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You Asked: Should I Cut My Losses Now?

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend and I have been dating about six months and I was seriously considering marrying him a month ago. He is gentle, humble, passionate, and I just know he'll be a great father. The problem is he's unemployed. He was a subcontractor in the construction industry and he loved his job, but the construction industry has just fallen apart in our town. I thought I would be able to handle this but the truth is, he doesn't really know how to do anything else and there are no jobs in sight.

We've talked about money and it's clear his parents taught him nothing. Even though he is 30 and has a really nice car and apartment, he has no savings of any kind and no health insurance (it's too expensive since he's self-employed). To make matters worse, I have a very stable job as a high school teacher. The fact that my job is not in jeopardy (yet) just makes me feel worse about everything. I'm not trying to rub it in his face, but at the same time, my parents struggled when I was growing up and I picked my job specifically so I would never have to worry about unemployment. The longer he goes without work, the more our relationship gets strained. I can handle not going out and I am fine with teaching him about money if he wants to learn, but I feel like he should be much more proactive in his job search. I don't want to throw away an otherwise great relationship over this, but at the same time, I know that a lot of couples divorce over money and I am starting to understand why. Should I cut my losses now or give him more time to pick himself up again? — Disappointed Diana

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Disappointed Diana,

I'm sorry to hear that your boyfriend lost his job — it's a very scary time right now so I understand your concerns. With that said, he won't be unemployed forever so if you can accept his situation for the time being, I agree, it's not worth throwing away an otherwise seemingly good relationship. If you stay together, yes, you'll have to make some adjustments in your life, you might even have to pick up some of the slack, but I'm sure he'd do the same for you if the roles were reversed.

If you feel that he's not making an effort to find work, either in his field or another field for now, that's another story. You can do your part to support him and teach him about money, but he's a grown adult and it's his responsibility to make his future and his career a priority. I wish you luck during these difficult times — hopefully there's a light at the end of the tunnel for you both.

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pixelhaze pixelhaze 8 years
Thank you for clarifying, there is a clearer picture now. I can tell you that he definitely needs you right now, and as someone who is also in transition I know that my significant other was the only thing that kept me from falling into a very deep depression. Keep this in mind: it takes an average of six months to find a job, and that's in a good economy. If you really are serious about this guy you need to get counseling and fasten your seatbelt, things aren't going to get better right away.
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
I am sorry for your loss. If you really want to try it to make it work, talk to him and try some finanacial counseling. They can help you guys make a plan and even possibly widdle down that $40K. Try but if it gets worse, leave.
Symphonee Symphonee 8 years
Pleae just say what you honestly feel. Nothing is worse thatn being in a tough situation like this and tiptoing on eggshell because of the underlying tension. "Look, you can help yourself to whatever you want to eat for lunch. I want you healthy for when you do get a job. I know that this is stressing you out because it scares me too. I am very proud of the fact that you didn't give up and are still trying even with the economy being how it is right now. But, I also think we should look at some ways of tackling your debt. We need to get a plan in place so that when you do get a job we have already moved forward a bit. I don't want to be mad at you or for you to resent me later. I just want us to work together because I want to be with you for the rest of my life."
jazzytummy jazzytummy 8 years
Diana, people have been way harsh to you here, and I feel badly for you about that. I agree with geebers. I think you are wise to really think about your future. It is all fine and well to say, stand by your man, but the reality is, it is much more complicated than that. This guy owes 40K? I don't blame you for being concerned....finances are important and you are smart to think about what you are getting yourself into before you become legally bound to someone. Anyone who calls you names for being that way is just naive, IMHO. You are nowhere near getting married after only 6 months...I say give it some more time, and counseling may help you. There is no need to make any big decisions now. I would also say what is just as important now is how your bf is treating you...I get that he is unhappy being unemployed,but he shouldn't take it out on you, and if he is making you miserable and treating you like shit because of it, I think it is time to move on.
geebers geebers 8 years
Diana if you think you two are that serious - maybe it is time for counseling. This is some serious stuff. People downplay financial concerns but I think you are being very smart to worry. It's hard and if this guy is someone you want to be with -you have to work at it.
