Author Topic: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?  (Read 29011 times)

TapeMouse

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In many ways, my boyfriend is perfect for me.

In other ways, our relationship is being torn apart.

We've been dating for over two years now, and his financial situation is making me wonder if we should have a future together.  A future together is sort of the whole basis of our relationship; thanks to the substantial distance between us, we only get to see each other monthly (don't worry, at least that we are being pretty mustachian about, this post is long enough so I'll skip details), and why would anyone bother with a long distance relationship if it isn't going to result in a long term relationship?

I don't yet have a luxurious 'stache.  And I've been pretty privileged in life.  My parents paid for most of my college, I've been given some stock from family members, and most importantly, I was raised to be very fiscally responsible.  I'm on track to have my first $100k by the time I'm 25 (less than a year away), and I save about half of my after tax paycheck (and I'm working to save even more).

My boyfriend hasn't been so blessed.  Whatever extra money his parents had, they gave to the church.  He didn't go to college, and so he's been working in the software industry since he was 18.  Plenty of time to build up savings, right?  Even poorly paid programmers are still pretty well paid.  But, as we all know, it isn't necessarily income that equals wealth.  It's what you do with it.  And when you give a young guy a credit card and no financial role models, shit happens.

He's about $10k in the hole, which compared to the college debt that many other 27 year olds have, isn't that bad.  I'm sure many of you here could finish that off in 6 months or less with his salary that's a bit above $50k; after all, debt is an emergency (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/).

For the majority of our relationship, we didn't talk finances.  I didn't want either of our situations to effect our feelings.  Finance finally came up... a year ago?  6 months ago?  Basically, quite some time ago.  That's when he told me about his situation.  He said he was working to make up for the indiscretions of his youth, and I trusted him.  I didn't want to nag him about something that, really, isn't my business, and I figured it was such a manageable sum that he would pay it off easily.

Turns out I assumed wrong.

We discussed finances again this weekend.  He has barely made a dent in the debt.  There's an added variable of his underemployed roommate/best friend, who my boyfriend has been loaning lots of money to, mostly for "basic" living expenses.  I say "basic" because they aren't mustachian basics.  It would be one thing if he was trimming his budget in other ways to make up for the money he's loaning... but he's still spending an absurd amount on eating out and poorly planned groceries, and who knows what else.  Plus over $150 on weed (well over, when you consider that he's paying for his roommate as well).  Weed is a bit of a sore spot for us; although MMM has professed that he has indulged, it is not something I personally condone.  It's fine if friends or strangers use it... but I cannot deal with a partner who uses it.  We've come to an arrangement that basically amounts to him smoking while we are long distance, and quitting when we move in together.  There's things I'm sacrificing too, but our respective compromises aren't the point of this post.

I'm just having an extremely hard time understanding how he can live such a "lavish" lifestyle while having so much debt.  He paid 3% for a balance transfer, and now his debt is interest free for a year.  Well, less than a year, that happened months ago.  It's great that all his repayments go toward the principal, but I feel that this interest free loan is making him less hesitant to lend money to his roommate.  A couple of months ago I got him to sign up for Mint, but after the initial sign up process, he has basically ignored it.  This Monday he finally sat down and looked at his finances (something he should have done MONTHS ago when he first talked about becoming for fiscally responsible), which is something at least.  Unfortunately, he didn't really do it because he wants to, but because it's important to me.  While I'm flattered that he is taking my priorities into consideration (we both try to be very sensitive to the others' needs), I really wish he was doing it because getting out of debt was a personal priority.

I just find it baffling that someone is having such a hard time paying off their loan, especially when they are young and dependent free, and it's really taking a toll on our relationship.  I want to be supportive and help guide him towards a more financially maintainable lifestyle, but I also want to avoid being overbearing.  Because of the distance leading by example is a challenge; instead he is constantly surrounded by the financially illiterate.

Reading this, I sound insufferably overbearing.  Before you judge me, I promise that this is not the case.  Amusingly, our bedroom relationship dynamic is pretty much the opposite of me being controlling, and the reason we started talking was because of our... alternative fantasies, as it were.

But I keep asking myself: at what point are differences in financial priorities enough to overshadow other relationship similarities? 

Has anybody else been in a similar situation?

