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

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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. 21
    Maria

    I’m struggling right now with the resentment theme. I have a loving partner and we’ve been together for 7yrs. He’s always earned about half my salary. It didn’t bother me in the beginning as I thought he’d grow and work his way up. It hasn’t worked out like that. He’s a hard worker, but in an industry that pays badly. He’s restricted in his choices as he doesn’t have high qualifications and has learning disabilities.

    After reading the comments above, I realise I need to work out my resentment issues as I have a loving partner. This MUST be more important than my partner’s salary. I have a partner who is there for me and who supports me.

    Sometimes I think life would be so much easier if money did not exist!

    You know what’s also really wierd. I sometimes dream that I have a partner with lots of money and I could give up work and dedicate myself to the housekeeping. Then I actually really start thinking what I’d do if I had a partner who had lots of money. I don’t think I would stop working as I wouldn’t want to be dependent upon someone else to put food in my mouth. What would happen if the rich guy left me?

    Time to remind myself that I’m very lucky to having a loving partner and I should think of his good qualities rather than focus on his salary.

    Am I glad internet exists and people take the time to leave messages behind on forums. Thanks to you all. Especially the guys – I really liked reading your outlook on this issue. And I thought I was modern……

  2. 22
    Denise

    #21 Maria

    Wow, what an insiteful post Maria.   Very mature and introspective,   you have a really well developed ‘observing ego’ skill–coaching yourself real time.

    Have you had this discussion about the way you’re feeling with him?

  3. 23
    Andrea

    I’m wondering why women don’t differentiate between deadbeat and a man who just makes less than you b/c he is in a lower paying field or perhaps is less educated.
    I mean, I don’t feel this way, but this thread makes me think that female doctors married to high school principals will resent their husband for not “pulling his weight.”   That seems kind of silly.
    The husband who makes $75K to your $500K is not a deadbeat b/c he can’t pay for all or half of your McMansion.   Funny that this doesn’t go both ways, and men can’t call wives you don’t work at ALL outside of the home deadbeats and leeches. Or if this thread was about a teacher whose surgeon husband made her go halfsies on everything, we’d see a lot of outraged women.
    Now contrast the lower earning husband who is making exactly what others in his field (and may be at the high end, albeit, in a different income category than you), with a guy who stays home and plays XBox all day b/c he knows that you have things covered financially. That is a problem.
    And of course, I don’t consider a househusband who is running the home and cooking and shopping to be a deadbeat either.
    I agree, #21, your post is insightful, but it just seems that if you will feel that a man who is doing the best he can in his chosen field is somehow not enough, then you should date men in fields that make the same or more than you (although I’m sure you’d be upset if a man who made twice as much as you thought you weren’t “pulling your weight.”)
    Maria, I have to ask, why would it be okay for you not to work if you found a rich guy, but you have a problem with a guy who works but earns less?   That seems really hypocritical? How do you see yourself as modern if you have that attitude?
    It’s okay for you not to work at ALL and live off someone else’s money, but it’s not okay that a man who works makes less than you?

    1. 23.1
      Henriette

      Andrea – I completely agree with you.   It actually worries me to see how many modern, educated women look down on men who work hard in fields or jobs that may pay less than their own.  

  4. 24
    Denise

    #23 Andrea

    You’re points all well taken, and come from an intellectual point of view.   In our heads we know this is the case, and I think that’s what Maria was saying as well.   She gets it in her head.

    The part she’s struggling with is her feelings.   I think what Maria is struggling with is something she has no control over, that’s femininity and masculinity.     These feelings reside in our reptilian brain, they are ingrained in us, have been for millions of years and are not going to change any time soon!   Like it or not, women are nuturers, men are hunters and gathers. When we see those roles being reversed, it can cause angst.   It doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed, it’s that we have to understand why it’s happening and then use our other 2 brains to work out a solution.  

