It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Money Matters in Love” who started a big discussion when she asked: “In your relationship, who pays for what when you are attending or in a wedding? Does your SO contribute? And, if you have a big paycheck discrepancy with your SO, how do you handle rent/bills/entertainment?” Keep reading to see if she figured out those questions in her own relationship and whether she’s still together with her boyfriend a year and a half later.
After I considered everyone’s advice (including that of my family and friends), I apologized to my then-boyfriend (more on that below) for the way that I had approached our previous conversation about changing up our rent division from a 50-50 even split to a percentage of our respective incomes. We spoke at great length re: money and chores, and we decided at that time to go with the status quo. We would continue to split rent 50-50. I would continue to contribute more to the household (with chores, dog care, etc.), and he would continue to pay for our entertainment/nights out. We also agreed that, if any of our friends were to get married, the person closest to the couple would pay for the gift. Wedding travel expenses were up to the person traveling (no matter who was closest to the couple), but each person had a choice whether to attend or not attend.
Wendy raised some great questions in her response to me in order to determine if my then-boyfriend and I were on the same page. I reread the response today and had the immediate reaction of: “Man, what were we thinking?” My ex and I were never on the same page at all! We moved in together almost immediately after we started dating, and there was never a discussion about anything. It just felt natural for us to spend so much time together and so we did that. That was a huge mistake, and, looking back now, I realize that we should have had so many conversations over a long time (and visited the points in Wendy’s 15 Things Couples Should Do Before Moving in Together). I always came at our relationship like we were already married (or on the road to marriage), and he always approached it like we were just boyfriend-girlfriend (even though he did talk about marriage, frequently). This difference in perspective was really evident in what happened in the year following your advice.
Our lifestyles became disparate during the last year. He was always being pulled in different directions by work, family, and friends. I was always the last priority to the point that, for my birthday in June this year, he forgot to wish me a happy birthday (I had to remind him!) and didn’t even give me a handmade note or card. I really grew to resent the fact that I always put him and our dog first while that was not reciprocated by him. Other things started to erode our relationship–he started smoking weed daily and drinking heavily with his work buddies. I’m more of a wine-drinking/brownie-baking/crafting person. I also think that our age difference really came into play (with him being younger), and that it became even more exacerbated when he started bartending. Everything came to a head when he was at a cocktail week in New Orleans over the summer. I was going through some tough family issues at the same time, and he barely spoke to me that entire week while he was there–not responding to my upset texts or asking me how my family or I was doing. Within an hour of his coming home, he had broken up with me.
Your 20s are a time for personal growth and development, and I really think that we just grew at different times and in different directions. We should have gone over the big questions before moving in together, and, looking back, I think we may have just been a bad match, too. I have seen him a few times since the breakup, and I wish him the best. I kept the dog, and she’s been great company while I get my feet on the ground. I’m living with a roommate now and I’m focusing on my career, my friends, and everything that’s great in my life. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m excited to see what tomorrow holds.
Sounds like you’ve learned a lot and are focusing on all the right things. Keep moving forward!
If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.