I'm to sad to think of a funny title.
August 19, 2007 6:36 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend is bad with money. I knew this when I met him, and for the first year or so of our relationship it was mostly one of his more grating personality quirks, nothing truly irritating and definitely not a dealbreaker. At the time my attitude was that as long as it didn't affect me, as long as he wasn't asking for help, and as long as his poor decisions didn't render him homeless or hungry, it wasn't my problem. Except now it is.

Due to an abusive living situation that ended catastrophically, I was forced to move in with him. This is temporary. It's also destroying our relationship. There are so many, many problems but the most recent, and the one I'm asking about today, involves his car. I don't know how to drive and while I was in the process of learning, I'd been relying on him to get me to work and to any appointments that came up. I work very far from where he lives and that's been a strain on things, but we'd worked out a compromise. I would take public transportation two out of the five days I needed to get to work and pay half of the gas costs. Beyond transportation, I'd also been paying him (as well as his roommate) a little bit monthly for rent and taking care of food and cleaning. We'd been doing this since May and it was working out well, or as well as the situation could work, until last Wednesday when we were pulled over. He hadn't paid his excise tax (apparently for some time) as well as some outstanding tickets, and as such could not renew his registration. Because of this, his car was towed and impounded. All together, it's going to cost about $500 for him to get it back on the road.

He doesn't have $500. He has no savings of any kind, he's self-employed, and he spends what he gets fairly quickly so he's starting from literally $0. He's borrowed money from his parents, a bit from his friends, worked to get the rest, but he's still $200 short. I have $200. I don't want to give it to him.

I just feel like if he'd ask me at any time before it got to this point to help out with a ticket or help pay for the excise tax or do anything really, I would have. And I wouldn't have expected anything in return. Our relationship is very much about going dutch. On everything. In fact, one of the tickets in question, a $15 citation recieved for a parking violation, I watched him get two months ago. I kept reminding him to take care of it, asked if he wanted me to take care of it, every time he refused, said he would deal with it, became exasperated with me. Finally I stopped asking. Now that $15 ticket is a $75 fine.

I explained to him as this: I don't believe that it's a good idea from people in relationships to owe each other money, I don't want to lend it to him. He agrees with me on that point and if I gave him this money, he would not be willing to pay me back. At the same time, in this particular case, I'm not comfortable just giving him the money. We're in this completely preventable situation because of what he has done, or failed to do. I'm saving every penny I can so I can move out and I can't afford to throw away $200 to pay for his negligence. He's said that his only concern throughout this entire thing is making sure I can get to work, but if that was the case, how could he even allow it to happen? These tickets are months old and the excise tax isn't something that just pops up. His response is that he's been depressed, that people make mistakes, that if it were me he would help out without a second thought. He says my attitude makes him feel sad and he's begun acting resentful and distant. Every conversation we've had about this begins and ends with his talking about all that he's done for me. It feels like he's throwing it in my face. If we're counting dollars I haven't given as much (I make much less than he does), I've given as much as I can afford. Still, I feel guilty.

So my question for you is this: Am I making the right decision? Whether I am or not, how can we work past this? I feel like there's no way to talk to him about it without his getting upset or bringing up how much he's given.
posted by chichimimizu to Human Relations (94 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
And that should be 'too.' Too. I'm too sad to be grammatically correct.
posted by chichimimizu at 6:37 PM on August 19, 2007

I think you guys are going to break up as soon as you can afford to leave. With that assumption, I would give him the $200 as an advance on 'rent', then stop paying rent (to him only, if you pay his roommate separately).
posted by jacalata at 6:47 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

You are making the right decision. As for whether you can work past it, why would you want to? Do you really want to be in a relationship with someone you can't trust? He has proven himself completely irresponsible, and furthermore, he's trying to guilt you into bailing him out. Not cool. It doesn't sound like he's interested in turning his life around, and unless you are interested in being his checkbook forever, I'd consider, and re-consider, what good things this relationship is bringing to your life (and the stuff he's holding over your head to make you feel guilty doesn't count).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:49 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't make a gift of the money. You are doing the right thing.
posted by janell at 6:51 PM on August 19, 2007

DTMFA - Seriously - that sounds harsh but it will just get worse. Dump him. Now. You will find someone else and this will never even be an issue. Ever even come up. You will be surprised. Go. Now. trust me.
posted by mkim at 6:54 PM on August 19, 2007

I agree wholeheartedly with jacalata. You get to keep your dignity, your friend gets his car, and in a couple months it'll all be behind you when you get your own place and never have to deal with him again.

(DTMFA sounds good but is probably kinda hard while you're still living with him. Do be scrupulously fair with what you pay in rent, though, so you go out with a clean conscience.)
posted by anaelith at 6:57 PM on August 19, 2007

I'm sorry you're in this situation. I'd be too sad, too.

Lending him the money does seem like you'd be adding a new problem to the existing problems---it certainly won't make your lives any less stressful and it could prove to be one of those fulcrum issues that comes up again and again (i.e., you might resent that he didn't pay you back or he might resent having to ask you for it after helping you out...then it comes up in the middle of a fight about the remote control... oy.) And you'd be $200 further away from moving out. You clearly, clearly need to move out.

I understand his reaction though; it sounds like you are withholding the money in part to punish him or teach him a lesson. It's a lesson he needs, surely, but if you want to stay out of his finances, then you have to mind your own business. If you don't give him the money, make clear that it's because you really can't spare it and that you are looking out for the health of the relationship by trying to move soon.

Once you've made your decision either way, make some time to sit down together and discuss the practicalities and expectations and boundaries that have gotten blurry. It sounds like life in general has been difficult for you both. Once this issue is resolved, talk it through as best you can and make a plan for moving forward. Set a move out date. Help him any way you can. Decide who is paying and for what and for how long and how much.

And take a deep breath! It'll work out.
posted by juliplease at 6:58 PM on August 19, 2007

To repeat DTMFA
posted by mkim at 6:58 PM on August 19, 2007

I agree with jacalata and anaelith. Good face-saving and transportation-saving (and therefore job saving) stop gap.
posted by nax at 7:02 PM on August 19, 2007

He's cash-poor, which is something you need to accept, but he's irresponsible, which is something you need to distance yourself from.

If you need him to drive you, give him the money. But he's not the kind of guy you want a long-term relationship with.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:06 PM on August 19, 2007

So my question for you is this: Am I making the right decision?

Yes, you are in the right. Please, reserve feeling guilty for when you actually do something wrong. Do not feel guilty. He should feel guilty, not you. You sound like a nice person, and some people know that they can make nice people feel false guilt by throwing things in their face. Throwing things in your face is not an act of love. To be blunt, it sounds like you moved out of one kind of abuse into another kind.

Whether I am or not, how can we work past this?

I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "work past this." Too often the only way a couple "works past" something is by one person (you, in this case) just ignoring the wrongs and the disrespect of the other person and putting up with it for the sake of staying in the relationship.

Unsolicited opinion beyond what you are asking... please try to find a friend to stay with until you can afford to be on your own, and take the time and distance apart to think through things. You don't want to be in a relationship just because you have no where else to go. Your boyfriend's actions are designed to manipulate and control you. Trying to make someone feel guilty has no other purpose.

I'm sorry you are sad. I understand it totally. But you are a valuable person who deserves respect. He is not respecting you. Rather than looking for ways to have you take care of his problems, he should be working really hard to be worthy of you, and earn and deserve to be in a relationship with you. The odds of him changing are very slim. Those odds drop to zero if you just keep putting up with the bad behavior.

You can only control your own behavior. I suggest that your behavior becomes that of someone who deserves respect, and refuse to live in a situation that disrespects you.

Remember: people will only treat you how you allow them to.
posted by The Deej at 7:11 PM on August 19, 2007 [3 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you care about him very much. Is this just a relationship of convenience? You mention escaping an "abusive living situation that ended catastrophically" but I don't see anything in your question that indicates any real affection for this person. So, yeah...if you don't want to give him the money, then don't do it. And don't feel bad about it. It seems like he has different expectations about helping each other out and, while I think that's reasonable, you're under no obligation to be a part of that. But if that's the case, then you need to leave.
posted by dhammond at 7:17 PM on August 19, 2007

Oh, this sucks. FWIW (which is not much) I agree with your decision and the reasoning behind it. The problem is, you and he have radically different ways of dealing with money, or not. That's hard to get past.

Also, your (practical and well-intentioned) reminders about the $15 ticket probably pushed him further away from dealing with it. Which is emphatically not your fault, just a sign of how much psychological and emotional baggage he's attached to money and its usage.

Also also, the depression thing could well be a dodge. Yes, people with untreated clinical depression often have a hard time keeping up with anything beyond the immediate requirements of daily life: getting up, getting dressed, going to work, not throwing yourself in front of a bus. Is this where Boyfriend is? If so, he needs to seek professional help. If not, he needs to stop using depression as some kind of permission slip and figure out how to deal with the world and all its overwhelming detail, despite his faulty wiring. About 15 years ago, I was where he is and there's really no other way out.

You seem to be a generous and compassionate soul. If Boyfriend is willing to face his own problems, I'm sure you'll be a great support. But if he's not, you can't do a damn thing to help.
posted by vetiver at 7:17 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry - DTMFA seems too glib. I say it because I have been there and I can't articulate it better. Just this - do not invest money where you are unsure you belong. And PS - not only do people not change - they do not want to and never will. This is just going to go on.
posted by mkim at 7:18 PM on August 19, 2007

Years ago, I was your boyfriend.
If I were you, I'd dump me.
It'll get better, but it will take more time than you have right now.
posted by Floydd at 7:19 PM on August 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

I vote for "dump him already," because this episode bodes very poorly for the relationship.

But if you're going to stay in the relationship with him, and continue to live under the same roof and rely on him to get you from place to place, you should give him the $200.

Either leave, or give him the $200.
posted by jayder at 7:23 PM on August 19, 2007

Besides his lack of planning around money, he's not admitting responsibility or taking upon himself the consequences of his own actions, he's expecting to be bailed out, he's demanding that you be one of the bailer-outters rather than considering other options (don't they take credit cards??), and rather than respecting your perspective, he's resenting you for not doing exactly what he wants. If it's hard for you to work out a satisfactory compromise with him on this issue, how hard will it be when you're trying to decide really major life issues?

jacalata's approach would work, but this could also be a good place to make your stand and let it all go down in flames. (Do you have a friend, maybe from work, that you could stay with?)
posted by salvia at 7:23 PM on August 19, 2007

The thing about somebody who needs 200 is that they think they'd give it to you if you needed it and they had it. But they never have it. If you must stay with him, give him the money, and take t out of rent & gas, or accept not getting any more rides. And look for a new living situation, fast.
posted by theora55 at 7:30 PM on August 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you don't feel comfortable giving him the money, then don't.