Diana932 Diana932 8 years
I don't care about the job search. I think he is working really hard to find a new job and I am proud of him and understand how difficult it is. I am sure I love him and he is sure he loves me. We are not breaking up or getting married any time in the next month (if it's up to me). But I also know that 40K of debt is not something that gets paid off overnight. Even if we work hard at it, as a team, it will take years. And that means putting off goals, like having kids, for years. I just want to know what should I say today to not make things worse for tomorrow.
Fallen85 Fallen85 8 years
Has he ever considered declaring bankruptcy? 40k is ALOT of money and as long as it's not student loans (or he's been out of school for at least 7yrs) then it will be a huge weight off of his shoulders and less stressful to deal with the lack of money coming in. Also, dont you guys have some sort of Unemployment Insurance in the states? Is he receiving any help from the government? I understand that there is a huge weight on your relationship, pulling you two down but as I said before, I'm in the same situation with my fiancee. The only reason we're not biting each other's heads off is because we are looking at it as a team not like it's his problem and I'm just standing idly by. 6months into your relationship this is a hard thing to have happen. If you are doubting your relationship then let him go. He will be in the same position with or without you and you will be stress free. It's time to choose whether you're able to deal with his problems as well as yours and be thankful that this all happened 6months into dating instead of 6months in to marriage. Good luck
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Diana , I have been married 8 years and in those 8 years my husband has been jobless about 4 of them due to being laid off or otherwise, its stressful but you work through it and realize that marriage is freaking hard and it takes DAY TO DAY work to make it last. That said ...6 months, not nearly long enough to know you should marry him
Ac2366 Ac2366 8 years
There is nothing worse then losing your job. It makes you feel worthless. If you love him and he is willing to look for a job even if it is "below" him then stick with him. He should be doing whatever he can to bring in some money. Both of my brothers are unemployed and they refuse to take any job that they consider to be not up to their standards so they remain unemployed. If I lost my job I would work at McDonald's if that was the only job available. If he has a bad attitude I would leave him or at least make sure your finances were kept completely separate. I cannot stand not feeling financially secure.
Diana932 Diana932 8 years
I wrote this. I know I have my own problems. I could still use some help. When I said things are getting strained, here is a typical conversation at the end of the day: Him: Sorry I snapped at you, you didn't do anything, I just have a headache. Me: (I think to myself, I get headaches because I haven't had enough water, so I try to say) Maybe you're dehydrated. Him: Probably, I didn't eat lunch today. Me: Why would you not eat lunch honey? That's not good. Him: I haven't gotten a paycheck in 6 weeks! I don't have money for lunch! What do I say next that won't make things worse?? The only thing I can ever think of to say next is, "I can make you dinner if you want," and then he says, "You don't have to do that" and then we both feel bad, because he feels like he's failing me and I feel like I'm insulting him trying to offer help but I don't know what else to do. I know he is upset. I would be, too! Truthfully I am not doing so great myself either. I am terrified of losing my job at the end of the year and my grandmother died last week. But the fact remains that he is $40K in debt and I only make $25K a year, so that seems like a lot to me. And I feel like he keeps pushing me away from him as a defense mechanism... and I want to be supportive, but some days I just feel like blurting out Fine, make your own dinner, I was just trying to help! and leaving, which I know would only make things worse. I know being good people and loving each other is more important than money, and we agree on that, but in the past month we have gone from the time of our life to never having fun anymore. So if I want to stand by him, how do I do that without being a b*tch like everyone says I am? How can we find a way to talk about something other than money? I feel like if I bring it up, that's rude and uncaring, but if I don't (or he does and I change the subject), I feel like I am dismissing his concerns. Plus at the end of the day all I want to do is give him my money to see him happy again, which I know is the wrong thing to do. (PS our school has a snow day I am not doing this at work)
boringgrownup boringgrownup 8 years
"To make matters worse, I have a very stable job as a high school teacher. " Would it make matters better if you also had an unstable job? (And personally, I think the only stable jobs are in nursing) The only way your having a stable job makes matters worse is if you are against supporting him in his unstable job. If you were thinking as a couple, as one unit, you'd think this would be better because at least you have one income. If this is as much effort as you're willing to put in to marriage, maybe you should marry a stingy trust fund kid.
