Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Don’t Feel Safe with My Boyfriend”

safety

I have been with my boyfriend for a year and a half now. I would like to outline the pros and cons of the relationship.

The cons:

1. I don’t feel SAFE with him for the mere fact that he has not been able to land a permanent full time JOB.

2. He does court-related freelance work that is not steady; it’s on an as-needed basis. There is no consistency or STABILITY.

3. The fact that he’s obsessed with passing the bar exam (he’s failed it ten times!) is another thing that keeps him from moving forward. How? He spends about six months out of the year studying for it (it’s administered twice a year and he studies for each one for about three months). Then there’s the cost of the exam every time, and, remember, he is someone who doesn’t work steadily. At what point do you give up and find a job to grow in?!

The pros:

1. He is a VERY nice guy. He has a good heart. He is a good soul. He is loyal. He is very nurturing.

2. He tries his best to make and keep me happy given his situation; he does things I like to do and we go where I like to go. This could range from going to a certain restaurant to his going shopping with me or planning little get-aways. We’ve been to San Francisco, San Luis Obisbpo, Las Vegas, San Diego and Santa Barbara together, in the year and a half we’ve been together.

He’s turning 45 next month and plans to continue to live with his father until we get married. He proposed in October, so, technically, we’re engaged (but I don’t feel that we are). I am turning 40 in May, have a stable job in a steady industry, and live on my own. Given my age and a few minor health problems, I don’t want to have children. I do, however, wish to get married or at the very least have a life-long companion, but I want to “feel safe” doing so. Are my reasons for not feeling safe with marrying this guy legitimate?

I’m conflicted because he’s very good to me and nurturing, aspects of the relationship I enjoy.

Where he falls short is having stability. What should I do? — Not Feeling Safe

When you started your list of cons with “I don’t feel safe with him,” I thought for sure you were going to finish that sentence with a mention of physical abuse, like in this recent letter. But, no. You “don’t feel safe” because your boyfriend doesn’t have a full-time, steady job. Even though you’re almost 40 years old, have a decent job, live alone, don’t want children, and have presumably been supporting yourself for years, your boyfriend makes you feel “unsafe” because he can’t promise financial stability.

Instead of financial stability, which you seem to be in control of yourself, your boyfriend has proven kindness, compassion, compatibility, loyalty, and prioritizing your wants. And yet, you look down on him because, instead of giving up on passing the bar exam, he keeps trying. You look down on him because he’s 45 and lives with his father. You look down on him because he doesn’t have steady work.

Look, I get feeling frustrated if you don’t share common life goals with the person you love. I would understand feeling turned off by complacency or a lack of ambition — neither of which you boyfriend seems to exhibit, by the way, especially if he continues taking that bar exam — and having second thoughts about marriage. But those don’t seem to be your concerns; you say you don’t “feel safe” because your boyfriend doesn’t have a full-time job, which is one of the dumbest things I’ve heard. “Unsafe” is when you have a partner who beats you. Unsafe is when you live in a crime-ridden neighborhood and can’t walk to your car without the risk of being mugged. Unsafe is when your governor doesn’t care that your drinking water is filled with lead. Unsafe is when your country is at war and your house was blown up with your kids inside and you have to risk drowning to get to a neighboring country that MIGHT let you sleep in a tent in the freezing cold for a few months. Having a boyfriend who only does freelance work isn’t unsafe; it’s inconvenient at best.

You need to think about your priorities in a relationship. If it’s to be cared for and loved and treated well and to feel confident in your partner’s commitment to you — and taking a bar exam 10+ times certainly shows a level of commitment, if not to you specifically, then at least in general — it sounds like your boyfriend fits the bill. If a bigger priority is knowing someone will financially take care of you so that you can quit your job, maybe this guy isn’t the one. If you are worried that YOU are going to be financially responsible for him, that’s a valid concern and one you should address with him (along with these other topics every couple should discuss before getting married). But don’t say you “don’t feel safe” when your boyfriend has done absolutely nothing to jeopardize your safety! I mean, failing the bar exam is hardly an act of domestic abuse*.

* If someone reading this is the victim of domestic abuse and truly does feel unsafe with her partner, here are 17 tips for surviving and escaping domestic violence.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

133 comments… add one
  • avatar

    LisforLeslie January 21, 2016, 9:22 am

    If I had to guess, it doesn’t sound like immediate physical safety is the concern, but rather the long term/emergency financial safety. One’s background, upbringing and priorities shape how much priority one places on feeling financially stable and that isn’t something to dismiss outright. A recent news item said that many families in America couldn’t manage a $500 emergency – which is shocking but a reality.

    As someone who is technically middle aged I get it – my stomach has been in knots with the ups and downs of the market because that’s my retirement fund, the retirement fund I’m trying to double in the next 15-20 years. If one is concerned about financial security, committing to someone who’s will have limited social security benefits depending on how much has been paid in, limited earning potential due to potentially out of reach employment goals is scary.

    But… people do it all the time. They figure out how to make it work.

    So if you’re committing to this person, it’s time to put your fears on the table. If you do get married, you run the risk that your resentment will build as he continues to fail the bar and not working while you’re shouldering all of the financial burden. Maybe bring in a third party like a financial adviser to help find a middle ground where he gets to continue working on his goals but with more stable job/earning but also clarify what each of you needs to put away to make sure you have the resources you need in case of emergencies or when you retire.

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 12:12 pm

      I don’t make that much money to be able to handle another person, financially. A household of 1 (my current situation) costs much less than a household of 2 (which I wouldn’t be able to handle financially). Money is important, but unfortunately, some don’t see it that way. Taking the bar 10 times is an example of it not being your calling. I have wondered why he hasn’t looked into jobs a Juris Doctorate can get without having passed the bar. There are options. Why not pursue the options? Had he done so, years ago, perhaps he would be in a financially stable and secure place by now. I have learned 3 things to be important to a man – who he is, what he does, and how much he makes. I can assure you he feels “inadequate” yet is very hopeful. What can I go based on? He has to have demonstrated something by now. Or, it is just a dry spell he’s going through, and can’t land a job. I’m between a rock and a hard place. Only one truly walking in my shoes would know how conflicted I feel.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy January 21, 2016, 12:37 pm

        An eagle-eyed reader pointed out that you, LW, wrote in asking the same question just 3 1/2 months ago ( . Why are you wasting all of our time asking the same question? You clearly aren’t into this guy. You clearly think he’s a loser. MOA.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph January 21, 2016, 12:43 pm

        My guess is that she thought if she left out the old fashioned bullshit about the man being the sole provider that she’d get a more sympathetic response.
        But if you can’t support him and he can’t support himself, then what is the question? You already know the answer.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 1:55 pm

        Done

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie January 21, 2016, 12:51 pm

        I’m trying to be sympathetic but your excuses are bullshit. You have romanticized this – “only one truly walking in my shoes” – nope. Your three things: bullshit – there are men out there who are happy with themselves who make nothing They may be stay at home dads, starving artists or whatever. Those are three things that are important to YOU. You need to move on because this is not what you want.

        As for the whole not working until he passes the bar – that’s an excuse. There are tons of people who earn their law degrees while working full time jobs (via work sponsored education benefit) who pass their bar exams and take care of their families, work and other commitments. Not to mention – there are jobs out there where a law degree would be a benefit without having to pass the bar. Companies always need people that can write, read and manage contracts. You’r e not compatible. Face it.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 1:56 pm

        Incompatible,yes, moving on

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      • avatar

        HmC January 21, 2016, 10:57 pm

        “Taking the bar 10 times is an example of it not being your calling.”

