Where Do You Draw The Line When Your Girlfriend Asks For Money?

Hi Evan,

I’ve been reading your blog weekly for almost 6 months, and have been many of your past archives. I’ve not seen this question answered before, so here goes: Where do you draw the line when your girlfriend asks for money? We’ve enjoyed each other immensely for the last 9 months… until she decided to return to school to get an advanced degree. She now can only work part-time, and has trouble paying her bills. On top of that, her car recently died and she had no money to get another one. I gave her some money to help her get a used car, but she still struggles to pay her ($1,000 per month) mortgage and other bills. She says that since she would do anything for me if I had problems, she expects her man to do likewise for her. I have a decent job (making about 100K per year), but I just don’t like the idea of giving anyone money. We appear to be breaking up over this, since she says she really can’t stand the thought of her man not helping her out if he can afford to do so. Am I wrong?

Bob

Dear Bob,

Congratulations. You’re her sugar daddy.

As I see it, the real problem here is that you bailed her out without having a commitment – and now she feels entitled to more bailout money. You’re the U.S. Government, she’s AIG – and your relationship is still ill-defined.

She’s relying on you as a husband even though you’re not a husband. Which makes this a good time to ask yourself: do I want to marry this woman

And, if not, breaking up might not be the worst thing in the world.

As I see it, the real problem here is that you bailed her out without having a commitment – and now she feels entitled to more bailout money. You’re the U.S. Government, she’s AIG – and your relationship is still ill-defined.

That ill-defined relationship – 9 good months together without living together or getting engaged – seems to have created a blurry set of expectations on her part. She genuinely thinks that your money is her money and is depending on you to carry her while she tries to work and go to school simultaneously.

And unless you agreed to that arrangement, you’re allowing yourself to be used by her. It’s really easy for her to say that she’d do anything for you – in theory, I’m sure she would. But what if you decided you were going to quit your six-figure job to be supported by her as you attend art school. And to supplement that, you asked for an allowance, because affording rent, tuition and supplies was suddenly cost-prohibitive? I’ll bet she’d be singing a different tune.

The rules do change when you’re living together, engaged, or married. If I’m paying $3000/month rent and my fiance lives in my room and can’t afford to contribute much to our monthly expenses, that’s fine.

If her car gets dinged and she’s too cash-poor to fix it, I’ll offer a loan, which she may or may not repay.

Hell, this year, my wife underdeclared her taxes and I had to spend a decent chunk of change to make it right with the IRS. Was I thrilled? No. But that’s the sacrifice of marriage. That’s what you do in a partnership.

The bigger issue, Bob, is this: the RIGHT woman doesn’t WANT you to bail her out. The right woman wouldn’t ASK you to subsidize her education and strain your finances.

Think about what would happen if you were to break up with her. Would she be homeless? Would she have to quit school? Would she have to get a different job? Would she have to move to a cheaper place? Whatever it is, she is fully responsible for herself. And by taking responsibility for HER lack of finances, you are the enabler who allows this to continue…and then you resent her for it.

The RIGHT woman doesn’t WANT you to bail her out. The right woman wouldn’t ASK you to subsidize her education and strain your finances.

If you think this woman is your future wife, then perhaps this is a sacrifice that you want to make on her behalf. But if she’s not, I’d put a stop to it right this second.

So, in answer to your question: “Am I wrong?”: if you’re wrong about anything, it’s in being TOO generous with a woman who is perfectly content in exploiting your generosity.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jennifer

    I had a very different take on this situation than Evan did. I didn’t get that she’s trying to exploit him, but that she genuinely views them as partners and likely sees the relationship as more serious/permanent than he does.

    That doesn’t make it right; I think it’s a piss poor idea for an adult woman to be financially dependant on anyone, married or not. Hopefully she’s getting the type of degree that will provide a positive ROI in terms of real dollars and she won’t find herself in this situation again. But it does mean that her crime is being naive and a bit misguided as opposed to being an exploitative gold digger.

    What made me read the letter in a more sympathetic way was her ‘i’d do anything for you and we’re in this together’ reasoning versus ‘you’re a man and it’s your job to take care of me’. Had she said the latter I’d see a problem, but that didn’t seem to be her attitude here.