karlotta karlotta 8 years
Please don't marry this guy. He deserves a supportive and understanding wife, and you're just being intolerant, selfish and judgmental.
nicole815 nicole815 8 years
Get over it. It's really tough out there. As long as you know that he had a strong work ethic and is looking for work you should be all set. He'll get a job eventually. P.S. Be lucky you don't live here in Rhode Island where many, MANY teachers have been laid off.
luna08 luna08 8 years
Honestly, this is more about your issues! Ask yourself if he's lazy (not if he isn't as proactive as your panicked self would like him to be) a spendthrift, totally unmotivated or doesn't contribute financially when employed. If the answer is "no" take a deep breath and list everything you love about him and address your childhood fears. A lot of people are learning that there is NO security in any field anymore. As townships and states fail even gov. jobs aren't totally stable. Also, in his field, there are winter layoffs in the best of times. He may just be living in the reality that he won't be hired or rehired until spring. When he's employed again encourage him to save for seasonal layoffs.
queenlizzie queenlizzie 8 years
I don't blame her for being concerned--she specifically says she doesn't want the instability she had growing up now that she's an adult, and this guy is causing instability. Duh, that's going to bother someone with her background and experience! I'd give him a little more time, but if you don't feel like he could support you if the roles were reversed, you should consider moving on.
Fallen85 Fallen85 8 years
Frankly I think you should cut this guy loose. Not because he's unemployed but because you sound like a b!tch. He deserves a woman who will be there to support him through the hard times as well as the good but apparently at the slightest hint of insecurity and instability you want to throw away the person you considered marrying because you dont want to end up with someone who isnt perfect. This is a really difficult time in the economy and especially in the construction industry. No money means no ones buying anything which means no one needs to build anything.. trust me... my fiancee is a carpenter and has been out of work for over a month. He's been applying for EVERYTHING. No one is hiring. Yes it f*cking sucks but I know we'll get past it. I have an excellent and stable job that I studied for, just like you did, but I on the other hand, love him more then I love the idea of being with a millionare. I will suffer with him because I know he needs me and if the situation was reversed I know he would stand strong beside me as well. You should figure out if it's the man you love or the idea of him because right now.. it sounds like you dont deserve him.
princess_eab princess_eab 8 years
Almost 30 is really not that old to not have savings, and to have all your assets in a car and an apartment - I live in NYC and I'm telling you that's *way* more than most people have here. If he's not thousands of dollars in debt, I do think you're being harsh. This is a hard time for everyone, and while it's great that you haven't lost your job, there's no telling what could happen to you in the future. Your boyfriend is not the financial waster you think he is - I'm also 29 and I've seen much, much worse, Don't throw away your relationship over this - I guarantee you it would be the stupidest move you could make. (Now - if he's borrowing sums of money from you and not paying you back, dump the loser!)
lindssaurussss lindssaurussss 8 years
way too soon to be thinking about marriage but i dont blame you i think about it too. : ) you shouldnt break up with someone because they are unemployed, as long as he isnt leeching off of you and isnt doing anything to get out of this rut. why do i say this? because Im UNEMPLOYED my job went out of business. i dont blame him for feeling upset and what he needs right now is a confidence boost, if you can give it to him. it hard. alot of people are going through this. i would suggest maybe he network and find a job out of his area. or perhaps go a tech school and find a job that is in demand.