        Spoken like someone who knows f*ck all about bar exams or the actual practice of law.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh January 21, 2016, 9:27 am

    I definitely thought this was going to be about abuse. It sounds like you don’t feel financially secure, not safe. A steady job at this moment doesn’t make you safe. How inconsistent is his work if he can afford all of the things you mentioned? Is he going in to debt to do those things? Or can he afford them and you just hear/see ‘freelance’ and decided that isn’t good enough?

    I love a good pros and cons list but I think if you have to think about it this much this is probably not the right relationship for you. If you want someone who has the means to take care of you financially, make that a priority in your dating. Why would you spend a year and a half with someone you didn’t feel comfortable spending your life with? If that was your goal?

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 12:26 pm

      I guess the better word to use is secure instead of “safe”. In retrospect, I think he was dipping into his savings in the courtship process. He initally told me he was an attorney and lived in a condo. 2 weeks later I find out that he is not technically and attorney and did not pass the bar. I was skeptical if he owned the condo. I called the management office, only to find out that these are apts for rent only. So clearly, he lied to me from the get-go and came clean 2 weeks later. By then, I was enjoying his likability and it didn’t phase me much. So, I compromised in the name of him being so sweet, kind, and nurturing. I am not looking for someone to take care of me financially perse. I do, however, want someone who is at the very least at my level, if not higher. I don’t want to marry someone I’m going to resent because he is not man enough in my eyes. By man I mean being the ambitious, go getter type, who can be a good provider.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh January 21, 2016, 12:44 pm

        Honestly, the details don’t matter. You’ve written in twice to Wendy with slightly different details adding and subtracting things in the comments. What do you want to hear? It’s time to move on. Or at least stop asking people the same question every three months when you know the answer will be the same.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 1:57 pm

        Moving on

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      • avatar

        Anon January 21, 2016, 4:48 pm

        I get that him not being a go getter can be frustrating. I work and go to school full time at 31 years old. My ex boyfriend who was 44 had a stable job and lived on his own, but he did not have a ‘career’ … he was content on never moving up and growing. He was content with where he was in life and if nothing ever changed, so be it. That was a turn off for and is 75% of the reason we are not together anymore. I want to grow and I am ambitious, he wasn’t. And I didn’t like it. So I ended it.
        .
        It seems his lack ambition as you call it doesn’t do it for you. It seems like you thought he was going to change at some point and didn’t. Either accept him or let him go.

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  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine January 21, 2016, 9:36 am

    LW, you don’t feel engaged because he doesn’t work full time? Really? Why did you accept his proposal? In the year and a half you’ve been together he has bent over backwards to do things and go places you enjoy. His character, from your description, is wonderful. If your fear is that you’re going to be the one with a steady income/benefits that seems legitimate-at this point that’s the situation. However, as we all know, circumstances can change on a dime-particularly in this economy. If you’re not pleased with your FIANCÉ’S (see I can capitalize randomly important words too!) prospects then you MOA. Before you do though I would think long and hard about what you really want from a partner. Financial security is important and I don’t blame you for being concerned about it but this is the man you’re choosing to spend time with, the man you agreed to marry…if it’s truly a deal breaker he deserves to know.

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 12:19 pm

      I got engaged to him thinking that he had sufficient savings to where he can afford to work the freelance style that he is working. I came to find out that this is not the case. My fault for assuming, of course. I expected a 44 year old “man” to know a few things about life and sharing a life with someone, before proposing. I always thought, when a man has enough resources is when he feels safe to propose. I guess a manly man proposes to a girl if and only when he feels secure that he can take care of her and be as much as a provider that she is at the very least. I never imagined that he will propose and hope for the best.

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      • avatar

        Sojianna January 21, 2016, 12:59 pm

        Dear lord, MOA. From what you say he’s a nice man, and he doesn’t deserve your bass-akwards bullshit about what a “man” is getting in the way of his happiness. Why don’t you grow up, be a woman, and to find a relationship where you’re happy instead of dragging this nice guy along as you look down on him for the rest of your life.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 1:41 pm

        I’m not dragging him… I have had conversations about this with him. I just wanted to make sure I’m doing the right thing. Clearly, I should move on,,,

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      • avatar

        Anon for this January 21, 2016, 1:33 pm

        Ugh. I think a large part of why my own SO hasn’t proposed is that he’s internalized a lot of that same crap, and since I earn more than he does, I think he thinks he doesn’t have a right to ask, and it’s sort of an ongoing low-grade heartache for me. Can this baggage all just go away, and people propose when they know they want to share their life with someone?

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      • avatar

        tully January 21, 2016, 3:31 pm

        If you’re calling your fiance a ”man” in quotation marks, you should not marry him. End of story.

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      • othy

        othy January 21, 2016, 4:50 pm

        Can we add this to the list of basic rules on DW?

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 January 21, 2016, 9:46 am

    I’m not sure I understand where the feeling of being unsafe comes from. Is he in a great deal of debt that you are worried you would be on the hook for if you get married. It seems like the only thing you are worried about him spend his money on is the bar exam, but you aren’t worried about the expense of 5 trips he has gone on in the year and a half you have been together, it seems you are only upset with his spending when it is on himself. You haven’t listed anything else that shows he is spending all his money or that you are footing the bill for everything. Seems like you are just looking for a standard of living that you want, and you don’t want to be the one to pay for it all, which is fine if that is a deal breaker for you, but it seems to me that all of the other qualities you listed for this guy would far out way that.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 January 21, 2016, 9:50 am

      I would like to know if you started dating him because he was going to be come a lawyer and that is the financial security you were looking for? Now that it hasn’t panned out like you had hoped you are “scared”. You just have to remember that if you are looking for a certain type of financial security, it might come with a lot more cons.

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      • Raccoon eyes

        Raccoon eyes January 21, 2016, 10:32 am

        I get what you are saying, but if they have been together for 18 months and he is taking the Bar every available cycle of July/Feb for a total of 10 times, then that is 5 years- presumably he started just after graduating. So she should have known pretty early on that he was still living with his dad, trying to pass the Bar, and working his inconsistent job.
        *
        That being said, she IS right that the Bar costs a good chunk of change. The two I took in 2009 cost about $2k. California is also known to be a very difficult test, and also CA has quite a few non-ABA certified (or something, I forget the correct terminology) schools, so CA is pretty much the only place you can take the Bar if you graduated form one of those schools. (I presume this is still true, it was in 2009.) The sheer amount of time this guy must dedicate to studying SHOULD be the equivalent of having a full time job- I know I sure did for 3 months (and actually more). So his dedication is to be admired- but as I said below, I think that LW’s real core issue is that she thinks he needs to give this dream up. Which is legitimate… the way she phrases this a s a “safety issue” – not so much.

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      • avatar

        LW January 21, 2016, 12:36 pm

        You hit the nail on the head! There comes a point where he should say, ok, this bar thing is not working for me so let me refocus my energy on something that would work for me. He can work for corporate american, work in HR, in marketing…or what have you, Just do something!!!! At what point do you give up and say, ok, this is not my calling? And it is draining me of my resources. I thought money was extremely important to a man as far as how he feels about himself and in general in life. Am I wrong?

