“I’m Afraid to Lose His Family”

I’ve been dating “Adam” for about eight months, but I’ve known him for about 15 years — he’s my best friend’s brother. We had a long history of flirting and wanting to be together, which wasn’t possible for a while because we were both in relationships. We finally got together over the summer, and for a while, most of our relationship was just wonderful (albeit long distance). He says the right things, is very affectionate, sex is wonderful, I love his family, etc. However, there are a few issues that have become apparent to me recently, and I feel like a real jerk because they were always there, but I didn’t think they’d bother me so much until recently.

Basically, the biggest issue is that I am completing a doctoral degree and he is in his early 30s (four years older than me) and still largely living off of his parents’ money. He has a bachelors degree but works a rather blue collar job (I know that sounds beyond shallow) and makes a so-so hourly wage. I am worried that: (1) I will have to be the provider for the two of us and potential future family; and (2) the difference between our education levels might feel even wider if my career takes off and his stays somewhat stagnant. Again, I’m aware how shallow this sounds, but I think it’s a legitimate concern…

On top of this, my parents (whose input I greatly value, in general) think I’m too good for him and are concerned about his mooching off of his parents, his lack of desirability to “go somewhere” in life, and his intermittent marijuana use. All of these factors, in combination with the fact that I am moving for residency to another part of the country (still not where he lives), has me thinking about what to do with this relationship. And the stakes are, of course, very high. We were completely on the same page a few months ago about being very serious together, so I feel like if we break up, I have lost my 15-year relationship with his mother and sister — who is my best friend — as well the rest of his family who have been like a second family to me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! — Too Good for Him

You need to separate your relationship with your boyfriend from your relationship with his family (including his sister, your best friend). They may seem like a packaged deal, but the truth is that as much as you “marry into a family,” you’re truly only marrying one person. And while the idea of marrying into a really shitty family may be a deal-breaker for some people, the idea of marrying into a family you love shouldn’t be the push you need to embrace a relationship you have doubts about. Nor should the fear of losing them be an incentive to stay in a relationship that you feel isn’t right.

When you focus solely on your relationship with your boyfriend, you need to decide if your connection is worth trying to work through the issues you have with him and the issues you face as a couple. What if you were the breadwinner is a marriage? What if your boyfriend always worked a blue collar job? What if he never stopped smoking pot? If these are worries you’ve expressed to your boyfriend — and if you haven’t yet, you need to! — and you don’t feel like you’re on the same page in terms of future goals, then you need to decide for yourself if they’re deal-breakers.

There’s nothing wrong with dumping someone because you’ve realized that issues that didn’t seem so important before are suddenly more glaring as you get more serious and start thinking about a longterm future together. That’s what dating is all about — learning what quirks, flaws and lifestyle choices we can live with happily and which ones we can’t. You aren’t a bad person if you decide that your boyfriend’s lifestyle choices don’t mesh with the future you’ve envisioned for yourself (and he’s certainly not a bad person for making the choices that he has…). It would be bad, however, if you overlooked those feelings for the sole reasons of sparing his feelings and remaining close to his family.

And let’s talk about that family of his. If his sister would seriously turn her back on your because you broke up with her brother after a few months of long distance dating, then she wasn’t much of a best friend to begin with. Has she never had a relationship that didn’t work out? Has she never been interested in a guy – maybe even loved a guy — only to decide that maybe they weren’t quite right for each other after all? Maybe you’re worried that whatever empathy she may have for you in sadly ending a relationship with her brother will be canceled out by the loyalty she feels toward him. Maybe you’re concerned that a 15-year close friendship can’t compete with the loyalty she feels toward her family, and I’m sorry I can’t promise that that won’t happen. But I can promise that if her loyalty to you were that shaky to begin with, then she isn’t a sister-in-law you’d feel comfortable having.

Can you imagine feeling insecure about your position in the family every time you and her brother had a fight or disagreement? Can you imagine spending your married life worrying about whether your in-laws were going to turn on you every time you did something to hurt your husband? Marriage is hard enough without stressing all the time about losing your best friend over a fight with your husband. If you’re going to let your boyfriend’s family be the tipping point in your decision to continue dating him, consider that you’ll always worry if a mis-step in your relationship is going to cost you the love you feel from them. If that isn’t a concrn you want to carry into a marriage, perhaps this is a relationship that has run its course.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.


  1. Great advice Wendy, as always!

    I need to add one more thing. Wendy said to do what is best for you. And not to worry about what his family will say or do. I think you should take the same advice and apply it to your own family. If his job/no drive/smoking pot situation is a deal breaker for YOU, then by all means, I think you should MOA. I don’t think it should be based on your parents telling you that you can do better. If someone makes you truly happy, then I don’t think others should tell you not to be with that person.

    But honestly, it doesn’t sounds like this guy will make you happy and you’ll end up regretting staying with him. Unless you comminicate and he tells you he is going to change and actively proves it, like Wendy said.

    1. sobriquet says:

      I agree 100%. Early in the relationship when your loved ones have negative feelings about the person you’re dating, it can completely skew your perception of them. As an adult, it’s one of my pet peeves. No one knows what’s good for me and who can meet my relationship needs but me, thank you very much.

      I also don’t completely understand why the LW is so concerned about being the breadwinner. It’s not like she’s a social worker with this concern… she’s in med school! She has the potential to make a lot of money, so why not be the provider for you family? Wouldn’t you rather be with someone you loved than someone who made more money than you? It’s one thing to say that she wants to be with someone who is driven… but she didn’t say that.

      1. Right? It works in reverse too, about perceptions that is. Sometimes, your family really loves your significant other, but for whatever reason, it might not be the right person for you. That makes it super hard to end a relationship when people don’t get it or don’t support it.