Renee3327 Renee3327 8 years
Now is a really difficult time to be unemployed and wanting a job isn't a guarantee that you can find one. As long as he is actively trying to find employment I don't think there is anything to worry about, it will happen eventually. As for money, there are a lot of people in there 20s and 30s who are having to worry about money for the first time so give the guy a break. If everything else is great as you say then you should give him a chance.
LeChatonNoir LeChatonNoir 8 years
It seems like your distress may not be about him. It would be a good idea to confront the other things that are bothering you - because perhaps the mere circumstance of his unemployment is allowing a lot of other unresolved and suppressed feelings to emerge, that may involve the relationship, and may not. The reason I suspect this question may be about many other things is that you mentioned your respective upbringing/values, which seemed to fuel the arguments and fears. Funnily enough, those differences might also be the endearing things about him that drew him to you - that he has a different perspective on life, and goes about achieving things a bit differently than you do. If you love him, as a friend and as a lover, you need to trust his ambition to support himself. Perhaps, through his last job experience, he had a bunch of realizations about what direction he would like to take his career in - and getting back into the workforce, especially with new objectives, takes time. All in all, worrying on his behalf won't help, but supporting his goals will. It may involve letting go of a certain pre-disposition you may have to worrying and habits of control, which will be scary at first, but it will ultimately bring you even closer together - you'll be glad you stuck it out. :)
kristyy kristyy 8 years
I agree with Ster. The guy has been unemployed a short time and maybe he just needs a break. You've been dating for only 6 months. It's not like you have to support him. Might be a good time to start teaching him about saving money. If you do see yourself marrying him, don't let this little bump in the road affect your relationship - it should be stronger than that, but if not, then I would suggest you end the relationship now so that he can find someone who is more understanding. I also don't understand why you are so proud about the fact that you picked your profession as a teacher. The only reason, it seems, that you chose that career path is because you think it's stable. Life isn't always about comfort and as soon as you get a bit out of your comfort zone, you freak out. I'd rather have a higher paying job and do something I enjoy (even if it's unstable), than to be stuck with something stable and not that rewarding (personally and financially).
Ster Ster 8 years
Since you were still considering marrying him a month ago, I guess he's not been unemployed for longer than a month? I don't know if I would want to marry you, if you cut someone this little slack. Jeez, they're hard times, his sector isn't hiring, he's probably a little depressed at having lost his job ... a month is not a long time. If he's still unemployed a couple of months down the road, maybe ask yourself this question again. But for now, it's a good time to practise being there for eachother ... for better or for worse, you know.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
*THIN - apparently this ignored my earlier edit.
dm8bri dm8bri 8 years
If you've thought about marrying the guy, then you should have also thought about the fact that part of the point of marriage is that you're WITH each other through thick and thing(sickness/health, prosperity/poverty). Seems to me like you're putting the cart before the horse, so to speak. You've only been dating 6 months. Chill out and see how things evolve. I certainly wouldn't merge finances and move in together with things how they are right now, but see if you can advise him on money issues and help motivate him to get back into the job market. It's really hard, mentally and emotionally, for guys to be out of work. He's probably depressed. I know I don't feel like doing much of anything when I'm depressed. The economical forecast isn't encouraging either. So, be thankful you have a stable job (but don't hold that over his head or your relationship) and offer him organizational and motivational (NOT MONETARY, as that will only add fuel to resentment) assistance. If he hasn't done anything a few months down the road then you should rethink your options but, in the meantime, what are you losing by being a supportive girlfriend?
MissJules5x MissJules5x 8 years
have the two of you discussed moving somewhere where you can both find jobs? why cant he find something part time (for example- retail) so he has an income and gets used to waking up and going to work everyday? eventually when and if you get married he can get health insurance from your job as well. the best thing you can do is talk to him, and you both need to sit down and decide what you BOTH need to do.
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