Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Should I Choose Love or Security?”

My boyfriend and I are in our late 20’s, and I am employed full time while he is a screenwriter with an inconsistent work schedule. He’ll go through long periods of time where he works on his own projects and lives off his savings. I have been trying to get myself used to his work patterns — or lack thereof — and he’s such a hard worker and has so many wonderful qualities that I can see our relationship working. He means a lot to me and I feel so happy when we are together. However, I recently spoke with my dad who basically mapped out how much money I would be missing out on if I chose to stay with my boyfriend. He also spoke about retirement (for me) and how difficult it would be for me to live comfortably given my boyfriend’s situation. He brought up good points about how money can build resentment and cause fights between a couple.

My parents have not met my boyfriend yet and it doesn’t sound like they are interested in meeting him because they hope we won’t work out. I feel like I need to decide right now if my relationship will last or not because I could be “wasting my time” according to my dad. I never thought I would have to pick between love and security, but here I am. And I’m ashamed to admit that all the negativity and and worrying is affecting me and how I think of my boyfriend and our relationship. Should I give him more time to sort out his professional career? Or should I walk away because this is too big of an issue to overcome and would always hang over us? — Love or Security


While it’s definitely smart to have these thoughts before you commit long-term to your boyfriend, it’s a little concerning that you’re processing and discussing them with your father instead of him. To me, that says more about your relationship and your regards for your boyfriend than simply questioning what kind of long-term partner he’ll be for you. If you’re serious about weighing the pros and cons of a lifetime with your boyfriend, you need to give him a fair shake by telling your pops to mind his own business and then start having these serious conversations about your future — financial and otherwise — with your boyfriend.

Does your boyfriend even know you’re beginning to think long-term about the two of you? That may be news to him. Maybe marriage isn’t even something that’s on his radar — with you or anyone. Or, for all you know, he has a five year plan and has decided if he hasn’t “made it” by then, he’s going to focus his attention on more traditional means of employment. Maybe if he knew that the success or failure of your relationship hinged on what kind of provider he’ll be in the future, he’d be less likely to be with you now. Or, conversely, he may be more likely to assure you that he has a plan and you needn’t worry.

If nothing else, a conversation about your future together will get you both thinking about what your individual needs are, and even if you conclude that you aren’t able to meet them for each other, you’ll have a much clearer idea what you’re looking for in your next partner. If it’s financial security you need, you’ll know to stay away from the creative class. If you’re okay being the breadwinner, and can handle the idea of being married to a “starving artist” with various strings of income who may very well be happy staying home with the kids while you pay the mortgage, then by all means, ignore your dad’s warnings and follow your heart. There’s a lot to be said for being with someone who bucks tradition and marches to the beat of his own drummer, though the kind of lifestyle that type of person typically leads certainly isn’t for everyone.

Whatever you decide, it seems clear that your next step needs to be some serious conversations with your boyfriend and some good old fashioned soul-searching to determine what’s most important to you. I’d also suggest you keep in mind that while your father may think he’s helping you see the big picture, the big picture often includes bumps and challenges you can’t begin to fathom. Financial security is a wonderful thing, but no one can predict how long that security will really last. Choosing a life partner who can solve problems, communicate well, and compromise fairly is often a better predictor for your long-term “security” than choosing someone who has strong earning potential.

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

45 comments… add one
  • avatar

    TheGirl March 2, 2011, 9:22 am

    LOVE. Sorry, I will always choose love, personally. As for advice – stop letting your father try to choose your boyfriends for you and choose for yourself. He’s not the one that has to live with this decision. What do you want out of life? Do you want kids? Do you want a house in the country? Do you want to stay home with said kids? Do you have big plans for traveling the world? Ask yourself questions about what you want, then ask your bf the same questions. If your answers line up, but the money doesn’t, then you should talk about a financial plan. Just don’t just dump the guy based on your father’s fears! The world is much different now than it was when he was starting out.

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  • avatar

    ReginaSavage March 2, 2011, 9:32 am

    My dad had the same conversation with me when my bf and I decided to live together. I’m the breadwinner in the relationship and always have been. My bf was unemployed when we first moved in together but has since found and kept a steady job. Even still because I make more than him my dad is always on my case about it. And it doesn’t matter how good our relationship is (its fantastic) my dad will always look down on him because he makes less than I do.