        No one should ever stay in or end a relationship because others want you to (unless, of course, there is abuse or something awful involved). It’s a decision you need to make on your own.

      2. AlenaLynn says:

        I agree with your point that our loved ones’ perceptions can skew our perceptions of people we’re dating.

        I just want to point out that she said she’s getting a doctoral degree, not that she’s in med school. Unfortunately, sometimes you still make barely any money with a doctorate in certain fields, so she may have a legitimate concern.

  2. ReginaRey says:

    You know, call me crazy, but I don’t think you should be apologizing over and over again for seeming “shallow.” It would be shallow to judge someone’s character based on the profession they have, or how much money they make. But it’s not shallow to be concerned that a romantic partner’s values, goals and ideas about finances might not match with yours enough to make a long-term relationship successful. I repeat, that’s not shallow — It’s common sense.

    The way a person chooses to spend their time is, by and large, reflective of their life values. Maybe he sees no problem with relying on his parents, or smoking pot occasionally, or working a so-so blue collar job. Maybe he enjoys his life this way. And that’s his prerogative.

    But if his life choices are making you anxious and uncomfortable, that’s a first (and BIG) red flag that this relationship might not be right for you. I found myself in the same boat not too long ago. When I first met my ex-boyfriend, he smoked pot occasionally and had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. He spend a couple years trying to figure it out, but really never seemed to have anything that he was really passionate about. And over time, it ate at me more and more.

    I realized, eventually, that my way of life wasn’t going to match up with his. I needed someone extremely driven and motivated and passionate, and he wasn’t that way. And, whether or not I was right, the way I perceived him was often…lazy. I’m not saying he WAS lazy. I’m saying that his lifestyle choices made me perceive him as lazy…which is a big dealbreaker in a relationship.

    Your boyfriend might not be lazy or unmotivated. But what matters is that, right now, it seems like you’re fairly worried that he IS those things. Should you talk to him about it? Well, I’m rather torn on that front. I’m a very firm believer that you can’t just ask someone to up and change their personality and lifestyle — things that are deeply ingrained as a part of who they are — for you. If you’re asking that, then you’re in the wrong relationship to begin with.

    So, I think, ultimately, you need to figure out what this is. Are these things temporary? Or do you think that the way he chooses to live is reflective of a mindset, personality, and way of life that you can’t quite mesh with. I think you likely already know the answer.

    1. Great advice as always Regina! Especially the last two paragraphs.

    2. EscapeHatches says:

      My only addition is to try and not focus on your educational background mismatch. As someone with a doctoral degree, you’ll be in the vast minority of the population (<5%) and education level is not indicative of motivation, passion or dedication.

      I suffered from the same mentality (I have a Masters in Engineering) before meeting my husband (who has a high school diploma). Don't read into the acronyms, read the into character.

      1. EscapeHatches says:

        “Read the into character”

        Oh geez, maybe that masters degree didn’t help me as much as I thought. English is way hard.

    3. “You know, call me crazy, but I don’t think you should be apologizing over and over again for seeming ‘shallow.'”

      Agreed. But I get the feeling the main reason why the LW is apologizing so much is because of how the DW community often gangs up on LWs for being “shallow” in their requirements for their SOs. She’s trying to defend herself before the inevitable castigation.

  3. I don’t think you should try and impose your wish list for a partner on someone you are dating unless they are doing something damaging to themselves or others. If you want X then date X. Don’t date Y and get upset because he isn’t X. You met him as he is – blue collar, hourly wage earning – the problem isn’t his – it is yours. You say you didn’t realize it would bug you until recently – why is that? Did you only now realise that you would be more educated? or potentially make more money? You put no thought into what it would be to be with someone you have been flirting with for years? That makes no sense – especially since you are connected to this person through others. I get the overall impression that you think your parents are right and you are too good for him. I disagree with Wendy that you should bring this up to him – short of the marijuana use which I am assuming isn’t legal. If you want a future with him then you can talk about how it would be structured but if your initial premise is that you are too good for him anyway and he would need to revamp himself to fit what you want him to be intellectually or financially then just break up with him – plenty girls would be happy to have an a “just wonderful” boyfriend.

    1. I agree completely. There’s no way you can bring up the fact that you are concerned with his job and career prospects without destroying the relationship. I’m sure he is already well aware of the discrepancy in education between the two of you and is probably feeling it.

      I know you probably really want this relationship to work out because he is your best friend’s brother but you can’t fit a square into a round hole. Take this as a lesson learned in the kind of guy you are looking for.

      Also take other people’s advice on breaking things off because I have no idea how to do that besides the long distance thing.

      1. I don’t know. If you’re talking about what your future together is going to look like, it should come up. Where does he see himself in 5 years? That type of thing SHOULD be communicated.

        If she goes into the conversation sounding superior or judging his current choices or situation, then yeah, that could destroy the relationship.

    2. i think that you can romanticize a person (especially when the relationship over the 15 years was based mostly on flirting and the other person never being available) and overlook things because you’re attracted to them. when you actually start dating them and you realize the reality you built up in your head isn’t what dating that person is actually like. and i think this move she’s planning to finish her degree might have started her on evaluating where the relationship is going. at the end of the day i think the reality of being with him is just not what she imagined it would be. i mean plenty of people break up with ‘just wonderful’ people because they’re not wonderful for them.

      1. Exactly. LW sometimes we just don’t feel it any more. Happens to men and women. It doesn’t mean the person isn’t a good person. Just not doing it for you anymore.

      2. kerrycontrary says:

        I agree! I think that a lot of times you are dating someone for the first 6-7 months and you are in this honeymoon phase where love conquers all and reality is only a distant thought. 7-8 months is a completely normal time to evaluate a relationship and a partner. That’s why a ton of people break up around 7 months, a year, 2.5 years, etc….They are re-evaluating things to see if more serious values are matching up. Knowing someone as your best friend’s brother isn’t the same as knowing them as your boyfriend.