  2. 2
    Karl R

    Bob said: (original post)
    “She says that since she would do anything for me if I had problems,”

    Maybe she would. Maybe she wouldn’t.

    Relationships are a two way street. As much as we talk about “unconditional love” in relationships, there’s a lot of quid pro quo in the early stages. (Familial relationships, like parent-child, are an exception.)

    How does someone become my confidant? They confide in me, and they don’t betray my confidences. I don’t start out by discussing my biggest secrets. I start with smaller stuff and see what happens.

    I’ve loaned friends $1,000 or more, but it wasn’t the first loan. I loaned them a small amount, and they repaid me. I loaned them a larger amount, and they repaid me. Eventually they had built up the trust where I felt confident that they would repay larger amounts. And some of them loaned me money too.

    It doesn’t sound like Bob’s girlfriend has taken the necessary steps to prove that she would “do anything” for him.

  3. 3
    Curly Girl

    Hear, hear! Dump her!

  4. 4
    Steve

    Wow, I’m really looking forward to reading other people’s comments as I have not thought about this issue whatsoever. I’ve never been in this situation.

    Evan has a great point. If the situation was inverted into a guy not thinking his finances through before making a big commitment, then asked his girlfriend to supplement his income and pay for his short sightedness there would be a chorus of “throw the bum out” from men as well as women.

    It isn’t that neat and clean.

    Contemporary American culture is fairly heterogeneous in what it expects from adult females. Even limiting things to just my own social circles, I know happily coupled couples who take care of their expenses like single people would on one extreme and on the other extreme I have a friend whose husband pays all of the bills despite them not having children.

    Whether a given woman is irresponsible, has unreasonable expectations for the men in her life or not comes down to the particular people you talk to.

    I women friends in their mid thirties who take thousands of dollars from their parents and who have not taken a dime from anyone since their teen years. All them consider themselves to be responsible adults.

    I think it was shrewd of Evan to suggest drawing the line at wives, live in partners or women with that potential.

    A relationship with a GF of nine months could end tomorrow. In that situation getting stuck with 1-2 loans of a few hundred dollars is one thing but getting stuck with much more would be another thing altogether.

    I guess it is time for contemporary American men to begin evaluating women by how women handle their finances and their financial expectations of men. Do you want an old school woman, a woman who views her finances the way you would for yourself or the hybrid who take care of yourself but who would view you as an acceptable backup?

  5. 5
    Steve

    Jennifer Jun 18th 2009 at 05:56 am 1
    I had a very different take on this situation than Evan did. I didn’t get that she’s trying to exploit him,

    Why do you have the impression that Evan though the GF was trying to exploit him?

    What made me read the letter in a more sympathetic way was her i’d do anything for you and we’re in this together reasoning versus you’re a man and it’s your job to take care of me. Had she said the latter I’d see a problem

    Interesting. I thought I read exactly that with this line from Bob’s letter:

    since she says she really can’t stand the thought of her man not helping her out if he can afford to do so.

  6. 6
    Honey

    My reactions to this:

    1) Is there ANY reason this woman can’t get student loans like EVERYONE ELSE who goes back to school and finance her life that way? If she hasn’t taken them out, it’s not too late to start – you can file your FAFSA late and/or ask for a budget reevaluation that will increase the amount of her aid. If things continue to go well with these two, then perhaps they will get married and he will feel differently about paying her loans off than he did about paying for her lifestyle upfront (or maybe she will make enough money after the additional schooling to pay them off herself).

    2) If everything else in the relationship is good and this is only making him uncomfortable because they aren’t engaged/living together, then perhaps she should sell her house (or he should sell his) and they should move in together. FWIW, this is one of the reasons I will NEVER buy a house. You can always downgrade easily if your life situation changes and you are renting. The same is not true, as we have seen over and over in this economy, if you “own” (I put own in quotation marks since if you don’t have your house completely paid off you are really still renting from the REAL owner, which is the bank, only you get all the liability – in what universe is that a deal?).

