I’m Resenting My Boyfriend For Not Pulling His Weight Financially

Hi Evan,

My boyfriend and I have been living together for about three months and dating for seven. I love him to pieces but I don’t feel we’re both pulling our weight as far as finances and the typical chores at home. We’re both 37, he went back to school to finish his engineering degree so he’s going to school three nights a week. I really admire him for this but at the same time I don’t feel he’s working as much as he should or could. His work is flexible and many days he’s done by 2:00 in the afternoon — I guess I’m resenting this and don’t know how to handle it.

Thanks,

Julie

Dear Julie,

I forgot where I heard this, so forgive me if I’m misquoting:

We are all experts in our own behavior.

In other words, we know exactly what we do. I can rattle off every kind and generous thing I ever did for any of my ex-girlfriends. I remember making late-night airport runs, going out to dinner with her mom, soothing her emotional crying jags, coming up with thoughtful birthday and anniversary cards, paying for every meal, drink and coffee during her unemployment, and so on.

You know why I remember this? Because *I* did it.

What I don’t remember as clearly is what she did for me. How she took care of me after I had sinus surgery, how she made me a three course dinner, how she bought a dress to go to a wedding with me, how she made my bed while I was in the shower, how she held her tongue after I said yet another stupid thing.

These are is two major disconnect we have in dating.

  • We remember all of our good deeds and forget all the nice things that our partners do for us.
  • We ignore our own bad qualities and focus on our partners’ bad qualities.

I have a friend who was dissecting her new boyfriend to me the other day.

“He’s not great in bed. He has a questionable past. He’s moving too fast with the relationship.”

These are fair enough reasons to be concerned. Then I asked her to tell me what reasons a man might have for not wanting to be with her. She took a second to think, before responding:…

“I’m a 38-year-old single mom. I take antidepressants. I’m slow to warm up to people. I don’t know if I want to get married again…”

Finally, she rattled off about seven potential red flags. Red flags that she hopes each and every suitor forgives. Because if no men forgive her for her flaws, she won’t have any men to pick apart herself.

To bring this back to you, Julie – this is the man you love. This is the man you live with. This is the man who is back in school to get an engineering degree – a fact that I presume you knew before you moved in. And while I can’t say from the outside what percentage of the household chores he’s doing, I can say that you’re better off appreciating him for what he DOES do for you than resenting him for what he DOESN’T do.

If he’s not in a position to contribute more financially, there is absolutely no point in bringing it up. It will just emasculate him and make him angry. He’ll be done with his degree when he’s done with his degree. ‘Til then, you just have to hold your tongue.

However, if you want him to be a better housemate, I’d follow the sage advice of Amy Sutherland, who trained her husband the same way she trains animals. With positive reinforcement, not resentment.

Funny, how well that works.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    SS

    So Dawn, why are you in this relationship again?

  2. 32
    Nazzie

    Look folks…. It’s true that relationships are not about whom makes what money. But if the SO is sitting home, smoking pot, playing xbox and drinking beer, you have a disaster on your hands.

    Long story short: the guy is a complete loser. Honestly, no car, no job, no interest in bettering his life? He may “love you” but that is simply an excuse for irresponsibility. Yes, it DOES matter that the other partner contribute. Anything less is a parasitic relationship. He will use you unless interventions are taken.

    My advice: RUN. The guy is a loser and will take you down with him. Learn the lesson here. You deserve and most certainly get better. What you see is what you will get. Do you really want to live like that??? MOVE ON!

  3. 33
    Saint Stephen

    @Nazzie
    Next time try reading the letter before making comment.
    A guy who went back to school to finish his degree and also works is a looser to you huh?
    Women like you are the reason why men see women as Gold diggers.  

