All that said, I feel like I’m trapped in this relationship because I can’t afford to move out or live on my own right now. This has become a toxic environment for me, and it’s only making my illness worse. I’m at a complete loss as to what to do right now. He is my only support system — I should say “was” my only support system — and now I feel like I’m ruining my own life (and his) by forcing this to be our only option. What are your thoughts on this? — No Other Options
My thoughts are you need to get out of this relationship, expand your support system, and reduce your expenses while finding a way to generate some income. Easier said than done? Of course! But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. People do it all the time, and often when they have dependents (like kids) they’re responsible for, too. The problem here is that you’ve given yourself a choice, and part of that choice includes remaining dependent on your boyfriend. What if you had no choice? What if he didn’t exist? What would you do then? Would you move to a cheaper place and get a roommate? Would you look into part-time temporary work, like subbing or waiting tables or working retail or stuffing envelopes or whatever the hell you could get (and might have the energy to do) to generate some income? Would you apply for government assistance? Would you beg your family for support? Would you get resourceful because you HAD to because you had no choice but to suck it up and deal because you’re a grown-up and you don’t have a Plan B so you better create a Plan A that keeps you alive, with a roof over your head and food on the table? I suggest you start doing all of the above now because the choice you’ve given yourself isn’t much of a choice at all and, as you said, the toxicity it’s creating in your life is only making things worse for you.
I’m sympathetic that your health isn’t great and that you felt you had to take a leave of absence from school to seek treatment. But that doesn’t mean you should be relying on your emotionally abusive and unsupportive boyfriend to… support you. You have to be proactive in supporting yourself — or seeking support from someone else. I get that you’re in survival mode right now, but your energy would be much better spent focused on getting well and getting independent than on maintaining even the most tenuous of connections with your abusive ex. I have a feeling getting out from under the roof you share with him will do wonders for your health, which, in turn, will go a long way towards helping you realize financial independence.
Things are going well. She likes me and I like her. We connect with each other. She’s a really great kisser with plenty of sex appeal. We get along well and the conversation flows nicely. We’re both in our mid-40s, with no kids. She married at 27 and divorced three or four years later. She said her ex-husband was very money-hungry and a very jealous person.
She likes eating out at nice restaurants, and she enjoys art and interior designing. She has a nice place and drives a Mercedes. She’s paid for the majority of our dates. As for myself, I own my own place and have a job that pays OK (not a high salary, but I’m happy). I’ve never been super ambitious. I like to travel and have fun. I “work to live,” as they say. I come from a working class background and have never been concerned about being rich. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be poor either, but I’m not obsessed with money.
My issue is that I often feel inferior and inadequate to Louise. She makes much more money than I do and her family is from a business background while mine is working class. I often feel she’d be more suited to a businessman because I’m much more laid back whereas she’s more driven.
I want a woman to accept me for who I am. I don’t want anyone to change me. A few weeks ago she asked me about my aspirations regarding work and I told her I’m not really interested in climbing the corporate ladder. There was neither a positive reaction nor a negative one. She hasn’t given me any indication that she wants me to change, but perhaps she may do this down the track. Who knows.
Should I tell her I feel inferior? (I don’t want to.) Am I overthinking this? Are we suited? Is it a bad sign that I’m asking you all these questions? Does this mean, because I’m not sure, that I should end it? It’s been awhile since I’ve had a long-term relationship, so maybe I’m coming up with excuses not to. I’d love to hear your thoughts. — Feeling Inferior
Honestly, I think you’re being sexist. You’re dating a woman who has given you zero indication that she’s unhappy with who and how you are, your background, how you’re living your life, or your personal and professional aspirations. You seem to enjoy each other’s company. You sound compatible, which you say is what you’re focused on finding. Your inferiority sounds 100% self-created. You don’t like that a woman you’re dating makes more money than you do, even though she has expressed no qualms about it herself. If, in your mind, your relationship would feel more balanced and well-matched if YOU were the one making more money (or if you made the same amount), that’s sexism. When your income imbalance creates no other issue except your own inferiority complex, that’s sexism. This could be a great relationship. You could be really well-matched. You might be exactly what she’s looking for in a partner, and vice versa, and you might blow it because you can’t deal with a girlfriend owning a Mercedes when you drive a Honda (or whatever). In short: You best check yourself before you wreck yourself.
But saying that won’t make the inferiority disappear, I know that. You know what might though? Communicating to Louise. No, don’t tell her that you feel inferior. Not only is that a turn-off, but it’s also a quick way to sabotage any potential your relationship might have. But you can tell her that you were thinking about your discussion the other day when she asked about your professional aspirations. Tell her just what you told me — that you work to live and that, rather than focus on climbing a corporate ladder or aspiring to making loads of money, you focus on enjoying the small and big pleasures of life. Tell her that, while she may have different priorities, you respect and admire her ambition. Can you see how your lifestyle and values might complement hers? Can you see how you might grow and learn from each other? If so, tell her.
Ask if she sees your lifestyles as complementary and compatible. Maybe she doesn’t know yet, and that’s ok. You’ve only been dating for two months — you’re still getting to know each other and figure out whether you might be a match. But give her the time and chance to figure it out. Don’t decide for her that you’re “inferior” because you don’t have the same professional ambition that she has. Maybe she doesn’t give a shit about that. Or, maybe, as she learns more about you and how you two mesh, any idea she might have had about the kind of guy she was looking for will morph. Often it takes falling for a specific person to realize that what we thought we were attracted to (like brown hair, for example), was superficial, and that it’s the other stuff that we can’t always put a finger on that has a far greater impact on our relationship success.
P.S. It wouldn’t hurt to pay for dates more frequently. Just because she CAN and DOES pay for the majority of them, doesn’t mean she wouldn’t appreciate your doing the treating more often than you currently do. Choose activities that are within your budget — cooking dinner for her, for example, or planning a picnic spread — could be both affordable and romantic, and they could show her that you value her beyond her sex appeal and bank account.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.