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      • Stonegypsy

        Stonegypsy January 21, 2016, 1:17 pm

        Well I think one problem is that you’re generalizing the gender here. Different people have different values and priorities. Yes, money and financial stability is important to some men, and it’s not important to other men.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 2:00 pm

        Then I’m not like-minded with “him”. Moving on.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph January 21, 2016, 2:08 pm

        Agree with stonegypsy that this gender essentialist crap is part of your problem. You aren’t dating “men” you are dating a particular man with particular wants/needs/desires. You are presumably a woman, and you find money important. He is a man who doesn’t. All there are are people and their desires, not divided by *men* and *women* just people.
        Aside from that, you can feel how you feel and I think it’s reasonable to think that it’s time to give up the bar… but you can’t make your fiance feel the same way. You can’t force him to give it up and you clearly don’t want to be with him how he is right now.

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      • avatar

        LW January 21, 2016, 12:31 pm

        You got it! It didn’t pan out the way I expected. I get what you are saying about what seems to be alpha males, and although they make good providers, and are very manly men they LACK the nurturing a woman also needs. It’s a double edged sword and I’m not sure what to do.

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      • avatar

        Anon for this January 21, 2016, 1:35 pm

        Men are not actually divided into alpha rich assholes and nurturing poor betas. Quit reading MRA stuff and look around you–people are so much more varied than you think.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 1:50 pm

        My husband’s a very nurturing man. He’s also manly and makes a good salary. Where on earth are you getting these definitions of what kinds of men exist?

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 January 21, 2016, 2:01 pm

        I wasn’t saying anything about alpha males, I was suggesting that somebody like a lawyer or a doctor may not have as much time to put into a relationship because of their commitment to work, doesn’t matter if you are male or female. I don’t know what you are with this guy, you talk about him like he is a piece of trash loser because he doesn’t fit your definition of what successful is. I wonder how his $60K in savings compares to your savings…

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 12:29 pm

      He is 235,000 in debt. He has 60,000 in savings. He probably makes 2,000 a month at most from his freelance translation jobs, all of which he spends, on bills owed. What does that leave? Is this an illegitimate concern??

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 12:39 pm

        Is this the LW? Yes, that’s a totally legitimate concern. Especially since his debt is so high and you could end up being responsible for it. You need to talk to him about this. Even if he’s the perfect guy for you in every other regard, this is a huge financial risk to take on, especially since he doesn’t even seem to have a plan for fixing it. Are you going to be expected to fix it? He doesn’t sound very responsible with money. That alone can make or break a relationship.

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      • avatar

        LW January 21, 2016, 12:42 pm

        Yes, it would be a LIABILITY. I wan’t to rest my head in peace each night when going to sleep, not worry about how we are going to make the bills. This is 200k sallie mae debt and the rest is consumer debt. I’m not hear to fix anyone. I did not know these until I figured I should ask just few weeks ago. I’m glad I did.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo January 21, 2016, 9:49 am

    What is it you want? A man for whom everything is already sewn up and decided? The biggest fear I have being in my very extremely late 40s is that all the important decisions have already been made and all the big events have already happened. I worry that the rest of it is just a long, slow slide to oblivion with fewer and fewer opportunities for adventure, chance, and surprise. I don’t want to just tick down the days until i piss my last in some nursing home. My wife, who is in her early 50s, is currently considering leaving a lucrative job with a good pension because it just isn’t the life we want to live anymore, and I’m encouraging her to find a new adventure. Money and security just keep you tied longer to that slow slide. And lots of people who have a pile of dough don’t have kindness, loyalty and compatibility. If you roll the dice and lose, your sense of yourself is “I made my own choices – I am who I am.” If you compromise, do the safe thing and succeed, you forever feel like you sold yourself down the river. Money is a poor substitute for a positive self-image. I’m shaking my head here.

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie January 21, 2016, 10:10 am

      Money is a poor substitute for a positive self image but it will determine whether your last piss is in a state run nursing home or a posh private facility.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo January 21, 2016, 10:35 am

        It won’t be any consolation to be dying in a posh facility, because you are dying. I worked in nursing homes as a fundraiser. Nice curtains mean very little at that point, and the rest is the same. money doesn’t mean anything anymore at that point. You can’t do anything with it, and it can’t do anything for you. You are not there until you have absolutely no choice, period. The nicest possible death is still death. If you are trading your life now against that moment, you want to think twice. I will live and die on this principle, very literally.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie January 21, 2016, 10:51 am

        I’m not disagreeing but having seen the care provided at state vs private facilities you know there is a difference in the standard of care. That said – i’m not planning on lingering. We all make choices.

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      • avatar

        LW January 21, 2016, 12:46 pm

        It’s about living a decent life in peace versus living in fear of being able to pay the bills. Not a self image issue.

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      • avatar

        Sketchee January 21, 2016, 8:27 pm

        From reading a variety of your responses, it sounds like its’s both. Real men are whatever they want to be. That part isn’t your decision. This man can do whatever he wants. He can dream about the bar for the rest of his life and live with his dad forever and be a real man. That may mean he is not the man for you and that’s okay! =)

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 12:39 pm

      I get that… but what if God forbid one of us gets seriously ill; who is going to be able to take care of this situation if I don’t make a lot of money and he does not either. This is just one scenario. There’s more to financially security that people seem to be understanding here.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse January 21, 2016, 3:43 pm

        Why is it his sole responsibility to make the money and not also yours?

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      • Diablo

        Diablo January 21, 2016, 3:51 pm

        I understand perfectly – I just don’t live my life by the same standards as you. That is perfectly OK. Lots of people make that “safe” choice, whereas i am facing my 50s with no substantial savings or retirement plan. I also don’t regret any of my choices and would not trade places with someone who has money, because i am who I am. I also am not making these choices at this age – I made them when I was in my 20s and we both had nothing. So I’m not judging you, but i am saying that you know who your guy is – he wants to be a lawyer bad enough to take the bar 10 ten times, even though he’s probably still gonna be hooped once he passes. If you can’t accept that, move on, which it looks like you are ready to do.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie January 22, 2016, 10:56 am

        No we get it – but you’re trying to say that financial stability is equivalent to manliness – and everyone is calling you on your BS. It’s ok to say that you don’t want to commit to someone whose ambitions don’t align with yours. It’s ok to say that you worry that by marrying someone with excessive debt you worry about your financial security. It’s not ok to spout ridiculous outdated gender stereotypes as justifications for why you’re not a good match.