And I'm sorry this post is so long!

trammatic

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2012, 07:35:12 PM »
I think the two of you should sit down and decide independently where you want to be 5, 10, 20 years and then discuss.  The whole "getting a partner on board" talk, although you have an out now.  If you can't get on the same page goal-wise, I'd say it would be much easier to move on.  (There is such a thing as legitimate change, but you can't force it, or even predict it.)  Personally, I chose my wife base in part on her financial skills.  My older sister is a Nordstrom kind of gal who'd cash in her paycheck on payday and go shopping to reward herself for another week of work, and I learned young that I didn't want a wife like that!

This is also a time in your life where ultimatums are reasonable.  Just because you've dated for 2 years doesn't mean you're obligated to spend the rest of your life with him.  If you get to the same goals, and one of them would involve being debt-free, give him a year to do it, and see if he's really up for your sort of lifestyle.

It'll be tough, but it's definitely worth getting it figured out now.

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2012, 07:41:00 PM »
He doesn't sound that far gone to me, just maybe like he doesn't understand personal finance. Teach him and give him a chance to apply it before you cut him off.

MooreBonds

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2012, 08:00:21 PM »
In many ways, my boyfriend is perfect for me.

In other ways, our relationship is being torn apart.

Welcome to the forum! Sorry to hear about your relationship concerns. If it makes you feel any better, many, many people have been it that same situation (including me).


and why would anyone bother with a long distance relationship if it isn't going to result in a long term relationship?

I've had several long distance relationships. They do suck, but it's something I'm willing to work around to find "the right one".


I don't yet have a luxurious 'stache.  And I've been pretty privileged in life.  My parents paid for most of my college, I've been given some stock from family members, and most importantly, I was raised to be very fiscally responsible.  I'm on track to have my first $100k by the time I'm 25 (less than a year away), and I save about half of my after tax paycheck (and I'm working to save even more).
...
My boyfriend hasn't been so blessed. 

Great job on your start!

The debate of "nature vs nurture" will never end - but IMO, who you are is largely based on your genes. You can have some adjustment in your traits and personalities by your environment (and with things like abuse, you can have substantial impacts to one or two parts of your life)...but by and large, your ways are set when you're conceived. You might not fully understand yourself until you grow older, and are exposed to different situations where you take notice, but things don't change much.

Which means that, despite your fortunate childhood, and your boyfriend's less-than-ideal past, neither of them are reasons for why you are in your fiscal situation, and why your bf is in his. This is a critical thing to remember for both this situation and other future situations.

Case in point - I am almost a spitting image of my paternal grandfather, for both physical appearance as well as his many personality traits and fiscal habits. My parents are both frugal and fiscally prudent. My 1 brother and 2 sisters, however, are all over the range, with my one sister as much of a spendthrift as I am a frugalite.

My siblings and I are who we are fiscally because of who we are - not because I was on the street without a dime to my name for 6 months, or because my sister never had to work a day in her life. Each of those scenarios could influence things, but they won't create you.

And without a serious and severe situation, your bf won't be influenced or slightly change either.


For the majority of our relationship, we didn't talk finances.  I didn't want either of our situations to effect our feelings.  Finance finally came up... a year ago?  6 months ago?  Basically, quite some time ago.  That's when he told me about his situation.  He said he was working to make up for the indiscretions of his youth, and I trusted him.  I didn't want to nag him about something that, really, isn't my business, and I figured it was such a manageable sum that he would pay it off easily.

Turns out I assumed wrong.

Congrats on actually talking about finances. Many couples don't before marriage. Many don't even after marriage! They then have fights about finances without ever confronting the issue. Resentment builds. One/both spouse starts to feel distant. They drift apart. Something happens. More bad things happen. They end up divorced or stay unhappily married thereafter.


Plus over $150 on weed (well over, when you consider that he's paying for his roommate as well).  Weed is a bit of a sore spot for us; although MMM has professed that he has indulged, it is not something I personally condone.  It's fine if friends or strangers use it... but I cannot deal with a partner who uses it. 

Personally, I would not be in a relationship with someone who abuses controlled substances/drugs (tobacco or otherwise). But, regardless of that, the true red flag is this:
We've come to an arrangement that basically amounts to him smoking while we are long distance, and quitting when we move in together

WARNING: He will NOT be giving it up when you move in together. He will hide it. He will continue to smoke it. He knows you don't like him using it now, yet he continues to smoke it. If he won't give it up for you now, why would he give it up when you are moved in together? If you were that much more important than his weed, he would drop it while you are apart. If he won't drop it when you're 1,000 miles away, he won't drop it when you're not looking.