My ONLY thought for paying him any money for this whatsoever, is this... Who was driving when you got pulled over, and what were you pulled over for?

If YOU were driving, and you got pulled over for speeding or for running a red light, well...I might be inclined to say that yes, you should pay for whatever you got fined for. But you should not pay for his excise tax, you should not pay for the towing, you should not pay for the outstanding tickets, you should not pay for renewing his registration. (Also, if you were driving and you got pulled over because of the registration, then I don't think you owe anything. The registration is his fault). Do not let him think you "owe" him anything because of things he did for you in the course of your relationship. It sounds like you've done things for him too, without expecting anything in return for it.

For working past this, here's my advice:

1) Move out as soon as possible. Even if it's something outside of your comfort zone - say, sharing a room with someone you met off of craigslist or crashing on a friend's couch - there must be other options that you can act on now.

2) Take public transportation five days a week. I'm sure you have to do that now anyway, but I mean, even if he gets his car back. If you can do it two days a week, you can do it five days a week.

3) I don't think I can make a call for you on whether or not you should break up with him. But if you decide to stay with him, don't expect him to change. I'm not saying that he won't ever change, I'm not saying that he's not capable of it, but simply don't get your hopes up, as I think it's unlikely unless he takes the initiative and does something drastic to help him change, like seeking therapy if he really is depressed.
posted by Squee at 7:33 PM on August 19, 2007

do keep in mind that you are staying at his place for less than the going rate... that does give him some "I do things for you" ammo.

That being said... move on as quickly as possible and do the pay 200 as a rent advance thing and high tail it out of there.
posted by crewshell at 7:37 PM on August 19, 2007

I dunno. It sounds to me like you are mooching off of this guy, and now he needs $200 and you won't give it to him because you're mad that he was irresponsible and got into this situation. You've got a place to crash for what sounds like less than 1/3 of the rent and chauffeur service to boot, a package probably worth a lot more than $200 considering you've been doing it since May.
What would you be doing if you didn't have this guy? Start doing that. Move out. Get your own transportation. This relationship is dead, anyway, with both of you resenting each other.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:51 PM on August 19, 2007 [5 favorites]

Hmmmm...I'll go against the crowd and say that you should give him the $200. After all, he has been driving you to work 3 times a week since May. And he did let you move in to get you out a bind, even though it seems that you both knew it was a mistake. Yeah, he shouldn't be throwing it in your face now, but you also probably shouldn't continue to harp on the fact that he forgot to pay a couple of $15 tickets. What happened happened, and there's nothing either of you can do to change that.

Either way, you should break up. Take out a small loan, enough to cover a month's rent at a new place and a used car, so you won't have to rely on him. Maybe I'm more sympathetic because I'm like him...a chronic late-bill payer and a savings depleter. He doesn't sound like a bad person, but he also doesn't sound like he meets your standards. He won't change, and you shouldn't be with someone who can't make you happy. You should, however, try to work on being a little more self-reliant. I don't mean to sound harsh, but it seems like you relied on him to get you out of your previous living situation, relied on him to get you to and from work a lot of the time, and now you're mad because you've realized that you shouldn't have relied on him. Pretend like you didn't have a boyfriend, and think about where you would live and how you would get around. Then, go and do that.
posted by emd3737 at 7:52 PM on August 19, 2007 [5 favorites]

Sounds to me like you've just been using him for a cheap place to stay and a ride. Maybe you should tell him that so he'll understand why you don't want to help him out. You're also using some serious weasel words there which make me think you were driving the car when it was towed. He may be bad with money (or maybe just broke if he's self employed, there's a big difference) but it sounds to me like you're being the jerk here.
posted by IronLizard at 8:18 PM on August 19, 2007

I'm on the same page as emd3737. This guy has allowed you to move in with him AND he drives you a substantial distance to and from work? And you don't want to pony up $200 in order to allow him (at least in part) in continue to help you?

It certainly doesn't sound as though you're interested in pursuing a long-term relationship with your boyfriend. If that's the case, give him the $200 in lieu of rent and gasoline expenses for the next x months, ask him to provide your transportation for 5 days a week instead of using public transit for 2, and then move out as soon as you're able.

If your relationship is something more important than you've described in your post then why not give him the $200 and then offer to help him manage his finances? You could help him create a budget that includes the repayment of the $200 (fully expecting that you may never get paid back, re: the previous posts), suggest ways to earn the $200, help him eBay some unwanted possessions of his, etc.
posted by mezzanayne at 8:23 PM on August 19, 2007

Some people have the luxury of not having to worry about money in the context of their relationship, either because they're not so constituted that way, or because they're extremely wealthy.

You're not those people: you had to establish some ground rules, like "our relationship is all about going dutch," and you had to figure out how to pay for food and rent in your shared living space.

So let's run some numbers, numbers you omitted from the $200, $500, $15, and $75 figures you put above.

You've been renting not only his car, but his time to drive you to work, 3 days out of five, and your contribution here has been to pay "half the gas." You don't say how far, just 'very far' Let's say that's, what, 30 miles one-way. That's 120 miles a day - two round trips - on the days that he drives you to work.

Do you want to work out what it would cost you to rent a car with a driver to drive 360 miles a week - even if you paid for *all* the gas? Here is a hint: much more than $200. Even if he's only driving one-way and going straight to work, even if it's only 100 miles a week, it's still much more than $200.

Also, consider that if you are really strapped for cash, you might let your registration lapse and just drive around town, as little as you can, and hope you don't get your plates run. You added 360 miles a week to his routine driving. That means he's going to get his plates run from time to time - maybe once a month, maybe more - which I'm sure he was hoping wouldn't happen.

Finally, you say you were "forced" to move in with him. You were forced all right, but not by him - you were "forced" to take advantage of his very good graces in making you these extremely generous offers, offers which have allowed you to keep your job and placed enormous strain on him. Here is a clue: you had no "right" to move in with him, stress out his roommates, take up room in his refrigerator, and employ him as your chauffeur for no salary. These things are gifts you demanded and which were freely given. Try to show you put some value on them. If money is how you calculate value, and it certainly seems to be, consider pricing them out honestly and fairly.

Pony up the $200 already - as a gift; for the sake of God Almighty you have some cheek suggesting it might be considered a loan - or I publically call you ungrateful. (In private, I'm thinking of some worse names.) The apology for spending more than two seconds figuring this out is optional but strongly encouraged.

And finally, take a minute to reflect on how lucky you are. A lot of people don't have anyone they can turn to when their "abusive situation" goes south on them. I, too, am pleased for your good fortune, and I hope it continues.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:48 PM on August 19, 2007 [25 favorites]

Alright. I'm the original poster, obviously. In a lot of ways this didn't help at all, as I'm no closer to knowing what the right thing is here. On the other hand, I do feel a lot more guilty. So there's that.

Just to answer some questions:

I wasn't driving when we got pulled over.

And for those saying that I shouldn't pursue a long term relationship with this man, it's a bit late to reconsider now. We've been dating for two years, which makes this harder, because I can't just say, "Fuck you," and move it along. I love him. It's not that easy.

To ch1x0r, IronLizard, and mezzanayne, and whomever else, this is not a relationship of convenience, I am not using him for a place to crash and a car, and I am not mooching. I guess I wasn't clear in my original question, but I'm not laid out in his apartment all day, horking cheetos and making messes. If I have a chaffeur and cheap place to live; he has a maid, a cook, a confidante, cheaper rent, free food, and if I may be crude, a damn good lay to boot. From the day I got here, I've made sure that he never felt like he was being taken advantage of. I've done everything I could afford to do for him, monetarily and otherwise, from the beginning of this relationship, as well as some things I couldn't. This is the very first time I've said, "No." Now, we are strangers and all you know is what I've told you here, so I won't pretend that you could know any of this from my question, but conversely, you certainly couldn't have pulled the crap you slung at me from there either.
posted by chichimimizu at 9:00 PM on August 19, 2007

I think you probably shouldn't give him the money, but recognize that it will probably mean the end of your relationship, whether that's what you want or not. But I also want to mention that if any part of you believes that withholding the money will motivate him to change his ways for good, that part of you is not only wrong, but will lead you down the road to madness. The best way to maintain your own sanity in this awful situation is to recognize that nothing you can do will change him, and, in fact, to assume that he won't change, ever. From there, make whatever decision will be in your own best interest.

But I want to add to the above that I do empathize with both you and your boyfriend. To reiterate what other Masters of the Obvious have stated before me, he is being unfair and manipulative, and it's his responsibility to correct his mistakes. He will use your refusal to bail him out as another excuse to evade responsibility for his own actions (or lack thereof), insofar as he will take it as an opportunity to transfer blame from himself to you.

But I do empathize with him, because his pain and anger and feelings of betrayal will be real. With any self-destructive, irrational behavior comes constant self-criticism and grief. He'll blame you not because he is calculating and malicious, but because it will provide him some relief from self-loathing. These sorts of behaviors are the most difficult to change, for the very reason that they are irrational. If it were easy, he would have changed long ago.

There are ways for him to change, but he will find those - if he does - on his own schedule. You must accept him for who he is, and if you find you cannot stay in a relationship with him as he is, then you need to move on. People prone to these problems are difficult enough to even be friends with, but being in a relationship with one can be a nightmare. I know because I am such a person.
posted by granted at 9:03 PM on August 19, 2007

And for those saying that I shouldn't pursue a long term relationship with this man, it's a bit late to reconsider now.

It's never too late to reconsider- people get divorced after being married for decades and having children. That you have been together for two years does not mean you have to stay together forever.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:04 PM on August 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Due to an abusive living situation that ended catastrophically, I was forced to move in with him.

I'll be totally honest: I haven't even read the rest of the thread. I don't think I need to. Your problem lies in this sentence. Re-examine all the ideas within it. "Forced to move in with him"? Really? At gunpoint? Why were you in this situation? Why is the solution to move in with someone else?

It looks like you are really leaning on his help, resources, and assistance to the point of being profoundly dependent. His finances are no concern of yours at this point. It looks to me like your paramount concern is getting on your own two, independent feet. Think about how to do that, and your worries about this boyfriend's finances may be a lot less important to your overall well-being.

