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You Asked: Are We Too Different to Make It Work?

Dear Sugar,

I've been dating this guy that I really like for a few months now and we've fallen quickly in love. I'm 26, he's 31 and this is the first serious relationship for both of us. We have a pretty good relationship for the most part, but when we touch upon sensitive subjects, things can turn a little sour. He loves luxuries (Italian designer clothing, nice restaurants, etc) but I prefer more simple things because I'd like to save money for the future. I want to get a master's degree within the next couple of years and he's stuck in a low paying job and doesn't seem to be doing much about it. I make more than him. He says he wants to find something better, but when I presented him with an opportunity that I heard about, he was more concerned about the transportation to that job than the wonderful opportunity. The job is only 35 minutes away by car and it pays a lot more than what he makes now.

When I was starting out in the working world, I did everything I could to find a good job, even if it meant I had to drive 40 minutes to work. My family did the same. He says he wants something better but that he isn't sure about what he wants to do in the future. I feel like we are on two different levels in our life and I'm starting to wonder if our relationship can work. I've talked to my parents about this and they feel like we are just too different, that we have different morals and that it could never work. I know he loves me and I want to be with him too, but now I'm confused. What do you think? — Mismatched Malorie

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear Mismatched Malorie,

You've heard of opposites attracting, and while I feel that saying holds true in some cases, I happen to believe it's the similar traits that really make for a long lasting partnership. Money and work ethic are huge subjects that must be discussed before entering into a long term relationship. Since you have such different views on life goals now, and since you're already becoming so irritated by his lack of drive to better his occupation, keep in mind that it could only get worse later down the road. I'm pretty sure you don't want to be a harping, nagging girlfriend and unfortunately, it's not very likely that you'll be able to change him.

One thing to keep in mind is how you react to each other when you do touch upon those sensitive subjects. It's important to have your own beliefs while respecting each others. I would keep getting to know each other better and follow your own feelings about this, not your parents. If you have to really question whether or not you're too different to make it work, chances are the answer is yes, but before you give up, make sure you have all the evidence you need to make the right decision. Good luck.