    But my bf and I are together because we love each other, which is the only reason why I would be with him in the first place. He and I have gone through some really tough times and when we had nothing else we still loved each other. That’s how we got through the hard times and now I appreciate him even more. A relationship is reciprocal, and when he’s not able to contribute its okay, because there have been times where the opposite has also been true. Its give and take.

    If you’re sure this is long term and you love each other that’s all that matters. Stay close and love each other during the hard times and when things get better you’ll be amazed at how really, truly happy you can be.

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    • avatar

      redessa March 2, 2011, 11:43 am

      I agree that a good partnership involves much more than money. So I’m curious, why does your dad know how much you and your boyfriend make in the first place? I’m sure my parents have a ballpark idea of what my husband and I each make, but they’ve never asked specifically and I’ve not volunteered the information. Even if they did ask, I don’t think I’d tell them – not exact numbers anyway. As long as you are not hitting your dad up for money, he has no business in your household finances. If he brings it up, just say you are both doing just fine in your respective fields. I think I’d be really irritated with my dad for “looking down” on my significant other based on finances. I mean, if he was a mooch who refused to get a job, that’s one thing, but that’s not your situation.

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      • avatar

        Maracuya March 2, 2011, 12:56 pm

        Well, he could just know based on their careers. His steady job could be office work, or she could be a doctor. It’s pretty easy to ballpark if the disparity is large enough.

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  • avatar

    ReginaRey March 2, 2011, 9:47 am

    I’m currently in a very similar situation, oddly enough. My dad worries about my financial security and my overall well-being, as all good parents usually do, in regard to my relationship with my boyfriend. While my dad certainly voiced fears that mirrored my own internal ones, I’ll tell you right now that it is VERY difficult to judge a situation clearly and to stay true to your own feelings when you have a parent’s voice playing over in your head. It has caused me a lot of grief, and a lot of soul-searching, but I think I’ve made a decision that is right for me – I’ve decided, as much as it can hurt, to acknowledge that my dad’s opinions do not have to be my own, and that I am the final determiner of my well-being as an adult, not him.

    None of that necessarily stops me from having my own doubts about my relationship and my boyfriend’s potential to be financially successful, but that’s ok – the only doubts I want to have playing in my head are my own, and I can deal with that. As for whether you should ultimately choose security or love…it’s different for every person. If you believe that being partnered with someone who you can’t rely on to earn money steadily and progressively will truly make you resent them, then that kind of relationship probably isn’t for you. Don’t feel guilty for that choice, either. Everyone has the freedom to decide what they can live with and what kind of person they want to build a life with…just make sure that the decision is truly your own.

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  • eelavocado

    eel avocado March 2, 2011, 10:00 am

    Love. My parents had a similar conversation with me when my boyfriend was unemployed for two (TWO!) years. He was laid off in early 2009. We had only been dating for six months at that time, but I knew he was a keeper. Here we are, 2 1/2 years later, and he is now employed and thriving. And now I’m jobless and searching, and he’s staying with me! I am so glad I didn’t listen to my parents!

    On the other hand, my dad has a high-paying management job and works 24/7. He wakes up at 5 in the morning, does work e-mail until he has to leave, leaves for work, works until 5:30, then comes home and does more work e-mail until he goes to bed. He and my mom never spend quality time together. Even when we’re on a family vacation, he has his Blackberry on.

    He makes great money, and my mom has security…but is it worth it? Not in my eyes.

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    • avatar

      Laurel March 2, 2011, 5:52 pm

      You sound like a delicious piece of sushi. 😀

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      • eelavocado

        eel avocado March 3, 2011, 10:43 am

        Haha, that’s because I am! Eel avocado is my favorite. 🙂

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  • avatar

    Amy March 2, 2011, 10:23 am

    My two cents is that it takes more than love to make a relationship work long term. That probably means something different to every couple. Rather than considering a partner’s potential solely on financial security versus love – I think you’d be better served to have a list of important values that a person must also share as well as a list of goals that you wish to attain in your life so that you consider whether a partner would be helpful in meeting those goals (children, career, travel, education, etc.).

    Oh – I’d consider taking a good look at how your parents influence in your love life will serve your relationship with anyone now or in the future. They may just have your best interests at heart – but since they haven’t even met this guy, it seems that they may be a bit overbearing and could likely cause relationship problems for you regardless of the financial status of your partner.