      3. That may be true but the things she has a problem with aren’t things that come out over time as a boyfriend – his job and education level were always there. It isn’t like she recently discovered he gets obnoxious when drunk.
        Though in fairness maybe it is a dating style to go in and hope that the star align themselves after somehow. I dunno – to me it sounds like she completely disregarded who he actually is and now is upset by it…normally no big deal but given her connections to her family it might very well affect her relationship with his sister and her family.

      4. You look for different things when you decide to start casually dating than you do when you start to think forever. A partner can be hot, fun, and comfortable for dating, but you know there isn’t enough commonality of goals and interests to make a lifetime of it. Very different education levels can be a problem, or it can work. She has to ask herself can he and does he enjoy discussing the things she wants to discuss, when they’re not being romantic? Does he have the self-esteem, confidence, and broad-enough interests to fit in with the circle of friends and colleagues she will associate with as a doctor? Is she comfortable spending her life within his circle of friends? Is he leaning on his parents to get started and in a less-than-ideal job for a degreed guy because of the bad economy and difficulty in breaking into a field that his degree qualifies him for, or is he naturally a slacker? If he is a slacker, will she resent that down the line? She probably has a fairly good read on how she would handle that.

  4. LW I would feel the same way as you. I actually get turned off when men live off of their family’s money (there goes prince Harry for me) or my money for that matter, and I am just unattracted to drug users. I don’t think we are shallow – those things are reflective of lifestyle choices which do not match up with our own.

    That being said, I really don’t know how you can bring this up to him without ending the relationship. I would chalk it up to the long distance that way you don’t offend him or his family.

    1. iseeshiny says:

      Easy there, tiger! I will have you know Prince Harry is shaping up to be a wonderful, gainfully employed young man! I really think his time in the military is helping him shape up 😛

      1. silver_dragon_girl says:

        Hear, hear! 😉

      2. That’s why I leave him to you fine ladies 😉

      3. Amen.

  5. I have a hard time giving advice here because I can’t really empathize with the LW’s situation. I don’t care how much money my s/o would make, her education level, or if she smokes pot (harder drugs are deal breakers)…I’m more focused on the type of person she is/will be.

    That said…you most likely will lose his family relationships (minus his sister) if you break up… unless he is very amiable about it. His family will follow his lead on how close to be with you. I’m sure they won’t be malicious, but the relationships will change…if he takes it horribly you might have a rocky deal with your current bff for a bit.

    1. Those things can be indicators of the type of person they are will/be. How motivated they are etc. Alot of women ( I don’t speak for all) are turned on by a guy who is driven and motivated and it’s a sad fact of life but some women don’t want to be the primary bread winner. Just like some men don’t want to the be secondary bread winner.

      1. Just like I could assume someone getting their phd and being unattracted to their “unsuccessful” partner is shallow and has a superiority complex? Stereotyping is a slippery slope….I prefer to deal with people on a case by case basis.

      2. I see what you’re saying, but I don’t think she’s shallow. I pride myelf on being self-sufficient, and I want a guy who’s the same. That doesn’t mean he needs a PhD and a six-figure salary, but it does mean that if he’s over 30 and mooching off his parents, I probably won’t be very attracted to him (I know there can be extenuating circumstances, especially in this economy, but since the LW has known her BF for 15 years then she probably knows if it’s a pattern for him or a temporary situation).

      3. I don’t think she is shallow either. She has her preferences. I think the fact he is still mooching off of his parents says way more about his ambition than his plant smoking.

      4. Haha, yeah I agree with you there too.

        I wouldn’t mind making more than my partner, but if he’s lazy or a mooch or just generally irresponsible with his money, then that’sa dealbreaker.

      5. SpyGlassez says:

        I do make more money than my partner – not a lot by any means, but I have a masters and teach at a community college; he has an associates degree and is currently working retail. When he can find a job in his field, he’ll make more, but not as much as I potentially could. That doesn’t bother us, because we don’t let it be a point of inequality. However, each couple has to find their own equilibrium. If it would bother her, or if she feels it would bother him, then it isn’t their equilibrium.

      6. I was including the mooching off the parents – not just marijuana

    2. I have to say I agree. My husband is blue collar and makes half what I do. It doesn’t make him any less motivated than me. I don’t have a problem being the breadwinner, we both bring things to the relationship, I just happen to bring more money to the table.

      However the smoking pot thing would be a deal-breaker for me. I don’t tolerate drug use.

      That being said, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be with someone who makes more than you. However I’d question why that’s important. Is it the money? The “taking care of you” feeling? I’d be more upset with the fact that he’s ok mooching off his parents. So if he’s not willing to make changes to financially take care of himself without someones help, then would be a problem. If you were to live together, you’d be taking that role, would you be ok with that?

      1. haha – one thing we all can agree on in this spectrum is that low-30’s is too old to be mooching off of parents.

      2. That part I do agree with. Mooching off parents is not cool! But no shame in being blue collar as long as you are supporting yourself.

      3. Well if she has a Phd, she’s likely to encounter an income a/o education disparity with most people. So this may be a recurring problem.

        I can see her BF’s lack of ambition being a turn-off. But the LW does seem kind of shallow. Why does she expect that some man should take care of her? And if his intelligence isn’t an issue now, why will it become one over time – unless it’s his status that concerns her, which is what I suspect.