  5. 25
    Karl R

    Denise said: (#24)
    “Like it or not, women are nuturers, men are hunters and gathers.”

    Your theory seems to be contradicted by actual research. In  hunter-gatherer societies, hunting is primarily done by men, gathering by women and children (exceptions exist). Furthermore, 80% of the  food is obtained  from gathering. In older hunter-gatherer societies, both sexes hunted and gathered.

    And if you want to take it back to the “reptilian brain,” please show me a female reptile that doesn’t hunt/forage for itself.

    Therefore, this belief that the man should be the provider is a far more recent social construct.

  6. 26
    Andrea

    I think I also have a big problem with it because you want to claim that it’s in your DNA to want the man to provide for you, but a lot of the same people would be mad if the same man expected you to take orders, follow his lead, let him make major decisions, have a baby every year for him, and want his home cleaned with a hot meal waiting for him at the end of the day.
    I just call foul if you want to blame biology on why you want what you want, but get mad when a man follows biology (which I think would also include having more than one mate, and getting a lot more sex than a lot of women probably are willing to have).
    And let’s not even start on all of the whining about why women have to do all of the changing, and the virtual riot that would erupt if the answer was “b/c they are wired differently and biology doesn’t let them change.”

  7. 27
    Leila

    Its not only women who complain about pulling most of the weight financially. My boyfriend is resentful of my position as I’ve gone back to university ot re-train as a lawyer and he does not like the fact that we are not on equal salaries as this affects many other things.

    Also,  during this same times I am  suffering from a long term illness which means although in my first year of the degree I was working full time and running a business I have now just succumbed to studying full time only out of neccesity.

    He does not pay my bills or anything and we live apart but I have borrowed money off him ariund 3 times when and owe him about 600 punds currently. Up until this point I was working hard so financially was ok and paid my way equally i.e. when we went on holidays etc

    He  earns around 5 times what my student loans and grants combined but I think he wants someone who  he can rely on.

    The bigger picture is that I will hopefully be a successful lawyer one day but I’m not sure if he’s prepared to wait. I  don’t have a car either which drives him mad but i do live in the centre of the city and walk everywhere.                 

  8. 28
    Leila

    Its not only women who complain about pulling most of the weight financially. My boyfriend is resentful of my position as I’ve gone back to university ot re-train as a lawyer and he does not like the fact that we are not on equal salaries as this affects many other things.

    Also,  during this same times I am  suffering from a long term illness which means although in my first year of the degree I was working full time and running a business I have now just succumbed to studying full time only out of neccesity.

    He does not pay my bills or anything and we live apart but I have borrowed money off him ariund 3 times when and owe him about 600 punds currently. Up until this point I was working hard so financially was ok and paid my way equally i.e. when we went on holidays etc

    He  earns around 5 times what my student loans and grants combined but I think he wants someone who  he can rely on.

    The bigger picture is that I will hopefully be a successful lawyer one day but I’m not sure if he’s prepared to wait. I  don’t have a car either which drives him mad but i do live in the centre of the city and walk everywhere.                  

    So clearly there is no point throwing around general  throwaway comments about gender…

    Secondly, I would ask  why does it matter what your partner earns? If you want  something go and get it for yourself. Seeking stability or material wealth through others i a  doomed  philosophy.   Yes you want to build  a future together and that takes a certain level of income, har work, patience and respect but money? That just is not majorly important expecially if at least one of you is earning a good amount.        

  9. 29
    Sasha

    My boyfriend is also studying and I am older than him by at least a decade. I work and earn good money not amazing but enough to be able to spend what i want when  I want to. I have bought a new place and are considering asking  my boyfriend to move in with me. My biggest issue is the financial responsibility that i will have to shoulder as he does not have an income. Although going back to Evan’s original point I have not considered the advantages. He is a kind , caring man that adores me and is very domesticated.  Also I have just gone through a divorce and my ex husband earnt great money but was selfish, nasty and absuive. Given the choice of a higher earning mate that is a jerk  or a mate that supports me, nurtures me and makes me unbelievably happy well i choose the latter every time. I  have friends who are in their 30’s never been married   and want it all. They want the good looking, rich guy that will support them and adore them and make time for them and sadly this is why they are still single. Life is a  compromise and sometimes you have to give a little to reap the rewards.