    3) Observation from my life – this isn’t really a gender issue or an income issue. It seems to me to be a money-management issue, which is totally separate. I have lent the BF thousands of dollars on numerous occasions, including a) when I was still in grad school making $14K per year and he had graduated and was making $90K, and b) now that I’ve graduated as well but am making less than half of what he does (he has about $7K on one of my credit cards because my interest rates are so much better than his).

    He is very responsible with money *now* – has paid off about $15K in credit cards and not made a single charge to the plastic since he started working, but he is digging himself out of a VERY deep hole that was accomplished either before he met me or when we had been dating less than a year and I didn’t really have a say (or even know anything, since I didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask yet) about his finances. If I wasn’t confident that he’d learned the error of his ways then I wouldn’t be dating him or lending him money. As it is, I am confident in our future.

    However (again FWIW) there is no way in HELL I would have loaned him money when we’d been dating less than a year. At that time, I would have run as fast as my little legs could go. But that’s hardly blanket advice for anyone’s situation – this one may be different. Only Bob can say.

    Honey´s last blog post…Crummy Weekend

  7. 7
    Steve

    I think Karl in post #2 bring up a good point.

    Bob’s GF is expecting something that happens in relationships that are established past a certain point. It doesn’t seem clear to Bob if they have passed that point yet. Evan tried to define that point as wife/live-in level relationship.

  8. 8
    Jennifer

    @Steve #4 I think your quote below is right on:

    I guess it is time for contemporary American men to begin evaluating women by how women handle their finances and their financial expectations of men. Do you want an old school woman, a woman who views her finances the way you would for yourself or the hybrid who take care of yourself but who would view you as an acceptable backup?

    People need to talk about their expectations, and the state of their relationship, so no one is confused.

  9. 9
    Steve

    An interesting way to look at this is to imagine they are in the future telling someone else about the breakup

    “My girlfriend and I broke up. She ran into financial trouble from a poor decision she made. I loaned/gave her several thousand dollars. It became clear she would need a lot more. I didn’t want to go there”.


    I broke up with my boyfriend. I made some bad decisions and ran into financial trouble. He gave/loaned me several thousand dollars. I needed a lot more. He didn’t feel comfortable giving more money. It made me upset, so I ended the relationship

    Which sounds worse to people?

  10. 10
    Selena

    Hmmm, well it would seem her field isn’t mathmatics or accounting if she couldn’t figure out she wouldn’t be able to pay her basic household expenses with a parttime job.

    Sounds like she sees them as partners. Bob doesn’t. I think it’s pretty presumtuous of someone to expect someone else to “help them out” when they aren’t living together or engaged, but who really knows what these people’s relationship is really like? Obviously they are not on the same page and this appears like it will be one of those “piss or get off the pot” turning points in the relationship.

    Bob it you really “don’t like the idea of giving anyone money”, you are better off avoiding partnerships and sticking to “just dating”. Also, for God’s sake man, DON’T Have Kids!

  11. 11
    Eathan

    The biggest problem is that you’re dating her and not married to her. I’m not into being a sugar daddy to someone I’m dating. If you’re married, you are spoiling her or just taking care of her.

    He needs to get used to being a sugar daddy or break up. The only 2 choices I see.

    Eathan´s last blog post…I’m Not Dating Any Longer

  12. 13
    bdsista

    What is unclear is if they are living together or not, also, “we have enjoyed each other immensely” can mean different things. If he is “enjoying” having a girlfriend who although may not technically live with him, but is over all the time and acting like a live-in girlfriend/wife, then it does not surprise me that she expects him to act like a live/in boyfriend/husband. Nine months of continuous exclusive dating may lead her to feel that way, or he led her to feel that way. I’m sure she told him of her plans. No one gets into school overnight, there is an application process, she has a mortgage-not rent, a mortgage, so I’m not buying that this is a surprise. There was NO discussion about her working part-time? Nice of him to help her out, but some of this he should have been talking about with her. She’s not totally irresponsible if she owns a house. I appears that she feels the relationship is on one level and he wants it to be a bit less of a committment. Would not classify her as a golddigger or him a sugar Daddy, but if he doesn’t like it, then he should leave. Oh and these will not be loans, he might as well write them off as gifts. I would imagine her take is, my man takes care of me when I need help.

