To Stay Or Go: No Love or Money

Today’s question is from a 20-something who is strapped — having fallen out of love with her boyfriend she feels “stuck” financially to stay living with him until graduation college. What is your advice? Is there an easy way out?

Q: I’ve been with my boyfriend for about 4&1/2 years. He “saved” me from a bad relationship, or that’s what I used to think, but now I feel like I fell in with him because it was my easy way out. I love him, but I am no longer in love with him, however I do categorically need his financial support as I am in college (for a 2nd degree). Given the cost of the renting market, I cannot afford to live alone and pay my bills and continue to reach my goals, mainly graduation.

We just don’t mesh anymore and he refuses to grow up and clean up. Every time I’ve tried to talk to him, he gets defensive and cries and freaks out and eventually goes comatose, instead of looking for a solution or making a change. I feel like I am mothering an overweight, lazy teenage boy and having to quelch my frustrations on a daily basis! What do I do? I am so stuck!?!?

A. There is no easy way out but growing up means making some tough decisions and learning to stand on your own two feet. It’s not easy to let someone know that you no longer love them. It’s not easy to find a place to live when you are studying and trying to focus on your goals. It’s also not easy to live with yourself when you are living in an untenable situation. Ask yourself…what it the worst thing that can happen? And then build a plan around that Here is what some 40-something women had to say:

Dear 20-something,

Move in with a roommate.  For financial reasons lots of people who may not wish to have a roommate have to forego their privacy and live with some.

If not,  then you have to make some kind of compromise. And that could be that you choose to stay (and then you have to stop complaining since you are staying by choice). But I don’t recommend that you do stay since you are clearly unhappy and I can’t see that being productive to you focus on your studies. – 40-something, divorced from a man who wouldn’t grow up and in a happy relationship


Dear 20-something,

If you loved him there are things you could do to address the cleaning issue. But it sounds to me like you don’t love him and feel trapped in a relationship for financial reasons. That is the worst kind of compromise because it can wear away at any remaining feelings you have. He may be even more resentful if he thinks you stayed with him for rent. You can’t rent love.  As hard as it would be, the sooner you address it the better.

It’s scary to think of moving out and figuring it out on your own. But when you break it down it can be less so. The first thing is to research alternative living situations. How many months / years of school do you have left? Do you go to school close to home?  Can you move home for a while?  You say you can’t afford to live alone but what about renting a room / getting roommates?  Does your university offer any student housing? What is your budget. What does he offer you that you really can’t manage on your own?

As disruptive as moving can be, it may weigh you down less than the baggage of living with someone you don’t love and who you have to pick up after physically and emotionally.  I hate to say it but you need to sacrifice something. Get a part time job, apply for financial aid. Tons of people go to school without living with someone they don’t love to afford it.” – 40-something, marketing, New York


Dear 20-something,

Believe me, I do know how hard it is to move forward at the expense of someone else’s happiness. But self-preservation is so important, and you have a whole life ahead of you – as does he – to find a partner who better suits your needs and desires and with whom you don’t feel stifled. As a friend advised me, “Six months of sharp pain are better than forty years of a dull ache”. It may take longer than that to move forward. It may take less time. You will be okay, as will he. You owe it to yourself to make this brave decision and to become the best you that you can be.” – 40-something, writer, divorced, mom, New Jersey


Dear 20-something,

I’m sure it is hard to think about moving out when you are dependent on someone. God knows that’s why so many women used to stay in bad marriages. The lesson I’d say is to make sure you are never in that situation again. Always look for ways to insure your independence — and that means financial independence. In the meantime, whatever you decide to do, figure it out before you tell him you don’t love him or that could be a very uncomfortable situation – 40-something, fitness consultant, Long Island

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