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  • avatar

    Christy March 2, 2011, 10:25 am

    I’m not sure why you would make relationship decisions based on your future retirement. For goodness sake, you’re not even 30! I know that retirement is a big deal, but why would you make such an important decision that affects your life RIGHT NOW based on something that’s some 30 years into the future? (Think it’s coming up soon? Think about how long you’ve been alive and how long that’s taken. You have at least that long again until you can retire.)

    Moreover, it seems like your boyfriend is responsible with his money even if he has an inconsistent work schedule. If he manages to build up savings while working as a screenwriter, he’s clearly doing something right.

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    • avatar

      WatersEdge March 2, 2011, 10:53 am

      I disagree about retirement- it’s important to consider finances when evaluating a long-term partner. And early retirement savings have the most time to grow and therefore have the most impact on your future security.

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      • avatar

        ReginaRey March 2, 2011, 11:14 am

        As someone who works at an investment firm, I have to agree with you on this. Retirement takes a significantly long time to build up, and even when you reach your mid-sixties it is far from guaranteed that you’ll have enough money to live off of. It may be far away, but it takes decades to build that kind of money. If this is at all important to the LW and her lifestyle, it should be taken at least somewhat seriously.

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  • avatar

    Natasha Kingston March 2, 2011, 10:27 am

    Man, her dad sounds like a judgmental buzz-kill. He needs to back off.

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  • avatar

    RebeccaB March 2, 2011, 10:34 am

    Security should not be about what your partner makes but about being able to support yourself and live within your means. I am tired of people (mostly women) basing their security on what job/money their partner has. Relationships come and go and you should ALWAYS be able to take care of yourself. I am secure because I know that I can always take care of myself. I am with my husband because we have a loving, sharing relationship not because I need him for security. That puts a lot of pressure on your partner as well and can ruin a relationship. Happiness comes from being with a person because you want to, not because you HAVE to.

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    • avatar

      thyme March 2, 2011, 2:31 pm

      However, there’s something to be said for not wanting to be with a man who is a financial drain on YOU. I didn’t get the impression that the LW was whining about her boyfriend not being able to support her, I think she is worried about his ability to support himself.

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  • avatar

    Wendy March 2, 2011, 10:40 am

    Your boyfriend sounds impressively responsible to me, based on what you’ve said. He lives off his savings while he works on his own projects? Most people live off their credit cards during the down-cycles of cyclical work!

    “Mapped out how much money I would be missing out on”–I hardly know where to start with that. I mean, if this guy is really the one for you, you’d be “missing out on” a whole life with him! It sounds like your dad has a dream for you that includes you being married to a big money-maker, but is that your dream? Is that really going to happen?

    Marriage is always a risk. The risk of divorce is great–and expensive. Yet your dad isn’t telling you “don’t get married, because you might end up divorced”, is he?

    He’s definitely right that couples argue about money. But that happens in households where there’s plenty of money and where earning is equitable, too.

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  • avatar

    Fairhaired Child March 2, 2011, 10:44 am

    It seems that everyone who has already posted has gone through similar situations and are all pushing for the love aspect. I’m also going through that situation right now, and I chose love as well. But, a warning is that yes, you will have arguements over money at times, and yes, it can be very stressful to both you and your partner (and these stress moments could be at the same time or at seperate times).

    Hopefully though, LW, you will take Wendy’s advice and will discuss this with your boyfriend and find out what HIS plans in life are, and of course if he included you in those plans already or if he’d be willing to make changes if it ment that you’d be more emotionally stable and happy in the relationship if he made changes.

    My boyfriend has changed jobs 3 times since we’ve moved in together, and currently he’s on another unemployeed spree. However, when I could tell that his last job was not worth it or working out (it was a pyramid scheme but he didnt realize until he had already invested two months worth of 10-12+ hour days and not making hardly anything), he agreed that if it didnt start paying better he would take a second job. Thankfully though, he quit (and i’m happy that he did) and is now busy with filling out around 10+ applications a day, and in the time since he’s quit he’s had about 5 interviews a week (and he only quit on Feb 21st).

    However, besides the recent positives, I think we’ve had about 4 fights about finances. We’ve already agreed though, before said fights, that if we do get married in the future, that we would have 1) a prenup 2) never completely merge our finances, but have seperate accounts as well as a combined account that we would only put money into in equal amounts and 3) if we got a house it would be only in my name (I’m the bread winner and I’ve always known that in most relationships this would be the case).