        What your saying however is that this man has not changed for you the way you wanted him to. That he should be making more money so that you are taken care of, that he should be providing for you and be the breadwinner because that’s what the manliest of men do. And that is bullshit. You don’t love him enough to accept him as he is, but are trying to push him to be someone you think he could be – and that’s a recipe for disaster. So accept the fact that you don’t love HIM. You don’t value his good qualities above his negative qualities and you need to move on.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes January 21, 2016, 10:13 am

    First of all, WWS. Like Diablo, I am also shaking my head. LW, I think you need to do a bit of soul-searching here- because if you want a reason to break up with a nice and decent man, then just wanting to break up is reason enough and you dont need “more.” Why would you accept a proposal from a man you are so lukewarm about? I presume you dont “feel” engaged because he just proposed without a ring…? Because the way you say it sounds pretty nasty.
    *
    Look, if you had written in saying that you want him to give up the dream of passing the bar and settle down and get consistent employment because you want an equal partner financially too, I would see this totally differently. But you dont say that really, you just say you dont feel engaged (after becoming engaged) and that his inconsistent work (that pays for numerous trips in 18 months and for him to take the Bar 2xs a year) is not good enough for you. So MOA. This is obviously a huge hurdle for you, so stop trying to convince yourself it isnt.
    *
    Cmon, be serious- if he moves in with you after getting married (I presume that is the plan) and fails the Bar for another 2 years and doesnt find what you consider viable employment, what are you going to do then, as your resentment multiplies exponentially? Let this relationship go, if you cannot see yourself continuing on in the same manner. Dont marry the guy.

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 12:55 pm

      At the time of accepting the ring I wan not lukewarm about him. I must say, He didn’t get down on one knee and give me a long beautiful speech. It was at a lunch at the bel air hotel and he was nervous. All he said was that not only am I beautiful, I am a beautiful soul and that’s what he really loves about me. Then he poped the questions. I really want to make this work. And I have told him to stear is focus landing a job instead of wasting it on the bar exam, which he clearly, cannot pass. Hey, I can’t get in the way of his dreams and have him resent me for telling him to quit with the bar. That is a big burden for me to carry in life. Only he can come to the realization of when enough is enough. He’s just digging a deeper financial hole for himself by repeating the damn exam! I’m beginning to think that his hustle isn’t strong, because if it were, he would have landed something by now.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros January 21, 2016, 10:15 am

    Just come out and say that you think he’s a loser, because that’s the vibe I’m getting from your letter. You saying you feel unsafe is really hyperbolic. Him doing freelance work doesn’t impact your safety. Generally, you should provide your own financial stability to yourself. Of course, in a serious relationship (like when you live together, etc.), their finances affect yours, but you need to be in a situation where if you had to be, you could support yourself. If you can’t, that’s on you.

    If you don’t think he’s ambitious enough or whatever, then move on. But he’s probably not going to change anytime soon.

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 1:00 pm

      I wanted to refrain from using the word “loser” … but yeah, he doesn’t have his shit together. He’s 44 and has nothing to show for it. No assetts.

      He has plans, but clearly it’s not panning out (passing the bar exam) and posting his resume online. How unlucky can a guy really be in landing a job? Yikes!

      Of course his finances will affect me once I’m married to him. But I don’t feel secure marrying him and going to tell him to go get his life together and once he does, we will revisit this. Until then a friendship will suffice. If he agrees, that is.

      The thought of marrying someone whom I am already resenting is a no go. I’m helping myself to find the answers I need to either stay and make it work or move on for good.

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      • mandalee

        mandalee January 21, 2016, 1:58 pm

        How unlucky can a really be in landing a job- not that unlucky. While the economy has picked up in some geographical areas and sectors of unemployment, not every field- especially law or related fields are seeing that type of improvement. I know many very qualified, motivated people who are working part-time jobs unrelated to their majors or previous careers, despite interviewing and applying to multiple jobs.

        I think you should just cut your losses completely and not string him along as a friend, waiting for him to get a job you approve of. You are simply a mismatch in this area and you can’t make someone who you want them to be so you can progress in a relationship, you need to make a decision on who they currently are. So, I would move on and stop dragging out this process.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 2:04 pm

        Agreed

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  • avatar

    TheRascal January 21, 2016, 10:47 am

    I’ll be in the minority on the this one, but if something has failed the bar exam 10 times, then in my estimation, he is chasing a fool’s dream, and needs to move on to something else. I can understand needing to take the bar 2 or 3 times, but I don’t see this “commitment” to the test as a positive attribute; I see it as obsessive and delusional.
    *
    Regarding the LW? The LW needs to move on.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros January 21, 2016, 12:27 pm

      I agree. I don’t think failing once and giving up is OK, but 10 times means that you might be better served putting your time and energy into something that is right for you. I have a friend who has applied to med school year after year (even though as time goes on, she becomes less and less desirable to the committees because she’s out of school, not volunteering, etc.), but refuses to look at other career options like being a PA or PT or whatever. At this point, this guy seems to be procrastinating finding a new plan.

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 1:03 pm

      Exactly! It is an obssession. He should read into why he is not passing every single time and go after something else. Shouldn’t we all have a Plan B when it comes to job/career. If Plan A fails, what is my Plan B?,..am I right?

      Leaning towards moving on…

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    • avatar

      saneinca January 21, 2016, 1:21 pm

      I agree with you too. If a guy( or girl) is still waiting to start a career at 45, then they are financially not a good bet.
      If I were him, I would have looked at other employment options after the first 3-4 tries. Not that he needs to give up, just start working and earn a steady income while pursuing the exam in his spare time.
      LW, a person could be good but may not be a suitable partner for you. I am surprised that you continued to date him this long with all these doubts in your mind.

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      • avatar

        LW January 21, 2016, 1:30 pm

        And that’s exactly what I suggested to him. He can’t seem to land a job though 🙁

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  • avatar

    Ron January 21, 2016, 10:47 am

    LW — I don’t get the ‘he proposed, so techinically we’re engaged, but I don’t feel like we’re engaged’. You either accepted his proposal, or you didn’t. If you did, then you’re engaged. You need to be honest with yourself and this guy. Either get with the engagement or admit to him that you made a mistake in accepting and don’t actually want to marry him. I suspect that is the end of your relationship, but you can’t just string him along, by letting him think you want to marry him. That is very nasty behavior.

    As for your bf/fiance/whatever: dreams die hard. His persistence says he REALLY wants to be a lawyer and likely defines his success as a person by his ability to become a lawyer. Perhaps you and he can discuss other career paths, which he can view as being a success. Even if he passes the bar on try #10, it’s hard to see it making much difference career-wise — the law is a tough field to break into these days and I don’t see a ton of demand for a 45-year-old, who has failed the bar 10 times. He may be a guy who suffers test anxiety, in which case the repeated failures are extremely frustrating, destructive of self-esteem, and a continuous building of stress, which reduces the chances of passing on each subsequent try.

    He may know his law cold. If that is the case, perhaps better to devote all his energies to seeking full-time employment as an ‘almost lawyer’. On the other hand, if he is a not-very-qualified graduate of a not-very-reputable law school, likely best to consider other fields.

    That is his career situation. Given your feelings, you likely aren’t a part of his future. I will say that, to me, you come across as overly-calculating, money-driven, and more than a little cold in your letter. If I were your guy, I’d want to know your true feelings and once I knew them, I’d say goodbye and start looking for a more compatible woman.

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    • avatar

      TheRascal January 21, 2016, 10:50 am

      This is a compassionate response, Ron. I agree with you.

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      LW January 21, 2016, 1:11 pm

      You are right! And I have discussed with him other options and encouraged him to go after it. He says he is, but nothing is showing up. He is too obssessed with the bar. He needs to give it up, because, you are absolutely right — even if he DOES pass the 11th try being an entry level 45 year old attorney is not easy to find a job. Who knows. I have told him, but can’t make him do anything. It is ultimately up to him to wake up. He’s in his friggin 40s for G-sake. If I don’t end up with this guy, which it sound like I more likey won’t than will, I hope that I have at least shaken him up a little bit for his own sake, to get his life together.