Get independent. It has a way of clarifying everything.
posted by Miko at 9:07 PM on August 19, 2007 [3 favorites]

Something you will want to do for yourself once you get out of this situation: establish a financial cushion for yourself ASAP. This may mean a credit card that you use only in case of an emergency. Ideally, it will mean that you have a bit of money (2-3 months worth of living expenses) in an account that you can dip into if you need to. Do whatever it takes to set this money up for yourself so that you never again fall into the historic womanly trap of becoming financially dependent on a man.
posted by pluckysparrow at 9:08 PM on August 19, 2007

chichimimizu, can you clarify why you can't "afford" to split the rent equally when you have $200 in the bank? I don't necessarily think you should give him the money, but I am confused by that. Is it really that you can't afford it (you owe it to the mafia and they will come break your leg), or is it that you really, really don't want to give it to him because ____ (you want to use it for something else, you want him to learn a lesson, something else)?

If it's the second option, I'd encourage you to think about it more. Why do you care so much about not giving it to him? Talk to him about it. He might be feeling really defensive or something, so talk to him about you, not him. Real emotions that start with the word "I" have a way of diffusing stand-offs or at least letting you look more honestly at the real issue ("I desperately never want to be broke again, you know how scared I was when I first moved in with you, and that $200 represents the start of my long-term safety net" or "I've known his financial irresponsibility was a danger sign since day one. I'm super-mad at myself that that very issue is threatening to take money from me right when I'm almost financially independent, and there's no way in hell I'm going to let it" or a million other possibilities).

I doubt this is simply about $200. For compromise to seem so impossible, and for both of you to be feeling so awful, each of you probably has a dog in the fight. Figuring out what the deeper stuff actually is, and discussing those things, might help.
posted by salvia at 9:28 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have money in the bank because I've been squirreling it away over the past three months. I had savings before but the move and it's aftermath/continuing fallout demolished them. I can afford to split the rent equally. I can not afford to split the rent equally, help with the expenses as I have been, and save to move out.

There is definitely a deeper reason why I don't want to give him the money. It isn't just that I can't afford it. Emd3737 said: "I don't mean to sound harsh, but it seems like you relied on him to get you out of your previous living situation, relied on him to get you to and from work a lot of the time, and now you're mad because you've realized that you shouldn't have relied on him."

And that's really, really true.

So it's partly because I can't afford to throw money at his mistakes as they come up and never get it back. (This isn't the first situation of this type we've dealt with and even I know, in the middle of it, that it won't be the last.) But partly (mostly?) it's because this situation was preventable, because at any point before this point I would have helped and because he knew that I was relying on him, acknowledged that I was relying on him, accepted that I was relying on him, and still let this happen. And then it did happen and instead of saying, "I did this, I'll fix this," he said, "Look at I'll that I've done for you. Fix this."
posted by chichimimizu at 9:38 PM on August 19, 2007

True - is that you?


I sympathize that it's a complicated situation but I'd go for giving the $200 and using it as a more graceful farewell. You just must not see them ever again.

I think that being in a self-sufficient situation for a few months could be good for everyone (well, you) all-around.
posted by porpoise at 9:38 PM on August 19, 2007

A good friend once told me that the most important financial decision you ever make is deciding which person you get married to. I'm not advocating any particular course of action here, but you have to ask yourself what the likelihood of change is. He sounds depressed and should really see a therapist of some kind.

Here is some contrarian advice, but it works for me and my wife (I was the irresponsible boyfriend, by the way). Take over all of the finances. He gives you his paycheck, and you pay all his bills, and give him a little allowance that he can use on whatever he wants.

If that sounds impossible, think of it another way. If you're going to live with him long term, you have to know everything about his financial situation. If there's things he's not telling you or putting off, you have to get at them and find out what they are. Otherwise you're just blinding yourself to reality (never a good idea.)

I had a number of student loans. (Still do, actually.) One of them I got behind on, and I kept trying to make the payments on it, but I couldn't quite pay off 100 percent of the money they were asking for each month. I thought as long as I was paying the new month's loan payment + a little bit extra, I was making progress. BZZZZ. Wrong answer.

If they don't get all their money at the end of the month, you're late. Enough late payments and you go into default. Well, my loan went into default the week we got back from the honeymoon and suddenly we owed over 10k, RIGHT NOW. It wiped out all our (her) savings, and all the money we got from the wedding.

Plus I got laid off my first day at work when we got back. Those were some good times.

I was severely depressed about money in the six months before the wedding and just tried to ignore it all; it sounds like he's doing something similar here. What I should have done was sat down with my wife when we were still engaged and gone over every single little last financial worry with her, and then turned it all over to her and forgotten about it. Instead I was embarrassed at the hole I had dug myself in, and waited until after the wedding and it wound up being a huge mistake.
posted by the_W at 9:47 PM on August 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you want to make a LTR out of it, and particularly if you live together, you're going to have to have the "finances talk", and you may have to come to terms with the fact that the price of being in a relationship with this guy is managing his money for him. Some people just hate dealing with bills. From what you've said, you seem to be the kind of person who doesn't mind. Even if you don't necessarily enjoy managing money, at least it doesn't give you that aching feeling and butterflies in your stomach to even look at bills.

I know my own father is that kind of person, and I myself have tendencies in that direction. For his entire working life, he has had his salary paid into a joint account that my mother pays all the bills and household expenses out of, and he lives on packed lunches and a few bucks' spending money for books and so forth. I guess he thinks of it as an allowance of sorts; he keeps a fifty in his wallet and whenever he runs out of money, gets another fifty out of the bank. Sometimes it's a day or two, sometimes it's weeks. If he wants to buy something expensive, he talks it over with her first, to see if they can afford it. He knows he has a tendency to make impulsive financial decisions, and he has a storage shed full of examples (exercise equipment of various kinds, a glasscutting kit, a fishing rod, a bicycle, etc etc) of stuff he was enthused about and became bored with a few months later. (They also have an agreement about the size of the junk pile - he has to give away a piece to one of us before he gets a new one.)

The downside of course is that it puts you into the position of having to deny him things, which, since he seems to be an impulsive and disorganized guy, will make him somewhat annoyed with you on occasion. This is probably preferable, on the whole, to you being constantly annoyed with him, and him being constantly broke.

In summary, if you want a relationship with this guy, it may have to be a lot more "traditional" than you might want. These kind of relationships used to be a lot more common than they are today, and there's a bunch of good reasons for that. I think the truth is that family finances are "nesting"-related and women care about that kind of stuff a lot more, on the average, than men do. (Caveat: this is true in the same way that men are taller than women is true. There are many individual exceptions.)

Now if you don't want a man you have to look after, bite the bullet, give him the $200 as advance rent and start looking for a new place to live. If you're not living with him his money problems will affect you a lot less, and you can appreciate him on a non-financial basis (and he can appreciate you not bugging him about matters he hates to even think about). Maybe this will work for you, and he'll be fine as a boyfriend for you; but again, if you want to marry the guy, you'll need to sort it out.

Which brings up another good point. He might very well not consider his financial troubles any of your business whatsoever, until you make some more definite commitments to each other. Maybe he plans to just pay the $200 out of his next week's pay and just catch the bus to work and live off bread and milk or mooch food off his mother for a week. It may really not be as big a deal as it seems.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:08 PM on August 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

chichimimizu: I was once, and to a certain extent, still am, your boyfriend.

"Bills Due" are a bugaboo for me, sometimes because I'm depressed, other times because I'm too scared to literally open the letter and find out how much I owe. Back in the day, I once went 3 months without paying a credit card bill because I was too fucking scared to open the fucking letters. I'm still (3 years later) trying to repair my credit from this episode. How lame is that?

I'm glad I didn't have a SO at the time, otherwise it would have been hell on earth for him/her. My advice would be to tell your boyfriend that your relationship is on hiatus until he can get his shit together. Its tough love, but it may be the wake-up call that he needs.

Also, learning how to drive or getting new commute/work arrangements should be high on your list as well.
posted by Avenger at 10:08 PM on August 19, 2007

If you are going to not pay him the $200, you should start paying rent and all of the gas and work on paying him back for the months of rent and gas that you haven't paid. Fair is fair.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:12 PM on August 19, 2007

chichimimizu... I just want to second that it's not "too late."

Obviously no one here has any personal stake in what you do. Nor do any of us know the whole story of your relationship. But, based on what you chose to share, I stick to my opinion. You can certainly ignore every post here, and you would be right to ignore any you think are attacking you. That's not helpful.

But by the same token, people are trying to share something with you that you may not want to hear, yet may have merit. Don't dismiss out-of-hand the ideas you don't immediately agree with. Many times those are the ones you should pay close attention to, because they tend to illuminate a blind spot.

Good luck. Be wise.
posted by The Deej at 10:12 PM on August 19, 2007

Wow, you DTMFA folks sure do cast a lot of stones about. It must be nice to have never fallen on hard times.

I don't think you should DTMFA. I think you should start thinking about it, though. Your boyfriend probably wasn't lying when he blamed depression on his failure to address his problems. That's what depression does... it makes it nearly impossible to find the energy to fix the problems that are making you depressed in the first place.

I've had $15 parking tickets turn into several-hundred-dollar tow fines. In a lot of cities, they'll charge you a "storage fee" for each day you don't pick your car up, which makes it harder and harder to see your car again if you're unemployed but looking for work (good luck going to job interviews without a car, sucker!) Yet another way the system keeps the working poor in their place.

I love all the advice in this thread so far. "You didn't have to move in with him! I mean, just how bad could an abusive living situation be?" ... "Always keep a few months of living expenses handy in your own bank account!" Do any of you people live in the real fucking world where money doesn't grow on trees?

Ikkyu2's right about setting ground rules about money. Tell him you don't give a damn how depressed he is; each and dime has to be tallied, and that includes notes of debt. You need to throw back the curtains on your expenses: itemize everything going in and everything going out. Start off with the assumption that nothing is too petty to be put on the list. Sixty cents for a snickers bar? Goes on the list. Gave a bum a buck? List. Parking tickets? You got it.

You need financial transparency with each other if you're going to get through this, because while it sounds like he may be pulling in the money, he's in no way responsible enough to actually manage it. I would make this a key component to giving him the $200. I would also make it exceedingly clear that any kind of debt-hiding in the future will be treated as lying to you. And that would be good grounds for DTMFA.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:13 PM on August 19, 2007

Also note in case it wasn't clear that this goes for the both of you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:17 PM on August 19, 2007

Your underlying motivation for not paying him went unmentioned--you want to break up with him, and giving him that $200 will make it all the longer to move out.
posted by zardoz at 10:58 PM on August 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Sorry that you've found yourself in such a shitty situation. I've been in similar ones, and can sympathise.

I would be inclined to consider the $200 an advance toward the rent and just pay it since it directly impacts you. Most importantly, however, is write the cheque to the DMV or whatever - NOT to your boyfriend.