    Every time my boyfriend gets in a tough spot, my mom is the concerned parent and asks if he is unemployed for more than 2 months if i plan on kicking him out. My answer is always a resound no. (My boyfriend hasnt won over my parents yet either LW) I feel that if we get into a tight enough pinch, that he can turn to his parents for help with his finances, but that I will be there for him always when it comes to our relationship.

    Good luck, and as everyone else said, listen to what YOU want.

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  • avatar

    Beckaleigh March 2, 2011, 11:06 am

    My husband and I have been married for almost 8 years and have one child together. When we were dating, I already had a child and was going through a lot. We got married because of security. I needed insurance for myself and my child and we got married after only a year of dating because of that. We love each other, but I cannot honestly say that we married because we were in love.

    Now, we have both openly admitted that if we didn’t have our son, we probably would not be together. Our kids are the reason we make it work and its a very difficult relationship to be in because of that. If we would have waited to marry and not jumped in for the security he could provide me, then we may have been happier.

    So when you are thinking about choosing security over love, consider that the security may be ideal at the beginning but you truly need to love your partner because that security may not always be there.

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  • avatar

    lemongrass March 2, 2011, 11:07 am

    Choose both!

    Love isn’t something that you need to choose over anything, it complements a relationship. Wendy is right that you need to communicate with your boyfriend and figure out what is right for you.

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  • avatar

    WatersEdge March 2, 2011, 11:14 am

    My family has high expectations for male wage-earners, and when I told them I was marrying a military man, they definitely had some comments about how his job didn’t bring in enough money. I am not going to tell you “ignore your family, marry for love” or “ignore love, marry for security”.

    First step, tell your father that you don’t want to discuss it further. Tell him that you appreciate where he is coming from and you will take his advice into consideration, but that this is a decision that you have to make for yourself.

    Second step, determine what YOU really want. You need to determine for yourself how much of their opinions about finances you have internalized. I rolled along merrily believing that I had a different value set from my family for years. I got a doctorate and told everyone “I’d rather make my own money than depend on a man for it”. And I would. But when my husband is working long hours I catch myself thinking “He’s away so much, and he doesn’t even make good money”. Then I gasp and internally chastise myself for criticizing his income, which by the way is more than comfortable. I picked up a lot of those messages without even realizing it. I’m not saying that I regret marrying my husband at all, I’m just saying that even if you disagree on principle with what your family is saying, you may still have some of that message embedded in you. And yes, if you’re struggling financially in the future you will probably blame and resent him, no matter what you think now. And yes, that could erode your relationship down the line.

    But whether it erodes your relationship in the future is primarily based on your expectations for the relationship. If you want to be a stay-home mom for a while, this guy may not be stable enough for you. If you don’t want kids, it’d probably be fine. I think a long talk with the boyfriend about what you both want out of life is necessary. it should become clear pretty quickly if your life goals match up. If he can plan ahead and live off savings, he’s probably a responsible guy. He may be well aware that his current way of making money is not stable enough for family life, and he may have a five-year plan. But I am of the mindset that love is not enough for a marriage and you need to be on the same page with your future goals and values, finances included.

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  • avatar

    Pam March 2, 2011, 11:14 am

    I married a man that I thought I loved and who had a lucrative high paying job… the thing is, just because my NOW ex-husband was a high earner it didn’t mean a good marriage. Being a high earner didn’t mean stability, it meant that he had more money to SPEND on things that didn’t matter — toys, gifts for his friends and family, fancy cars and the best of everything, at the expense of paying down debt (he actually INCREASED the debt) or having savings of any kind. Add to that he was abusive (and funny enough because he was a “good provider” his earning status made it harder for me to leave because there is the impression that “good providers” are all around good people who would NEVER hit or verbally batter their wives or girlfriends) and I realized that financial stability is not the be-all and end-all of a relationship. Even in marriages where BOTH partners earn “good” money (like ours) there isn’t always financial stability and money STILL causes stress… having someone who can earn steadily does not mean you won’t have financial stresses by any means, you just NEVER KNOW what the future will hold.
    Now, I am with a man that earns less than I do (and I don’t earn much according to everyone I know)… will I stay with him? It depends on how he handles the money he has, how he sees the future, and how he handles stress and unexpected situations…

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    • avatar

      WatersEdge March 2, 2011, 12:03 pm

      I think that there’s a difference between “wealth” and “security”. A high income partner who racks up debt and spends too much is just as insecure of a partner, financially, as a man who makes decent money sporadically and lives off savings. I was musing upon what I wrote above in my post and I realized that while my husband doesn’t make a ton of money, his job is very secure and he is responsible, so he provides security, even if he doesn’t provide wealth. And security is what I value financially, as someone who grew up very poor. So even if he doesn’t provide a lot of money, I always know the mortgage is getting paid. The LW might be the same way in that she wants a man with a secure paycheck, not necessarily wads of cash. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

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      • avatar

        thyme March 2, 2011, 2:33 pm

        THIS. I don’t need a sugar daddy, but I do need someone I can trust to be able to pay his portion of the bills.