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      • Raccoon eyes

        Raccoon eyes January 21, 2016, 2:53 pm

        BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT. This is about YOUR life, LW.
        *
        You havent yet convinced him to stop taking the Bar- I think it is safe to say it wont happen. But really, the point is that you two are not compatible. MOA. Stop all this analyzing. You arent happy. He cannot make you happy. Leave the poor guy alone- stop trying to change him because it.isnt.going.to.happen.

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    • avatar

      Ange January 21, 2016, 6:06 pm

      Yeah, I’m not sure where the poor guy saw LWs ‘beautiful soul’ because it’s not coming through here.

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  • avatar

    Baccalieu January 21, 2016, 10:53 am

    Wow! We definitely live in the age of “spin” when somebody tries to spin a letter to an advice columnist in a way that would make Karl Rove blush. Look, you’re concerned about this otherwise great guy’s financial security. As Wendy says, you are worried that you might wind up supporting him for life. That is a perfectly legitimate concern, but not a very romantic one. However, you are afraid that you will look like you are a bad person, or at least shallow, if you dump him for that reason. I get it, but it really isn’t helpful to characterize this as a “safety” concern.
    What should you do? – what you want to do. It sounds like you want to break up with him, so do it. If you want us to say it’s “legitimate” we’ll say that (or at least I will) but that doesn’t mean some people (who would choose differently) aren’t going to judge you. So what? If it’s important to you, own it!

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      LW January 21, 2016, 1:16 pm

      I don’t have the means to support him for the rest of my life. Are there really women who are capable of this, doing this? Role reversal?

      What am I to mother him? A roomate? What…?!

      I never want to feel like the man in a relationship and wear the pants. I would feel cheap and resentful. I have grown up seeing alpha males providing for their wives and it’s been good.

      I think I gave him enough time to get his shit together. I thought that my love would inspire a change in his patterns and he will get it together, to no avail.

      Time to move on I guess..

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy January 21, 2016, 1:26 pm

        Men have been financially supporting their wives (And children!) for generations. Why on earth would you think it’s impossible for a woman to do the same? Just because you think YOU can’t (and don’t want to) doesn’t mean millions of other women aren’t able to support their spouses and families if they want to or have to. It’s 2016, lady — women are doing it all (including earning enough to take care of their loved ones).

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy January 21, 2016, 1:28 pm

        And, God, the sexism in your words! If a man supports his family, he’s just being a man, right? A provider. Like a man should be. But if the woman supports the family, she’s “wearing the pants” or, worse, she’s a “roommate” to her male partner? YUCK. You suck. Sorry, but it’s true. You suck.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 2:18 pm

        Ok, it’s my fault for not wanting to marry a guy who can’t get his shit together. Very attractive to most women, really?

        I think I hit a nerve. All good. We are individuals and have our own set of standards, desires, life goals etc. There is no right or wrong here. One must find someone who is like-minded. I have come to a conclusion, and this was the point of this all. I came for help, guidance, and validation; not to get attacked and insulted.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie January 21, 2016, 3:11 pm

        I think you can have things you want in a partner and that are deal breakers, but you’re painting people with a very broad brush. So, earning more than your partner is ‘being the man’ in a relationship? Did you time travel from 1950?? One person has to earn more than the other. It’s rare for them to be exactly equal at all times. Sometimes that’s the man, and sometimes that’s the woman. Different career choices have different earning potentials. And sometimes these women are doctors. And sometimes these men are teachers. Both are honest jobs. This ‘alpha and beta’ male stuff you’re spewing is such B.S. It is indeed sexist and wrong, and a short path from there to, “Well, you’re just a little woman, feeling emotional and incapable of applying logic like a man to your situation to figure it out.”
        .
        Stop generalizing and start looking at people as individuals. Welcome to 2016.

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        Anon January 21, 2016, 4:56 pm

        Just because your man can’t get his shit together, doesn’t mean that mean who are stay at home dads and the wife is the provider means the same across the board. Your fiancé has an ambition problem. He has his mind set to something and seems too stubborn to move on.

        You seem to be stuck in the 1920s where mean are supposed to be the bread winners. Newsflash, it’s 2016. I can provide for myself, my current boyfriend makes less than me, we are both okay with it. I don’t ever want a man to be able to tell me that I would have ______________ if it weren’t for me. That shit is for the birds.

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      • avatar

        Sue Jones January 21, 2016, 5:33 pm

        Look, it’s fine to not marry someone because they have more debt than you are comfortable with. You can date him forever if he is a sweet guy. If you are not interested in having children then you don’t have to even live with him let alone marry him. Why not just date him for the rest of your life if you really enjoy each other. I get not mixing finances with someone in a not great situation, I really do. But you don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater if the status quo works. But if you want a different sort of mate, then MOA.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 2:12 pm

        Ok, then he’s free to find that type of women. Good for him.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy January 21, 2016, 2:29 pm

        You are so incredibly sexist. You really do give women a bad name. You make me sick, frankly.

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      • avatar

        tully January 21, 2016, 3:42 pm

        Yeah, this is starting to get offensive. I am a woman who happens to make a lot more money than my husband (right now at least – so knows what the future will bring) but 1) he is absolutely no less of a man because of this (whatever that even means) and 2) he is my PARTNER and so I WANT to support him. In the future of roles may be reversed, I have no idea. But we will always take care of each other – that’s what a marriage is.

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      • Diablo

        Diablo January 21, 2016, 3:58 pm

        At different times during our 27 years together, I have supported my wife and she has supported me. I have been out of work and so has she. Our only rule has been 100% effort from both of us. Right now she makes half again what i do, but only for the last three yeas. Before that I made 20% more than her. Maybe my next job will pay more than her. Not really relevant to my “feeling like a man.” When i say, “Hey, baby, make me feel like a man,” I’m not asking her to earn 70 cents on the dollar compared to me. (In truth, I don’t actually say this to her, and she would probably reply “Hey, why don’t you go make YOURSELF feel like a man.”)

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        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 1:34 pm

        This is a really sexist attitude. You’re the same age as me and I find it kind of unbelievable that someone in my generation thinks this way. Hell, even my mom doesn’t think this way. My grandma did.
        .
        Move on from this guy because he’s a financial mess and I don’t blame you for not wanting to take this on. But you need to adjust your attitude too. No guy owes you anything. Everyone needs to work. Whether your work is taking care of the kids or having a paying job doesn’t matter, but every adult, unless they’re physically unable to, should be working. You’re not planning to have kids, so you have absolutely no excuse for not having a job. Adults should support themselves.
        .
        Not to mention how hypocritical your attitude is. You’re going to dump this guy because you don’t want to support him, yet you think some guy is going to jump at the chance to support you? Not gonna happen, unless you’re planning on marrying someone a couple generations older than you who still thinks that way.

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 1:39 pm

        I never said I will not work and pitch in. When did I ever say that?

        So, what you’re saying is I should marry the guy and take care of him financially? In essence, I should be the man?

