≡ Menu

“He Doesn’t Make Enough Money”

I’ve been in a great relationship with an amazing guy for about nine months, and we’ve recently started talking about moving in together (probably this fall when my lease ends). He already spends 3-4 nights a week at my place, and I am really excited about taking the next step and officially living together. The problem is that we’re at very different places career-wise, and I currently make more than 3x what he does (though it’s still just enough to cover my current expenses). His salary is basically enough to pay for food for the month and not much more. I know that this will even out within a couple years, but money issues can, of course, be very sensitive and I’m scared they could jeopardize our otherwise incredible relationship.

My guy is currently in school (hopefully finishing his MA within the next semester or two) and working part-time at the campus bookstore for minimum wage. He also lives with his parents to save money until graduation. I, on the other hand, have been working full-time and totally supporting myself for a number of years already. I want to emphasize that he is not cheap – for instance, when we cook dinner at my apartment he always contributes money for the groceries and he often does the shopping himself. But this doesn’t change the fact that when we move in together, I’ll be paying a significantly larger share of the rent and utilities, at least in the beginning.

I think my main fear is that, as much as I love him, I’ll start resenting him once I’m paying a big chunk of his living expenses. Also, we will probably need to move out of the city center to find a place we can afford (since he won’t be able to contribute much rent money, and we want to find a place that’s bigger than my current apartment). I do love the thought of living with him, but at the same time I’m not sure I want to leave the city yet. Overall, it’s starting to make me feel like a real jerk! Am I being totally selfish? Should we wait to move in together until he finishes school? And how can I bring up these topics without making him feel bad about making less money than I do? Please help if you can! — Dollars and Sense


It’s great that you’re giving so much thought to the financial challenges you and your boyfriend would face if you moved in together. Many people only think about the fun part of living with a significant other — endless sex! breakfast in bed every single morning! someone to play Scrabble with whenever you want!! — and not about the potential problems and the sacrifices that will need to be made. Ideally, you would weigh the sacrifices against the benefits and the benefits would win, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. You know that you will be contributing much more financially to your living expenses than your boyfriend will and you know that isn’t likely to change for a couple of years, at least. You also realize that finding a bigger place that can accommodate the both of you would mean moving out of the neighborhood you love. It’s OK if these aren’t acceptable trade-offs in your mind. It doesn’t mean you’re a jerk or a bad person. It simply means that you and your relationship aren’t ready for the commitment and sacrifices of cohabitation just yet.

You’ve only been together nine months. By the time your lease is up, it will be a year or so. If there’s a chance you may spend the rest of your lives together — and, really, I wouldn’t advise moving in together unless there was that chance — a year is just a tiny drop in the bucket of the rest of your life. If you aren’t quite sure you’re ready — ready for the cons as well as the pros — wait another year and reassess. Why rock the boat if things are going so well anyway? Your boyfriend can continue staying at your place 3-4 nights a week, and you can keep cooking dinners together, and he can finish up his degree without the pressure of living with you and living up to your (financial) expectations.

In another year, things will be different. Maybe your boyfriend will be closer to making real money. Maybe his lack of a big paycheck won’t matter to you as much. Perhaps you’ll be ready to change neighborhoods. Maybe you guys won’t even be together anymore and you’ll be happy you didn’t give up an apartment you like in an area you love. So, wait. Wait until you’re more sure. Moving in together is a huge step — one that should definitely not be made if you’ve got a big question mark hanging over your head. There’s no rush here, anyway. Enjoy the sweet spot a little longer. The rest of your life — and all the complications that come with it — will come soon enough.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

{ 67 comments… add one }

  • avatar kittyk June 2, 2011, 3:04 pm

    OK I’ll admit I haven’t even read the rest of your response yet, I just got really excited about the Scrabble comment. Sadly, I always want to play and he never does, so its not exactly a perk in my cohabitation :/

    • avatar spaceboy761 June 2, 2011, 3:47 pm

      QZJXK 4 LIFE

    • avatar Callifax June 2, 2011, 4:34 pm

      My boyfriend, bless his heart, is a total techie nerd and will only play Scrabble via iPhone. :(

      • avatar _jsw_ June 2, 2011, 7:09 pm

        If true, and if you have an old Scrabble game around, you can make name markers for your desk with them (you know, spell out CALLIFAX). It’s sorta geek-cool.

  • avatar Amber June 2, 2011, 3:04 pm

    ITA with Wendy. There’s no rush to move in together. Wait until you’re both more on the same level.

  • avatar Rachel June 2, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Definitely what Wendy said. Moving in together will require a lot of compromise. It sounds like you’re not ready for that. There’s nothing wrong with that, but when you’re really ready to move in with him, the cons will not be jumping out at you so much.

  • avatar Starfish13 June 2, 2011, 3:19 pm

    In addition to any financial concerns you may have, there is also a big difference between work-life and student-life. With school, you are always studying and working on projects, while work typically ends at 5. This could definitely create some unnecessary tensions if you are both under one roof – wait until he is done with school.

  • avatar Britannia June 2, 2011, 3:23 pm

    If you think you may end up resenting him, you shouldn’t move in with him until either your feelings change or his ability to contribute monetarily changes.

  • avatar MissDre June 2, 2011, 3:23 pm

    WAIT WAIT WAIT! Wait until you are really sure. There is lots of time to be together down the road when you are BOTH ready. And like Wendy said, continue enjoying what you have now :) Don’t put pressure on yourself to “take the next step” when things are already great.

  • avatar BoomChakaLaka June 2, 2011, 3:26 pm

    LW, I, too, am happy that you’re actually thinking about these things. There’s nothing wrong with having these thoughts, it just means that you’re rational. At the end of the day, though, if the money situation isn’t ideal, I say wait until it is. You guys can continue the living situation you have now, grow stronger as a couple, and have a better foundation to face the possibility of cohabiting next year.