This Monday he finally sat down and looked at his finances (something he should have done MONTHS ago when he first talked about becoming for fiscally responsible), which is something at least.  Unfortunately, he didn't really do it because he wants to, but because it's important to me.  While I'm flattered that he is taking my priorities into consideration (we both try to be very sensitive to the others' needs), I really wish he was doing it because getting out of debt was a personal priority.

It's good to hear that there may be some acknowledgment of the other's needs...but you need to truly evaluate this. Honestly, IS he that sensitive? All-around? Or is the bedroom dynamic actually a 98%-of-the-time dynamic with him?

You need to point blank tell him in so many words that you absolutely CANNOT live with debt, IN ADDITION TO saving up to retire, because of the compounding effect of money. Show him examples of how saving $5,000 when he's 25 is worth 10x what it is when he starts saving when he's 55.

Give him a chance to truly know what is important to you. From the few words you typed, it's not clear to me if you were completely clear on the issue of his debt, or if you merely 'talked' about what you have and what he has, and left it at that....if you have already told him (without 'dropping hints' but clear-as-day) that you cannot accept his debt levels and supporting his roommate's charity case, yet he still didn't bother to even start anything over the past 6 months, then be forewarned that he will not appreciably be any different 1, 5, 10, 20 years from now.

It is telling when he considers his roommate's needs to sponge off of him more important than his gf's (and possibly future wife's) needs for him to be debt-free and fiscally responsible for his own benefit in the long run.

But I keep asking myself: at what point are differences in financial priorities enough to overshadow other relationship similarities? 

I struggled with that same question, albeit in a different format, on the issue of general 'red flags' popping up: "I know that no one is perfect, so when do you break things off with someone that just keeps having more and more crazy shit happen? Where do you draw the line when you give 100% of yourself into making a relationship work?"

If you clearly tell the other person your concerns and what you truly need them to do, and they cannot/don't want to do it, then you either need to accept that as a fact of life in the relationship, or (if it's a big enough issue), end things and move on.

Has anybody else been in a similar situation?

I've been in worse. Much worse. But lived to laugh about my painful mistakes. :)

freelancerNfulltimer

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2012, 08:21:12 PM »
I was reading along thinking it wasn't that big a deal until you got to the weed smoking point. If he's 25 and still smoking, walk away unless you want to be stuck with someone who is going to be apathetic towards everything in their life.

He will not give up smoking. Do not believe what he tells you. If he was willing to give it up for you he would have already. People almost never change and when they do it for someone, they do it at the beginning of the relationship, not two years into it.

You are obviously a very ambitious and focused woman. Don't let someone who's not on the same path as you bring you down.

I'm speaking from personal experience.

I have always been very mature and responsible for my age. When I was 19 I was dating a 23 year old guy who smoked week. He hid it from me.  In the beginning of our relationship he was kind of swept away by my ambition and positivity.  He decided he wanted to go to school and move on from his prolonged adolescence and I was very supportive because he was a really smart guy with lots of great qualities beyond the smoking problem. He never did it though. He never did anything he said he would. He smoked more and more and become more and more apathetic.

Fast forward to a year ago (I'm now 28). I met a guy who is 32 and has an okay job as a loan auditor. In a lot of ways this relationship started very similarly to the one I described above. He was also somewhat swept away by my ambition, drive and focus. He always wanted to go to college but he never did. I told him he was perfectly capable of going to college and that I was sure he would do well. You know what? He started going to classes about four months into our relationship. He's doing it. He's getting great grades and is two semesters into his degree now. And we just got engaged a month ago.

To be honest these two guys have some similarities. The difference is my Fiance does what he says he's going to do. And he doesn't smoke and never has.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 08:22:43 PM by freelancerNfulltimer »

prosaic

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2012, 08:24:50 PM »
Trust your gut. You're bringing up some pretty big red flags of incompatibility (money, weed, his willingness to "invest" in his roommate but not in his own future with you).

I didn't trust my own gut in my first marriage and it ended in utter financial (and emotional) disaster for me. It's not at all "overbearing" to have a serious reckoning about lifestyle values and to pose probing questions that reveal important truths. If your partner tries to guilt/manipulate/blame/shame you for asking questions that are directly related to how you will express your values over the next 50-60 years with him, then that's cause for concern. You didn't say he is, but the fact that you even feel the need to make a statement about not being overbearing is really interesting.

