabled?

His behavior is a reflection of who he is. And your gut is wisely telling you what to do.
posted by konolia at 5:34 PM on June 6, 2007

You know the answer. You've just asked the question to get confirmation. Well, consider this your confirmation. Now stop wasting your time with him.
posted by Dasein at 7:16 PM on June 6, 2007

My aunt and uncle have been happily married for 24 years. He was an astrophysicist who worked at Aerospace and once had a televised debate with Sydney Omarr. She works at the LA county museum of art and has faith in metaphysics. She's widely traveled, he would rather spend the day in his office which has a strong resemblance to the Collyer brothers' home.

They each have their own interests, but come first with each other.
posted by brujita at 11:07 PM on June 6, 2007

On the one hand, someone who's single at 50 is fine - not everyone has the gold of being married and buying a house, and that's ok. One person's judgment of 'pathetic' is another person's acceptance of different strokes for different folks If he has no savings partly because he's travelled, that makes sense - if he's travelled lots and to exotic places, all the power to him... lucky guy. Heck, if I was a lawyer (especially a corporate lawyer), I'd be escaping on a boat every other weekend

However, the other hand really tips the balance for me into a strange relationship - the 'running out and buying 5 bottles' stuff is pretty immature, in the guise of 'being romantic'. I think one can change after 50, but it's going to be hard especially if they don't have incentive to change, and don't have the support (i.e. a therapist especially). Who knows if this guy is going to change; the OP could always suggest some short bit of joint relationship counselling. You have a right to expect someone decent, especially because you've got the 11 year old at home (I have a soft spot for single parents - you're unsung heros and heroines).

Good luck - hope it works out, and there was some way we could find out what's happenned...
posted by rmm at 11:55 PM on June 6, 2007

It does need to be pointed out that his current lifestyle choices may be just because he has no better alternative. He may have always done boozing/fishing - but it could just be because the only other option was sitting alone in a darkened room or watching some TV.

You could give him the option of a great date out, at the same time that there happens to be a fishing trip, and see which he prefers.

If you do decide to make a go of it with him, try to let him have some "batchelor" time with his mates occasionally (assuming he isn't the type to sleep around or otherwise threaten your relationship in that manner). It'll make your relationship stronger with him and his friends.
posted by electriccynic at 3:42 AM on June 7, 2007

OMG, a single man that actually has a life! And he's 50! How pathetic is that? Far more normal if he sat at home drinking, watching to tube, so everyone could sneer at him: "Get a life, looser!".

Savings? There's savings, then there are assets. Boat? Um, that can be one hell of an asset.

5 bottles of wine? Um, I'm sorry, what was the problem exactly? For many people, wine is not a luxory, but a staple. Declare that irresponsible only when drinking them all in a sitting.

HOWEVER! If the poster doesn't like the boating lifestyle, dump him, it will never work. Or change yourself, and find the appeal. Seriously, boating is one of the greatest things in life. Fun for the entire family.

Oh, and about those missing savings: Um, how much does this man pull in? Since it seems most of his outlay is rather voluntary, he may be quite capable of amassing considerable funds in a short period of time.

OTOH: Rather than being worried about his lifestyle (which sounds largely healthy), I'd be more worried about his patience to deal with the all-too-soon onset of the dreaded adolescence in the 11-year-old. But maybe he's kept himself young enough to deal.
posted by Goofyy at 5:49 AM on June 7, 2007

Wow. I'm such a raging feminist, so it's nice to be reminded that men are also subject to unpleasant stereotypes. But anyway, that's not really the main issue here. It's clear that the poster has little respect for her partner's life choices. Whether or not those choices are wise or "manly", that lack of respect dooms the relationship.
posted by footnote at 6:57 AM on June 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

next time i'll just be sure to agree with everyone here rather than express my own opinion…
posted by violetk at 9:27 AM on June 9, 2007

« Older Seattle "Sopranos" June 10th viewing party?   |   Adventure books for girls and boys Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.