    Good luck!

  • avatar ReginaRey June 2, 2011, 3:32 pm

    Very much agree with Wendy on this. If you think moving in together could jeopardize an otherwise great relationship, then don’t do it! It seems like your boyfriend, and you, currently have a system that works quite well for you both – you get your own place where he visits you often, yet he can still live with his parents and save money toward paying off that master’s degree. Until the system isn’t working well, why feel pressured to change it?

    Have you talked to your boyfriend in-depth about all of the things you’re thinking? Does he know that you could end up resenting him if you feel you’re supporting him too much? Has he thought about the possibility that HE could end up resenting YOU or feeling like “less” of a partner because he can’t contribute what you can? You seem to be quite logicial, but perhaps your boyfriend hasn’t totally thought about all of the cons, and is instead caught up daydreaming about the pros of living with you (and away from his parents).

    Talk to your boyfriend. Make sure he knows what’s going through your mind, and that he’s also aware of all of the downsides of moving in together. In the end, you both should be totally aware of all potential pros and cons, and the decision should come naturally. Right now, it seems it would be a bit forced. Like Wendy said, there’s really no rush to put pressure on a good thing.

    Make no mistake, moving in together is just as much (if not more) a financial arrangement as a romantic one. The scales don’t always have to be perfectly equal, of course, but balance is necessary. Whether that’s a boyfriend/girlfriend who each pull their financial weight, or a spouse who works while the other stays at home, there’s always some sort of understanding of who takes care of what. Your scales are currently pretty tipped – if you provided the majority of the financial support, what would your boyfriend provide? As a working student, his time would be quite limited. What he would be able to contribute to the household might be limited as well. Wait until the scales are a bit more balanced, and you can both feel able to contribute.

    • avatar SpyGlassez June 2, 2011, 7:10 pm

      Yay, you’re back!

    • avatar GingerLaine June 2, 2011, 7:48 pm

      Yes, talk to him! It doesn’t have to be any sort of marginalizing conversation, just explain to him that you love living in the city, and wouldn’t it be so nice to really save up for a bigger place there, that the two of you could afford together, and get your cohabitation off to a nice, stress-free start? How could he say no? Just talk to him with the positives in mind, rather than the negatives. He doesn’t have to feel badly about it if you don’t. :)

      And when you finally ARE ready to move in together (not now!), make an agreement between you right off the bat about what’s expected of both of you in order to “balance the scales” as ReginaRey said above. You’ll pay for rent, bills, etc., and he will cook, clean, divide the chores up between you, shop, or whatever. Create it as a “chore list” – you’ll mark days that you’ll handle your chores – including bill payment, checkbook balancing, couponing, your share of household chores, etc. and he’ll mark the days for his. Then when someone isn’t holding their end of the bargain, there is no misunderstanding. The two of you can hold each other accountable together to make sure that finances don’t have to be a pressure point in your relationship. And you can work out disagreements about the workload before you say something to hurt each other’s feelings in the heat of the moment in an argument, or making snide comments under your breath.

      Just take it slow, LW. It’ll be easier when his future and the future of your relationship are more certain.

      • avatar GingerLaine June 2, 2011, 8:01 pm

        Oh, and just so you understand where everyone is coming from here telling you to wait, please understand that your BF is in no position to be supportive of a household in any way. If that’s going to be difficult for you – and be honest, can you already see yourself being pissed off because you’re cleaning up your mutual mess AND always paying for your date nights AND the being the major financial contributor? – then do NOT move in with him. Because that is what you’re taking on.

        If that’s no issue for you, and it works out as wonderfully as it did for Fast Eddie down there, then that’s fantastic. Only you know truly know your temperament and your expectations.

        But from an outsider’s perspective, it sounds like that’s not really what you want. But it does sound like you’re happy with him. So stick with what works & put the brakes on this move-in.

    • avatar Brooklyn June 2, 2011, 10:40 pm

      Agreed that you should talk to him. I would suggest phrasing it more like “I don’t want you to feel like I’m your landlord” and less that you are afraid you would feel resentful. I see the word “resent” and worry that thought may taint future issues in the relationship unnecessarily.

      Also, it would probably be best if he didn’t worry about trying to make bills when he should be focusing on his degree and looking for good internships/jobs. It sounds like it would put you both on better ground in the future if you stick with the current arrangement a bit longer.

  • avatar Sheila June 2, 2011, 3:52 pm

    I have been reading Dear Wendy for months and haven’t commented, but I feel I have to share how much this advice hit home:

    “Enjoy the sweet spot a little longer. The rest of your life — and all the complications that come with it — will come soon enough.”

    I’m currently in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend who is in the Navy and is on the opposite side of the country. He will be there in training for another 1.5-2 years. I have a job that I’ve worked very hard to obtain (I wouldn’t say it’s a great job, because it requires arguably too many personal sacrifices, but will look amazing on my resume). We made the decision that I would not be moving for him until he gets out of training and is stationed somewhere. It’s difficult that our visits are so seldom and expensive. But the above quote succinctly expresses the mindset I should maintain in the here and now. Thank you, Wendy.

  • Budj Budjer June 2, 2011, 4:20 pm

    If you suspect you will resent him then you will probably resent him. Everyone is different and your concern for resentment is valid…but I personally don’t see this as a big deal and I wouldn’t mind so much IF he is as helpful as you say he is. This is a totally different scenario than the loser/hobo boyfriend scenario we read about in previous letters. I would just look for a place that you can afford on your own income and let him contribute in other ways (cleaning, cooking, buying groceries) if you really think moving in together is the best thing for your relationship.