  4. 34
    Dawn

    SS ..I don’t know why I’m in it. I really don’t. We do live in the same house and part of me is afraid of what it might feel like when it’s finished. too many people in here and I’m afraid of the outcome. I don’t know. This guy works…has a good job…makes triple what I make and the not offering to contribute for the food he eats is really getting to me. We each pay our own rent, I pay all my bills I’m not asking for that. I just want him to know that he needs to pay for his part…which in this case would be the damn groceries at least…and gas once in awhile woiuld be nice. golddigger is definately the opposite of me…always has been. i just don’t want to be taken for granted. There’s too many whores out there he could occupy his time with. But….I thought he was looking for something special…at least that’s what he told me when we met. I don’t know…I’m confused and hurt and torn i really feel trapped.

  5. 35
    Tori

    Sorry….I feel that a woman needs to feel like a woman…wined and dined and taken care of……men that simply rely on women to take care of them and are not carrying their own weight….in my book are LOSERS!!! and should be dumped and find someone that you deserve that knows how to take care of a woman….dump the Loser!!!

  6. 36
    Rachel

    I’m in the same boat… Except I’M the one going to school full-time and working almost 20 hours a week, and he’s working a average of 16. The rest of his time is spent on video games or being mad at me over nothing. He also makes me feel guilty about my anxiety. He’s not the same guy I fell in love with, but I can’t see myself breaking up with him. 

  7. 37
    Quinn

    I spent 10 months with a man who just wanted a place to ‘crash’. I was thinking this was a relationship. He worked off and on when he felt like it. Drank and smoked and ‘smoked’. I supported his habits during the time he decided not to work. I would give him gas money to hang out with his friends when he was not working. He did some things around the house…gave me some money, but the lifestyle he wanted to live just drained me of everything. He would yell at me whenever I wanted to have sex with him. Would tell ME he was not in the mood. HUH? Did not like watchin porn with me. Wanted to be with his friends during his free time and hated being stuck with me on the days he was not with his friends. He would make excuses to leave the house, get drunk and ‘spend the night’ at his ‘friends’ house because he was too intoxicated to drive. I did this for 8 months with him. It nearly drove me to a stroke. He was 29 and I was 39 when we met and I have one child. He had no problem living off of a single mother. I gather his present girlfriend is another me.

  8. 38
    B

    Wow “T”, Thank you for your post.  I need to learn too =)

  9. 39
    mk

     In nature, the females are always the ones who are allowed to choose their partner. Just look at all those gray female animals, and all those colourful big males, and their constant fights, or dances ALL aimed at impressing the female, so they can be the fathers of her babies. The male has to be the healthiest, strongest male, superior to other males, thus ensuring that a female’s offspring is going to get the best of genes.
    Believe it or not, being human does not change this fact – women still search for a male who is strong, healthy, clever – translated in our human language – it means that a man needs to be successful in some way, educated women expect even more from their man – they need to be as well educated as they are. A successful couple is one in which both partners share similar interests and can have conversations on intelligent topics. My experience is that when a man knows less than their partner, in the long term (and if this man has no interest in catching up), than the woman will lose respect of him, especially if this is embarrassing her in public and in front of friends and family. 

    everybody knows that in todays world, success is measured by how much you earn. I hate this, as I am a scientist (and a woman) and if i want to do what i love to do, I will never be able to earn more than 60k. But in my field even if you are the best, you still get paid crap and nobody doubts how clever you are – here money just isnt proportional to success.. But in many other fields this is not the case. And maybe that is why majority of women out there are looking more into a man’s wallet – to see how successful they are. 

  10. 40
    NN

    I don’t see how it makes a woman a gold digger or a hypocrite in terms of domestic gender equality to expect that their significant other contribute about half of the expenses toward maintaining the household unless some other arrangement has been made.  I had a deal with my boyfriend and he hasn’t made good for a very, very long time and I AM resentful.  I’ve tried to be patient but it has really gone too far.  I wouldn’t have put him in this situation because it would make me a leech and I have my pride.  I am so angry at myself for allowing myself to be a doormat.  Yet according to some of these comments, if I want to be seen in a favorable light I should endlessly sacrifice myself because women somewhere in space and time were a financial burden to their husbands.  I won’t do penance for Eve or any other female in folklore or history!      