      4. You’re reading a lot into what she wrote. No where does she say she wants a guy to support her. I think she doesn’t want to support him, in part because that would be taking over the role his parents now serve to a guy who doesn’t really seem to want to grow up. I know lots of pot smokers who are successful, hard-working professionals, who at least seem to be from all I can tell, close to model spouses. I know others who are still slackers at an age where they should have outgrown it. The marijuana doesn’t cause the slacking, it just becomes part of the package. Could equally well be burying yourself in alcohol or video games.

        There are also fine, ambitious, early-thirties college grads, who are either unemployed or not able to get a job which pays enough to support their independent existence. They still lean on their parents. This economy has caused a lot of that the past several years. The distinction is that most in that situation are unhappy with it and trying to find the job that will allow them to fight themselves our of it. LW’s bf seems content. I think that is what bothers her. He sounds like a good, pleasant guy, whose company she enjoys, but he may have a serious character issue.

      5. Yes, thank you. That’s how I interpreted it too, but you said it better.

      6. But she introduced the term ‘provider’, which suggests to me that she anticipates that someone in the relationship will play that role, and it won’t be her.

        Also she’s not stating that he’s a pot head, but that he’s used marijuana ‘intermittently’, and that her parents disapprove of that.

      7. She said SOLE provider.

        Making a lot more money than your partner is ok, but resentment can grow if you’re making a lot more because they’re lazy and won’t aspire to do better. I’m in a low-paying job because I actually enjoy it. But I also hope to move up the ladder, and I’ll go to grad school if necessary. I have a plan. (Oh, also, I can support myself without my parents’ help). That’s different than having some dude mooch off you because he doesn’t want to put forth any effort to get a better job.

      8. I’m referring to the letter, not the comments here. She states that she would be the provider for the two of them. But he works and has support from his family, so she wouldn’t be a sole provider. Therefore I take it to mean that she doesn’t want to be the provider in any case.

        And FWIW I don’t have an issue w/ women hoping to find someone who can fill that role, where it’s warranted (e.g. kids ). It’s the expectation that she’s entitled to that that I find annoying.

    3. Maybe I was supposed to be a guy. What you said in your first paragraph is exactly what I was thinking. So many women are looking for a guy with a perfect “resume” (well educated, makes a lot of money, shares their exact interests line-by-line) but really the focus should be finding someone you “click” with. And finding offense with someone smoking pot is just asinine. Pot is safer than alcohol. I agree about hard drugs; I’ve never even tried any myself because they are dangerous and addictive. Pot is the most misunderstood and misrepresented “drug” in existence.

      I’m going to get people saying this POV is unrealistic and you have to think about how much money they make, but if I were given a choice right now to leave my *gasp* blue collar boyfriend for some snobby millionaire with a six pack, I’d still pick my boyfriend because we have that connection.

      1. haha – yea…I think vocal potheads give smokers a bad name….typically young, unambitious males that are trouble makers, don’t care about school, and later end up not doing much of anything.

        But for every one of those there are the secret smokers that keep their habits to themselves (because of the bad reputation) go to work (sober) everyday, have success and goals, and healthy social relationships….essentially it doesn’t define who they are because it isn’t what their life revolves around…

      2. But the thing is, if LW is against pot smoking, it doesn´t make her wrong (and def, not asinine), it´s just her opinion, and something she doesn´t want in a SO.
        We all have characteristics we accept or not in our SO, that doesn´t mean that we´re wrong if what we accept differs from what someone else accepts.

      3. No she is definitely not shitty for having that preference. I’m not saying that everyone needs to embrace pot smokers.

      4. Yeah, sorry. Should´ve been a reply to anna!

      5. I agree with you JK that if marijuana is a deal breaker for her – that’s legitimate and in no way asinine. Quite frankly it would be a deal breaker for me. Her letter though lists his income and education level as her concerns and lists the pot smoking as something her parents are against. I think it was just sort of thrown in to make her pitch for leaving him stronger but I don’t think it truly is about the boyfriend at all.

      6. XanderTaylor says:

        Just want to make a comment on pot use. I live in Denver where we have corners that are actually known as “The Best Smelling Corners” & my son has his medical marijuana license. And guess what? He can’t get a meaningful job because he can’t pass a drug test. Regardless what you may personally think of pot, it is still not an acceptable “drug” and you still can’t pass a drug test. I have no idea, of course, if that is getting in the way of the LW’s boyfriend getting a better paying job, but, it is definately something to think about.

        I have a friend that recently got an entry level office position and she had to take a drug test. Right now, my son can’t even get that type of job. Pot use can keep you in jobs that get you no where in life.

      7. I don’t disagree. If they can’t stop long enough to pass a drug test or stop altogether if a good paying job requires random testing then it is a problem and they don’t have their priorities in order.

      8. Why the hell would you have to take a drug test for an office job? Is this normal in the United States? That’s an appalling breach of privacy. I understand it for *certain, very specific* jobs… but an office position? That’s nobody’s business.

      9. I agree but yes, it is common. Most companies just do a pre-employment test but even that is ridiculous. The only companies I’ve come across that randomly test are industrial jobs where you are driving forklifts and stuff. When I start my own company, I will never drug test. If someone comes to work obviously high and isn’t doing their job right, they will get fired. I don’t give a shit what they do on their couch at home as long as they show up at work on time and do their job right.

      10. XanderTaylor says:

        I don’t know if it is normal, but it is quite common. Along with either annual or random drug tests after you get the job.

      11. AndreaMarie says:

        Yes, I’ve needed to take the pee-test when I received and offer from all 3 companies Ive worked for.

      12. That’s an absolutely ridiculous breach of privacy and unheard of here in Canada. I just talked to my co-worker who worked in a high security position with the federal government and she confirmed that she’s never heard of this being done either and also thinks it’s ridiculous. How the hell can corporations get away with that?

        Same with this BS I’m hearing about US employers asking for people’s Facebook passwords during interviews? Outrageous crap.