My mother has an extensive history with profoundly sucking at finances. My husband and I have dug her out of many 'emergency situations' and have learned the hard way NOT to give her cash or a cheque made out to her. She would blow it and then come crying for more. Yes, my mother. Completely irresponsible when it comes to money. For many other reasons, I have cut her out of my life and no longer am in contact with her. Doesn't mean that I don't expect a phone call saying she's 36hrs from being tossed out of her apartment for nonpayment of rent and she needs help. I've just made it more difficult for her to do it.

Now, all of this is not to say that I'm Warren Buffet. Far from it. In fact, I tend to freak over any prospect of opening bills. Sure, I can blame depression and lack of a positive financial upbringing, but the bottom line is that I *hate* dealing with money, but know that I'd be in a world of shit if I let my husband deal with the money issues in our household. Case in point, he 'forgot' to get around to filing his taxes. For three years in a row. It's not that he didn't *have* the money to pay the IRS. He. Just. Didn't. Let's just say that what it cost us to bail out of that one could've paid our mortgage several months over. It still makes me want to kick his ass.

But I digress.

Pay the money. Keep a copy of the cheque someplace where you can look at it should you need a mental reality check about exactly WHY you need to get out of his apartment. And learn to drive. Which, incidently, my husband can't do, either. Has had a valid license for 20+ years, he just gets too freaked out to drive. Let me tell ya, it blows. Big time (and not in a good way).
posted by dancinglamb at 11:08 PM on August 19, 2007

Was it Oprah who said that if you're arguing about making the bed, you're not really arguing about making the bed? That nifty little quote has stayed with me for years, and I think it applies to your situation.

You are in trouble. You are in a position I cannot imagine being in, and I am sorry you are going through something so very difficult. Your boyfriend is also going through something difficult. You don't give us too much insight into his condition, but I believe it's fair to claim that he's not having an easy time of things, either. You both need support, love, and, most importantly, help.

The problem is, it seems as though you've set up a system that makes it rather awkward for either of you to give or receive help. You have spent an incredibly long time insisting on keeping everything dutch, never sharing responsibility for the other, never accepting or giving gifts or even loans. But now you're both in a situation where you both really, really need those things. But neither of you are in a position to give things unconditionally. You are struggling to get by, so how can your boyfriend expect you to give a gift of $200? He's dealing with depression and constant bill troubles and his car just got towed--how can you expect him to be there to support and encourage you as your situation needs? From what you say, it seems as though you've both been trying your hardest to help the other out. You've been doing everything you can to show that you appreciate the decreased rent and rides to work; he's been allowing you to stay with decreased rent and long rides to work. You've both tried so hard to give each other gifts to help them in this difficult situation... But your relationship isn't one used to gifts. You're used to being fully independent, financially unentangled, and your relationship is suffering horribly in the transition.

I can imagine that it's really hard to feel appreciated, or to feel like you've managed to show your appreciation. In your second post, I read a lot of anxiety about whether or not you've been able to show your appreciation for what he's done. It seems as though you need to feel like he understand that, yes, it means a lot to you that he's letting you stay there and, yes, you're trying your hardest to get back on your feet. And the resistance you feel towards giving him $200 seems to show that you feel completely unappreciated in return. You don't want to give him the $200, because you (in your independent, financially unentangled way) need that money! He already told you he won't pay you back, which means that, so far as your independent finances are concerned, it's flushed down the toilet. How can you show appreciation for what he's doing for you, if he takes your savings (ie, your chance for independence and to no longer rely on him) as if it didn't matter? And how can you do something kind and benevolent for him when you know he won't do anything to show that it matters?

In other words, I think there are a whole lot of emotions wrapped up in these $200 and those rides to work that you haven't gotten through. I think you're feeling a lot of pressure to show that you really are grateful for what he's done, and you're getting more and more angry when he won't do something that would show that he's grateful for what you have done (and, furthermore, continue to need to do).

If you were fighting over making the bed, I'd say you need to sit down and try to explain to one another why you think sheets and blankets are worth an arguing. Since you're fighting over $200, I think you need to try to explain why giving those $200 is so difficult for you. Above, I have offered a hypothesis of what the underlying emotional situation is for you. Of course, I am only a stranger, and I am basing all of this off of scant few details. At the very least, perhaps it'll give you some food for thought.

Now, I don't necessarily think this relationship is going to work out. But, if you are intent on making it work (for reasons other than financial interdependence), then you need to talk it out. You need to try to change the completely dutch aspect of your relationship, in some way. But, if you aren't intent... Just get out. It seems there is too much negative emotion for anyone's good.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:15 PM on August 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

because at any point before this point I would have helped and because he knew that I was relying on him

WTF? Are you honestly suggesting in some way here that you consider yourself to hold the moral high ground?

Can you not read what people are saying to you? Do you really believe that in some way you have the right to judge your boyfriend after all that has transpired?

You are profoundly indebted to your boyfriend. The fact that you have behaved as a dependent, demanding and receiving unjustifiable favors, gives the lie to your pretense of moral superiority.

Remove the log from your own damn eye well before you attempt to pluck the speck out of your boyfriend's. Get your own life together - to the point of financial independence - well before you essay public declarations of superiority over others and the way they choose to live their lives - especially when that way includes the kind of altruism that has saved your ass. Take time - serious time - to think seriously about generosity and selfless love, any that you may have received - before you wave any more flags here in this thread.

All you're accomplishing here with your protestations is to make yourself look worse and worse.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:36 PM on August 19, 2007 [3 favorites]

If you are going to have a long term relationship with this man, where you will help each other through the hard times, you need to help him get the car back. He helped you in ways that have had a major impact on his life, now it is your turn to help him. Delaying will only cause the impound fees to increase. Besides, although you have been paying half the gas this doesn't help with depreciation, repairs, insurance, etc.

The other thing you need to do in a long term relationship is come to some sort of agreement about how to handle finances. How he deals with money will affect you.

It looks like this is the man you see yourself with in a long term relationship. Some people live in separate places, so if it works for you, go for it, but think about where you want things to go in the long term.
posted by yohko at 11:53 PM on August 19, 2007

I'm sorry, "declarations of superiority?" Ikkyu2, this is the second time you've wildly misinterpreted what I wrote. I've demanded nothing from him and I've written nothing here to even suggest I have. The driving as it was before this, is a compromise we both reached together. As is the living situation as it is. As is the sharing of the expenses. I am not his ward and I have done everything I can to contribute to him and his household.

It sounds like you expect me to throw myself mute across the altar of my boyfriend's charity, regarding anything else as ungrateful. Unfortunately for your sensibilities, that I will not do. While I do not have the right to stay in his apartment or get rides to work, if his behavior is inappropriate I certainly have the right to say so, and the right to be upset about it, and the right to articulate that feeling, particularly if his behavior directly affects me and our relationship. His altruism does not strip me of my voice. I'm his girlfriend, not his child.

I will say again that you have no idea, beyond what I've written here, who I am, who my boyfriend is, or what our relationship is like. I'd tell you to reel it back but I'm getting the sense that you're so infatuated with your perceived ability to read me that it would be a pointless exercise. So yeah, go ahead on with that. How I appear in your eyes is the very, very least of my problems.
posted by chichimimizu at 12:03 AM on August 20, 2007

It's pretty clear what you need to do: you need to go somewhere, take a day or a weekend or whatever, and figure out if you want to be with this guy for the long haul.

If you do, then you need to sit down with him, put the money on the table, and tell him what needs to change. Tell him that you want to have some input on how the money gets spent and that you want to be involved in making sure things get done on time. This will involve him listening to you patiently, taking to heart the fact that you're helping him, not accusing him, and being willing to open his affairs to you, warts and all, as well as going through the process of learning to be a financially responsible and thoughtful partner. It will also involve you giving up the simplified idea that money in relationships is either borrowed or given; it's shared, and, if you stay with him, no matter what you do, whatever money you have eventually won't be yours to give or to withhold. Partnerships have to grow to survive. You're at the point where the only way you two can grow is by letting your finances grow together. The fact that you have to live together (at least for a while) is difficult, but relationships aren't built out of kittens and sunbeams, they're build out of difficult situations that are overcome by shared partnerships. It's hard, but I can promise you this: if you stick together through this financial storm, and you learn to weather it carefully and openly, then you'll have a very sturdy relationship afterwards.

If, on the other hand, you realize you don't want to stay with him, then you need to sit down with him, put the money on the table, and tell him it's a parting gift. Asking him to pay it back or find it elsewhere will only make it harder on both of you. Then, find a way to move out right away-- friends, parents, whatever-- and make a clean break. It may be harder than it would with the $200, but I doubt it would be much.

Either way, the way I see it, you should probably give him the money. It's how you do it that matters, really.

Don't get me wrong, though. I'm rooting for this relationship, not only because love really matters to me, but also because I was very much like this guy. The IRS levied $800 from me, and we were nearly stranded in Spain once; I ran out of money and had to have her wire me some when I was driving across the country to go to graduate school; she's been through hell because of me, and it's caused her no small frustration. But it's a marriage that works and will last, partly because I do have things to offer it, partly because I've made learning to be responsible and careful financially a practice, but mostly because she's accepted it and seen that it's irresponsibility, not disrespect or lack of love, that caused it. It may look to you as though you're stuck in a corner. You need to learn to think beyond where you seem to be thinking; you seem to think that you can just move out and go back to the way it was before. Believe me, you can't. So think: if you're with this guy one, two, five years from now, what will it be like? Does he have it in him to open up and learn this stuff? Do you have it in you to facilitate that learning?
posted by koeselitz at 12:10 AM on August 20, 2007

By the way, ikkyu2 may seem grating, but his advice is almost always spot-on, and I think he makes some sense in this case. I'll try to explain as carefully and non-grating as I can.

The sad fact that ikkyu2 seems to be trying to articulate is this:

You said:

"So it's partly because I can't afford to throw money at his mistakes as they come up and never get it back..."

...without the slightest recognition of the really important fact about partnerships that you're ignoring here:

The second you moved in with him, for better or for worse, it was inevitable that at some time the money wouldn't be yours to give or withhold. It would belong to both of you. That time is either now or never.

So: either strap on for the long haul and get ready to build something with him, or move on. But for god's sake, quit giving the poor guy so many mixed signals. It's really not so strange that he gets sad and dejected when you refuse to "lend" him money because you're so desperate to move out; that's a pretty clear "I can't wait to end this relationship" signal, whether you realize it or not.
posted by koeselitz at 12:34 AM on August 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

Sorry if I upset you, chichimimizu. All I know about you is what you've told me in this thread - I didn't even go back and look at your posting history, although I remembering seeing your name on the site before from time to time.

Recall that you asked my opinion on what you had to say here. I didn't solicit your opinion on my input.