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 January 21, 2016, 2:06 pm

        Um this from your first letter ” I am not the type to go in 50/50. I think the man should be the sole provider.” I don’t get why you keep assigning gender roles to this.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 3:28 pm

        Your outdated view of gender roles is the issue. That you can even say, seriously, “I should be the man?” is a huge problem. It’s not the man’s job to financially support the woman. Plenty of couples have the woman completely supporting the man, or the woman making more than the man, and there’s nothing wrong with it at all. The fact that you think it’s unacceptable is mind-boggling, quite frankly.
        .
        Like I’ve said before, in this specific case, I don’t think you should take on his financial mess because it’s so bad. But that’s not because you’re a woman and he’s a man. It’s because he (as a person, not a man) is unable to support himself and handle his own finances, and I don’t think anyone should put themselves on the hook to clean up his mess. The genders aren’t the issue.

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        TheRascal January 21, 2016, 3:48 pm

        “I should marry the guy and take care of him financially? In essence, I should be the man?”

        Can you explain to me why taking care of someone financially equates to being a man? I don’t understand your logic.

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      • avatar

        Anon January 21, 2016, 4:58 pm

        You taking care of him doesn’t mean you’re going to grow a penis and he’s going start peeing sitting down. Pump the brakes. There are women all over the world that take care of their husband for whatever reason or just simply have better paying jobs. Doesn’t mean they are incompatible.

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      • avatar

        Sketchee January 21, 2016, 8:37 pm

        If you want a possible solution to this problem, send him this website. Make sure to tell him to read your comments. If he’s so nice and kind that after reading this he still wants to marry you, then you just do need to marry him because he is a saint. =)

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      • avatar

        dinoceros January 21, 2016, 1:47 pm

        I’m really having trouble understanding why you’re still with him because you sound like you don’t even really like him as a person. I mean, typically, when people ask for advice, they are feeling conflicted. And TBH, I’m not sure why he’d stay with someone who looks down on him so strongly. You don’t come across as someone who would be all that supportive.

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      • mandalee

        mandalee January 21, 2016, 2:02 pm

        “Be the man” “wear the pants”- what year are we in- 1950? I mean really, I just can’t at this point. I’m usually a lurker these days, but I couldn’t not log in and comment on this post.

        Women as a gender have worked their asses off to be seen as equals to men both socially and in the workplace and I can’t imagine a world where a woman can’t earn more than her partner. My husband makes more than me now due to circumstance (in school currently) but he is absolutely excited for when I graduate and bringing in a much bigger salary so he can part-time and help out with future child care or pursue his passion rather than work just for a good paycheck.

        I would absolutely move on because I could only imagine what your partner would think if he read this diatribe about him. Yikes.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 4:08 pm

        Good point. This sexist crap is what most women have been fighting against for decades. And here the LW is, spouting it off as if it’s totally normal. I hope that she lives in a really conservative, religious area. Or maybe is from another country where women’s rights are further behind. Because otherwise this is extremely depressing that there are still women who think this way without a strong external influence from their community/culture.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie January 22, 2016, 11:06 am

        Wrapping my head around such nonsense only leaves me with one burning question: How can this woman, who spouts this nonsense, be 40 with no children? Doesn’t she know that her womanliness is tied to being a wife and mother? If she’s not a mother she’s not really a woman and so who would want to provide for her?

        It’s not that I actually believe that but if we’re going with rigid stereotypes – might as well go all the way in.

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  • avatar

    Mango January 21, 2016, 11:07 am

    LW- I understand where you are coming from. My husband had taken the bar exam many, many times. He spent a few years (before I knew him) living with his parents, working part time, and studying for the bar exam. After a few years of that, he realized it wasn’t working, and came up with a plan b. He has now had a steady, stable career for ten years. He has taken the bar exam a few more times while working full time. He’s at a point now where I think he wants to pass just to say he passed.
    My husband’s scores actually improved when he stopped taking it constantly. So if your boyfriend were asking for advice, I would tell him to take a break for a year or two and then try again. But he isn’t asking for advice. He seems content to keep up this cycle.
    So the choice is yours. You aren’t going to change him. You aren’t going to be able to convince him to find a different career. You can only decide if you want to stay with someone who you seem to think is wasting his life studying for a test.

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    • avatar

      LW January 21, 2016, 1:26 pm

      Exactly! I think he too want to pass it just to say I was able to — an ego thing! Rather than embark on a Plan B, especially when he has a reason to, a healthy and happy life with me. When he tells me I’m his only hope and that he has never loved so deeply, then why doesn’t he listen to my suggestions of the Plan B? Why is he stuck on this damn bar exam. I’m begining to think he needs it for his self confidence. Sad, ey?

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        anonymousse January 21, 2016, 3:51 pm

        I’m shocked he can love you after all the terrible things you’ve written about him.
        Maybe he’s trying to pass the bar to make $200k worth of student loans worth it.
        Who are you to judge? What kind of career do you have?

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        Sketchee January 21, 2016, 10:16 pm

        If it’s really a choice between trying for the bar for the rest of the life or being with you … There’s honestly nothing wrong with him choosing that. It’s his choice. I can honestly understand why that would be upsetting to you. It is an ego thing. Your wants are your ego too. He doesn’t want what you want and I totally see why that’s upsetting to you. You’re both allowed to want whatever you want, though. You know that, right? =)

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      • avatar

        Ron January 22, 2016, 8:48 am

        Another way of phrasing this: “he says he loves me, so why won’t he just abandon his other dreams and let me run his life. It seems I’m not the most important thing in his life, or he would agree to my demands.”

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  • avatar

    Sketchee January 21, 2016, 11:23 am

    Full time freelance work is a thing. People do it for years. Does he want to be a freelancer or does he want a full time job? Both are valid. If you’re not comfortable with that, move on. And if you don’t feel engaged then why are you engaged? You’re technically engaged because you agreed to plan to marry him. Be honest with yourself

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 12:23 pm

      He’s not a full-time freelancer though. He works 6 months of the year, and during those 6 months it’s only part-time (she says it’s not steady work). That’s not even close to full-time freelancing.

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      • avatar

        Sketchee January 21, 2016, 8:21 pm

        I looked for this information in the question and couldn’t find it. Where did she say that he only does freelance work 6 months of the year?

        Freelance work is by it’s very nature feast or famine. Sometimes you’re working and sometimes you’re not. As a freelancer, that’s usually how it works. You just save your money and spread it out so that you can afford to not work at times. =)

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    Ron January 21, 2016, 12:13 pm

    I think LW upon reflection will agree that safe, and especially SAFE, was a poor word choice. Perhaps a better choice would be ‘secure’. Because of her health problems, she likely is looking for a guy to support and financially protect her under the foreseeable circumstance where she is unable to continue working.

    The big problem is this: marriage should not be so transactional. While approaching marriage at 40 may not be as totally giddy as doing so right out of H.S. or college, it really should not be this cold a list-driven decision. We often say that ‘love isn’t enough’. We should also say ‘love is a requirement’. It’s a fairly long original post, but nowhere does LW say that she actually loves this guy. It’s all about their activities and the things he does to make her feel cared for and happy. He might as well be a male friend, whom she is hoping will financially support her. Perhaps she does love him and not mentioning it was simply an oversight. It’s a big oversight, though.

    I’ve seen friends meet and marry guys when they were in their mid-40s. It was obvious that a lot of love, in addition to compatibility, was involved. Marrying for love is not something to give up on, just because you’ve turned 40 and are feeling a little insecure about your future.

