Carolyn Hax: Unemployed boyfriend ‘deliberately’ ruined job opportunity

Carolyn Hax: Unemployed boyfriend ‘deliberately’ ruined job opportunity

Carolyn Hax: Unemployed boyfriend ‘deliberately’ ruined job opportunity

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Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Caroline: First world problem alert.

My boyfriend and I live together and have always shared the cost equally with minor adjustments as needed. We both lost work during the pandemic. I asked for favors and gathered enough freelancers and part-time work to keep my income stable. He decided he wanted to wait for something within his field and at the same professional level, so he was unemployed for months despite searching.

He finally got a really good lead and reached the final stage where he was almost offered the job, then dropped the ball completely and intentionally. When asked for a start date, he simply did not respond. He has no good explanation why. There is no executive processing problem, no ADHD (which I happen to struggle with).

I’ve been supporting both of us financially for months, including paying his car bill and our entire rent, and this infuriates me. He cannot give a direct answer to the question of when he will pick up part of the bill again or why he has left a good job. What shall I do?

Partner: Let us first dig into the ‘first world problem’ and its comorbidity, self-denial. I think we can all agree that we are not here to control climate change, food insecurity and access to clean water (except in our own conscientious way).

You voluntarily spent your own money on someone else’s rent and car payment on the terms (actually or tacitly) agreed that he could not do it himself. He changed those terms, unilaterally and without notifying you, not to WANT to do so himself. So for all intents and purposes, he just reached into your pocket and helped himself with rent and car payments.

This is a cause for outrage in every world I have lived in, read about in reliable sources or seen in a respected documentary. Okay? So say it exactly. “Because we are financial partners here, I had something to say. If you had nothing to say to me, I deserved notice. Since you have not given me a word or message, I at least deserve an honest and coherent explanation. And I haven’t gotten one yet.”

I suggest you work out ahead of time whether you intend to stay in this relationship based on how he reacts. Months of unemployment can wreak havoc on people’s psyches, and it’s certainly possible that he’s confused inside, not understanding it himself and not being able to articulate it for you.

But you are also not obligated to keep waiting for him to end his emotional and logistical partnership, and to keep paying for him while you wait. He gets to decide if he works and where, but you decide where your limits are for how much support you give.