From what I can see, you're into this guy for thousands of dollars (motel, apartment hunt, security deposit, utilities, car rental, driving fees) that you completely disregard and have no intention of paying back.

I'm sorry, "declarations of superiority?"

Let's take a look at where that came from:
  • My boyfriend is bad with money.
  • his more grating personality quirks
  • his poor decisions
  • I can't afford to throw money at his mistakes
The best part is where you accused him of failing to get his car taken care of in time because he knew that you were relying on it. Somehow, because you were relying on his car to get to work, it was morally incumbent on him to spend money he already didn't have on getting the ticket and registration fixed up. Meanwhile, as he defaults on this, his clear duty, you're saving up money in your bank account, money that you earned on the job he drove you to and from. Good for your sense of responsibility! Bad for him!

You're right, all I know is what you told us. You told us that what you had to contribute was "a maid, a cook, a confidante, cheaper rent, free food, and if I may be crude, a damn good lay to boot." I'm sure the cash value of these services could be added up to be quite a bit, maybe more than what you're taking away.

But when these are the words you use to describe what's going on, how am I supposed to evaluate you? Honestly, it sounds to me like you hate the guy, are full of resentment over the things you're "forced" to contribute to the relationship, and maybe want us to validate the idea of squeezing him even drier than he was before you found him, until you have enough money to leave him.

I guess if you don't mind taking public transit to work 5 days a week and it gets you out of this guy's apartment quicker, maybe you should keep your $200. There. Happy now?
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:53 AM on August 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

It's also just occurred to me that you might be too upset to really be thinking 100% clearly and rationally about the question you asked and the answer I, and others, gave you. If that's the case I erred in trying to answer your question the way I did.

I hope not; but if that's the case, maybe the thing to do is just shut the browser and come back in the morning. Maybe you'll feel more free to ignore me completely, which is certainly your privilege. I won't be offended.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:07 AM on August 20, 2007

I'm sorry you're sad, money is such a crap topic for relationships.

If you are planning a long term future with this guy, $200 should be a no brainer. You have the money and he needs the money for the benefit of BOTH of you. If you have a real problem with how he handles his finances, this is not the time to teach him a lesson. It will only make you resent each other. Pony up the money (I also recommend not writing the check to him) and then sit down and have a talk about how to deal with his financial issues in the long term. He obviously has messed up, there is no way I'm excusing how irresponsible he is, but dude, he is your boyfriend and if you're as serious about the relationship as you say you are, that should take priority over quibbling over who owes who what.

Otherwise, if you can't come to terms with it, face the facts that this is a dealbreaker and start making plans to move out. If this is the case, I actually think you should give him the $200 anyway just so you can draw a line under this unfortunate situation.
posted by like_neon at 2:06 AM on August 20, 2007

Am I making the right decision?
Yes, but it's the "cut off your nose to spite your face" type, I think. Yeah, you're totally right in your line of thought and he should have fixed this much earlier, but that doesn't solve the immediate problem: You both need a car

This is not about money, not really. After all, you said you would given him the money at anytime before this. So give him the money, but subtract money from somewhere, i.e. cut back on gas or food somewhere to the tune of $200. Of course, tell him before hand that you're doing this, so doesn't suddenly turn to you one day, expecting gas money and you're like hell no.

Whether I am or not, how can we work past this?

I don't know you guys relationship, so I can't really so. Are you guys talkers? Then talk? Do you need to have angry sex, then talk? Have at it!

But look into getting him help for depression and continue saving to move out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:28 AM on August 20, 2007

Responding to ikkyu2's points:
But when these are the words you use to describe what's going on, how am I supposed to evaluate you?

You're not supposed to evaluate her. You're just supposed to answer the question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:39 AM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would give him the $200, even if he weren't my boyfriend. If someone helped me out of an untenable living situation by giving me a place to stay, and then even further helped me out by driving me around? I would certainly give (not loan) them the money, even if I couldn't really afford it.

Chances are, you would too. I think the fact that he is your boyfriend is confusing the issue for you, and the fact that your relationship is kind of in a fuzzy place that's neither here (completely sharing lives and expenses, being responsible for each other as partners) nor there (dating, responsible only to yourselves, living apart) is making it kind of difficult to see the forest for the trees. What would you do if it were just a regular friend who gave you a place to stay and rides to work while you got on your feet? Would you help them out even if they were bad with money?

If your relationship survives the crisis, and you two ever do decide to live together as partners, you will have to handle the finances, and you will seriously need to consider whether you can get over your resentment that he's not up to it. People that have this kind of problem with money won't be helped by "punishing" them - hell, they're punished every time they have to pay a late fine, or their credit card is denied, or their electricity is turned off, or their car is impounded. They know what they should do, they just can't figure out how to bring themselves to do it. A therapist can help, but their friends and lovers can't really change them just by insisting that they change.
posted by taz at 2:40 AM on August 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

Did you at any point come to an agreement with your boyfriend that "a maid, a cook, a confidante, cheaper rent, free food, and if I may be crude, a damn good lay to boot" was a reasonable exchange for rent, bills and driving services?

If I was your boyfriend I'd assume that sex and conversation were gifts, not to be considered as payment for rent and bills. This is, after all, the normal arrangement in a relationship. Presumably he is providing conversation and sex in return.

Furthermore, if I wasn't in the habit of doing a great deal of housework and didn't see a problem with that, I would also assume that any extra housework done by you was for your own benefit, not for mine.

I can see that providing food is a reasonable exchange for being let off a portion of the rent and bills.

By this accounting you are still "in debt" for substantial ongoing chauffeur services, which are costing him a lot of time plus a large increase in car upkeep costs, and you are only paying HALF of the gas costs! $200 is cheap at the price! Pay up!

If you did previously explicitly agree that your living/driving situation was a fair exchange, then it seems that your boyfriend has now changed his mind, and you need to renegotiate.
posted by emilyw at 3:07 AM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Also, please consider that although many people in abusive situations move on to another abusive situation very similar to the first, some victims move on to relationships that are incredibly dependent on them. Possible thought process: "He's so broke/depressed/needy all the time that he needs me to fix it." People who are broke/depressed don't have the same resources to be abusive in the same way, so it feels different. Because they can be lovely in other ways. It's a short step to "he'll never leave me or hurt me because I'm so useful to his life." (Still an unconscious thought.)

But often being with someone who hurts your situation with a chronic inattention to money is a form of self-abuse. Possible unconscious thought: "I'm not worth a mate who is solvent and responsible."

I've been in an abusive situation before(scroll down), and I believe that NOTHING is as important as becoming independent, either from active abuse or passive draining of your resources. That said, pay him the $200, but take public transport from here on out and try to help him gain better control of his finances while you live with him. Look to live closer to work, as soon as you can, at least until you can drive yourself.

Love means bringing your best self to the relationship. His best self isn't on display (from your post). Just keep your eyes wide open. And work like a dog toward that independence (in this case working hard may involve the time and effort required to help him with money matters). Your attitude toward what you deserve will help clarify how long your relationship will continue, IF it should continue, and what the ground rules should be for both of you if you decide to stay.

Best of luck.
posted by mdiskin at 3:23 AM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

You have a right to be annoyed with your boyfriend, because his poor money management hurt both of you financially. But this just underscores the fact that what one of you does can help or hurt both of you because you depend on one another. You depend on him as well and he could easily be annoyed at having to drive you 'very far' all the time. And because you depend on him to drive you anyways and expect him to sit on his annoyance, you need to pay him the 200 so he can continue doing this and you need to sit on your annoyance about this. Then, to help prevent such things in the future, you need to accept that the person you depend on is bad with money and become more involved in his finances in a nonjudgmental manner. After all, you seem to depend on his finances, so you have to help him manage his finances as constructively as possible. I am also bad with money and would be overjoyed if my girlfriend helped me out, unfortunately she's even worse than I am. Perhaps you should keep in mind that finances are infinitely more terrifying and painful when you're self-employed. But the gist of the situation seems to be that he's good enough at making money, and this helps you, so if he's bad at managing that very same money you need to help him with this.
posted by creasy boy at 4:21 AM on August 20, 2007

I should maybe add how you can help a person like this who just fundamentally does not like spending precious minutes of their day dealing with bills. Tell him you'll help him if he'll put all bills, tickets etc in one big pile. If I were him I would be grateful and would do this immediately. Now he has a pile that he's scared to go near. Open all the stuff in the pile and figure out what he owes and what's a priority. Write down all the figures on a block of paper and approach him not with actual bills but with just the numbers. Tell him what amounts are urgently due, what amounts are not urgently due but would be cheaper if they were paid sooner, and what amounts are not due yet. Ask him how much he has at the moment. Briefly work out what the smartest decision would be. Bring him his checkbook and tell him what amounts to write in the checkbook to whom. It's probably not losing the money that's problematic for him so much as the psychological hurdle of just dealing with it. So, just deal with it yourself, if you depend on his finances. All he has to do is make the money to pay the bills and then not lose the bills on the way to the bill pile. You sainted people who have presence of mind in the face of a pile of evil envelopes can make life much easier for the rest of us with just a half-hour investment of time.
posted by creasy boy at 4:42 AM on August 20, 2007

ikkyu2 is usually spot on but NOT NOW.

That 200 bucks is not her responsibility. For one, if she pays it, there WILL be a next time. For another, she cannot afford it because she knows she HAS TO MOVE.

This is painful, but they need to break up. People like her boyfriend don't change easily, and definitely DO NOT change unless people QUIT BAILING THEM OUT OF THEIR IRRESPONSIBILITY.
posted by konolia at 5:05 AM on August 20, 2007

Not having read any of the other responses, here's my 2 cents from someone who has been in the exact same situation:

Don't do anything that makes you feel like a sucker. Giving him the money amounts to enabling him. LET him get upset - that's the natural consequence of his actions. If he starts talking about how much he's done for you, just put up your hand and walk into another room. I had problems setting boundaries in my relationship and my self-esteem slowly slid into the dirt.
posted by desjardins at 5:38 AM on August 20, 2007

W/r/t/ "How can we work past this":
I did exactly what the_W recommends within a month of beginning my relationship with my husband (it was kind of a whirlwind thing). He had financial issues stemming out of events similar to those you are describing, spread over several years. I took over all finances and have handled them ever since, and it works reasonably well.

The downside: He has never really learned to handle his own finances or deal with the day-to-day official paperwork of life. But guess what? He was never going to. He is simply not someone who is motivated to deal with things like that. It is not part of his nature to care about money, or paperwork, and he was never taught how when he was growing up. While I have not been able to give him many tools, I have at least improved his situation (and mine, of course). That being said, I do try to clue him in on some basic financial/frugality stuff that he was simply never taught growing up. Some of it sinks in over time.

