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?!
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.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.