      13. I think sometimes the drug testing is voluntarily done, but other times I believe the government in the US requires it of corporations in certain circumstances and may also provide perks for drug testing if it isn’t required…just what I’ve heard…any lawyers privvy to the topic please feel free to interject.

      14. XanderTaylor says:

        Voluntarily done if you want the job…….

      15. no i mean by the employer, not the employee. Obviously a refusal = no job…but not all companys have to drug test. I just have no idea what the perks/requirements are to doing it.

      16. iseeshiny says:

        A lot of times it’s for insurance purposes, if it isn’t for funding..

      17. Some jobs in Canada have drug testing (typically when your actions can affect public safety) and CSIS does serious background checks for other jobs and if you have any history of drug use then you are out but admin jobs not involving sensitive information? What is the point?

      18. that’s because you have to be high to work for the government! bada boom bada bing!

        I’m just kidding

      19. You can pass a drug test to get a job if you go about it the right way. You can simply quit for a month, which I’ve done easily a few times when it was time to change jobs (I’m actually clean now for that reason but man is it BORING). You can also beat the system. I got unexpectedly laid off once when I was in college and had to find a new job quickly. I bought a little kit from a head shop, passed the test (having just smoked a couple days before), and started my new job a couple days later. I was only out of work for a week total. I feel like I would be a sell-out if I said “I really enjoy this hobby but some asshole politician said it’s not ok so I can never do it again.” I also wouldn’t lead as happy a life. So f*** the establishment, this is my life! It’s not theirs!

      20. TRUTH! My husband and I have squat in common on paper. He grew up on a farm, I’m a city girl. He loves rap and goofy dance music, I like modern rock. He has a high school diploma (which took 2 extra years to get – he’s smart but was a moody teenager with no interest in school) and a “buy your diploma” from a private college, I graduated from two college programs. I am the breadwinner by a factor of three. He smokes pot on occasion, I hate it.

        But I love the shit out of that dude and I consider myself incredibly lucky to have him. All those resume items can’t describe that “click”, or how he is the kindest, most loving person I’ve ever met, or that we have the same values and goals for our tiny family.

        I think the LW might not be as into this guy as years of foreplay led her to believe she was. Her focus on her status as breadwinner and educational levels (as opposed to say, him living off his parents, which is a much bigger deal!) makes me think she’s looking for a logic-based reason to end a relationship she’s not super into.

      21. Your last paragraph Jiggs – THIS!

        A blue collar job does not speak of laziness or no ambition. Smoking pot does not speak of laziness or no ambition. Living off your parents does and that should be the LW’s biggest concern.

        I know plenty of hard working, well adjusted people who make a good living and happen to smoke pot. I also know a lot of blue collar workers who provide for and value their family – my parents included (blue collar workers, not drinkers or smokers).

        Anyway, I think the LW and her boyfriend have different values. And that’s ok. Neither is in the wrong, but I don’t think they have lasting power.

      22. I think I understand pot pretty well. It’s a drug that brings contentment. It’s kept about 3 of my BEST guy friends on their couches playing video-games for the last 10 years instead of living fulfilling interesting lives. Pot makes things that are supposed to be boring (staying home playing video games/watching tv) NOT boring. So these people think they are happy with their lives… but really they are just drugging themselves to be okay with their life and their surroundings. I love smoking pot occasionally, but once it becomes a daily thing… well if you’re life isn’t interesting enough to live without drinking or smoking pot (or ANY mind altering substance), that’s a sign you need to change your life.

      23. Idk – when I smoke and I haven’t had an “accomplished” day I get terribly anxiety ridden…

      24. I’m not talking about occasional use. I’m just saying, if a person feel the desire to intoxicate themselves on an almost daily basis… i mean wow. What does that say? Wouldn’t it be better to make a life change so that they don’t feel the desire to do that? That being sober is totally satisfying and entertaining on its own, because the things they are doing, their *life* is totally satisfying and entertaining.

        Obviously, drugs/alcohol are a short cut. It’s easier and it’s cheaper and if you’re in a tough spot (not a lot of money/time/freedom), what else can you do? But I think chronic drinking/drug use is a sign of a less than ideal life. And a sign that a person has given up on creating that ideal life.

        I just go by the view that you don’t find yourself, you create yourself, and you create the life you want to live.

      25. I LOVE everything you wrote Zepp. I’ve also had to learn it by doing some self reflection when going home to have my 2-3 glasses of wine was seriously both the highlight and reason to be excited to go home. It wasn’t ideal at all. But a cheap and lazy way to fill time. I’d rather be doing something else and thus started to put forth the effort.

      26. This is totally true.

        On a similar note, I don´t drink alcohol (or smoke anything, etc). When I used to go out at night, I can´t even remember how many times people asked me how I enjoyed myself without drinking!!! Like those people couldn´t conceive enjoying being in a club in a natural state.

      27. ummm, this sounds like my life and i don’t smoke or drink

  6. Well, you acted on an old attraction and for a while it seemed supercalifragilisticexpialidotious, but now you see he doesn’t share your ambition and drive and you know this won’t suit you in the long term. I believe this is called “dating”. Be kind in saying goodbye, don’t overshare with his sister or mother, and move along without drama.

    1. iseeshiny says:

      Yes, this! Who cares why she wants to end it? You don’t need a justification other than you’re not into it anymore. As long as the breakup isn’t vicious, I’m pretty sure the bff, at least, will eventually forgive. The mother might take a little longer to come around, but really, all you have to do is say, “I feel like we’re going different directions, I think we should see other people.” Keep it at that, don’t go into detail about how you think he’s a stoner/slacker/moocher and your parents think you can do better, and don’t talk to any mutual acquaintances about these reasons. And then just give it time. Eight months is not eight years. They’ll forgive you.