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  • avatar

    Laura Matthews March 2, 2011, 11:18 am

    I’d also read Stephen King’s book on writing. In it, there’s an amazing description of what his wife means to him in his process, how she supports him and is part of his work. They are an amazing team. If that’s in you at all, I’d think about it, because you might wind up with one of these incredible partnerships some of the rest of us only dream of.

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  • avatar

    Steeze March 2, 2011, 11:26 am

    personally, i think i wouldnt be able to deal with being the only person bringing in a steady income into my household. i would want my partner to contribute equal income or more. it would make me feel less pressure and therefore more happy. but thats me.

    i know a few women that are the breadwinners in their home and they are happy and it isnt a source of tension.

    the lw needs to ask herself what does she want or need to be happy in the longterm. she needs to honestly ask herself if shes comfortable and happy potentially being the only one bringing in a steady income and that the mortgage/retirement will depend on her. her bf might land a great job or might not.

    i would say talk it out with him and then ask yourself some questions and be honest with yourself…

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom March 2, 2011, 11:31 am

    Why not have both?

    Consider your income and what it could buy if the two of you lived on it. What kind of home could you afford. Look at realty in your area or the area where you assume you would live and see if you could be happy with what you could buy. The same with cars, what could you afford on your income alone? Would you be happy with that? What about furniture? What else is important to you that you would like to own?

    His income will be intermittent so you couldn’t rely on it to pay monthly bills but he does have an income and he manages to support himself with it. That tells me that his income could buy extras like paying off a car, buying a vacation or adding a sunroom to your house. Extras are like a bonus, you can’t count on them always being there but they really can make a difference. Another thing you could do with his income is that every time he gets paid he puts half of his money into a stock fund and lets it grow for retirement. Steadily putting money away can grow a nice nest egg and give you much of that security your dad worries about.

    Just as important as the above, can you discuss issues with him including money? Can you come to an agreement you both can live with without angry feelings from one or the other of you. Do you have similar moral values? Do you both want or not want children? If one of you changes your mind on an issue can you renegotiate. When I was in college I wanted four children but after having one child I was sure I only wanted two. Life experience can cause you to change your mind and if that happens can you talk it through and come to a new mutual agreement?

    Would he have your back and would you have his? Meaning can each of you count on the other to never say nasty things about each other and to stand up for each other when your partner isn’t around. Running off to grumble about a spouse instead of working out your issues is damaging to a marriage.

    If you have kids would he take care of them at home so you wouldn’t need to pay for childcare? That can save a large sum of money.

    Does his job leave him emotionally availble to you? I’ve seen couples with great incomes who never saw each other because their jobs took all their time. They have beautiful homes and lonely lives.

    Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy security but love and support are another form of security that is equally important. You have to decide what level of each you need in your life for your happiness.

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  • avatar

    _jsw_ March 2, 2011, 11:53 am

    There is no such thing as security due to a spouse. There are riskier and safer options, but unless you are the one who is independently wealthy (and even then), it can always go away. Divorces happen, jobs get lost, traumatic events occur.

    I wouldn’t advice you to choose love over security. I’d advise you to choose love then security. A high income doesn’t ensure a happy life, and a sporadic income doesn’t ensure poverty. One simply needs to plan based upon what resources one has, and while anyone who’s aware of my fiscal idiocy would laugh at me saying that, even I know it’s true.

    Choose the good person. Plan on living frugally. Enjoy the bonus if he succeeds.

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  • avatar

    Mike March 2, 2011, 12:37 pm

    I think Wendy’s reply is well-stated, and agree the dad was nosing on the relationship. I also think he’s getting dinged a bit harshly for even bringing up money. Any good parent should teach survival skills, and unfortunately financial management is one that too many people learn too late. Understanding the basics about saving and investing while in your 20’s can save you a heck of a lot of stress in your 40’s.

