I’d like to point out that this was my idea even though I was making significantly more than him at the time (since he was making precisely nothing). Just before we moved in together, circumstances changed drastically. He got an amazing new job making $3000/month. I’m still at the job I had before, making between $1000 and $1300, depending on the hours I get. Based on his new salary, I agreed that we should rent an apartment he liked that I knew was completely out of my price range if we’d be splitting the rent 50/50. I didn’t think it would be a problem based on our conversation before. But now he’s saying that he didn’t mean for that conversation to be set in stone, and he doesn’t think it’s fair for him to pay more just because he makes more.
If I have to pay 50% of rent and utilities, plus other expenses… There’s literally no way I can do that and get by. I’ve finally gotten him to agree to CONSIDER splitting everything based on income, but now he wants to put a deadline on me finding a new job. I’m upset about this for a lot of reasons. In the first place, I’m upset that he’d want me to pay 50% of everything even knowing that that would leave me completely broke at the end of the month. Who would want to do that to someone he loved?! And I’m also upset that he wants to put conditions on me in terms of finding a new job. I know the economy has gotten better, and the fact that I’ve been getting interviews is very promising, but in the end I have very little control over when I get a new job. All I can do is apply, network, and try my hardest; I can’t force anyone to hire me, or predict when that will happen.
I’ve offered to put in $600/month OR 50% of whatever I make — whichever is more — and he’s reacting as though I’m trying to rob him blind. I’m so hurt. If our circumstances were reversed, I’d insist he pay less, and probably cover a good portion of any entertainment we wanted to do or whatever, too. And again, this whole plan was my idea when I thought that I’d be the one paying more.
What are your thoughts on this? What would be fair? At this point I’m beginning to reconsider the entire relationship. I love him, and I know he loves me, but I don’t know if I can get past the hurt of all of this. — Half Broke Idea
It’s unclear from your letter whether you and your boyfriend currently live together and are looking to upgrade now that your boyfriend makes more money, or if you still haven’t moved in together. If it’s the former, I have to wonder why you’d consider upgrading to an apartment you can’t afford. And if it’s the latter, I have to wonder why you’d consider moving into an apartment you can’t afford with a man who doesn’t seem to value and respect you in the same way you value and respect him. The fact that your boyfriend is only OK with the idea of each of you contributing similar percentages of your income when it’s YOU who would pay more speaks volumes. It means he’s selfish and is more invested in his own needs and comfort than yours. I would think very, very carefully about continuing a relationship with someone like this, let alone moving in with him.
My suggestion is that if you already live together, stay where you are. With you making less than 20K a year, you shouldn’t be moving into a home you can’t afford with a guy you’ve only been dating a year who hasn’t proven himself to be fully committed to you and your well-being. You need to protect yourself and the best way to do that is to keep your living expenses within your means. If you were to move into an apartment with your boyfriend that you can’t afford with the agreement that he will pay more for it — an agreement, let’s remember, that hasn’t even been reached yet — what would happen if/when he decided he didn’t want to pay more any longer? Then what? What recourse do you have then? What happens if you two break up, and he asks you to move out but you can’t afford the deposit at a new place because you’ve been spending every cent you earn to stay in an apartment that suited your boyfriend? It makes no sense.
If you don’t yet live with your boyfriend, don’t make that move yet. Take time to continue exploring your relationship. Enjoy your independence and your own space. Continue focusing on finding a better job (at your own pace and without a deadline from someone else). Don’t move in with your boyfriend until you can agree on how you’ll split rent and household expenses. There’s no “right” answer here; I personally feel that the percentage-of-income contribution is completely fair, but it only matters what you and your partner agree on. If you can’t reach an agreement, then you shouldn’t move in together. And if you can reach an agreement, wait until you have three months’ rent saved (your portion and his) to move in together (and then make sure you keep that money in the bank for a rainy day!). The last thing you want as a woman is to be financially dependent on a man who has no legal responsibility to you, especially when a breach of trust could spell homelessness if you can’t afford the rent on your own.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.