While I understand the people saying "don't bail him out or he'll never change", I believe there are people who are good, worthwhile partners, but who will never change on this issue. In my case, it is entirely worth it for me to bear the "burden" of being Ms.Bookkeeper, because the relationship as a whole is well worth it. My efforts are met with gratitude, and there aren't any big impediments to making it work (for example, Mr.Man doesn't handle money/bills well, but he's not a big spender, and doesn't resent in any way my control over this part of our lives. If your boyfriend is a spender, or has ego issues regarding money, this may not work well).
posted by MsElaineous at 5:47 AM on August 20, 2007

You need to stop relying on him for transportation. If you can take public transportation 2/5 days, you can do it 5/5 days. It sucks, but guess what, that's what people do. It is completely unreasonable for you to ask to be driven to work that often, especially if you live that far away. Maybe you could consider looking for a closer job? I'm seconding giving him the $200 as rent, and then moving the hell out immediately.
posted by zackola at 6:52 AM on August 20, 2007

Take over his finances or cease *any* financial (or in-kind) exchange. Because the current situation is not healthy for you, it seems.
posted by ysabet at 6:59 AM on August 20, 2007

To me, it comes down to this:

I kept reminding him to take care of it, asked if he wanted me to take care of it, every time he refused, said he would deal with it, became exasperated with me.

To some, it might seem like nagging. But you've mentioned, and it's probable he's aware, that taking care of bills and staying on top of things is an issue he has. In the past, I've had trouble accepting help, admitting fault, or getting beyond my own pride to allow someone else to do something for me. You've intertwined your lives to the point that your living arrangement and transportation are intermingled, so it'd be to his advantage to let you in and make sure that things go smoothly.

Don't look at it as the fact that suddenly his car is impounded so you can't be driven to work. Your shared transportation system has failed because apparently there's a third shared thing that you have to address: shared finances/bill payment. He's denied you on that one, push a little more, or consider reevaluating the other two shared resources.
posted by mikeh at 7:54 AM on August 20, 2007

I once loaned a friend $500 to help him past a tough spot. Near the end of the semester, he wrote me a check to pay me back. When the check bounced, I was only mildly concerned about the money, in comparison to the breach of trust and perhaps more importantly the friendship that I'd lost over money. Fucking money. Who gives a shit. It comes and goes but deep meaningful relationships trump money any day.

Whether you give him the money or not, consider the repercussions of your action. Lay out the pros and cons of giving him the money vs. not giving him the money. If you don't give him the $200, does the relationship end or simply become temporarily more strained? If you give him the money, does it strengthen the relationship, or just stave off the inevitable 'next time'?

Don't worry about all the financial details of your agreed arrangements -- about who's getting a better deal -- I'd call it even, since you both agreed to it.

I guess another repercussion of not giving him the money is that you will now take public transportation 5 days a week, because he won't be able to drive you to work.
posted by indigo4963 at 8:07 AM on August 20, 2007

Either you work on his financial problems and attitudes together - because you love each other, want to help each other, move through crisises together, or you don't. Your resentment and inability to say, "of course I'll help you, but let's address your money issues too" show me that you are not committed to this relationship.

What is happening here is not a marker of a healthy or happy relationship to me. You need to bond together on this and support each other or go your separate ways.

I'm sorry you are hurting. Good luck.
posted by agregoli at 8:17 AM on August 20, 2007

I was thinking about this again when I was out and there's an angle that hasn't been considered so far. Suppose you don't give him the money. Since it sounds like he earns a decent amount, he will eventually get the money together himself and get his car back on the road. When that happens, will you again expect him to drive you 'very far' to your work and pick up half of the gas bill for those trips?
posted by creasy boy at 8:20 AM on August 20, 2007

There may be a few good reasons for giving him the money (like jacalata's and koeselitz's), but I disagree with a few reasons people are giving. In this case, I don't think "fair is fair," because I think people should give some informed consent about the deals they're making. He got a choice, it sounds like, around whether it was going to be okay with not receiving 50% rent. At least on the spoken level, that was fine, the housing was a gift from him to her. Now, with no warning, that gift turns out to have been a loan, and not only that, he's calling the loan right now. Not even the worst credit card companies do that. Letting her not pay rent does not qualify as a savings account for him.

And some comments seem to be saying people should have to selflessly give even their most precious things (in this case, money that represents being stable and not dependent on others again) to friends when they need help, if those friends had helped them. But people should get a choice about how they repay help. ("salvia, remember the time I helped you with some housework? well, I need to dispose of a body tonight, and I've decided that's how you're going to repay me.") She could, for example, help him apply for a line of credit, maybe even one they both pay off together over time (might feel better than her immediately handing over a huge chunk of her own savings). Okay, on to what I really wanted to say. Hope no one minds if I make that a second comment (since it's really frigging long, sorry).
posted by salvia at 8:59 AM on August 20, 2007

chichimimizu, thanks for your longer response to my question -- it sounds to me like you relied on him against your own best judgment (you had original doubts about his financial security, you were concerned that moving in put you in his debt, and you knew someone should pay that $15). Now, your original suspicions turned out to be right, and you're really upset about being in the place you're at right now, since really, you saw it coming.

So it's understandable to be really upset at him. But my question is -- is he the person you're really mad at? Yeah, he could be acting cooler now, but still. I think that's why people are focusing on this "but I had to" language, because that language puts the blame entirely on circumstances outside your control. Yes, the towing itself is (95%) his fault, but what you're really mad about is that you're in this situation, and a lot of the decisions that got you there were yours.

I'd suggest trying to find a way to look at this that doesn't place all the blame on him, because: a) it's not entirely accurate, b) if it's all his fault, the options falsely appear to be "keep paying for his mistakes" or DTMFA, but changing your view gives you more options for the future, and c) (I might be wrong here but I suspect) it doesn't get to the core of why you're so mad. I have this idea that you're fundamentally most mad at yourself, and rightfully so, since in the end the person you most need to be able to trust to keep you safe is yourself.

So, in the phrase, "you trusted him against your best judgment" I'd suggest changing your focus from the "him," to the "you trusted...against your better judgment." I'm not saying he didn't screw up -- clearly he did -- but really, the easiest things for you to change here are your own assertiveness, negotiation skills, decision-making, judgment about when to override someone (pay the $15 anyway), partner-choosing...

So, as a start to working past this, could you just accept being where you are? "Okay, I screwed up. I saw a problem coming, I didn't do enough to prevent it, I hoped I could trust his word that he'd prevent it, but just as I worried, he didn't. I need to trust my instincts and figure out how can I prevent this from ever happening again."

But first, now that you're here, you face the shitty set of options you face about this $200 (give it to him or have him be mad at you knowing that at least some commenters agree with his logic). What do you want to do? Personally, I'm kinda with koeselitz that this might feel easier if you gave him the money. (Of course, only you know what all the consequences of doing that are.) Once you accepted that the money is lost, then you could turn to the more serious question of the relationship, "do I want to prevent this from happening again by leaving, or by taking more assertive action around money issues in the relationship, or...?"

And sometime in there, talk to him about it. "I trusted your word over my own instincts, and we ended up here. I want to be able to rely on you when you say I can, but I'm wondering how to prevent this again. We can agree that from now on when you say something's not my responsibility, I'll really not help out if something goes wrong? Or, I could become the bookkeeper for the two of us? Or...?"

The good news is, both you and he are in awesome company because everyone makes mistakes, this is a relatively inexpensive mistake (I once had to spend $1000 on parking tickets to renew a registration, and trusting people one shouldn't could be much more expensive too), and mistakes help people learn. The other good part is that you have good instincts about financial risk, you've been managing to squirrel away savings, so once this is over, you can keep saving -- in the long run, you're going to get yourself out of this mess for good.
posted by salvia at 9:01 AM on August 20, 2007

chichimimizu everything you've written is so caught up with this dynamic of proving who's right and who's wrong. How everything you did was right, and your boyfriend is wrong, and failed to do X, and is bad at Y, and makes poor decisions.

If you must judge him so harshly and that's how you judge him, then leave him. It doesn't sound like you like him very much. I think he would be happier without you.
posted by citron at 9:37 AM on August 20, 2007

I was married to someone very like your boyfriend. I handled all the money... not very well, but I handled it. I had a health crisis and couldn't do it anymore. I turned it over to him without asking his opinion on the matter. I just said 'I can't handle it. You have to pay the bills. Whatever happens, make sure the health insurance gets paid.' Of course, the very next month, the health insurance didn't get paid and I couldn't get the help I needed. So yeah, he let me down. Big time.

But... with the clear thinking that five years apart gives, I realize that he didn't let me down because he didn't love me or because my health wasn't important to him. He just didn't have the skills to handle money. If money skills were literacy, he was a functional illiterate, while I was reading at the level of a 7 year old. When the book got too hard for me, I turned it over to someone who couldn't read at all.

I don't mean to let your boyfriend off the hook. Money management is a skill that every adult needs. He knows he needs it, and it doesn't appear that he's trying to get it. That's a problem. If he were illiterate and not willing to take a class to learn to read, that would be a relationship deal breaker for most people. But don't confuse 'He won't learn to be responsible with money' with 'He let me down and that hurt' because those aren't the same things. In his mind, dealing with the car bills and taking care of you weren't linked in any way.

Now, somewhere deep inside, you know whether this relationship is something you want to save. If it is, then you are going to have to help him out of this crisis and accept that there will be others, no matter how much he loves you. If it isn't, then you need to do whatever it takes to move out. Either way, I hope you get to a place where you can look back at how much it hurts today and realize (as I'm realizing now) that you've completely forgiven him for letting you down.

Best wishes to you.
posted by happyturtle at 12:23 PM on August 20, 2007

It sounds like you're both bad with money. By saying "forced" it implies that you had no other option but to move in with him when your living arrangement did not work out.

After several months living with him and continuing to "save money" you still don't have enough to live on your own. How much is it to rent a room where you live?

(I'm also horrible with money and am so lucky that my fiancée is skilled this way.)
posted by ODiV at 1:59 PM on August 20, 2007

I didn't quite complete my first thought there.

By saying "forced" it implies that you had no other option but to move in with him when your living arrangement did not work out.

To be financially responsible means having savings to avoid exactly this situation.
posted by ODiV at 2:15 PM on August 20, 2007

What I don't understand is why you felt free to impose upon his resources --- getting long rides to work in his car, getting discounted rent, etc. --- but when he needs something from you, you're grabbing for any reason under the sun not to help him. Perhaps the distinction you're drawing is, "His need for help is caused by his irresponsibility; my need for help was caused by an abusive situation outside of my control." But in a relationship of love, which you say you have with him, it seems petty to accept help from him but deny help to him based on your perceptions of blameworthiness, because, after all, you are still with him and say you love him, so his faults apparently aren't too bad to be tolerated.