  11. 41
    Just Sayin

    Nobody wants a man-boy! Ask the mother who still houses her son if she wants his ass around….MOST LIKELY NOT. Why would another woman want him around and actually have children with him????? It is just disgusting. If you can’t respect yourself and at LEAST pay your mommy some rent just stop breathing. Serious. The  last thing any female or society needs is you getting her pregnant. My EX-boyfriend is 47 and barely making $200 a week from his job. Some weeks he doesn’t even get that. Why would I want to have a baby with that? He is irresponsible. He does stupid things. Total man boy loser. I’m sorry but the truth needs to be spoken and there is NOTHING wrong with the females telling it like it is. At this point there is no reason to have men around or pretend like it is possible for them to wear the pants. They just need to sit down, shut up, don’t say anything, and try to look pretty. Otherwise get out.

  12. 42
    ldjohns

    I think the most important value we have in relationships is that we each strive to make the other happy, however that prevails.  Money is not everything.  Give and Take is paramount to having a healthy, happy, loving relationship.  No relationship should have one person feeling like they are being burdened.  Communication is important but there has to be honesty when we are expressing what are expectations are from each other.  Often couples feel they are being honest with each other but they truly do not understand themselves and what they want.  A relationship should be nurtured and develop over time.  Rushing into a relationship, moving in together early in our relationship does not allow for the relationship to blossom.  Does not allow enough time for couples to communicate what their expectations are of each other.  We are all on our best behaviour and in the honeymoon stage.  If you are a young couple, chances are you have not met your full employment potential but you can discuss what your goals are for the future.  If you are a mature couple, your employment potential has been established.  We should be discussing our expectations of the other regarding the following issues.  
    *  Financial Obligations – who will pay for what?  
    *  Household Duties – If one partner earns more and works longer hours, then the other partner should take on more of the household duties.  Give and Take.
    *  When you want to have children – i.e. when you own a home or when       you are debt free and can afford to live on one salary 
    *  Who will be the primary child caregiver and how long you expect too live on one salary, i.e. when the youngest child is in full time school.
    *   Sexual compatibility.  Although sex should not be placed as a high priority, this area is very important to maintaining a healthy relationship.
    *  Religious upbringing of the children
    What causes problems in all relationships is lack of discussion on these important issues.  It doesn’t  matter who is the bread winner and who is the caregiver because each job is equally as valuable, difficult and rewarding.  As long as there is give and take in the relationship with neither feeling like they are being burdened with an unfair portion of the responsibilities, there is appreciation for each other and honesty on what you say you want from each other, any relationship can be happy, healthy and loving.  You cannot have it all – a successful career and raise confident, caring, secure, respectful children.  To be successful at each of these jobs (career and nurturer) you must give your full attention and time.

  13. 43
    kris

    My boyfriend and I moved  together almost immediately a year ago. I have been very successful over the past year and a half because of a great career change. When I met my boyfriend he had a job as a server. I always saw great potential in him which is the reason I wanted to pursue a relationship with him. He is intelligent even though he lacks the confidence to let that intelligence shine but I see it. Doing what I do for a living has afforted me the opportunity to share my knowledge with others in an effert to help them become successful too.  My boyfriend spends hours online on social networks etc but spends very little time with work. He recently quit his job to do what I do full time. But lets take a step back, we live in a very expensive condo in newyork which I cant ask him to pay for something I want to live in. I lived in this condo before  we met and im sure he wouldnt choose to live in something this expensive if he were single. But anyway ever since we met he hasnt been able to meet me half way but he does what he can. However i make sure every bill is paid, we travel, shop, go out to eat several times a week, pop bottles in night club’s,  and all of this is mostly done at my expense. I do it because I enjoy having a good time with my partner but it just seems as if he will ever meet me half way. I love him so much and this is the reason I hustle so hard to make sure were okay. To answer your question just in case you were wondering, he quit his job because the income he was making was only enough to pay for gas for him to get to work. During this time I woke up everyday to take him to work and everyday after work to pick him up and I just feel like if im doing all of this hustling for us as a team can you do more for us as well? So now he decided to quit his job and its the first week. He has been the same way he was when he was working and I dont know what to do. When I try to talk to him about it, it starts an argument and he says he doesnt want to hear it and that im being negative.  I love all the good things and good times me and my baby have together but this is really ruining our partnership. I just wish he knew how I felt. Besides that he is constantly online wasting time talking to people via social networks and it irritates me. I had to pay rent nearly every month since we met with maybe a few hundred dollars from him (maybe). I wish he would just understand the sacrifises I make for him and finally decide to make some for us.