    I do agree with Wendy though that you should wait to move in together until you are more sure of the direction of your relationship. However, having your name on the lease solely and the fact he can go back to living with his parents means the risks aren’t terribly severe if things don’t pan out. You still need to decide if it’s worth leaving the city to you.

  • avatar Dave Jay June 2, 2011, 4:31 pm

    Strongly agreeing with Wendy. And please, DO NOT even have the discussion with him because nothing (and I mean NOTHING) good will come out of it, unless you fancy a good old-fashioned knockdown dragout fight in which you come out looking very miserly and making him feel worse about himself. I know it’s just a phase you’re going through (as we all do), but here’s the bottom line: Forget about money… it’s fleeting. Get used to the idea that you’ll never have enough for everything you want and focus on the things you have that money can’t buy.
    Your BF is going through his own life phase — starting at the bottom of the ladder. He won’t be there long. When I first graduated Grad School with a Physics degree, the only job I could find was in a kennel! So, be grateful for right now that your BF doesn’t come home smelling like dog sh*t every night and rest assured that in a few short years, you will both be paying more in taxes than he currently brings home.

    • avatar DramaQueen224 June 2, 2011, 5:03 pm

      I disagree that she shouldn’t have the discussion with her boyfriend. You can’t just “forget about money”- ignoring it won’t make the problems go away. I know money is a sensitive and scary topic, but if you’re thinking about moving in together, you need to talk about it. Why does it have to be a fight? Maybe the word “resenting” shouldn’t be used, but the LW has legitimate concerns about the consequences of moving in together that need to be discussed. It also isn’t clear to me if her boyfriend knows she’s expecting to pay more of the rent and move out of the city center. Maybe he has different expectations.

      • avatar Dave Jay June 2, 2011, 9:20 pm

        If her argument was, “I make 3X more than you so I’m going to put 3X more money into the household” than, definitely… bring it up. I don’t think you’ll get a fight out of that. However, I was under the impression that she was going to “dis” him for not earning more. That won’t EVER end well.
        Instead, she should feel blessed that she is in a situation to contribute more to their household, and… so should he. I assure you, if they eventually marry, those tables will turn several times, and they’d both be wise not to keep score.

        Bottom line: If she is getting hung up on this “nickel and dime” stuff now, she would be better to forego living together and let her boyfriend finish school (his #1 priority) and advance his career so he can become someone she can respect, because THAT is the key piece that is missing in their relationship now.

        • avatar DramaQueen224 June 2, 2011, 10:05 pm

          “Overall, it’s starting to make me feel like a real jerk! Am I being totally selfish? Should we wait to move in together until he finishes school? And how can I bring up these topics without making him feel bad about making less money than I do?”

          It hardly seems like she’s trying to “diss” or disrespects him. And covering the majority of someone else’s expenses isn’t a nickle and dime problem, especially when she’s barely covering her own. He’s equally blessed in that he’s getting his master’s degree and is currently being supported by his parents. The money is going to play a big factor in deciding whether they should live together or not, and it’s only fair to both of them that they talk about it and decide together.

          • avatar anna728 June 3, 2011, 12:40 am

            Exactly what I was thinking.

          • avatar DramaQueen224 June 3, 2011, 1:03 am

            Okay, I had one last though and then I’m going to bed. If they do decide to live together, maybe it would be better if she covered as much of the rent as necessary but they split the bills in half. It might decrease the chance for resentment if the day to day stuff seemed more “even” and her contribution only had to happen once a month and wouldn’t vary. I’m still with everyone about talking it through (and seriously considering not moving in together), but since the heart wants what the heart wants, the LW may still want to move in with her boyfriend.

  • avatar Mr.44 June 2, 2011, 4:36 pm

    This doesn’t really apply to the LW’s situation (Wendy’s advice is spot on)…however, if you have the means, picking up more of the costs is VERY worth it for the right person. I make 5x my s.o., and I thought the money issue would make me resentful when we moved in together. Could not be further from the truth.

    • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 2, 2011, 6:57 pm

      Yeah, but she isn’t exactly rolling in dough. He letter plainly states that she is just barely scrapping by… Financial problems and arguments end more relationships than cheating, I swear. Seriously. Anybody who thinks money isn’t a huge issue and factor in relationships and life has always been extremely fortunate in that they have plenty of it. Trust me on this one. Trust me.

      • avatar Britannia June 2, 2011, 7:09 pm

        Mr. 44, you must be a saint, because most people would not take it so easily. I have dated many guys who had littler financial freedom than I do, and they either resented me for it — asking me to give them money before going out to dinner so that they could look like they were paying for it — or LOVED it, too much — treating me like a sugar momma and never contributing when they could.

        It’s hard to find someone with whom the money balance works out so that neither of you feel like you’re being taken advantage of or devalued. Kudos for finding someone with whom it works! I also have found it with my current boyfriend, and it is a rare match-up. Like Mark said, money issues are one of the biggest causes of breakups and divorces. The fact that this LW is having problems or hesitations because of the money issue already says to me that she should slow down the horses and let the relationship play out longer to suss out whether or not this guy is the right match for her. (Holy run on sentences! Sorry…)

      • avatar SpyGlassez June 2, 2011, 7:13 pm

        It is a huge issue. My BF is unemployed at the moment (just graduated) and while I am employed, it’s somewhat irregular. We had to have the money talk before we moved in together (with another roommate, to cut costs) and we’ve had to have it several other times. We keep communicating, which helps, but if she even suspects she might feel resentful, then she should definitely NOT move in.