  13. 14
    Honey

    @ Steve, I think her version would be more like:

    I broke up with my boyfriend. I was going back to school so I could get a better paying job, but it made things financially difficult in the short term. He loaned me a little bit of money, but wasn’t comfortable giving me what I actually needed to get by. I thought, if he’s like this now, how will he be if we stay together? So I ended the relationship.

    Honey´s last blog post…Being Tall vs. Great Game? Take the Game.

  14. 15
    Donna

    She is OUT OF LINE ! And Bob is being used. I, as a woman, would (and have) bent over backward never to ask for a loan from any man. If you are married is one thing but not even engaged would do. If you want him to be your future husband, do you want to look financially irresponsible to him? I don’t think so! And good point made above, that you could break up at any time and you’d never see that money again, or you could get her thru school and then she could dump you!

    1. 15.1
      Just No

      Also it is a good sign of how this relationship will be long term, she sounds like a taker to me I have a pal who married one of these and now pays for EVERYTHING and does not realize that is not alright. The relationship only “got better” after he decided to “give everything to be with her, do whatever she wants to make her happy” and he is so obviously being used by her like all her (evil ex’s) probably were, oh and it has only been better for the past two months after almost two years of roller coaster crap and way over 20 breakup makeups including four right before the wedding. Poor man is giving up all his dreams for her, all his savings, his home, his friends, everything, and oh yeah she is over 38 and acts like a pre teen. And years before they were even official he paid for her lifestyle and her grown child’s, because he “loved” her.

      Bob is being used like my pal is, and no amount of “love” will change that, I would get out and find a normal woman pronto; I made it through college by cutting back and learning to live frugally it isn’t that hard to do and if all else fails you can get loans.

      She could also be like my little brother too, going to “college” for a few semesters (his is military paid) then flunking out or forgetting to register in time and spending the money elsewhere. Then when his sibling is graduating he tries to “register” again but misses the deadline then claims that it is because X,Y and Z reason.
      Rinse and repeat for three semesters, and she could do that you know.

      Bob I would get out, you do not want to be in a pay to play relationship they never end well and you will lose far too much in the long term.

  15. 16
    Steve

    I don’t think Bob asked this explicitly, but I think he wants to know if there is a way he can stop lending/giving money to his girlfriend and not have it impact the relationship.

  16. 17
    JM

    What a conundrum! I completely agree with Donna’s post and sentiments. Boy, Suze Orman would have a field day with this woman. In this economy, we are all forced to cut back and tighten the purse strings a bit. If you can’t afford to get an advanced degree (in addition to paying your bills) then maybe now is not the time to go back to school! Bob sounds like a generous soul, but this scenario is a recipe for disaster. Sounds like his GF is manipulating him and he is falling for it hook, line and sinker. I guess love really is blind.

  17. 18
    Paul

    If you watch those court TV shows, like Judge Judy for example, their court rooms are filled with people who loaned money to others – usually girlfriends to boyfriends – and then they say it was a “gift” when they break up. Always in an uncommitted relationship. that what is the beauty of a marriage…what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours, and we make decisions and sacrifices together for the common good. I personally agree wholeheartedly with Evan and a little more strictly in fact in that I don’t think, in any circumstances, should there be co-mingling of monies unless the two are married. Not in a “comited” relationship, or “living together” because what is that really? It’s not a marriage and frankly demeans marriage. It always seems to end in trouble when one loans money to another out of wedlock. This girl is trying to hold him hostage by saying essentially “I’d do the same for you” and “I can’t even think of having a relationship with someone who won’t help me”. My advice for him is to gently move on, or be prepared to state your case and stand up to her like a man, regardless of how she reacts.

  18. 19
    Ava

    Whatever happened to student loans? Oh yeah, right, she’d actually have to pay back a student loan. Even if she isn’t “using” Bob, it doesn’t sound like she is financially savvy or independent. She is not “entitled” to a loan from the Bank of Bob just because he makes a good income. Plus, he already HAS helped her out financially, so I don’t think he’s stingy.