    The dad in this case probably wishes he did a better job for himself when he was younger and doesn’t want to see his daughter make the same mistake. It would have been better though, if he had kept his comments more neutral about the relationship and instead focused on helping his daughter see the need for learning good money skills sooner than later. I think he was right to want to share the wisdom of his experience, but he needs to understand that his daughter is an adult capable of steering her own ship.

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  • avatar

    cmarie March 2, 2011, 1:02 pm

    There’s a lot more to making a relationship work than money but at the same time it’s not something to sneeze at. You need to evaluate your priorities and your value and you need to talk to your BF, not your dad. Sometimes love and a good partner can make up for differences in money-making but it can also cause a lot of problems. Also look at your spending styles. That could be a big issue. My take: I was in a great relationship with a pretty amazing woman, until I became unemployed. You think that love will get you through but when you have different idea about money it’s not enough. I came from a family that was used to experiencing hardship and knew how to deal but she came from a wealthy family and was used to being able to buy whatever she wanted. When we were watching the pennies to make sure we could afford rent she was growing more and more frustrated and resentful. Our once good relationship turned emotionally abusive. She felt to guilty to break up with me but resented me for the change in SES. For me being unemployed and depending on her was the worst feeling in the world. I hated having to ask her to pay my phone bill or buy me a new pair of shoes because my old ones have holes. I was angry that she didn’t understand how hard it was for me to deal with it too. It wasn’t our only issue but it played a huge part in tearing our relationship apart. So my advice would be to think long and hard about whether or not you could live with the situation long-term and talk to him about where he stands. Money is important in a relationship but communication, understanding, patience, and love are more. A good partner is not made of money, a good partner is made up with the stuff you find important.

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  • avatar

    IdaTarbell March 2, 2011, 1:09 pm

    When I was dating my ex, he was not a security guy. He didn’t care about his college classes, he didn’t have the drive to commit to a master’s program (necessary for a job in his field) and he shrugged off work. I knew, at two years into a relationship, that I would forever be the breadwinner with him, and it would make having children very very hard eventually.

    Security is important, but it sounds like your BF is pretty secure anyway. If he brings in the moeny when he does have work and he’s driven, he should be fine. It’s when there’s no drive that you should choose security over love.

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  • avatar

    AKchic March 2, 2011, 1:12 pm

    I hate to say it, but I can see where Dad is coming from. He doesn’t want to be the one you turn to to borrow money from if you stay with this guy, get a house while he’s got a great gig going and then ends up in lean times and you can’t afford it.
    My grandpa had that problem with my aunt, mother, uncle, sister, and me. My problem was an abusive husband who refused to work once he had me locked in and looted MY bank account (he refused to be on the account, making ridiculous excuses). It took a long time to get away and get back on my feet and able to pay my own way. My grandpa died before I had fully paid him back for everything I had borrowed from him during my first marriage. It took me another 18 months to pay it all back to my grandma.

    If you are going to stay with this person, the only advice I can give is this: Don’t get into anything that you cannot afford to pay for by yourself. Keep your money separate. Even if you marry, keep your own account and deposit the bulk of the money there. Keep a joint account for the home expenses, utilities, etc; but no extra cash in that account. It is your back-up account should you fall on lean times, for an emergency, or should you need to just get out of the relationship in general.

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  • avatar

    HmC March 2, 2011, 1:15 pm

    On the one hand, I think your father does have somewhat of a point in that if you know you want marriage, and you’re considering someone as a life partner, you have to be somewhat realistic and aware of the fact that money (or lack thereof) can be a MAJOR issue in many marriages. Love does not conquer all, and life is not a Disney movie… I personally think that more people entering relationships and looking for marriage nowadays should consider the practical aspects of merging two lives and possibly creating new ones. That said, what to do with this guy all depends on you and who YOU are, not who your dad is.

    You mention how good you feel around this guy, and how he is a hard worker despite an erratic work schedule. It seems like you could potentially share a very happy life with this person… but only you know how much a steady income would affect your happiness. If you want to be happy in a relationship, even a short term one, you have to be honest with yourself about who you are and what makes you happy.

    Plenty of women would have no problem working with this guy’s schedule- in fact they wouldn’t even see it as a detriment, because maybe they’ve got unusual schedules too, or they just care less about this stuff. Bottom line, if you actually do agree with your dad and don’t see a future with this guy (assuming that is what you want with someone), then you owe it to yourself and also to this guy to find someone you will not be resentful towards for something that is not really an objectively negative quality.

    Good luck LW!