  • avatar WatersEdge June 2, 2011, 4:41 pm

    I think it’s very responsible that you’re looking at this from a logical, financial standpoint. However, I have to say, I’m kind of judging you for not being willing to pay more of the bills while your boyfriend is in school. I assume if you’re moving in together, it’s because you see the strong likelihood of a future together. Maybe I’m biased because my husband pays for way more than I do while I finish my degree, but I see my (and your boyfriend’s) studies as an investment in the future which will benefit both parties in the couple. Yes I feel badly that he pays for more than I do, but when I graduate I’ll be contributing a lot.

    I’d be careful about letting him know that you don’t see his graduate studies as a good enough reason to live home, or to be poor. I think you should tell him that you don’t feel ready to move to a neighborhood that you could both afford yet because you’re not quite done with city life. I wouldn’t mention anything about the potential resentment of supporting him. If it were me, that kind of comment would breed a ton of resentment itself.

    • avatar NOLAGirl June 2, 2011, 5:08 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. There was a time my husband (pre marriage days) was carrying the bulk of our financial burdens, then there came a time that I was. Now it’s him again. In a successful relationship you have to learn to compromise and if one partner isn’t able to contribute as much financially, there are other ways to contribute to make home life more agreeable. I agree money is a big issue in marriage and relationships, but I’d argue that it’s attitudes towards money, how one spends money. Whether you make joint decisions before spending money, etc. Those are the bigger things that break up marriages/relationships than one partner carrying the other financially.

      I don’t think financial dependency necessarily breeds resentment, unless of course, the financially dependent is a spendthrift. In which case, kick him to the curb. If it’s grad school poverty and not in-ambition making him broke, and he manages his meager funds well (i.e. not blowing it on crap, incurring massive amounts of debt), i think you’re probably unlikely to feel resentful towards him. Especially if he contributes in other ways.

      I don’t know. I just want to stress that finances causing tension at home is more attitudes and the way the partners handle money rather than who makes more. (Although I’ve read some studies that some men have issues with not being the breadwinner, mine was happy when I was so I’m not 100% sure how true that is).

      • avatar Riefer June 2, 2011, 5:22 pm

        Agree with you both, but your cases might be slightly different, in that these two have only been together 9 months, and it’s not clear how committed they are for the future. It’s one thing for a couple who’s in it for the long haul to make sacrifices like this, it’s another if the relationship ends in a year or two. What if they’re no longer together by the time he graduates and is able to bring in more money? Then she’d have an ex-boyfriend who she financially supported for two years, in addition to giving up her home in a location that she likes, and all for nothing. No balance to that situation.

        Of course, if they actually are on the same page, and they’re committed to a long-term relationship, then I agree with you both, you can find ways to balance it out even if one of you makes much more than the other.

    • avatar PFG-SCR June 2, 2011, 5:26 pm

      I agree that she shouldn’t mention the possible resentment – I think she can explain this without bring that up. But, I think it’s unfair to negatively judge her for not wanting to support him – there is a difference between someone financially supporting their spouse versus a boyfriend/girlfriend financially supporting their significant other of nine months. Not only does she make “just enough” to cover her own expenses, she refers to moving in together as the “next step”, and as wonderful as their relationship seems to be now, that isn’t the same as “engaged” or “married”. I don’t think she should be expected to contribute to him (or more to the common household expenses) as if they were married until they are either married or she feels comfortable with it prior to that point. At that latter is such a personal decision that I don’t see how you can fault her for how she feels.

      • avatar MissDre June 2, 2011, 7:06 pm

        Just have to say I fully agree with you on this PFG-SCR!

      • avatar WatersEdge June 2, 2011, 7:53 pm

        Well if it helps, my boyfriend/husband was for all intents and purposes supporting me at the 7 month mark, before we were engaged. I agree that it’s much easier to do in a marriage, but he asked me to move in with him at 7 months knowing I was in school and couldn’t really contribute much. If you love someone and they’re working hard toward your collective future, I don’t see the grounds for resentment.

        • avatar PFG-SCR June 2, 2011, 8:19 pm

          @WatersEdge: Different people have varying levels of “emotional attachment” to their money, so you can’t say that if she loves him, she shouldn’t feel resentful in supporting him after only nine months together. They aren’t married, and presumptuous to assume they will after only nine months together when the LW hasn’t indicated that she feels that way.

        • avatar NOLAGirl June 3, 2011, 8:01 am

          Same here, I packed my bags and moved across the US with my hubby and became his “financial dependent” within six months I think? Before we were engaged. I figured, what the heck? What facilitated my move is that I work from home so I’m a lot more mobile than most people. But you gamble in every relationship as to whether it’ll last or not. You never know going in what can happen.

          • avatar Red Azalea June 3, 2011, 4:20 pm

            Except that we all have different timelines for our relationship. One of my friends moved in with her boyfriend after dating for four months. Their relationship worked out, but I for example, would not feel comfortable moving in with someone after I’ve been dating them for maybe a year or longer. So just because your husband was willing to support you after six months, that really doesn’t have anything to do with the LW or her feelings.

            • avatar NOLAGirl June 4, 2011, 4:19 pm

              Of course not. But what I’m saying is that every relationship is a risk. It depends if you’re ready to take it or not.

  • avatar Sarah June 2, 2011, 4:48 pm

    Its a lose/lose situation to move in with someone without everyone being completely satisfied with the financial arrangement.

    Version 1:) you pay more than you’re comfortable with and you resent it over time, and he will resent his inability to pay more. This will be even more exacerbated if you live in a more expensive place of your choosing, because then he will begin to resent that you put him in a situation of never being able to catch up unless he makes a lot more money.

    Version 2:) you pay more than you’re comfortable and you don’t *think* you resent it, although you probably do more than you think, but he is fine with the situation, which will imply over time that he doesn’t mind you taking a great deal of the financial burden, which will trigger you to resent him for not trying to make his situation better.