    1. 43.1
      JoJOe

      You could have, right now, any man out there you want. Except a man who respects himself. So question is, why are you attracting men who do not respect themselves?

  14. 44
    Joe

    Sounds like you have different lifestyles.  He cannot afford to live your lifestyle (can’t afford to keep you in the style to which you are accustomed), so you need to decide whether or not that’s a dealbreaker for you.  Do you dislike being the breadwinner in the couple?

  15. 45
    WhatsGoingOn

    @Marc and Craig – actually, women want their men to do better than them financially because some have observed that it makes the men happier, more confident, and improves the quality of the relationship.  Studies have been done on this topic, some of which have been cited by Evan on this very blog, showing that by and large, in households where the woman makes a lot more, the relationship is less happy and far shorter.  Whether this is because the man is unhappy because of his status, or his woman is being critical or unhappy, who knows, but if you play statistics alone, without looking at the cause (because really people can’t fix their instinctive reactions and tendencies all that well on average), then if you are in a relationship where the man makes a lot less without any hope or ambition to improve himself, you will statistically have more problems and the relationship is kind of doomed.  Of course, there are always exceptions to this, but social statistics bears out the trends in the long term.  I’m not saying that should deter anyone from dating a guy who makes FAR LESS than they do without the potential or desire to make more (not talking about just a little less or the same), but if you do, you should be cognizant of the hurdles and insecurities and not be surprised when problems crop up regarding income.
     
    That takes me to @Kris’ post – sorry you are in this situation, it sounds really frustrating.  What I would say is that, was your boyfriend on board with this self-improvement project of yours to realize his potential, or was he just happy being where he was and you pushed him into it?  Because it sounds to me like, he really doesn’t have any ambition and drive at the moment and is becoming resentful of you trying to change him.  You really can’t instill ambition in someone who doesn’t have it.  It becomes your ambition and not his.  You want to be his partner, lover and girlfriend, not his mentor.

  16. 46
    kris

    @whatsgoingon I think your right. I have been trying to force success on him for a very long time. I see right now it is not important to him.  Right now im laying in bed getting work done and he is laying here online doing abolutely nothing while unemployed. I need to make some decisions. This is not working and its causing stress in my life.

  17. 47
    kris

    @joe all I ask is for a little ambition. I cant even get this. This is becoming a major issue.

  18. 48
    WhatsGoingOn

    @Kris – I think you are thinking in the right direction.  If you stay with him you will either have to modify your expectations (and can you?) or be continually disappointed in him.  And from his perspective, a man wants his woman to be proud of him.  Living with someone who is continually disappointed in you sucks, and can lead a guy into depression (if he isn’t there already).  Someday he will find a woman who will make him feel better about himself and accepting of what he does and he will leave you, even if you are better looking and more successful.  Why don’t you have a discussion with him about goals and expectations.  And if he truly can never fulfill your expectations or doesn’t want to, it’s best to just call it and be friends.  Because sadly, love doesn’t conquer all ills.  Good luck to you.

  19. 49
    Karl R

    WhatsGoingOn said: (#45)
    “it sounds to me like, he really doesn’t have any ambition and drive at the moment and is becoming resentful of you trying to change him.”
     