I think you are bringing too much of a parsimonious exchange mentality to your relationship with your boyfriend. You're carefully parceling everything out, almost like a five-year-old child intent upon dividing a bag of circus peanuts even-steven with a friend, to the point that if there is an uneven number of circus peanuts, the odd remaining one gets cut down the middle with a knife and there's an argument during the cutting about where, precisely, the middle is. Your argument, as well as I can piece together, is that you owe him nothing because you've served as a maid, a damn good lay, and have contributed toward household expenses. But that's ridiculous parsimony. Why do you focus on settling up and balancing the books? You tell us you love the guy ... why aren't you willing to give him a little more, in gratitude for what he has done? It almost seems as if you are not grateful to him for helping you. You say you were "forced" to move in with him, as if it wasn't a matter of choice on his part; why do you not accept that he is "forced" to use your $200?

Loosen up about this, or leave him. $200 isn't that much money unless you're on food stamps and disabled. He has to have the $200; denying it to him is not going to fix this problem. When you moved in with him, you made his household problems your own.
posted by jayder at 8:42 PM on August 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

One of the best things about Metafilter, besides it's usefulness when you can't quite remember the name of a movie or book or song or whatever, is how you can ask questions about hard, obscenely personal things and get thoughtful, useful, and largely unemotional answers without judgment or bile. For example, if you're dealing with something that you already feel like shit about, you can trust that if you post it here on the green, no random internet stranger will call you say, based on his or her extremely limited insight in the situation, a classless bitch or a mooch or ungrateful or a bad girlfriend.


Metafilter rocks.

Aside from that, thank you to everyone for the advice. This has helped a lot.
posted by chichimimizu at 9:35 PM on August 20, 2007

I was prepared for judgment. Every answer here made some kind of judgment about my situation. I'm not complaining about the answers themselves, even the ones that did not agree with my original decision. What I'm objecting to are the straight-up attacks based not on the information I provided in my original question, but on this unwarranted perception that I'm this lazy, petulant, validation seeking slag living entirely off of my boyfriend's good graces. That I'm not cool with. It was unnecessary, unsupported by my original post, and those comments didn't address my questions at all. The issue was not about whether or not I had given "enough" in return for my boyfriend's charity. Or about any sort of moral high ground or code. Or about comparing or contrasting or tallying our respective contributions to the situation. Or about speculating on the charity-worthiness of my "abusive" and "catastrophic" "previous" "living" "situation." It definitely wasn't about my worth as a person or as a girlfriend.

The issues I asked about here were the feelings of resentment and sadness and disappointment and shame I had about the situation and my decision, whether or not the I made the right decision, and figuring out how to deal with the aftermath.

I'm not directing this, whatever this is, to the vast majority of posters who did address my questions in a thoughtful and meaningful way. I'm addressing this to the (very, very) few who saw fit to be absolute twats.
posted by chichimimizu at 12:18 AM on August 21, 2007

While I can't and won't defend anyone who was unnecessarily rude to you, the question you asked (or at least one of the questions you asked) was whether or not you made the right decision in not giving your boyfriend the $200 he's requested.

If you are genuinely interested in what other, uninvolved people think of the situation and are not actually just looking for validation of the decision you'd already made, it seems entirely appropriate to me that responders to your question would make note of the large number of what appear to be highly altruistic gestures your boyfriend has made towards you (all of which you alluded to yourself in the original post).

It seems like you are taking issue with responders to your question "comparing or contrasting or tallying our respective contributions to the situation" or their questioning "whether or not (you have) given `enough' in return for (your) boyfriend's charity" because these very issues are what are swaying many responders to disagree with your actions and side with your boyfriend. That's the problem with asking questions about your behavior to a group of strangers - not everyone will agree with it.
posted by The Gooch at 12:43 AM on August 21, 2007

it seems entirely appropriate to me that responders to your question would make note of the large number of what appear to be highly altruistic gestures your boyfriend has made towards you (all of which you alluded to yourself in the original post).

I also directly stated what it was that I had done in return for my boyfriend's altruistic gestures. At no point in my question did I say or even insinuate that my boyfriend was dissatisfied with the situation as it was before this. I said the opposite actually: We'd been doing this since May and it was working out well, or as well as the situation could work. In truth, we both believed, after hours and days and weeks of talking about and working on nothing but this, it to be the best compromise that we could reach, pre-my getting my license.

I wasn't looking for everyone to agree with me. The issue here is not that I wasn't "validated."

Let me put it a different way:

If someone asked mefi where to find, I don't know, a baptist church in Maine, an appropriate response to that question would be, "There's one here, on this street." An inappropriate response to the same question would be, "God doesn't exist, ass. You're gullible and stupid. I hope you don't have kids. Baptist churches are for losers like you." The first response is helpful and directly answers the questions. The second was posted by a twat.

So bringing that back to my question, "Did I make the right decision? What should I do going forward?" What I consider to be an appropriate response would be something like jayder's second post. I don't know how to link to the specific post, but it's only a few up. He said, more or less, "Give him the damn money. Love is about sharing. Stop keeping tabs. You're in his apartment now and his money shit is your money shit." An example of what I consider to be an inappropriate response would be ikkyu2's second (third?) post, which said more or less, "You sanctimonious, judgmental, spoiled, petulant, ungrateful slag. How dare you and how dare your mother?"

I'm probably being too sensitive.
posted by chichimimizu at 1:12 AM on August 21, 2007

chichimimizu, I'm sorry you are feeling hurt by things that were said in this thread, but in order to answer your question responders felt it quite necessary to mention that your question was narrowly framed and was built on assumptions that have actually created your problem in the first place.

I think your anger and frustration is misdirected. Your boyfriend's money problems would be utterly unable to impact you if you hadn't thrown himself on your charity, accepted a victim role, and taken care of yourself properly. If he hadn't been covering your share of rent and bills, he might have been able to build up some savings and pay his car note, but he's been in the position of having to make the choice between sacrificing time and money to support you, or seeing you out on the streets apparently unable to support yourself. An unenviable position. What do you think people would say if he posted here about whether or not his girlfriend should give him the car money, and listed the same series of events you did? Where do you think the collective wisdom would fall?

I do think it's the right decision to give him the money (There's my answer), and it's also the right decision to even up on your share of the back rent and bills as soon as possible, and find a living situation in which you aren't dependent on someone else's financial health, and then work on restoring the balance and sense of calm in a young relationship that has begun in drama and crisis. As you said, this is destroying your relationship. Move forward with your own self-care, first and foremost. Take your own life on.
posted by Miko at 7:37 AM on August 21, 2007

er, yourself on his charity.

I might also recommend getting in touch with a nearby crisis line or a domestic abuse center. Since you're still dealing with the fallout of the abusive relationship, they can probably be of help (they've seen it before) and there may be services you can use to help improve things.
posted by Miko at 7:49 AM on August 21, 2007

chichimimizu, I apologize for all the crap you are taking on this thread.

I too read between the lines but what I saw was a lot different. I see a person who is desperately working hard to take care of herself, who is in the position of having that torn down over and over and over again by someone who is not responsible in his affairs.

To the rest of you: If you have never lived in a situation where you are forced to depend on someone who has proven themselves to be undependable, you don't have much to say to this poster. If she had somewhere else to go she'd already be there. If she was mooching she'd be doing a much better job of it. Her boyfriend is in financial doodoo because HE IRRESPONSIBLY PUT HIMSELF THERE and in a case like that it is NOT her job to bail him out.

If through no fault of his own he was in need, yes, heck yes, she should help him. But this is a crisis HE CREATED FOR HIMSELF. Is no one seeing that?

If he went out and blew all the rent money on beer and ciggies, should his friends bail him out? This is not that much different.

Chichimimizu, please as soon as you can find somewhere else to stay, in a place that has some stability. If you are escaping abuse, the last thing you need is a setting where you have to worry about crap like this happening over and over. And I humbly suggest you either find a better boyfriend or at least put this one on notice that YOU DESERVE someone who knows how to take care of his personal business. What he did was so asinine and reflects such a lack of forethought. You don't need this in your life.
posted by konolia at 7:52 AM on August 21, 2007

I think that it's perfectly natural for you to be upset, about your living situation, about your/your boyfriend's financial situation, and about some of the things that have been said in this thread.

That said, I think you should have given your boyfriend the money, either as an advance on future rent/gas money or as a gift with conditions related to him learning to manage his money better. Here's why. You say:

"At no point in my question did I say or even insinuate that my boyfriend was dissatisfied with the situation as it was before this. I said the opposite actually: We'd been doing this since May and it was working out well, or as well as the situation could work."

I absolutely agree. You and your boyfriend had an understanding going this summer that was working for both of you, based on both of your needs and abilities at the time, and you don't owe him anything as payment for that arrangement. However, my guess is that if you had asked him (or asked yourself, for that matter) prior to you moving in with him whether your relationship was working out well and whether you were both satisfied with the situation, he would have said that it was and that you both were. You had an understanding prior to your roommate crisis (which I don't doubt for a second was a nightmare you needed to get out of immediately) that you would live separately and get to work separately and just date, and that was working for both of you.

Then, something changed. What changed was that you had a crisis and you needed help. And you asked him for his help. I don't know whether he hesitated or not before deciding to let you move in with him, before deciding to help you. I don't know whether he had thoughts about whether there was anything you could have done to prevent yourself from needing his help (I don't know whether there was anything you could have done, but as people upthread have said, building up a savings account with a few months worth of living expenses in it is always a good idea, for your own peace of mind). I don't know whether he asked for advice from his friends or from strangers before agreeing to take you in. But the point is that, while he was happy with your arrangement before your crisis, he agreed to modify your arrangement when you asked him to because you needed his help.

Now, he needed your help. And he asked you to modify your arrangement a second time in order to help him. And I understand all of the reasons that you didn't want to do that. They're good reasons, important reasons. And I think you should have negotiated with him about the modifications. Don't give him the money outright, make it an advance on your future rent, or put conditions on it, such as him seeking financial counseling or agreeing to let you help him with his bills so that this doesn't happen again. But he modified your relationship pretty drastically a few months ago when you asked him to when you were in trouble. I think you should have modified it again when he asked you to when he was in trouble.
posted by decathecting at 8:46 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

To the rest of you: If you have never lived in a situation where you are forced to depend on someone who has proven themselves to be undependable, you don't have much to say to this poster.