    My advice is don’t get an apartment until both of you can pay half and half with the rent. This will mean that you may have to make peace with having a dumpy place in the valley (or whatever your location’s equivalent is to Los Angeles’ sweaty and uncomfortable bastard cousin known as the San Fernando Valley) or waiting until he has a better paying gig.

  • avatar PFG-SCR June 2, 2011, 5:12 pm

    It’s not just about _who_ you live with, but the _timing_ of moving in with them. It sounds like it’s not the “right time” for the letter writer, and she shouldn’t feel bad about that aspect. If she already suspects that she’ll resent him for it, it’s highly likely that she actually will, but it’ll be even more than she originally thought she’d feel.

    It doesn’t sound like anything is “broken” now, so they should continue to enjoy the still relatively new relationship together. Once he graduates, they can consider the possibility of moving in together again and see if the timing (given what all is going on in each of their lives) is right then.

  • avatar Jshizzle June 2, 2011, 5:14 pm

    Yes you should absolutely wait if you’re not looking forward to the lifestyle change, what would be the point. I know it sucks, but if there’s no guarantee he will have enough to support the lifestyle you probably both want and you’re not wanting to shoulder the burden then why move in.

    That being said, way back in the day my grandparents got married while my grandpa was still in medicine and supported him through it as a nurse–and they’re quite happy. It’s up to you.

  • avatar Anna June 2, 2011, 5:17 pm

    I actually disagree with the notion of waiting another year. If you two want to live together, go for it! My boyfriend and I moved in together after dating for 13 months. At that time, I was still in school and made less money than he did. I’m not sure if you are the same as I, but I discovered was that love trumps money any day. We are pretty much working class, so during that time we did have money struggles. However, we faced those struggles as a team instead of turning against one another. Even when we had to sell our aluminum cans to afford some mac n’ cheese or hot dogs for dinner, we laughed about it together. If we had waited until we were both more financially “secure” I think we would have missed out on some important opportunities to grow together as a family.

    BTW, this is not a recent story. We are celebrating our 8 year anniversary this weekend. I love living with him and couldn’t ask for a better home life. Hoping to get married soon, now that we are no longer young kids.

    • avatar El June 2, 2011, 5:45 pm

      I agree to a certain extent. My fiancee and I have been through difficult times, and throughout the past 5 years, we’ve both had to suck it up and support the other through times of unemployment/school/illness/etc. We do it because we love each other, and it’s worth it for us to make sacrifices to better the other.

      I think the problem here is that LW isn’t willing to make those kind of sacrifices quite yet, and that’s OK. They’ve only been together 9-months. Although she mentioned she “loved him”, she’s probably not IN LOVE with him. Domestic partnerships/marriages require a lot of hard work and sacrifice…I can’t knock LW for being cautious. Not everyone is ready to jump into that kind of situation so soon.

      • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 2, 2011, 5:52 pm

        It’s also probably a lot easier to endure financial struggles when its your partner who is making more money… And when traditional societal roles dictate that it is “normal” for the man to make more money… The flip-side is true here. Frankly, I am not surprised it’s giving her pause. Especially since she will not only be paying the bulk of the bills, but sacrificing her life in the city… and all for a guy she’s known for 9 months. You know what, if it’s meant to be, waiting a year or so won’t kill this relationship. Rushing in, however, especially when you already have cold feel and financial misgivings probably will.

    • avatar fast eddie June 2, 2011, 7:01 pm

      You hit it on the head Anna, it’s the act of working through problems as a team that molds the nature of any relationship. :-)

    • katie Katie June 2, 2011, 9:24 pm

      so so true. because finantial reasons are such a large reason that people get divorced, i think that going through tough times with someone you share expenses with should almost be required, lol. now, you know how your boyfriend reacts and deals with stress, pressure, and above all, math! lol. i think that the couples that can weather those kinds of storms are the ones that will stay together. after you go through that kind of stuff, all the other stuff will probably be easy, atleast it has been for me!

  • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 2, 2011, 5:34 pm

    Money issue aside, I say wait. I think far too many people RUSH into moving in together. I know, because somehow, some way I am ALWAYS the first person they call when they need to move out… And it’s always in a great whirl of drama and blah blah blah. (This is true of guys and girls, gay and straight.)

    It is interesting how even today, the man is expected to always make more money. To at least pull his own weight and more… I mean, gee, it would be revealing to see what people said if it was a man who wrote in complaining that he had to pay all the bills while his otherwise perfect GF finished school…

    That said, it seems you are both in very different places in your lives. So, why not wait a bit and just, you know, enjoy dating… Moreover, your concerns of leaving the city are well founded. Plus, I can’t tell you how many of my own “perfect” nine month relationships (not to mention those of my friends) have all fallen apart by month twelve… Again, it feels to me like you are really rushing things… Moreover, if you already are worrying about the resentment you think you will be feeling, then it’s a given it will happen. This is a self fulfilling prophecy…and frankly, I don’t blame you for it. It’s only human nature…

    • avatar Riefer June 2, 2011, 5:45 pm

      I think the man will always be expected to make more money as long as the woman is expected to do the bulk of housework and childcare. This is changing, but slowly.

    • caitie_didnt caitie_didn't June 2, 2011, 8:51 pm

      I actually agree with you for once! :P I really feel like far too many people rush into living with someone just because it seems like the “next step”. Right now, I’ve decided that I won’t live with someone until I’m engaged to them, because I think that’s the best decision for me. I know of far too many people who’ve stayed in a bad relationship for longer than they would have because they were living with the person. Not to mention the number of people who didn’t bring up finances ahead of time and it turned into a HUGE argument. Also, you have the rest of your life to live with your SO- why rush into that when you can live in your own place and not have to make any compromises about how you like stuff?