    I agree with this assessment.
     
    If you’re correct that he has lots of potential, then he will eventually decide for himself that he wants a different job/lifestyle. He will probably make that decision sooner if he’s supporting himself.
     
    In the future, don’t have anyone move in with you unless you’ve explicitly agreed upon each person’s financial responsibilities.

  20. 50
    Julia

    @Kris
     
    If you need ambition in a partner it might be time to call it quits but if you don’t need ambition but someone who can pull his own in other ways there might be some salvaging. Who knows your guy might love being a stay at home dad. But I think if you are holding out for anything more than he is now you should move on.

  21. 51
    Tina

    The problem is that men who make less than there woman starts to resent them. Men love to call women golddigers but they dont want them to out do them either. They also like to put emphases on women’s looks, sex drive and usually leave the household chores and child care to them as well and men are complaining because they have to make money? You don’t have the pressure of looking a certain way which a lot women have limited control over. You have control of your income potential and if you have a great personality, women love that too! However women can have all the personality and sweetness in the world but her appearance will always affect how men see her at the end of the day.

  22. 52
    Nail O The Head

    I understand what Julie is saying.  I’m in a similar predicament….
    My boyfriend is 29 & I’m 22 and we’ve been together on and off for 2 years due to some ups and downs.  We stay together now and I work part time and go to school full time. I would say that I make Good $$. I am able to sort myself and pull from the emergency fund to help him when he needs it, but I don’t feel like its vice versa. I’m not saying he never helps me out when I need it but I always have to wait till he gets paid again for the help.  If I were to blow my tires and needed help from him to get new ones he wouldn’t be able to help me.  I have helped him so much.  There was a time where he didn’t have the $$ for his car payment and I went into many savings and got out 300 $ for him Just so he wouldn’t lose his car.  I didn’t ask fir my $$ back.  I wanted my repayment through love and affection and him going the extra mile in the relationship but it’s not like that at all.  He has 3 kids with two other women. I don’t have any kids.  I know they are his responsibilities so he had to make sure their taken care of but what about me.? He isn’t IN school because he says is not for him,  and he has been at his Been at his current job for 4 years. He works and comes home but expects me to clean up after him in the bedroom. I literally have to bicker and bicker to him about it before he does it. He never takes initiative when it comes to certain things.  I just wrote about the future and where we Will n  when I get my degree making 6+ figures a year and he’s still doing the same job he b was before. …I don’t wanna feel like I’ve wasted all these years and still be going through these situations into marriage.  I do consider myself the bread winner in the relationship.  Now his car had been taking from him again.  I have the $$ to help him out but I’m not doing it.  I’m starting to hate having to take him to work at 6am every morning and still have to make sure I’m up and ready for class at 8am. I’m doing all the work and i don’t feel like I’m getting the same in return.  its been about 2 weeks since he lost his car recently had to put some work into my car to get new tires and a transmission flush almost 450 $ do you think he offered to help pay anything towards it? NO but guess who still needs a ride to work and driving my card around like its his?  I’m tired of it.  Im trying to be supportive but somethings gotta give!!!

  23. 53
    Janice

    Gosh, I wish I could agree that “money isn’t everything” but unfortunately, love doesn’t pay the rent and bills. I am presently going through a financial situation with my boyfriend of 14 months. What sucks is that we get along so well and love each other deeply but he has major major debt. *child support & medical school student loans* I am 47 years old & he is 57. What torments me inside is that he can’t get a loan to start a medical practice due to his debt and had a kid late in life when he got married in his early 40’s. Mind you, he never wanted kids but his wife who is now his ex wife tricked him by getting pregnant hence the hefty child support payments every month. Why it torments me is because he is a “great guy” & does all the house chores, is kind, considerate, emotionally available for me, great in bed, intelligent and appreciative especially when I make him dinner which I love to do. Anyway, he is a full-time professor but needs a second job due to his exorbitant student loans and child support. I am going to ride this difficult time out because I love him and we have a great relationship. If nothing changes or gets worst within a year or two, I may have to reevaluate our relationship but it will be heart wrenching to end our relationship because I never met a man as kind as him. :-( :-( :-( :-( I am hoping and praying that he will find a second job and we can make things work out financially that is.