  10. 30
    Dawn

    I too have a boyfriend that doesn’t pay for anything. I buy ALL the groceries that HE”S eating. He never has offered any help. I feel like only thing he wants from me is in the bed. When we first started seeing each other 6 months ago he spoke of wanting romance and love and someone special in his likfe. Well….there is no romance it’s just hard cold sex. and it’s everyday 2 to 5 times a day! This is too much for me. I feel like I get nothing in return. His affection is for the bed I don’t get it anywhere else. He’s never taken me out or even asked. I started develping feelings for him and now I’m rethinking. I just feel dirty. Oh, did I mention he’s 30 and I”m 46? I know maybe that’s it in a nutshell.

    1. 30.1
      Karmic Equation

      Have you ever told him you wanted him to contribute more to the household expenses? Have you ever told him you would like more compliments and affection out of bed? Sounds like no. Probably because you don’t know how to ask without it sounding like nagging.

      My bf gets extra turned on when I whisper compliments in his ear when we have sex. No missing his non-verbal reactions. I liked doing it because I like his reaction. So were I you, start whispering compliments to him when you’re having sex. After you’ve done it a few times, during pillow talk, say something like, “You know how much you like me whispering compliments to you while we’re making love?” “Umm, yeah.” “Do you think you can do the same for me, but when we’re OUT of bed?” Then give him some examples. “Like tell me you love how I make you laugh or how much you like it when you come home to the smell of fresh-baked brownies because it makes you feel so loved that I did it for you. Stuff like that. It would mean a lot to me if you did that. Do you think you could try?”

      And the reason I can come up with this is because I starting to realize that a few compliments from my bf wouldn’t be amiss. He’s treating me like gold, as that’s just his way. And he’s a man of few words. So I’ve been thinking of ways to get him to give me a few words of praise without me fishing. And I occasionally unabashedly fish 🙂 Part of being authentic and vulnerable…and playful. I almost always try to deliver my likes and dislikes in playful tones. Which is very easy for me, because I laugh at everything. If laughing doesn’t come easy for you, this method of communication might be tougher to pull off.

      As for the household contribution, that one you can be direct. The next time you go to the store (assuming you go shopping together) — say to him, “I paid for all the groceries last month, so this month, you get to pay. Ok?” If he says “No” then ask “Why not?” — Have the conversation as non-judgmentally as you can. If he’s not budging, then just say “Hmm. I need to think about this. I don’t think it’s fair that I pay for everything.” — Then think about it and give him your thoughts. Continue talking until either you can accept his decision or you decide you decide you must walk away. Those are your only choices. Bitching on a board like this ain’t going to solve your probs.

  11. 31
    SS

    So Dawn, why are you in this relationship again?

  12. 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!

    1. 32.1
      krissy

      Thank you Nazzie! I feel like that message was for me. You see I fell for this guy that I thought wanted something out of life. Well it certainly seem that way at the beginning. Then I began to notice his habits. Then the excuses why he couldn’t pay this or that bill. At one time made more money then me with no real responsibilities but still couldn’t help out financially. But he expects for me to keep my word when it comes to buying him. Smoking pot cost him his good job, he’s very forgetful and I find myself constantly picking up after him. It’s frustrating! I have three kids of my own with him makes four. He lives with us and no matter what I say refuses to leave and he knows I’m not happy. Who’s happy being used?? I’m not a sugar mama but he’s treating me like I am….,I just want out!!!

  13. 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.   

  14. 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.

  15. 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!!!

  16. 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.  

  17. 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.

  18. 38
    B

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

  19. 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.  

  20. 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!         

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