      The “different places in their lives” thing? TOTALLY. I’ve recently seen 3 really serious (like talking about engagement) relationships fall apart in the last 5 months because they couldn’t transition from school to the real world. It’s a big change. I’d also be apprehensive if I was the LW.

  • avatar SGMcG June 2, 2011, 6:04 pm

    You say that he’s already living with you 3-4 nights a week, but is he able to make decorating decisions? Can he be in your residence without you being there? Having long sleepovers is totally different from becoming roommates. I know it’s tempting to rush into moving in together when things are going so well, but the dynamic of the relationship changes when you move in together, and personally I don’t think dating for 9 months is long enough to consider even talking about taking that next step. Maybe you should consider giving him a key to your place in the meantime, if your landlord allows it.

    • avatar Laurel June 2, 2011, 8:58 pm

      I think that’s a really good suggestion.

  • avatar fast eddie June 2, 2011, 6:53 pm

    When my wife and I first got together I was dead broke, deep in debt and unemployed. Even after I got a job it was all I could do to cover my bills. Despite those financial woes we were living together within a week of our first hook up. My finances didn’t improve for a five years and I filled for bankruptcy. She covered everything for months at a stretch and when I had any extra money it went for our mutual benefit. Fast forward for a nearly a decade, I completed a school and we invested. Now in our 3rd decade we’re very comfortably retired with plenty of money in stock and real estate.

    It sounds like this guy is investing his heart and brain into bettering his circumstances and committed to the relationship. People like that don’t come along every day. Caution is always a good idea but the rose need some manure to grow and bloom. Worse case is that your hopes and dreams may need time to be realized so keep your finances separate as we did until I was able to put in my full share and could reasonably expect to continue doing so.

  • bittergaymark bittergaymark June 2, 2011, 7:03 pm

    For every success story like yours, there is another one that does NOT go well. Hey, I myself am totally off the market at present as things are a mess financially for Bitter Gay Mark right now. Heck, there is no way in hell I would date a loser like me at present. Though it sure would be sweet to have somebody else pay all the bills.

    Sadly, I am so NOT a user.

    Not saying the LW’s boyfriend is…but I have certainly seen more than my share of men who have chosen to live with their partners because it’s financially convenient. And a good number of these people have later headed for the hills once their own money prospects improved. Not saying that this is definitely the case with the guy in question here, but I don’t think nine months is truly enough time to know that answer for sure. Look, in every example from my friend’s misfortunes they were all 100 % that the guy was in love with them…

    And they weren’t. They just were in love with the idea of having a nice house or apartment and for next to nothing… Take it slow. Fools rush in. That’s all I am saying…

  • caitie_didnt caitie_didn't June 2, 2011, 8:46 pm

    I think that if we wait until everything in our lives is perfect before starting a relationship, or getting engaged, or moving in together or whatever- we’d all be single forever. There’s something to be said for working together to build your life as a family and the foundation it provides your relationship. BUT, you have to be 100% committed to that relationship lasting for the rest of your life. It doesn’t seem like the LW is there yet, and frankly, that’s not surprising since it’s only been 9 months. Relationships can fall apart in a matter of days, especially around the one year mark. I think the LW is being incredibly level-headed and smart about this. Financial inequality is a *big* deal, not to mention that they’re at very different stages in their lives (and I’ve recently seen 3 incredibly serious relationships in my group of friends fail to make the transition from school to real life). If everything is great now, why rock the boat? If the relationship is going to last, an extra few months living apart isn’t that big of a deal. Don’t rush into living with your boyfriend LW- wait until it feels right.

  • katie Katie June 2, 2011, 9:15 pm

    I would like to add my take on this, because i have moved in with a boyfriend and mixed expenses like LW is considering, and we approached it in this way: our money. all the money I make, and all the money he makes is all lumped into one thing. his student loans? we are paying for them. our groceries? we pay for them. my car? we pay for it. adopting this attitude made it easier for me to see our lives as whats ours, not drawing lines and saying what is mine and what is his. now, we also want to get married someday, this isn’t just a boyfriend I randomly moved in with. this being said, the way we divided our expenses was that I paid for my car payment and the rent, and he did everything else. obviously, rent is a huge chunk of monthly expenses, so that and my car equalled about all the other little things and his student loans. for a little while I hated that i was paying the “big chunk” of our expenses. I always resented him because he would have money, and i had just almost emptied mine paying rent. he literally had to sit me down with a calculator and explain how we were paying the same amount each month, his portion was just broken up so much and mine wasn’t. it was almost like little kids who think that 5 one dollar bills are worth more then 1 five dollar bill because there are more bills. i resented our situation for no reason at all! money is a big deal.

    so, from my experiences, i would say that you will defintely resent him for not being able to contribute. i resented our financial situation just because of how it was broken up.. and if you are so hung up on what you are going to contribute, versus what he will contribute, like if you are going to so clearly draw those lines, that is just not a good way to start living with a boyfriend. and it will definitely not work, becuase he has a part time job that pays minimum wage! if you see this senario perfectly in your mind as you paying exactly half, and him paying exactly half, then you should not do it, because you know for a fact this is not what is going to happen.

  • avatar Britannia June 2, 2011, 9:16 pm

    I wanted to address a few more things that I think LW should consider.

    Right now, he stays over 3-4 nights a week, but I don’t imagine that you expect him to help you keep the place clean on a weekly basis. Before moving in together, it would be in your best interest to find out what his cleaning habits and beliefs are. Does he think the house should be deep-cleaned weekly or once a month, or less often than that? Does he clean up right after making a mess, or does he let it sit for a while? Do his parents do the cleaning in the house he’s currently living, or does he actually do the work to maintain the house?

