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.
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