  24. 54
    Irene

    I have been caught up in my own issues because financially for a year I was looking for a job and could not find it. I can honestly say I have overlooked all my partners good qualities because right now i am struggling with my own problems and I asked my boyfriend if he can loan me $100 and he said no and I lost it why because I was so focused on my needs. I had bills to pay. I need a $100 to hold me over. I am not sure what else to do… I told my man never to call me again because i told him he was being selfish for not helping me. My stress and anxiety are high and I guess out of impulse said it. I just wish I knew how to keep cool in times of financial troubles when he says no and not flip out.

  25. 55
    anaserene

    While women’s roles have changed dramatically in the past few decades, men’s roles have remained very narrow and their identities remain intertwined with their careers and incomes. In another thread on Evan’s blog, titled something along the lines of “Why Don’t Men Like Smart and Independent Women,” the commenters had an in-depth discussion regarding the dynamics of gendered roles, income, careers, and the way these play out in personal relationships today.  

    Personal experience and statistics both show that, as cited above, women want their men to do better than them financially because some have observed that it makes the men happier, more confident, and improves the quality of the relationship.  Studies have been done on this topic showing that in households where the woman makes a lot more, the relationship is less happy and far shorter. Men in such relationships are far, far more likely to cheat, too.  

    Cross cultural economic studies demonstrate that U.S. American society has the highest rate of freeridership in the world and that within the US males are more freeriding than females. 

    It does not make any sense for a man to be an extremely freeriding leech or unsupportive in less onerous ways in a personal relationship, such as expecting financial significant support that he himself would be unwilling to give or refusing to step up in ways that adequately compensate and are giving/providing/trying (been there, extremely unpleasant and made me most resentful and even disgusted), unless he has serious psychological issues, e.g. sociopathy, narcissism, addiction problems, etc. (in which case, I would suggest seriously reconsidering the relationship). 

    I just can’t think of another good reason why anyone would take another for granted to such an extent, and yes, not paying a fair share while not adjusting the roles to make up the difference is essentially taking advantage of the other person. If the end result of his action, or inaction, is disdain, contempt, and resentment  of one or the other partner to the point where there is psychological pain and distress, he is abusive, in my opinion, and ought not be tolerated. 

  26. 56
    Whatnext

    I don’t want to piggyback on somebody else’s problem but it’s very similar to my current situation. 
     
    I have been with my partner for 5 yrs and the arguments always go back to ‘you live in my house for free and don’t pull your weight.’

    I have never earned as much as my partner and probably never will in my line of work unless I have a career change. I work as much as I can and contribute when I can (whether it be buying the groceries for that week or paying money toward petrol).

    We definitely have the issue that I feel he does not see all the things that I do for him and I find myself feeling like hes not putting in the effort. He said he hates when I use these things that I do ‘once in a blue moon’ as a defense when he has to support me and let me live in his house for free. Every argument in at least 4 yrs comes back to this for him and each time in my opinion, I am making effort to do more for him yet he still says I do nothing. I don’t see how it is possible. 

    I know its not easy for anyone to help without knowing what happens behind closed doors…I love my partner so much (I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t) I don’t love him for the money he earns but the person he is. I am very grateful for what he does for me but I am constantly made to feel like I owe him something. Sometimes I feel like a slave, like I’m just there to do his chores,and it’s not like he asks in a nice way all the time. It’s like I should know to be doing all these things in his house. (again the whole getting people to do things using positive reinforcement would come in here). 

    I love him and can’t see myself not with him but I’m getting to end of my patience.  

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