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      RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 12:25 pm

      I don’t see where everyone’s getting that she wants him to support her. She didn’t say anything of the sort. Rather, it’s clear that HE is the one who wants her to support him. And there’s a big difference between marrying someone who’s able to support themselves, vs marrying someone who expects you to support them.

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        SpaceySteph January 21, 2016, 12:38 pm

        I don’t think it’s totally clear that he wants her to support him. We know he lives with is father (who is presumably late 60s if he has a 45 year old son, and may be retired) but not any details of the financial arrangement he has with his father or who pays his bills now.
        The only thing that is clear is that the LW and her fiance need to have some serious conversations about financial future before getting married and tying their financial futures together.

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph January 21, 2016, 12:49 pm

        Read upthread that the LW has chimed in that he has considerable debt and little savings, and spends his whole paycheck on expenses. So, yeah, you’re right!

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      • avatar

        Ron January 21, 2016, 1:17 pm

        It really comes through between the lines of this letter, but if you aren’t convinced, look at the prior letter from this LW. Wendy has linked to it at the bottom of the thread. She specifically says she doesn’t believe in 50-50, that she thinks the man should support the woman. Ugh! That’s even far worse than the subtext we read in the current letter. This guy should run for his life. She says he makes $24K a year, so significantly above minimum wage for full-time work, and has ‘some’ debt, she doesn’t know how much.

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        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 1:21 pm

        She says further up in this thread that she wants someone at least equal (or higher) financially, which, fair enough. She also mentions above that he owes over 200k and has savings of 60k. 24k/year isn’t going to pay that off before retirement, unless she handles all the other expenses. If anyone should run, it’s her.
        .
        I agree that if she still has that sexist idea that she should be taken care of, then that’s messed up. But I’m totally with her on not wanting to have to take care of him.

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      • avatar

        Ron January 21, 2016, 4:27 pm

        HIs debt is likely student loan debt and repayment of that can be capped at 10% of income, so he can pay something like $3K/year.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 4:34 pm

        I still wouldn’t want to take on an extra 200k of debt at age 40. He’s not going to have it paid off by retirement, or likely even in his lifetime. Where does that leave her? She could be responsible for it when he dies, if he dies first. And even if not, it’s still an added expense during retirement, because they’ll have to be paying it off out of retirement savings. And his savings certainly aren’t going to cover it, if 60k is all he has. If he’s been working freelance this whole time he’s probably not going to qualify for social security either. So she’s risking her retirement here.
        .
        I’m not defending her sexism, at all, as you’ll see if you read my other comments. But if the sexism aspect was gone, I would still recommend not to marry this guy unless he can come up with a realistic plan to turn it around and not financially burden her, now or in retirement. And then show concrete steps of acting on that plan and making progress. Otherwise it’s a huge financial risk for her.

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      • avatar

        LW January 21, 2016, 1:36 pm

        So he should run for his life because I don’t want a “roomate”…really??

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      • Raccoon eyes

        Raccoon eyes January 21, 2016, 3:00 pm

        YES. If only because you say that when a woman makes more in the household, then they are roommates. Im not quite sure what forces of nature you apparently live by turn ppl from spouses/lovers/best friends/what-have-you when the male is the breadwinner into solely roommates when the woman is the sole breadwinner. That is some crazy sh*t. Like, ugh, I cant even.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 3:31 pm

        Totally. If this is “roommates”, then how is it not roommates when the man supports the woman? There’s literally no difference in those two situations, yet one is acceptable to her and one is not.

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      • avatar

        Ron January 21, 2016, 3:07 pm

        No, that would be fine, but in your original letter you said you didn’t believe in 50-50, that you expected him to support you 100%. That’s why he should run.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse January 21, 2016, 3:55 pm

        Absolutely. I’m curious as to how you know the inner workings of his finances…specifically how a man can save 60k while working part time and owing $200k+.
        Honey, no man who is single at 45 is looking for a woman to take care of the rest of his life. He is looking for love, not a dependent.

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    RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 12:22 pm

    I don’t like the wording of the letter, but I do think the LW has a right to be scared about their financial future. From the letter, it sounds like this 45-year-old guy has basically been living as a dependent of his dad’s for his whole life. He’s 45 and can’t afford to live on his own. After the wedding he’ll move in with the LW. And then what? He’s her dependent? If he’s only working 6 months out of the year (and only part-time during those 6 months), and paying for this expensive exam twice a year then he’s probably not making much above and beyond that. He’s taken a few trips with her, I assume he pays for his phone and car and stuff like that, and that’s probably all his money used up.
    .
    What will happen if nothing changes is that he will become her dependent, and she’ll continue paying for her home and all the other bills she has now. Which doesn’t sound that bad until you think about retirement… now she has to cover retirement for both of them. At 40, you have a good idea of what you’re going to be able to manage to put away. Unless she’s pretty flush, she SHOULD be scared. I certainly wouldn’t want to take on a lifetime dependent at the age of 40. A few people have talked down to the LW because they think she wants financial stability from him… I don’t think she wants him to support her, I think she wants him to support HIMSELF. Which right now, he can’t. Which means that if his dad isn’t doing it, she’ll have to do it.
    .
    I don’t know, a guy that age who can’t even support himself is going to be a big financial drag. Which, no matter how much she loves him, is going to affect their relationship at some point. It’s clearly bothering her already, so she needs to talk to him about this. Either he has to move on to a career path that will allow him to support himself, or they should break up. Because obviously this isn’t going to work for her (and I for one don’t blame her).

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      MissDre January 21, 2016, 12:30 pm

      Yes, I completely agree with you here. I feel like people are being a bit harsh in their assumption that she’s looking for someone to support her. I feel the same as you, RR, in that she cares for this guy but doesn’t want him to be completely dependent on her, and is wary of marrying someone who has never been financially independent. I would feel the same way!

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      • avatar

        Anonymous January 21, 2016, 1:46 pm

        Exactly, thank you for understanding it for what it is.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 January 21, 2016, 2:09 pm

        This is from her first time writing in ” I am not the type to go in 50/50. I think the man should be the sole provider.” I think it is pretty clear she wants him to support her.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom January 21, 2016, 12:32 pm

      I agree!
      .
      He’s turning 45. A lot of people start having health related problems in their 50s, especially if they are overweight. I see it constantly at work. He needs to, at the very least, be able to support himself at a level that covers his expenses, including health care. If he has to choose between continuing to take the bar twice a year or get a full time job and get married it will force him to prioritize marriage over exam or exam over marriage.
      .
      I have the sense that their relationship is unequal because she is the one with the money. He does what she wants to do. He plans the trips she wants to go on. I assume she pays. No where does she say that she tries to do things he wants to do or plans trips that he would like. I think it signifies a power imbalance where he does everything he can for her, except getting a full time job, to stay in a relationship. I think she is best off at least waiting until he has full time employment so that there isn’t a power imbalance in their relationship. Then see if they are still doing what she wants to do all the time and see if he begins to ask for what he wants and if she can be happy doing the things he likes to do.