    Have a talk with him in order to make it clear that you expect him to do his fair share, and then explicitly discuss what a “fair share” is. If you don’t — believe me, there will be arguments! Many guys who have only lived with their parents before don’t understand that just cleaning up after a mess makes a clean house — maintenance and routine deep-cleaning is required to keep the house nice. If he doesn’t agree with you or is unable to find middle ground with you, that’s a good sign that moving in together would not work out.

    It’s very sweet that he helps with the groceries when you guys make dinner together (which I, too, love doing with my boyfriend), but he may not be used to having to cook dinner EVERY night and paying for groceries on a weekly basis. Does he contribute to the grocery bill at his parents’ house or do his parents always fill the refrigerator? Do his parents usually cook for him when he’s not at your place? If they do cook, does he always help in the meal preparation or is he used to having his meals prepared for him and then his plate cleaned up for him?

    You should also discuss with him about the fact that even though you’re living together and are used to your dinner-making experiences being a relaxed, joint venture, it will not always be like that once you move in. Since you’re both extremely busy, it may fall on one person or the other to make the meal, or you guys may end up not even eating dinner together some nights, essentially having to just take care of yourselves. Does he understand that he’s going to have to take care of himself and pay for his meals, and clean up after cooking?

    Some other things you’ll have to talk about is laundry duties — who does what, how often, etc — and utility usage. Does he shower for hours, or always leave his computer on or the A/C running? You should discuss the ways you expect him to conserve utilities so that you aren’t paying out the ear while he over-uses them. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses — are you great at small homes repairs but don’t know how to change your car’s oil? What talents or skills does he bring to the table in regard to sharing a life together? Do you two, together, cover all the bases for each other?

    It should be understood that being in a committed relationship where you live together will require a lot of give-and-take, with your partner taking care of stuff you can’t take care of, and the same vice versa… and sometimes the scales will be unbalanced as one of you has more on their plate with work, school, or stress. You both have to be ready to be selfless, not hold things against each other, and also always willing to find a middle ground with each other. Being stubborn or prideful makes for a very unpleasant living situation.

    Good luck!

  • avatar AKchic June 3, 2011, 12:04 am

    Honey… I wouldn’t worry about the money right now. I make more money than my current SO, my 2nd husband and I made about the same, and my 1st husband never worked (so of course I made more than him).

    I met my current SO right after he got out of the Coast Guard and was just starting work at WalMart and thinking about going to school to get his IT degree. When his PTSD flared and he left WalMart, I supported him (I owned my own business at the time). We’ve been together 4 years (in a few weeks) and not once has he made more than me. He just graduated earlier this year and he hasn’t been able to find a job in the IT field and went back to AV/TV stuff for about 30% less an hour than I make, and part time at that (to get a foot in the door).
    When he isn’t working, he is watching the kids (we have one together and I have three from my marriages). He is home playing superdad, getting to watch our son (just turned 2) grow (stuff I missed with my first three). He helps the older ones with their homework, cleans, learned how to do laundry (except mine, he still can’t do delicates), is learning to cook (it’s been slow going), etc.

    You guys have been together for 9 months. I wouldn’t move in with someone in that short amount of time. Especially if you are hung up on financials. He will make more money once he graduates and gets into his career of choice, but for now, he’s stuck with where he’s at. I’d wait another 9 months just to see where this relationship is going. How would you feel if you shelled out a bunch of money on a bigger apartment only to break up 3 months in?

  • avatar anna728 June 3, 2011, 1:19 am

    Nine months is a bit early to be planning to move in together. I agree that waiting is a good idea. You don’t have to feel bad to be worried about the financial side of living together- money is a big part of our lives, whether we like it or not. When he is done with his master’s and gets a job lined up, that might be a better time to consider it for lots of reasons. Besides of course less imbalance in your incomes, it might be good to know where he has a job before committing to a new apartment. What if the job he gets ends up being in a suburb across town from where you guys live? Just an example there. If you have just enough to get by as is, it might be quite straining to basically support two people, so might as well just wait a bit. A semester or two isn’t even that long anyway.

  • avatar Betsy June 3, 2011, 2:44 am

    Please slow down. As I see it – it’s not that you would be contributing 3x as much as he would towards the household expenses. It’s that you are barely able to support yourself at this point, and he [a healthy adult with a bachelor's degree] is still not supporting himself; no, his parents are still doing that for him.

    And it sounds like he is quite willing to have you step into his parents’ shoes. Did he say “we’ll move in together as soon as I have a job” or did he say “let’s move in together as soon as your lease is up, and as soon as I graduate I’ll find work” – because I suspect it was the latter, and it would be odd if that cheerful passivity did not make you feel uncomfortable.

    How is it that a healthy adult whose income [just after taxes, or also after he pays for his car and cell phone and clothing and various credit cards?] only covers groceries…is talking about moving out of his parents’ home? Would he expect a male roommate to support him like that? Why is he unblinkingly content to have you do it? He sounds incredibly entitled.
    If you already earned enough to *completely* support both of you, and were happy to do so indefinitely – that would be fine . But you say you’re just making ends meet – so it’s obvious you CANNOT support him, TOO.

    Just out of curiosity – what’s he getting his master’s in? Unemployment is high, nationwide; statistically what are the odds of his obtaining full-time employment in his field right after graduation?

    I would suggest that not until either [a] your income significantly increases, or you voluntarily decrease your standard of living, to the point that you *alone* can feed and house two adult humans, and be happy about it – OR – he gets a full-time job, or two part-time jobs, that together pay some multiple of minimum wage – *and* has demonstrated himself capable of FULLY providing for his OWN support – should you begin talking about making a home together.