Join The Conversation
AmandaLucia AmandaLucia 9 years
i just broke up with a guy a couple months ago because of this same thing - and he was 34. you can't change someone, especially a man. i realized i would rather be alone than with him knowing that this was a huge issue for me. and he still hasn't found the motivation to go forward in his life.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
Most likely if he's taking no initiative to better his career or save money, he's not going to be changing for a while. He's already getting set in his ways at 31 and working the same job and doing the same things become really boring. I wouldn't suggest sticking around to find out. If you must stay with him save your money for your future and let him pay for a little more in your day to day life. Soon he'll realize that he needs to step it up or he'll lose you. If he doesn't than at least you have money saved up for yourself.
BlueKitten BlueKitten 9 years
You sound exactly like a friend of mine. After four years of dating him, she married the guy because she was soooo in love with him. Three years later, he hasn't changed, she resents him mightily, and their debt exceeds their yearly income by 3x, at least. Run far, far away.
bobblehead bobblehead 9 years
I've been there and unless they see and realize that they do want to change it wont happen. You can love him, but love wont pay the bills.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
For me it is not so much that this is the first serious relationship for both of you it is that you expect him to be like you and your family. It doesn't sound like he asked you for help in finding him a new job so stop doing it and BTW 35 minutes is a long commute for some people especially if they are used to a short commute. While you do anything for that good job some people just aren't going to so stop pushing unless that is your underlying motivation is get him to end the relationship so you don't have to! Nothig like nagging someone to get them to leave so you don't have to step and do it. This relationship is really new in my opinion and if his lifestyle bothers you now it is only going to get worse! I also have expensive taste but it does not mean that I buy every expensive thing I can get my hands on plus I know to wait till the end of the season to buy the spendy things I want he may do the same thing. People can have expensive taste but it does not mean they act on every whim.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
first warning sign? the likes expensive things but is in a low paying job........drop him, he will only drag you down.
michelle-c42934 michelle-c42934 9 years
My ex was a bit like this, he had no motivation and it annoyed and frustrated me. I encouraged him to do better, but he just didn't bother. We broke up and over a year later we still talk and get on well. But I know that he hasn't changed at all, so I feel I made the right decision. You can do better, you need to be with someone who wants the same things as you. Especially if it's really important to you.
cvandoorn cvandoorn 9 years
I couldn't deal with somebody who lacks drive and motivation to improve his financial situation. That's why I dumped my ex...I just couldn't deal with it! You said that he likes luxuries but he makes little money. Is he using your money to buy that stuff?? I really do think you two need to be on the same page financially and goal-wise for a relationship to be successful. Yes, some people can make it work in the situation you're in, but it requires understanding and compromise from both partners in the relationship. Are you willing to put up with it? I can see him being pissy about the fact that one day you'll drive a nicer car, and can buy much nicer things (if you can't already) than him because you earn more. That will just bring up more issues. I know this sounds old-fashioned, but as much as I want to earn more than my man, it still feels good to know that he brings home more money than me.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
I think it's very clear that you aren't really in're just in love with the idea of being in love and ready to find love. If this is the first serious relationship, and it's only been a few months, you don't know each other well enough to be in love. But I the finances. One, first few months of a relationship shouldn't be this hard anyways, it is a big red flag for things to come. Second, if he's so into luxuries and fine items, then it seems quite odd that he's settling for a low paying job. Sounds more like he's fixated on wanting nice things and going into debt to get them rather than working his butt off to get what he wants in life. First few months? I'd say get out, fast. You're too young to have to deal with someone that's older than you and not very financially stable or has much potential to be. It sounds as though you're having to take care of him more and guide him, and that isn't your responsibility. There are so many other people out there that will already share your ambitions for the future and finances, that it should have to be something you are struggling with right off. Relax and realize that you are better than this and deserve to not have to carry the weight of someone else (that is done as a support system when your partner of many years stumbles and needs help, not someone to be their guide all the time). Remember, the first few months are the easy fun times, and if they aren't, move on..and up!
sunshowers83 sunshowers83 9 years
Well said, petite42. Like the others, I'm also quite disturbed by the fact that he indulges expensive tastes on a shoestring budget. It says a lot about him: - he has no respect for money, neither his nor YOURS (selfishness) - he lives for a moment and has poor judgment when it comes to planning for the future (immaturity and irresponsibility) - he cares more about status and appearances than he does in having a sense of personal accomplishment (shallowness and superficiality) You've only been dating a few months. SLOW DOWN! This is your first serious relationship - honestly you hardly know the guy well enough to say you truly love him, and there are a lot of red flags here. Unless he makes a major change in his attitude, you will forever resent him for spending away your dreams for the future.
Sydney-C Sydney-C 9 years
Agree with everyone else, if he is 31 and still has no ambition/idea what he wants to do with his life, I don't see it happening at 35, 40, get the picture.
sass317 sass317 9 years
Making little money and having expensive taste is a red flag for me- unless of course he saves for months to buy something he really wants. But if he is just racking up credit card debt to get things just bc of the label on them (or asking you to pay for them) is a no no. It shows he isnt responsible, and at 31, he should be. What happens if you get married and have kids? You give him money to go to the grocery store and get food and diapers and he comes home with Italian shoes.
Lele777 Lele777 9 years
This is a train wreck waiting to happen. Go find a man who can afford the finer things with his bank account, not yours!!!!
jaxon jaxon 9 years
The man is 31 and this is his first serious relationship? RED FLAG #1 He has champagne taste but a beer budget? RED FLAG #2 He says he wants more but is obviously coming uo with weak excuses not to pursue anything RED FLAG # 3 Girl, leave this man. He is obviously not ready to move forward in his life so he def will not move forward in a relationship. He is still a boy move on...
fashionhore fashionhore 9 years
Personally if you are having to ask yourself those questions then you don't really think that the relationship is a long-haul type already (there is something to be said about going with your gut). However, not everyone is cut and dry, so I would suggest mapping out your plans, morales, ideals to see what you want out of life; now you can simply have a conversation with his about his goals and ideals and see where if you are two polar opposites or if there is something there. Don't settle for something that you aren't fully comfortable or happy with (esp. something like marriage and til death do us part) because there is always something better out there for you. It will be hard, but worth it when you find the perfect person.
petite42 petite42 9 years
For me, personally, the lack of drive wouldn't be an issue. That's because I am the one with the drive and the career, and it can be awfully nice to have a partner who is perfectly happy and content holding down the home fires and keeping the nest tidy and the kids fed and our social life hopping. Plus, I admire people who can get me to shift my focus away from work, and on to other, meaningful areas of my life. Sometimes I forget how to do that and need reminding. However, the red flag for me is that this man makes little money YET has luxury tastes! How does he afford those Italian suits? Have you checked his credit card statements? If he is in debt, run like hell and don't look back!!! I have seen way too many marriages fail because of money issues. I have seen way too many people get completely screwed because their partner runs up debt, which they are also liable for. Don't make that mistake. So it's fine if a guy doesn't have drive and ambition and his job is just a job. It's NOT fine if he hasn't learned to be happy living within his means, and expects you to pay for his italian suits, or just wracks up endless debt, which, if you marry him, you'll share.
linb linb 9 years
I agree with DearSugar. You two need to be on the same page when it comes to finances, or I really don't think it will last. How will you feel if you spend your entire life saving up for retirement, while he wastes any extra money he has on frivolous things - clothes, nice restaurants, etc. You will resent him for not putting the same effort into it as you are.
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