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    PFG-SCR March 2, 2011, 1:17 pm

    Love should absolutely be more important than financial security, but love does not conquer all. While I agree with others that financial security is not guaranteed and could change in the future, the _lack_of_the_ability_ to be financially independent is something very different. However, how important that is in her relationship is only something that the LW herself can determine, and like Wendy said, if she and her boyfriend have talked about their future together, she has a right to ask about his LT career plans. Then, she needs to honestly assess what she wants in the future, because there are many options in life that may be important _to_her_ with respect to her happiness in a long-term relationship/marriage that may not be an option if her partner does not have the means to contribute in a regular, substantial way to their combined finances.

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    emyemz March 2, 2011, 1:53 pm

    I only have this quote that I use all the time:

    “I rather be poor and happy, then rich and miserable”

    This may not help, but it is the best way I can sum it up.

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      WatersEdge March 2, 2011, 2:42 pm

      I think when some people say that, they forget that being poor can make you really unhappy. I don’t mean “oh I wish I had a better vacation” poor, I mean “my car won’t start and I’m going to get fired” poor. Like Kanye says, “Having money’s not everything… Not having it, IS”.

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    emyemz March 2, 2011, 3:28 pm

    Well we dont have alot of money, make it a point not to fight about it, and do the best we can do. But this comes from the fact that people we know (siblings and otherwise) who r in relationships with people with money are far more miserable then we are. (thats y my sis just dropped the guy with the money, b/c he thought money was enough to keep her around, instead of trying to do meaningful things for her, just thought he could buy her love and after 5yrs together she had had it..for example). But everyone is entitled to their opinion, and i still stand by my quote. Oh and now my sis is with a man who is more in mine and BF situation and she loves him sooo much, not b/c he has money (he doesnt) but he cares more about doing things for her that mean alot, instead of just buying her stuff.

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    Anna March 2, 2011, 4:02 pm

    Definitely choose love! Many people who have money are miserable, but people who are truly in love have hit the jackpot. I am a college graduate and my boyfriend has only a GED, so my earning potential in my lifetime is significantly greater than his. Although he currently makes more than me because we both work crappy dead end jobs, I will eventually be the breadwinner when I manage to break into my field. However, if I had a choice to marry a rich doctor or to marry my boyfriend I would pick my boyfriend every time!! We’ve already decided that if I end up making enough money to support the whole family when we have kids, he is going to be my house husband. I love that!

    Your dad is just being old-fashioned and also a bit sexist. Tell your dad that you don’t need a man to provide for you because you are a strong woman and that you would prefer to be with someone who enriches your life in other ways.

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    Kat March 2, 2011, 4:05 pm

    I had a boyfriend who was completely financially dependent on me, and I stayed for a very long time because I was convinced that love was all we needed to get through it. A lot of his problems with money were outgrowths of his personality, and so in choosing to overlook the financial, I also overlooked the personality clashes as well. Choosing a partner based solely on money is stupid, but so is choosing just on love. There should be compatibility, similar life goals, and sharing of financial burdens. If it’s a problem for you that you support your future family, then perhaps this boyfriend isn’t the right guy for you. I’d take a better look at your insecurities about his financial future. Is it just the fact that he doesn’t have a stable income that bothers you? Because it sounds like he’s got a system of saving money in place that keeps him balanced. Is it important for you that he surpass your income? That he has an upwardly mobile career? There’s nothing wrong with wanting a partner with ambition to climb the career ladder, but you can’t force someone to be in a career path they aren’t interested in.

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  • fast eddie

    fast eddie March 2, 2011, 4:22 pm

    When my wife and I started dating I was dead broke, deep in debt and out of work. Any sane person would have told her to MOA. 23 years later we’re extremely well off and happy because we built our financial success together.

    Your Dad’s trying to protect you from harm because he has for so long and will continue to do so. That’s what good Dads do. After your BF wins a Oscar and gets $10M or more per script he may be more accepting. 😉

    You said he works hard and saves up for the dry spells. That’s a very good indication of being responsible person and that’s not something to be undervalued. While it’s impossible to say what the future will be and hard to judge potential based on your 2 paragraphs, he sounds like a keeper to me.

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    Anastasiachs March 2, 2011, 5:58 pm

    First, I’d think about what you would be paying for if you were single: a house, food, electricity, water, a car, insurance, and how that affects your finances. Just you. If you have the money you need to help him out when he’s in one of his self-sufficient phases, and you’re okay with that, then I’d say you are golden. If not, then I’d consider thinking about how him not contributing as much makes you feel.