      1. Exactly – you’re just not interested in him anymore (if that is truly the case and not just your family’s opinion)

  7. There are two groups of people: those who care what others think and those who don’t. Right now, all your concerns are based off other people’s reactions. Your parent’s in dating a pot smoker, his family’s in you breaking up with him, and society’s in your socioeconomic dynamic. If you’re concerned people will look at you funny because you’re a doctor raking in all the cash and your husband works the assembly line at Kellogg’s, then yeah, break up with him. But if you love the guy, if your relationship – your *actual* relationship – is amazing and he treats you well, he sees a future with you, then try and celebrate the fact that you have a guy who is crazy about you. Life has shitty timing, so you just need to decide if you’re willing to push thru that.

    And when did dating become about dating your equal? How boring is that? I have absolutely zero interest in dating myself. A sarcastic, care-free, incapable of decision making person with a cynical outlook on the general population who would rather stay in with no pants on watching movies while drinking whiskey and avoiding any sort of social and crowded setting because of how much people bug the shit out them. Yeah, that sounds like a delight. No, I need someone who opens up my world. Someone who challenges me to view things different or try new things, and I like it because I actually enjoy their company. Someone who fills in the holes in my life, like my inability to iron. Someone who, even at their absolute worst, when they’re shitty and miserable and cranky, I can still stand. When you get married you’re a team. It’s not you make $100k and he makes $30k. It’s your income is $130k. Your decisions and your life style is centered around that because you’re a team. Some people see a job as something you do so you can enjoy the things you love doing. Other people see a job as doing something you love. For example, a person who loves to sail. The former person will get a job that pays well enough so they can afford their sailing hobby in their free time. The latter person will get a job where he/she is sailing all day. The fact that your boyfriend doesn’t feel compelled to get a job in an area he is so “passionate” about is not a bad thing. It just means he views the concept of a “job” different than you. And that’s fine. But can you accept that? Can you handle the fact that he doesn’t have the same exact outlook on every single thing in this world as you do? Do you love him as a person, rather than him as a citizen?

      1. Agreed. Great reply Mainer.

    1. I’m also terrible at ironing.

      1. Haha, the only time I ever iron is when I’m at a conference and actually have to dress semi-professionally. Luckily, hotels always have an iron and ironing board, because I don’t actually own any of those things.

    2. “Some people see a job as something you do so you can enjoy the things you love doing. Other people see a job as doing something you love.” This, this, this (& the excellent example you gave following) This is such a great point.

    3. >> Right now, all your concerns are based off other people’s reactions.

      Very good points, though it’s possible that she’s internalized this perspective and may not recognize where it’s coming from. Maybe I’m reading too much into the LW’s letter, and how she expresses herself, but she reminds me of a lot of women that I’d grown up with. I’m from a relatively affluent community where it’s very common for families to regard their daughters as trophy pieces. So many of the women that I know from back home have a similar perspective on men and relationships. They tend to be very concerned with money and status, and their families still meddle in their relationships, trying to marry them off to some affluent man. It’s not that they’re gold diggers, but their attitudes can seem mercenary and kind of shallow. But the thing is, that’s who they are. They’re not going to be happy married to a man that doesn’t compare well to the other husbands in their social circle, because their own self worth is so tied up in the status of their husband and their lifestyle, etc.. So it’s just better that they be ‘shallow’ and marry some guy who’ll accept that.

  8. ReginaRey says:

    And, LW, separate of my earlier (and lengthy) comment…I think you’re romanticizing this situation a bit. I think you likely, over years and years, built up this “wanting you but not being able to have you” thing, and when you finally got to have it…well, often our fantasies don’t quite match up with reality. What you’ve found yourself in is reality — He’s a real person, with real setbacks, and real issues that might not match up with yours.

    1. i agree i think what she imagined being with him and what it really is like are different. which is making things like this stand out even more. she probably glossed over the facts she presented in the letter when she was daydreaming about finally getting to be with him. she didn’t stop and think about whether or not they would actually be good together.

    2. Think this is a really good point. Sometimes we build the fantasy up in our heads and the reality doesn’t match the fantasy.

  9. LW, your concerns ARE legitimate– but I want you to be certain that they are YOUR concerns. You mention how your family is saying you’re “too good” for him, & although you value their opinion, keep in mind that they may be biased towards their OWN expectations for you. As for everything else, Wendy gave you really nuanced, great advice and so has everyone else so far– just wanted to throw you something else to think about.

  10. AndreaMarie says:

    There is nothing wrong with your concerns. Don’t appologize for them. Shallow would mean your concern came merely from him working a blue-collar job. However, from your letter, it seems your issue is with his lack of desire to improve his financial situation or career goals.

    And you shouldn’t feel guilty that the relationship didn’t work out. And I can’t imagine that your best friend (and her family) would be so up in arms over you ended an 8month (and long distance) relationship. Why not sit down and talk with your best friend? Tell her your honest feelings. Say you think her brother is amazing but its just not the right fit/ and time for you. Tell her you are moving away for your PhD and there just wont be enough time to commit to a real relationship between studying and traveling to see one another.

  11. bittergaymark says:

    Argh. Yet another letter about some woman trying to change her man when she knew damn well that this is EXACTLY who he was going in. You knew him for 15 years — FIFTEEN YEARS! — for crying out loud and now, suddenly, you are concerned by the fact that he isn’t the go-getter you’ve supposedly always wanted? You’re not a shallow jerk for not wanting the life he can offer you, but you sure do come across as a rather a simpleton (despite all your brilliant booksmarts and oh-so-impressive college degrees) for not having realized all this a wee bit earlier. Like BEFORE you started dating and decided to blow up your relationship with his family, because yeah, good luck saving that at this point.