    Being cold-blooded, as you always should be at some point: I see the upside to him of moving out of his parents’ house in return for buying groceries. I don’t see the upside to you. You have a happy relationship involving sleepovers several nights a week. What’s in it for you, signing the lease on an apartment in a part of town you don’t want to live in? What need would this arrangement fulfill for you?

    An additional concern to me, as an old married woman, is your description of your domestic arrangements. He comes over to your place and, usually, gives you money to pay for groceries, or, sometimes, shops. Who cooks every night? Who washes up? Who takes out the garbage? Who sweeps and mops the floor and wipes down the counters after dinner? Are you playing the wifey role even though he is not playing the husbandy role and you are working full-time and he is not? That doesn’t bode well for the future. If you lease an apartment based on the hope that one day he’ll get a job, and he doesn’t find work, does he strike you as the kind of guy who would keep the place spotless and have dinner on the table when you come home after a long commute…or the kind of guy who’ll drink beer and watch TV all day and resentfully expect you to cook, because he’s so stressed?

  • avatar A June 3, 2011, 7:18 am

    I am sorry to say that sitting here and reading this from a mans point of view is a little disappointing. The LW found a guy she loves, who is working towards a goal (an MA is a legitimate form of self development that will bring him to a salary, he isnt a lazy guy sitting on the couch scrounging from her) and who brings much emotionally to the relationship but she is unwilling to move forward because at the moment he doesnt earn enough money??? If you love him, support him through this time as you would want him to support you. Its 2011, not 1950. Imagine a situation where he makes money and down the line the LW loses her job, would he then be justified in ending it? If i was dating someone who had these problems it would raise serious concerns with me. Relationships are a two way street.

    • Dear Wendy Wendy June 3, 2011, 7:52 am

      They’ve only been together nine months. It’s a little early for either of them to be financially supporting the other, regardless of which gender is doing the supporting.

      • avatar A June 6, 2011, 1:58 pm

        I would agree if they were living independently but they are discussing living together, so regardless of how many months they have been together they are serious enough to consider the next step which makes them serious enough in my book to consider sharing finances. ( I am not suggesting she pay his portion now, only if and when they do move in together.)

    • avatar jena June 3, 2011, 11:16 am

      You’re right, it is 2011, not 1950. Partners should be independent, not one-person-pays-for-everything.

    • katie Katie June 3, 2011, 9:19 pm

      i totally agree with you, if the LW and this guy were in a long term, very commited relationship.. their not, though. i still agree with your thought process though.

      i do want to tell you, that my boyfriend has told me many times that without me living with him and helping him with expenses, he would be forced to move back with his parents. so there are girls out there willing to help support the guys we love.

  • avatar Ash June 3, 2011, 9:57 am

    Holy cow LW! If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were living my life! My boyfriend and I have been dating for about 7 months and he is actually staying with me at the moment. He just finished college and is now on the job-hunt. He has a very prospective career lined up and is working hard to get there but right now I am mostly supporting the two of us. I have been working since H/S and have built my own life since then. (although I live in a small-town instead of the city) Sometimes I too, worry that financials could come between us but then I just remind myself that even if money *does* mean something in life it isn’t a deciding factor. It sounds like your guy is working hard to improve his situation and isn’t that what really matters? It may take a little while but he is trying to contribute the best he can. My guy also does grocery shopping, tidying up the apartment, cooking and cleaning AND EVEN taking care of my cat, Fathead! It would be far worse if our guys were just bumming around.
    As to the moving-in together I say go for it! We too, will be moving-in together once he finds a job (this will decide where we move to). We’re both looking forward to it since we already know we can spend that much time together and not go bonkers.
    I wish you two the best of luck! I’m sure you and I may be going through very similar scenarios in the future so it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  • avatar jena June 3, 2011, 11:09 am

    Oh pleeease, please wait to move in with him. I have been where you’re at before, paying way more than my (now ex-)boyfriend for rent and everything else. One of you (likely you) will tire of the disproportionate spending and become resentful. Or he may feel as if you’re a mom to him. Overall, it is not a healthy or fun dynamic. Wait it out. If he can’t currently support himself, you guys would be more like roommates than a co-habitating couple, and that gets old FAST.

  • avatar Leyahn June 3, 2011, 11:27 am

    Why not just wait until he finishes his MA and his finances have improved.
    Why borrow trouble? If you think you are going to resent paying more than he for your combined living expenses, then you will resent it. He will know that you resent it – you will have created an untenable situation that could be avoided by just being a little more patient.

  • avatar Turtledove June 3, 2011, 2:43 pm

    Moving in with someone and all the financial and practical decisions that come with it are messy and really change the relationship dynamic. One important thing to consider that I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that couples frequently use the financial dynamic between them as a stand-in for the power dynamic. If you have even an inkling that that might come into play, then wait until things are more equal between you financially.

    There are other solutions to even things out– the LW could sign a six month lease and see where they are when that lease is up, the boyfriend could get a higher-paying part time job or he could take on a larger share of the household chores, or they could take a smaller apartment etc. When my husband and I moved in together before we got married, he was still in graduate school and I had just finished. I supported him for three years, but we had made other deals that made things feel equal. In our case, we had agreed that I would support him through finishing school and when he got a job, he would support me while I started my own business which is what we’re doing now. But I think, in order for the LW to not feel resentful, then there needs to be some sort of equalizing factor. In many relationships where one spouse earns more than the other, the person earning less takes up more of the household work so just because a relationship is financially uneven doesn’t mean it has to feel one-sided. The LW should really discuss with her boyfriend how they’re going to make the living situation feel equal between them, and if they don’t come up with a satisfactory answer then they need to wait. They boyfriend probably has many of the same concerns about feeling dependent on her and how that will impact his ability to make decisions in the household. If they really can’t discuss it as a business arrangement then they aren’t ready to move in together.

Leave a Comment


− 4 = one