    I’m sorry, but she should have had a plan for paying her own way without relying on her boyfriend at this point. I could see it if she involuntarily lost her job and was perhaps caught off-guard. But she made a decision to return to school and she should have worked out a way to do that AND pay her bills, including an expensive mortgage. They don’t live together, so it’s not his mortgage to share.

    I think Bob is having second thoughts about being involved with a woman who is isn’t financially responsible, and who doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with that.

  19. 20
    Cilla

    I agree with the general consensus that she is out of line asking him to borrow money at this stage of the relationship. If he saw her plight and offered, it would be a different story, as it would if they were engaged or living together.

    I think whenever you loan someone money informally, you have to be prepared to never see it again. If you think of it as a gift, or that it will come back to you in another way (a raise, a bonus, etc.), it makes it a lot easier. If people thought, “What if I never get repaid?” they might make a different choice about extending a loan.

    I’m from a big family, and we’ve all loaned each other money at one time or another. I don’t know how desperate I’d have to be to borrow from a boyfriend of nine months, especially if I owned a home. I don’t share my personal finances in any great detail with someone I’m dating–I don’t think it’s any of his business until we’re talking seriously about cohabitating. That’s one of the perks of being single after having been married to a man who was controlling and obsessed about money–how I choose to spend it is my choice.

    I heard the women on “The View” talking this spring about how singles are asking each other their credit scores instead of their astrological signs. Good lord, have we come to that? I’m sure there are a lot of people who will only date someone who is financially responsible, although that in itself encompasses a pretty wide range of behaviors (no debt? having manageable debt? having lots of debt but paying it down?).

    I myself prefer to date someone who is at roughly the same station in life as me–it makes choosing a restaurant, planning a vacation, understanding budgeting for college tuition, etc., easier. But I’m comfortable gleaning that information during the first few weeks of dating, rather than demanding it before the first date even takes place. And there’s no guarantee that asking gets you an accurate or permanent answer. Especially in this economy, people’s credit scores and monetary assets can change daily. Payoff your mortgage and decide to rent? Your FICO score actually goes down. Open a new credit card with a high limit ? Your score goes up. A millionaire can have a reversal of fortune in the stock market and become penniless in no time. Businesses fail. Property values decline. My goal is to simply try to start off on the same footing and with similar (or at least compatible) values about money. After that, if you are really with someone for the long haul, married or no, there is an element of “for richer or for poorer” that comes into play…

  20. 21
    Jennifer

    @Steve # 5

    Hey Steve, I got the exploitation theory from this line of Evan’s response:
    So, in answer to your question: Am I wrong?: if you’re wrong about anything, it’s in being TOO generous with a woman who is perfectly content in exploiting your generosity.

    Earlier he also mentioned that Bob was being used a sugar daddy.

    Regarding the line in the letter that you pointed out, i didn’t read ‘man’ as in ‘it’s a mans job’ but more like ‘my man/partner/significant other should help me out’, with the assumption that that would go both ways.

    Like Selena and Karl said earlier, i think they just aren’t on the same page regarding the ‘seriousness’ of their relationship, not that she’s being exploitative.

  21. 22
    Steve

    @bdsista , post #12

    If you were dating a man for 9 months and he told you that he was quitting his job to go to school would the thought occur to you that you might become the goto person for large sums of money if he got into trouble?

  22. 23
    Honey

    On a side note, the BF’s an attorney, so he has written a contract for any time I’ve lent him any money, always with a proposed repayment schedule for large amounts and a clause that says that he will repay in full immediately should I demand it.

    So perhaps that’s a possibility…and if she’s hostile to the idea, then we know where she’s REALLY coming from.

    Honey´s last blog post…Crummy Weekend

  23. 24
    Steve

    @Honey post #6

    About item #2
    What about equity? If you HAVE to sell your house for less than it is worth you still get something back, with rent, it is 100% gone. If a bank forecloses on you, don’t they at least have to give you what you paid on the principal back?

    About item #3
    Its not a gender issue, for you. It may be for others. As I wrote in comment #4 there are a number of ways for women to view their relationships with men and money in contemporary America that would still allow them to think of themselves as responsible adults. Yes, outside of old school men there are men who would have no problem taking large amounts of money from their women but that is a lot less and a lot newer than the reverse.