    An interesting analogy would be a guy falling for a girl — penning us months later to ask us what we think about the fact that his dilemma is now: “A few things concern me. She doesn’t have the kind of tits I see myself with for the rest of my life. Worse, she won’t consider having plastic surgery — which brings me to her nose…”

    Of course my example here is way, way, way over the top, but frankly, tits and nose are about the only thing I can think of that would be even more obvious than the HUGE lifestyle issues you have with your boyfriend. Honey, you need to move on. And just accept the fact that nobody wants to remain best friends with somebody after being told that their brother simply isn’t good enough for you…

    PS — I still find it hilarious that while women everywhere want/demand equal rights… (As well you all should, I might add. A surprisingly few seemingly want equal responsibility… i.e. being the “provider.” What exactly are men supposed to take away from letters such as these? That it’s just a simple fact of nature that women are much better at taking then providing? I mean, seriously, think about it. For that matter, why bother getting a doctorate if in the end you just expect a man to pay for everything?

    1. I agree that these are issues she should have been aware of beforehand however she does not need to tell him or her best friend/his family the real reason why she broke up with him. She can just say she can’t do the long distance. Of course the best friend is probably going to want to know more…in which case LW you better assess whether she would take it personally if you told her the truth or just keep on repeating the same thing – the distance blah blah blah

    2. ReginaRey says:

      I can get behind you on all points, except the one about “why bother getting a doctorate if in the end you just expect a man to pay for everything?” In the LW’s case, she said she was concerned that she might end up being the provider for the family. I don’t think that necessarily means that she wanted the opposite — for a man to be the sole provider — but rather that she would have preferred to split the difference a bit more.

      Which, honestly, is exactly how I feel. It’s a lot of pressure, for a woman or a man, to be the sole provider for a family. I’d rather both me AND my husband share the duties of providing, to take that kind of pressure off of either of us. Either that, or one of the other of us makes so much money, with enough disposable income, that one of us doesn’t NEED to work at all. But that’s probably a bit unrealistic, at least right now! 🙂

      1. bittergaymark says:

        Um, the guy works… He actually has a job though. Which is more than Miss I’ve stayed in school for a decade can say at this point. Then again the whole tone of this letter just set me off. It’s so arrogant about how smart the LW is (complete with what must be the most obnoxious signature in the ENTIRE history of DW!) and yet the LW seems beyond blatantly stupid on so many obvious levels. Look, I can handle truly brilliant people. I can handle truly stupid people. But I absolutely can’t abide stupid people who think they are brilliant… I just can’t.

        PS — This of course makes my whole decision to move to LA in the first place seem foolhardy at best, I must now readily admit. 😉

      2. Who chooses those signatures BTW ? – because if it’s her, she really is being obnoxious.

      3. Sometimes Wendy does. Sometimes the LW. We never know though.

        I know when I wrote in, I didn’t put a signature so Wendy made one up.

      4. He may work, but he doesn’t support himself.

      5. While the signature is obnoxious, it might very well be from Wendy. As to your point about his job and her schooling, you’re not really panting a realistic picture. Yes the bf has a job but he doesn’t support himself. So he works but he certainly can’t claim financial independence. As to the LW, being in the process of getting your PHD does not negate working, graduate and higher level educational programs are not an extension of college and often programs require phd candidates to work throughout the duration of their programs.

    3. I took it as that she wants someone who matches her a little bit more on the ambition front (and agree that she should have known this before getting involved). Not wanting to be the SOLE provider is different than wanting someone to provide for you. You say that few women want “equal responsibility”, but I think that’s actually what she’s saying she wants! She wants a partner who contributes more “equally” in the financial realm, and someone “equally” ambitious. Not everyone feels the same way about that because there are other ways to “contribute” to a relationship, but the LW is learning that it’s important to her, and I think that’s OK.

      Seriously, I doubt there are many men out there who would want a 30-something-year-old woman who wasn’t even together enough to survive without her parents’ support. Right?

      1. Feminism doesn’t call for a gender role reversal. I think it’s about choice. I’m glad that I’m ABLE to be a sole provider for my (non-existent) family if that’s what it comes down to. Just like women and men can CHOOSE to be stay-at-home parents, if that’s what they want. It’s more about equal opportunity.

      2. rob ottapocalypse says:

        You’ve never dated 30 year old women, have you?

    4. Among all the other points you made, I’m glad you pointed out that it WILL most likely be hard for this girl to save the relationship with the family, unfortunately. “Best friend’s brother” is on the same off-limits list as “best friend’s husband”, in my opinion.

      1. I mean, obviously not as horrible, but yeah. Sammmeeee list.

      2. Ugh. I had similar problems when I broke off a VERY SHORT involvement with my best friend’s other best (guy) friend. It worked itself out, though, and now everything’s back to normal (a year and a half later).

    5. I was with you until the end Mark. Everyone is entitled to their preferences – that includes wanting a partner that is a provider. Or wanting to BE the provider. I can’t tell you how many girlfriends I’ve had that have been REJECTED because they make more money than the guy – or the guy perceived that to be true given their education/career. I have friends that refuse to put their profession on online dating sites because no one will contact them. I don’t think that is the way to go but it is what it is. I support anyone’s right to be as discerning as they want – what I don’t like are the people that bait and switch. OF COURSE I still want to date you…if you would only change your job, or the fact that you have kids from a previous relationship, or lose weight – or whatever trait that PRE-EXISTED me rolling up on the scene. You are just wasting someone else’s time if you act like that – and that can be unforgivable.

      1. They were rejected because they made too much money?!? Personally I would love to meet a woman who made too much money – the more the better.

        In fairness, this cuts both ways. Many women won’t even consider dating a guy who makes less than they do. So it’s not just men’s insecurities, women often enforce this perception.