I disagree with this and with similar sentiments posted above. It may be precisely because of our experiences with dependency, including perhaps our own former dependency in bad relationships, that some of us are recognizing the unhealthy, imbalanced dynamic in this situation. It may not be a cold-hearted lack of sympathy, but an understanding achieved over time of the ways in which we have managed to screw up our own lives that are informing the responses that seem unsympathetic. They may be the responses of experience. Unless the commenters tell you, you simply can't assume that they know nothing of situations like this. As someone who had to learn the hard way how to take care of herself, I do understand.
posted by Miko at 11:22 AM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry that my answers weren't useful to you, chichimimizu, and I'm sorry that you found them offensive. Those are my failures.

I hope you found what you needed anyway and I hope your situation improves as speedily as possible.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:05 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

chichimimizu, it's understandable that you found some of the answers insulting. However, that's what happens when you ask strangers on the internet to judge your actions; just because people are drawing inferences about your actions or character that you disagree with doesn't necessarily mean that their answers are off-topic or wrong.

It might be useful for you to think about how you're presenting yourself here, and why that might inspire the kind of unkind responses you've gotten. In my opinion -- and that's all it is -- you come across terribly; you seem petulant, entitled, ungenerous, and mean. What particularly jumped out at me was that you listed conversation and sex as benefits that your boyfriend had received, equivalent to the way you get a break on rent and a ride to work. I would be hurt and offended if anyone I was in a relationship looked at it that way -- those are supposed to be things that you want to do with your partner and enjoy for their own sake, not entries in some relationship ledger that balances favors given and received!

Of course we don't have the full story, but in the act of distilling a situation in writing, we often reveal more than we think about our own perceptions and biases. The way you write about your boyfriend here, it seems like you don't really like him, and you think he owes you. I don't know why that would be, but you might think about to what extent it's true.

For what it's worth, I think you should give him the $200 or move out.
posted by myeviltwin at 2:40 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

what I want to know is why do so many people want to give this man 200 bucks when it is his own fault he owes that and more instead of 15 dollars?

Have you all forgotten or not noticed that part? Have you forgotten or not noticed she offered to PAY that 15 bucks and he blew it off?

How dare he even expect her to give it. I don't care if she's living in that place for free. Which she isn't.
posted by konolia at 6:54 PM on August 21, 2007

chichimimizu, if you did not want us to address the merits of the situation, why did you write an ~800 word description of your relationship with your boyfriend, going into great detail about the situation?

You asked two questions:

(1) Am I making the right decision? [i.e., is it right to decide not to give him the money]

As far as I can tell, even the answers that offended you stayed completely on-topic; they just weren't what you wanted to hear. Several MeFites argued that no, you are not making the right decision, and they explained why. Surely you would not want people to just answer "no" without explanation, would you? If you were really looking for answers, and not just pats on the back, a one-word "no" certainly wouldn't have helped you.

(2) Whether I am or not, how can we work past this?

Many people said, in essence, "be more thankful for what he has given you." That, like it or not, is advice on how you can work past this. Your opinion of your boyfriend came across as extremely negative, and your opinion seemed at odds with the things you said he had done for you. Consequently, many people urged you to reconsider your attitude toward your boyfriend, encouraging you to be more grateful for what he had done. The advice to be more grateful, or to move out, were actually very good advice on "working past" this situation.
posted by jayder at 7:04 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

The "damn good lay" thing was a joke.

I just want to be clear that I'm not taking offense at the answers and posters who disagreed with my decision. Many of them, most of them, made really good points that helped a lot. Posting here was not only cathartic, it also gave me an idea of what my boyfriend might be feeling about the situation/my decision and while I didn't pose my question looking for that, it was a perspective I really, really needed.

What I'm taking offense at are the three or four posts (out of eighty) that were outright attacks and at the posters who called into question my value as a girlfriend as a person and as a roommate. Those stung more than any anonymous mefi post probably should.

To be honest, this situation is much more of a big deal to me than it is to my boyfriend. He's already over his feelings of resentment and right back to fawning over filing cabinets. I'm the one that's having trouble with it, not only because of his irresponsibility and his lack of practical money skills (and seriously, if you haven't paid your excise tax for what's looking like years, if you're blowing off $15 tickets, if you're neglecting to re-register your car because you can't get together $100, not because you can't earn it, but because you're spending dollars before you even know they exist, you're bad with money. That's not judgment, that's just how it is. I'm not claiming to be perfect, but damn people), but also because I'm constantly, constantly struggling with feelings of not having given enough. On the one hand I am quite literally breaking myself to contribute here, and on the other I feel as if no matter what I do, I'm taking advantage of him. I'm not being grateful enough. I'm still here three months later because I haven't figured out how to reconcile my desire to repay with my pressing need to become financially independent again. A part of me feels as if no matter what happens, no matter what he does or what I do, I have no right to be upset or to question because I am here because of him. The attack posts were so upsetting to me because their content was so very, very close to the things I've been saying to myself all along. And if those posts and my feelings are true I might as well hang it up right now. We'll never be on equal ground again. He will always have saved me and I will always have asked for his help. It will never be too much to ask.

Living on charity fucking sucks.

Contrary to what I've shown here, I am actually capable of taking advice gracefully. I just want to say again, thank you. This has helped.
posted by chichimimizu at 9:49 PM on August 21, 2007

the three or four posts (out of eighty) that were outright attacks

If it's that few you could probably just email them directly.

I feel as if no matter what I do, I'm taking advantage of him.

That does sting, and it is hurting you. The knowledge of it is hurting you, and because of that, you see that this situation is not working for you. What others have said is true: you don't deserve to be in a situation that's hurting you. By staying in the situation, you continue to allow yourself to be hurt. You're anxious, angry, stressed, and frustrated. It's hurting your relationship.

I'm still here three months later because I haven't figured out how to reconcile my desire to repay with my pressing need to become financially independent again

Take a moment to notice how your desire to repay isn't and your desire to become financially independent aren't mutually exclusive. It's merely a question of which takes first priority.

Think how much better a situation you'll be in to repay if you aren't sacrificing your own needs to an untenable housing arrangement. My advice to you would be to give him the $200, because it is a reasonable and small amount to pay for your transportation 3 days a week for 3 months, and he needs it (I got mixed up above and accidentally said the opposite, but I always saw that as fair). Chalk it up to tuition for lessons learned, and give it graciously and with thanks.

Then make getting independent your very first priority. Begin exploring affordable house shares that give access to your job until you can drive yourself and purchase a car. Find a roommate. Look for a temporary live-in companion or housesitting gig. Call one of the services I mentioned above and ask what they can offer for temporary crisis housing, home shares, etc. It doesn't have to be forever, just enough to get on your feet with. Sit down and create a budget based on your income that would cover whatever it is your expenses are - your bills, food, transportation costs, savings for a car if that's what you need - and see what amount you could manage for rent, and what that might get you in the markets you're employed in.

If it helps, explain it to your boyfriend as something you are doing in order to improve the relationship, since your shared situation is so damaging.

Once you are taking care of yourself, your boundaries are likely to become clearer. You won't need to suffer anxiety over anyone else's difficulties with money, and at some remove you may be able to help your boyfriend recognize and address his money problems without the pressure and drama of the present situation. Meanwhile, once on your own feet and meeting your household budget, you'll be better able to set aside money to repay him with, even if it's $20 a week.

If you aren't making enough to do that, get a second job for six months or so and use it build a cushion. Once you've repaid him for the financial losses he took to help you out, then you can relate on a more equal footing and make more deliberate choices about combining your life with another person's.

I'm not saying this is the easiest or most convenient solution. Working two jobs is hard and tiring. Living alone rather than splitting expenses costs more. But it sounds as though you really need to live separately from any entanglements for a while, first and foremost so you don't think of yourself as dependent and vulnerable and someone who always suffers at the actions of others. Live your own life for a while. It must be insanely exhausting going from an abusive relationship to a really awkward and anxiety-inducing domestic relationship. I'd guess you probably have some delayed stuff to work through and could use some quiet/alone time anyway. Look for that in a new living situation, and find someone to talk to, which might help relieve your anxiety and identify solutions. Either way, no matter what, you've been through a fair amount of shit and discovered some problems in your life, and it takes time to sort all that out. Better to sort it out by helping yourself than continuing to volunteer for drama and stress.
posted by Miko at 6:20 AM on August 22, 2007

Hey, I'm posting this here because I don't see an email listed in your profile. (Of course, I haven't had coffee yet.) There's an email in my profile if you care to respond that way.

May I compassionately suggest that you take a break from this thread, and perhaps metafilter in general, until you feel stronger? You seem to have gotten the information you needed about your situation. You also seem to be a little raw and sensitive (understandable), and reading the objectionable posts (however they were intended) is like jabbing sharp sticks into your wounds. Their words don't need to hurt you anymore. Put the sticks down. No one here is living your life but you. You will figure out whatever you need to do.

Best wishes.
posted by desjardins at 7:05 AM on August 22, 2007

BTW, are you still working in the "slightly smaller than K-Mart national chain big-box store specializing in low quality clothing and home crap" that didn't help when you had that crazy fall? This is somewhat outside the bounds of the question, but I've heard big-box stores don't pay much, would would help explain why you're working a lot and still having trouble making ends meet -- I wonder if there's something better-paying around there. (Next Ask Me question?) (Not that you probably haven't considered this already.)
posted by salvia at 9:49 AM on August 22, 2007

konolia: "How dare he even expect her to give it. I don't care if she's living in that place for free. Which she isn't."

How dare you, konolia, act as though people who are bad with money are tainted and not worth a moment's consideration as partners or spouses? We're not all bad, you know, and a hell of a lot of us have our mind on more important things than mere money; like, for example, extending and improving our relationships, rather than displaying the angry and judgmental attitude toward other people that you're showing us.
posted by koeselitz at 3:08 AM on August 25, 2007

Koeselitz, I have personal experience in the area. It was sheer utter hell and the ramifications went way beyond the financial arena.

People who choose to be irresponsible in this manner affect not only themselves but their spouses and children.
posted by konolia at 5:19 AM on August 25, 2007

I was certain, konolia, that you did have personal experience in that arena. You should know that I do, too. Being this way, the way that some of us are with finances, is not always a choice. And we're often open to improvement, especially if we're young. $200 is nothing compared to the mistakes of my own youth. I merely had a feeling that the response is all out of proportion with the case. Forgiveness and a willingness to help the other to improve their habits is the glue of every relationship. I'm not the poster, and I don't know; all I know is that, if my wife hadn't had the care and compassion to see that I really needed help, and had fine qualities apart from my financial situation, I wouldn't have the happy marriage I have today. Personal experience goes both ways.

And I have a feeling we're both taking this entirely too personally in our responses to the poster.

posted by koeselitz at 12:44 PM on August 25, 2007

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