Dear Neil: I have been in a relationship with a great guy going on 10 years. I am financially set. Thanks to my late husband, we worked almost 40 years to be financially secure in our later years. The man I am dating is not financially stable and secure, although he is working, but I am still waiting for him to get it all together 10 years in. I have held onto the relationship with him because I value his love and kindness, but I have provided for things his income couldn’t, and occasionally I have lent him money.
To those in a relationship with someone who isn’t financially comfortable, I would recommend that you communicate with each other about money and have firm boundaries in place about what you are and are not willing to pay for. Love is important, but being money smart is also, especially as we get older. If we were in our 20’s, I might feel that love would be enough. Now I don’t feel that way. I am not happy in the relationship any longer, because I’ve come to the realization that money does matter. Be financially wise in who you choose to become involved with.
Disappointed in Southern California
Dear Disappointed: Although I agree with your advice about being financially wise about who you become involved with, and that money is an important component of a relationship, I also can’t help thinking about how different this would sound if it were a man writing this letter rather than a woman. I would venture that a sizable number of financially set men in their retirement years would just assume that providing for a woman less financially comfortable—or paying for extras and helping out financially—was simply part of the bargain. That was the norm when many of us were growing up.
I am not insensitive to your desire of having a man who has greater financial stability. It is certainly understandable that you may not be in a position of wholly supporting him, and I can understand your frustration in watching him struggle but never quite succeeding with getting his financial house in order. If you are in danger of draining all your resources or compromising your own nest egg, then it makes sense that you may be forced into the decision of whether or not he is wise for you. But if that is not the case, I would urge you to consider what you are receiving from this relationship, because you describe him as a great guy who is loving and kind, and those traits are highly sought after and desirable.
In the end, your choice comes down to a simple question: Everything being considered, are you better off with him or without him?
Dear Neil, i understand your thoughts about looking at my situation with reversed roles. As a female,, I can honestly say that if I was without work, lost my retirement, in debt to the IRS, barely holding onto my business and was being housed, fed, and mostly fiananced by a man, ….I would be doing everything i could to not only change my financial situation so that I could contribute more equally to my relationship but I would also help with household responsibilities and care of the home. I would think twice before I turned on the jacuzzi, opened an expensive glass of wine and invited family over and expect the dinner to be prepared and paid for by the man I am living with. I may have failed to communicate the fine details.
Kindness and love can only go so far. There needs to be mutual respect. I believe you can respect someone and not be in love with them but you can’t be in love with someone and not respect them
The kindness he is showing me is more like going through the motions so he can have a free ride.
Other wise, yes in today’s world with some women making more money than men it could work but communication and boundaries are a must.
My regret is my own doing. I put my hop and trust in this man. I had hope over the past 10 years he would pull him self out of this fianancial downfall. People show you who they are. I was pretty stupid to hold on for 10 years and not get it.
Disappointed in Southern California
I absolutely agree with your response here Neil! What we oftentimes forget is that everything is an exchange of energy, regardless of the form. Money is just another form of energy and sometimes that exchange is for love and companionship. Although we might see the value of money as something more tangible than companionship, it is still a priceless commodity. Relationships are just that, an exchange that is give and take, and that creates a constant flow. If one partner is blocked in the giving of their commodity, then the relationship starts to experience a breakdown. Flow is the key to keeping the balance and homeostasis in a loving romantic relationship!