    And definitely talk with your boyfriend.

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    SpyGlassez March 2, 2011, 11:58 pm

    @fast eddie: THIS.

    The relationship I have been in for 16 months is a good one, but it’s not what most people would find “secure.” My boyfriend was unemployed and had returned to school when I met him; he had been unemployed for 6 months and has not found anything other than work-study since. He was living on savings, a grant, and help from his parents; our apartment is subsidized housing because I am still just an adjunct and therefore don’t have a regular salary with any kind of benefits. Even still, while I may pick up the occasional extra groceries or our other roommate and I may kick in a little extra for rent and expenses (we split everything 3 ways), my boyfriend does his best to manage what he has. We don’t fight about money, though we have had to help each other through our various “freak outs” about it. When I talked to my parents about my boyfriend, they expressed some worry that I would be paying for everything, but only because they knew my financial situation (up till last year, my mom did my taxes, and she still double-checks them for me). But they have never looked down on my boyfriend. Of course my dad wants me to be “secure” and taken care of, because he’s my “Daddy” and always will be. But he was unemployed for 3 years while I was in college, and again for about 4 months a couple years ago. He knows that security can very quickly change/be wiped away.

    As many people have said, the important thing is that the LW keeps communicating with her boyfriend. Decide together what security means – does it mean a new car and a large house in the suburbs, or does it mean a newer used car and a small house in an older neighborhood? Parents will worry no matter what, but if they have done their part then they have raised you to be able to make these decisions for yourself.

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    missarissa March 3, 2011, 2:02 pm

    My dad’s advice for picking a partner is this: “Don’t marry poor and stupid.”

    He pairs that with this: “Beauty fades, but dumb is forever.”

    Put them together, and you have a pretty decent guide for making this decision.

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    Cporoski March 4, 2011, 12:48 pm

    I believe that her dad was being a good parent and making sure she has thought through her decisions. He didn’t say break up with him, but started asking what her goals for the future are. I am madly in love with my husband but we had some real heart to hearts about goals and expectations before we got hitched. I know a few marriages that have ended because the husband “never grew up” but really it was he didn’t change. The guys were employed just to get by before marriage and did the same thing after marriage. All she needs to think about is if she is willing to support this man for the rest of her life. I think Wendy was very diplomatic with that point.

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    evanscr05 March 4, 2011, 4:59 pm

    I believe that a solid relationship stems not from just how much you love each other when times are good, but from shared experiences where you struggle that SHOW you how much you love each other. Case in point, about a year and a half into my relationship with my fiance, he got caught up in a witchhunt at work and was (wrongly, in our opinion) fired. He was out of work for 5 months (which is lucky, in comparison to how bad it is out there) and sunk into a depression. The first thing I did when I found out? Without hesitation, I readjusted my budget to make sure he could pay his bills. We were extremely lucky that my salary was able to cover everything, but it was tough for a long time. It wasn’t even something I needed a second to consider. He’s my partner; his pain is my pain; his struggles are my struggles. If it happened again, I’d do the same thing. Our way of life was seriously impacted and there were many times I had break downs in solitude because I could only be strong for him so long. Being the sole provider is a lot pressure and money is a serious issue in relationships that HAS to be discussed. But you know what? We got through it and we now know we can get through anything so long as we have each other. So, don’t think of it as choosing between love or security. The best possible outcome for a relationship is a combination of both.

    Your dad is doing what all parents do; worry. It’s normal, and I would not take offense to it. He cares about you, your well being, and you future happiness, and that is never a bad thing. But don’t let his fears sway you completely. Instead, if these are concerns you already had, talk to your guy about it. He’s the only one that can answer your questions.

    And think about this: if you don’t feel comfortable discussing serious stuff like this with him, how solid is your relationship anyway? This stuff is so easy to talk about when you’re with the right person.

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    Tan March 4, 2011, 11:44 pm

    Just gotta say, how much will you regret breaking up with him because his job is not adequate and suddenly he has a strike of good luck becomes a ridiculously famous and rich screenwriter. you will kick youself in the butt especially if you love him!!!

    Even if he doesnt strike gold he will eventually make a name for himself and atleast become more stable or as Wendy pointed out if you actually tell him that him not having stability will be a deal breaker he may choose to have his screen writing as a side hoby while pursuing a more “stable and normal” career path!!

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