The time I was an TOTAL idiot: Money and its importance in Relationships
This might be too much of a diary-thing for those of you out there, but it’s something that I hope will benefit future women readers who are either single, or in a relationship.
I also think it’s a good idea to basically show you another side of me — the idiotic, rose-coloured glasses side.
The situation I want to focus on is having been with a guy who was pretty much unemployed the entire time we were dating.
Long story short, in hindsight, I was a flipping idiot for not having trusted my gut and seen all the red flags.
..but I’ll bet you want the long story, and perhaps understand why someone who seems to otherwise have her shizz together, ended up paying for a loser for so long.
This can also apply to men who are being used by their girlfriends, so keep that in mind as you read this:
WOMEN AREN’T GENERALLY BREADWINNERS
I’ll admit it.
A lot of it had to do with resentment.
Call it what you will — a lack of a strong female role model, or what have you, but even though I wasn’t expecting someone to wait on me hand and foot and shower me with gifts all the time, but I didn’t expect to be paying for the both of us.
Women aren’t expected to bring home the bacon, and coming off the wave of newly found feminism in the last 100 years, there are still some residual ideas left in my brain about not wanting to be the sole hunter in the relationship.
Not only is it risky, it’s not fair.
Say what you want, but that’s how I feel.
SOCIAL CIRCLE GUILT AND SNOB OVERCOMPENSATION
This is another reason why we stayed together for so long — I felt really guilty at feeling like he wasn’t from the same social circle as I was (I’ll let you smart readers figure out where I felt I stood).
I went to a great college, and basically had a pretty good life ahead of me.
He never even graduated high school.
I felt this class distinction pretty strongly when I met with his friends and family, and I eventually got used to learning how to change my speech patterns to be less collegiate if you will, because he told me it made his friends and family uncomfortable that I used a more complex vocabulary.
That probably should have been the warning sign.
I tried to brush away all of this nagging doubt that maybe this isn’t the right relationship for me, but instead, being the idiot I was, I went into the other extremes and tried to overcompensate by staying with him even longer to prove that I wasn’t a snob.
I quashed all those feelings that nagged at me, and tried to prove to be someone I really wasn’t.
In the end, the gap was just too big to overcome with my overcompensating, taking into account his lack of willingness to meet me halfway and at least get a goddamn job and contribute.
For the record, I don’t think I’m a snob, but there are class distinctions, shared values and taught commonalities in society that are hard to overcome if both sides are not willing to compromise and change to meet halfway.
I’ve met really smart people who’ve never finished high school, and they are interesting, fun people to be with whom I admire. In fact, his parents were some of those people, and I wish I could still call them friends.
I really liked talking to his parents because they were so full of energy, common sense, ambition and a great work ethic. Alas, it did not pass down to the apple of the tree, and you can’t stay with someone because their parents are awesome.
IT IS FRUSTRATING TO FEEL LIKE THE MOTHER IN THE RELATIONSHIP
I had to nag him for days before he would call the bloody credit card company and ask for a lower rate.
Or even for the most mundane, OMFG JUST DO IT things, like changing the address so the bills go to the right place.
ANYTHING that had to get done that was important, he couldn’t do and/or couldn’t do it on time.
I was ALWAYS the one doing all of it, and it drove me crazy because I was basically his new mother.
I was thinking and organizing for 2 lives, while working a 60-hour job, traveling like crazy, and trying to keep it all running smoothly.
Let that sink in for a bit… then read the next part:
Then I’d come home, and see his lazy ass propped up on the couch, playing an effin’ video game because he didn’t have a job, didn’t seem to job search for very long, and spent on the credit card (albeit not extravagantly) behind my back, knowing that I’d flip out over miscellaneous charges on CRAP we didn’t need.
I wasn’t a saint, but at least I wasn’t buying alcohol with someone else’s hard earned money for other people to drink while playing poker at the apartment someone else was also paying for 100%.
I think even his friends and family were amazed I was still with him, and I could see it on their faces sometimes, in small glimpses before they hastily re-arranged their face.
I don’t think anyone was really that surprised when I finally kicked him to the curb.
Once, I talked to his uncle, and the guy bluntly said:
So she’s working 2 jobs, while going to school full-time and it’s all to pay for your lazy unemployed ass?
What the hell are you doing to contribute to your relationship?
She shouldn’t have to do it all.
Be a man and help her for chrissakes!
(The language he used was stronger than that but you get the drift…)
He shrugged it all off, but little did that guy know, that started the mental ball rolling on the end of this rather useless relationship.
The lazy monkeys who were sleeping in my brain, woke up and finally did something.
YOU CAN’T CHANGE WHO SOMEONE IS AT THE CORE
If they aren’t interested in making a career for themselves, they will never do it.
If they haven’t found something to do in the interim while figuring out what they don’t want to do, they will never find what they want to do.
I was ABSOLUTELY the problem in the relationship because I let him do what he wanted, and I didn’t call him on his bullshit.
It was as much MY FAULT as it was his.
You may be wondering how a girl who has only worked less than 50% of her working years, can call someone a lazy sack of crap, because aren’t I just doing the same thing?
Yes, I hang out and do nothing for months at a time, but I’m not mooching off anyone.
I’m paying my fair share (in money and in labour), and I’m not dependent on anyone for anything.
When I get contracts, I work. I really work, throw myself into the job and I like doing it right.
When I am off contract, I relax. Or at least I try to, without worrying about when my next contract is coming.
The point is that I’ve learned how to work hard, and then I’ve learned how to relax and turn off my working switch.
I am not always in 100% relax mode, no matter how easy-going and laissez-faire I may seem on the outside, when writing this blog.
There is always a side of me that wants to work, and feels otherwise uncomfortable when I can’t.
Likewise, if someone is totally fine for 3 years to sit around and do jack squat financially or help around in the house, and perfectly okay with living off someone else’s dime, they will be totally fine to do that for the next 100 years and won’t really change into someone who is eager to get their hands dirty.
IN SHORT, DON’T DO WHAT I DID – I’M GLAD I GOT OUT
Don’t ignore your gut.
It knows more than you think, and even though you may not want to end something because it’s comfortable, easy and you’ve just been together for so long… do it. You can’t be with an anchor dragging you down for your whole life.
You WILL regret it.
This goes for men as well.
Don’t be with a girl who doesn’t want to help with her fair share — whatever you think the fair share should be.
If she doesn’t make as much as you, and you don’t think it’s fair that she pay 50/50, then don’t ask her to pay, but don’t let her mooch off you and use you like an ATM, while doing absolutely jack squat, which includes not helping out in the home, cooking or doing the things that people generally do if they don’t contribute financially.
Be in a FAIR relationship, whatever you define as “fair” to you.
Now, I can’t be with anyone who doesn’t want me to pay 50/50, nor doesn’t want to pay 50/50.
Maybe it sounds cold, clinical and roommate-ish to you, but it’s the only way that I can feel like it’s fair.
There’s no discussion about who paid more for when and what, and there is no resentment slowly festering, ready to burst like a blister, all over the relationship.
Get the money stuff squared away, and then focus on everything else.
Find someone who shares the same work ethic, ambition and values (including money values) as you do, and the rest will come easily if they’re the right person to be with.