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    • avatar

      Anonymous January 21, 2016, 1:44 pm

      You are the only one that really seems to get it. Thank you for your understand and care. I have to have the talk, break off the engagement, and move on.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover January 21, 2016, 3:32 pm

        I “get” the part about not taking on such a big financial risk. I don’t “get” all the sexist crap you brought up later. Just to be clear.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 21, 2016, 12:24 pm

    You can break up for any reason. Every person has their own dealbreakers and you are allowed to have your own. Many women want a man who can financially support them. It sounds shallow but is a real thing in the same way that many men want a woman who looks good and stays in shape. They both seem to be shallow but they both are real things.
    .
    Why don’t you feel engaged? I’m guessing there hasn’t been any wedding planning and no date set, maybe no ring. Do the two of you refer to each other as boyfriend/girlfriend rather than as fiance? Have the two of you been waiting for him to pass the bar before getting married and it hasn’t happened?
    .
    Since he went to law school I’m assuming he has a bachelors degree and some work related experience. Does he have a retirement fund from the years he worked before law school?
    .
    In general, if you have to ask if you should marry someone the answer is no, don’t get married. When it is right you know. The worst thing you can do is get married when filled with doubts about being married to your fiance.
    .
    You need to have a long talk with your boyfriend/fiance and discuss your concerns and any concerns he has. If you can’t find a comfortable solution then I think you need to move on.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy January 21, 2016, 1:00 pm

    An eagle-eyed reader pointed out that you, LW, wrote in asking the same question just 3 1/2 months ago ( . Why are you wasting all of our time asking the same question? You clearly aren’t into this guy. You clearly think he’s a loser. MOA.

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      Ron January 21, 2016, 1:23 pm

      Thanks for posting this and thanks to the sharp-eyed/minded person who spotted it. This LW was much more upfront with her intentions in letter #1.

      Why hasn’t she MOA’ed? At a guess, I’d say the number of 45-year old guys wanting to 100% support a wife who isn’t actively mothering young children, is small in our current age. She likely isn’t willing to be supported by a 60-year old.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray January 21, 2016, 1:41 pm

        I know who spotted it! And she’s one of my favorites! (No, not me, haha.)

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      Kate January 21, 2016, 1:26 pm

      Jesus.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray January 21, 2016, 1:42 pm

      Busted!

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    • avatar

      Anonymous January 21, 2016, 1:53 pm

      I will move on

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  • Cassie

    Cassie January 21, 2016, 1:36 pm

    I think it’s okay to want someone who is an equal partner and to desire stability, especially if you have a stable job and income. Freelance work is a bit of a roller coaster with income, and while many people can handle that, it’s okay if you can’t. You know it’s a deal breaker for you.
    .
    From what I see, you have two options:
    1. Have a discussion with your boyfriend about this issue and how you are feeling. I think it’s fine, since you can not afford to support two people and he’s not able to support himself, to bring that up as an issue if you are going to eventually move forward in marriage. Perhaps he can find additional freelance work, perhaps he can take another career direction, etc. I think it’s fine if he wants to continue to attempt the bar–but he also has to do other things in the meantime to be financially secure. Perhaps he needs to take finance classes as well to know how to plan and save for when freelancing isn’t providing enough income. Talk it out with him, and give whatever time you feel comfortable to see a permanent change.
    2. Alternately, you could end the relationship. If these are deal breakers for you, then that’s that. I don’t think you have to justify your deal breakers–they’re valid. But, going forward in dating others, don’t ignore the early signs in a relationship (such as his, err, ‘misrepresenting’ himself in the first two weeks you were dating). Try to figure out if you are compatible on values and viewpoints that are important to you.
    .
    Either way, you should put any wedding plans on hold.

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  • mrmidtwenties

    mrmidtwenties January 21, 2016, 4:07 pm

    The absolute sexism by this LW is disgusting. Am I less of a man because my gf makes significantly more than me and will likely make more than me as long as we are together? Was my father less of a man because my mother had to support him because he was on disability? Go get a clue LW, and maybe find a time machine to take you back to the stone age.

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    • mrmidtwenties

      mrmidtwenties January 21, 2016, 4:15 pm

      Also from your previous letter expecting the man to be the sole provider and you don’t want children. What exactly would he be providing for you to do? Sit on your ass all day? It sounds like you want a sugar daddy, and no offence, but that’s a lot harder to find at 40 than it would have been 20 years earlier.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray January 21, 2016, 4:59 pm

        How’s the GF doing, by the way?

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      • mrmidtwenties

        mrmidtwenties January 21, 2016, 5:03 pm

        She’s doing great, almost our year anniversary 🙂 there was some talk about moving in together, but unfortunately with where she lives (she owns her own place) and the territory I cover for work, that has been put on hold. How are the baby and moose?

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray January 21, 2016, 5:22 pm

        A whole year!?!? Time is going too fast. The baby and Moose are good. I love them so much my heart hurts. On that note, time to cut out of work early so I can go snuggle with them both.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse January 21, 2016, 4:15 pm

    Your pool of eligible men at your age is small for more than a few reasons. The biggest-your sexism. Why would a man want to marry you solely to financially support you?

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    • avatar

      em February 1, 2016, 4:54 pm

      yes, I was going to say:
      I get the not wanting to enmesh yourself with someone deeply in debt and maybe not financially responsible (per the LW). HOWEVEr, LW, have you spent much time dating? I hate to break it to you, but for the most part, the men around your age who make a lot of money and would support their wife want a younger woman, usually one who wants to raise kids. I absolutely think you should MOA from this guy– the disdain in your letters is palpable– but also to be realistic about the current dating landscape.

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  • avatar

    _s_ January 21, 2016, 4:41 pm

    It sounds like the LW has already decided to MOA, but I’m going to chime in anyway.

    1) LW, I don’t think anyone here is telling you that you don’t have a valid concern with the red flags you mention – his massive amount of debt, the fact that his salary is nowhere near enough to cover his debt payments + living expenses, and the fact that he has no real plan in place to get a better job, and in fact just wants to keep throwing thousands a year at a bar exam he can’t pass. Those are legit concerns for any human being entering into a marriage with any other human being, and both human beings need to be 100% on the same page with an actionable financial plan to even have a CHANCE at a marriage working, and you two don’t have that.

    2) What people ARE saying is that, regardless of #1, maybe you should re-examine your archaic, MRA-inspired (assuming you are not a MRA troll and this isn’t all one big troll post) ideas about gender roles. All that about “alpha” and “beta” males is pure MRA garbage. Expecting a person with a penis to be a “provider” for a person with a vagina because he has a penis, and thinking that a person with a penis is “emasculated” or “unmanly” because he makes less money than a person with a vagina is is pure drivel – these are gender stereotypes that are harmful to both men and women and have no place in an enlightened society.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray January 21, 2016, 4:57 pm

    Oh good lord, this has been a fun read. “Fun” used loosely. What everyone else said.

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    • avatar

      ktfran January 21, 2016, 5:21 pm

      I know! It has been a while, I think but I could be wrong, since a letter has had this many posts. It’s super entertaining.

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    • avatar

      Sunshine Brite January 22, 2016, 10:18 am

      Agreed. Plus, I should probably go find some man pants to keep supporting my family.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray January 22, 2016, 10:58 am

        Oh try maternity pants, they’re the best! I prefer them to the man pants I have to wear while I support my family.

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      • Cassie

        Cassie January 22, 2016, 1:18 pm

        I found my man pants at the Gap.

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      • avatar

        Miss MJ January 22, 2016, 1:24 pm

        My regular lady pants usually do the trick, as long as I put Mr. MJ’s balls inside of them. Which is fine since, you know, since he doesn’t need them because he’s not supporting me financially 100% and all.

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