  24. 25
    casualencounters.com/blog

    @Honey

    Seriously? That’s HYSTERICAL. I’d die laughing if anyone I cared about presented me with something like that when they needed money.

    You’re hung up, America. Life’s too short.

    casualencounters.com/blog´s last blog post…XXXblackbook.com review

  25. 26
    Mikko Kemppe

    Interesting question with a lot of interesting comments. I agree with Evan that if Bob continues to give her from a place of feeling like he is sacrificing instead from open heart then he is bound to end up feeling resentful.

    I also agree with Jennifer and felt like Bob’s girlfriend is not necessarily asking money from a place of purposefully using him, but instead from honest expectations.

    In either way, my advice to Bob would be to have an honest open conversation with his girlfriend to either find a solution like Ava and others suggested, or then to explain her that he simply does not feel ready to commit their relationship into a level where he
    feels financially responsible for her.

  26. 27
    MARC

    Hey Bob,

    I’ve been there and done that.

    She’s manipulating you and you’re allowing yourself to feel guilty and resentful about it. Emotional extortion, guilt and resentment do not a healthy relationship make.

    DUMP HER AND CHANGE YOUR PHONE NUMBER. MOVE, IF YOU NEED TO!

    MARC´s last blog post…Never Judge a Book By Its Do Rag

    1. 27.1
      Deb

      I agree with you Marc. He needs to get away from this woman.

  27. 28
    Diana

    To Steve #24: The bank does not return your paid principle in the event of a foreclosure, or in any kind of mortgage situation. If you sell your home for less than its market value, you might still make a profit, but it depends on what your total outstanding mortgage balance is. A lot of homeowners owe more today than their home is worth, but in time, the market will stabilize and values will slowly go up at the pace they should have in the first place.

  28. 29
    Honey

    @ Steve, #24 – no, if a bank forecloses on you then they keep EVERYTHING you’ve paid. Even if you still only owe $5. In fact, the more equity you have, the more aggressively banks will try to foreclose, because the more likely they are to make money on the deal.

    All the personal finance literature I’ve read says that you never get it back either way. Yes, if you pay it off completely you don’t have to pay rent anymore. But you still have to pay property taxes and homeowners’ insurance. OTOH, if you invest what you would have put down on a house in a diversified portfolio with an 8% yield, then the lump sum you have upon retirement is likely to be enough to pay your rent until you die, anyway – and you still have the added mobility of being able to downsize or relocate at will, PLUS no homeowners’ insurance or property tax. Home ownership’s a crock, and especially since the bust, ALL the personal finance experts I’ve seen have said that you should NEVER think of your home as an investment. It is a place to live and that’s all.

    I am hard pressed to think of any guy under 30 who wouldn’t hesitate to take a bunch of money from his GF. This is a (horrible) generalization, but this latest generation expects to be taken care of by someone for their entire lives, based only on their own supposed “awesomeness.”

    When the BF quit his job to go to law school, his GF (who made substantially more money than him even before he quit AND owned the house they lived in), quit her job, MOVED to where he was going to school, got a new job, bought a new house after they’d been there a year, AND let him pay only like $200 in rent per month.

    Boy was she pissed when he broke up with her with 1 year of law school left to go – she had to sell her house (which she’d owned less than a year) and move back to where she came from. Fortunately, her old company had realized how indispensable she was in her absence and gave her the original job back, with like a $20K raise.

    In any case, there are still plenty of “old school” guys left as you say. But it’s becoming more and more common for EVERYONE to expect to be taken care of regardless of gender. In higher education, they refer to them as the “snowflake generation” because they’re all so convinced of their utter uniqueness and invaluability. Is that last even a word?

    Honey´s last blog post…Good News Follows Good News: Or, LinkedIn Works!?

  29. 30
    Steve

    @Honey #28 Thanks for the finance info. About the other stuff, I’ve seen many articles about what experts believe is an epidemic on narcissism. One more tainted legacy older generations have stuck the youth with. I’m glad I was born when I was.

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