      2. I agree with both points. haha.

        Ambitious and successful seem to be traits that make a man attractive…and how can a man be ambitious if he is at home with the kids…that is the female equivalent of a deflated boner… Catch-22 ftl.

      3. Yeah I’m all for dating a sugar mamma. Working blows.

      4. It’s like that episode of sex and the city where Miranda goes speed dating and she tells the men she’s a lawyer and no one is interested in her so she tells the next guy she’s a flight attendant and all of a sudden she has a date! And it turned out that was the only reason he liked her – was because he thought she was a flight attendant

    6. the other guy says:

      bittergaymark – I would like to argue with you but unfortunately everything and I mean everything you said is true.

      Ever considered a ‘Dear Bittergaymark’ site?

  12. The letter writer needs to consider something that may take the edge off of her worrying about losing her friend and her mother: THEY MAY NOT BE TOO CRAZY ABOUT HER EITHER.

    They may worry about her potentially taking him far away from them. If his mother is still willing to foot the bill, then you bet there is a strong attachment somewhere.

    The sister may have the reverse concern- what if every time her brother and best friend get in a fight, she has to get in the middle? It goes both ways!

    Plus, I doubt she is such a good actress that they don’t have an inkling her and her family think he isn’t good enough. Perhaps they would want someone for their son/brother who appreciates him for who he is, and not what she wants him to be. Just because you value money and degrees doesn’t mean everyone does.

  13. Chicago_Dude says:

    His family ought to be the least of your concerns.
    You knew this guy well enough over 15 years and now you magically can’t deal with who he is at the end of the day? Seriously?
    I got nothing for you, child except – take time to think and do a little soul searching before your next relationship cus you ain’t doing so great in that arena right now.
    (constructive criticism applied)

  14. I don’t think you’re being shallow at all LW, I think these are valid concerns and you should be with someone whose values line up with your own.

    Something that the other commentors are mentioning I think, is really worth thinking about. If you’re looking for a man with the same drive/education/earning potential as you, you are looking at a very small pool of candidates. More women than men are getting higher degrees these days, and those men aren’t just looking for women with Ph.Ds. So basically you’re looking at a lot of competition. Here’s an interesting article about it:

    “But while the rise of women has been good for everyone, the decline of males has obviously been bad news for men—and bad news for marriage. For all the changes the institution has undergone, American women as a whole have never been confronted with such a radically shrinking pool of what are traditionally considered to be “marriageable” men—those who are better educated and earn more than they do. So women are now contending with what we might call the new scarcity. Even as women have seen their range of options broaden in recent years—for instance, expanding the kind of men it’s culturally acceptable to be with, and making it okay not to marry at all—the new scarcity disrupts what economists call the “marriage market” in a way that in fact narrows the available choices, making a good man harder to find than ever. At the rate things are going, the next generation’s pool of good men will be significantly smaller. “

    1. That article seems to be supporting BGM’s last point.

      1. Yea it does! I just read his comment. I think this generation of women is in a tough spot now bc we’re at this crossroads. We have all the opportunity for success but we still we raised to think we should be marrying men who are more successful than us. It’s interesting to see what will happen. Logically it seems like there will eventually be just as many stay at home dads as moms, right? How else could it go?

      2. I think overtime there will be a shift. There has to be…unless successful women decide to give up men in favor of the advanced degree and start dating other successful women…which would scare me…because the next logical step after that is enslaving men and using us as sperm banks/grunts.

      3. I doubt it. There’s credible evidence that women are pursuing advanced degrees, in part, to provide themselves the ability to raise their kids while maintaining a decent income. That the degree is intended to enable more flexible work arrangements at higher levels of compensation.

        Also when you unpack the stats that are employed to support the idea that educated women are unmarriageable, they don’t endorse that conclusion. College educated women actually marry at a higher rate than those with less education. But there has been a general decline in the proportion of people who marry, and that effects educated women as well. That doesn’t mean that men find educated women specifically unattractive or that educated women can’t find eligible men.

        Even the educational attainment gap is a bit misleading due to trends in credentialing that have occurred over the past few decades. When you look at income, men are still making significantly more, though this is largely because women work less hours for fewer years.

        My point is that the sky isn’t actually falling on well educated women.

    2. I’m not a fan of that article.

      1. it’s depressing. don’t forward it to your single friends lol

      2. God, when it came out I don’t think my friends an I talked about anything else for like a month! Its really depressed us, and I read Marry Him by Lori Gottlieb right after it. I’d totally settle too, but so far no one even remotely worthy has crossed my path 🙁

      3. that article scares me

      4. bittergaymark says:

        Eh, I think it’s really only depressing and scary because far too many women still cling to the pathetically outdated and retro princess mentality. Far too many seemingly want to be rescued to a world where all they have to do is shop.

      5. And get Mani/pedis Mark! Don’t forget my mani/pedis.

      6. bittergaymark says:

        Hah! How could I ever forget those…

      7. Mani/pedis and a “lady who lunches”. Oh, and a personal trainer. I have lofty aspirations.

      8. It’s OK Mark, it all balances out. I’m still waiting for my rich girl to come along and bail me out of a lifetime of having to work…just wish I knew what was taking her so long.

      9. Avatar photo SweetsAndBeats says:

        I don’t think there’s a problem with sticking to traditional gender roles and having the man be the provider, as long as women are willing to minister to the man providing them with their no-work lifestyle. It’s give-and-take. But when women want to do nothing but take, take, take and not give – that’s when it becomes a princess mentality, and I agree that it’s delusional and unhealthy.

  15. KarenWalker says:

    I think that sometimes when the things that were always there suddenly become the big issues that make you question the relationship, it’s because subconsciously you realize that this is not the person for you.

  16. I needed this advice today…

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