It's very mature of you to realize that you want him to want to have similar financial values and to see on your own that he's not taking the steps he claims he knows he needs to take to remedy his financial situation.

If he's examining finances solely because you want him to, think long and hard about how that plays out down the road with every major issue --  money, kids, in-law relationships, career choices, and so forth.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2012, 08:26:39 PM by mbz »

totoro

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2012, 08:37:56 PM »
What I really want to say is stop this relationship now.  If I was your mother I would not be happy to see you in this relationship long-term.  I know though, that is kind of insensitive and might not be something you are pleased to hear.

This is what I see in relationships that work well - only my two cents:

1.  shared values
2.  common background
3.  no addiction issues
4.  shared goals
5.  sense of fun when together
6.  positive reinforcement and support for each other

I know it is difficult because you can have number five and/or six, which seem really important, without having 1-4.  1-4 are VERY important though.  I know this from experience - not all of it wonderful.

So, at your age and stage and lack of children/permanent commitment you should make sure you know what you want and then take steps to get it.  Ask yourself if you want more or less of what is going on.  You cannot change him or cause him to change dramatically,  although you can change your attitudes.  Why would you do this though when you don't need to? 



jawisco

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2012, 08:53:31 PM »
Well, I think you have some differences that you want to work through, financial and otherwise.  As you say, you are in a long-distance relationship because you see a future together.  Lot's of folks have been where you are and it is a tough place to be.  It is like you have two lives.

I don't think the financial issues are that big a deal - tell him you think it is important to be open about finances and see what he thinks and if he is receptive to your opinions.

The weed is an issue - sound like you two have talked about that a bunch.  I don't think it is unrealistic to believe he will quit when you are together, but I have seen it go both ways.

How long until it is no longer a long-distance thing?  If it is a while still or if you are giving up your life and going there, I would really try to look at your relationship clearly and try to make the best decision you can.  Going with your gut is a good idea...

Good luck

TomTX

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2012, 08:59:07 PM »
I highly suspect the relationship is not salvageable.

Move on. Find someone else who is better for you.

happy

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2012, 09:04:34 PM »
This is what I see in relationships that work well - only my two cents:

1.  shared values
2.  common background
3.  no addiction issues
4.  shared goals
5.  sense of fun when together
6.  positive reinforcement and support for each other

I know it is difficult because you can have number five and/or six, which seem really important, without having 1-4.  1-4 are VERY important though.

I agree with this. Don't let 5 and 6 overrule 1-4. 5 and 6 are for casual dating...long term relationships also need 1-4.

My only other wisdoms
1. make sure what he says and what he does match up. Some people are great of creating an illusion of who they are, but don't actually  act consistently with this image when you stop and analyse it.. 
2. make sure how he treats you is at least as good as and preferably better than others.  Some people are "great people" to their friends but much harder (or abusive) to their partners.
3. You can never know someone 100% and be sure that they will or won't change later down the track.  However what I learnt in job recruitment is that the best  indicator of future performance, is past performance.  So if you have a choice you pick the  best past performer.

okits

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #10 on: October 17, 2012, 11:27:38 PM »
If you're really serious about this guy, try to move forward with a life together: live in the same town, spend lots of time together, try to get on the same financial page, work towards co-habitating (marriage?  Children?  Joint accounts?)  How all that goes will tell you a lot about whether you have a future together. There are a lot of things people can hide when in a long distance relationship. You only need to trot out the best "you" on the rare visits.

I'm on board with what Totoro and Happy said.

I have wondered what I would do if I were in love with someone that I couldn't live without, but just didn't have their act together (and might never)*.  My conclusion was perpetual dating-only with separate homes and separate finances.  No way would I sign a legal contract with social and financial consequences (marriage) with someone whose habitual irresponsibility could drag me down too.  I'm hoping for a more integrated partnership than that someday, so if you and your boyfriend's values don't come together to the point that you are comfortable, you will have to ask if you're willing to take a chance on the relationship anyways or if you'll settle for only half the deal (being together, but at a distance; the scenario I described earlier in this paragraph.)

I know you're in a difficult and possibly painful spot; I wish you the best outcome possible for your happiness and future.

* Theoretical at this point; my current partner has all the respect in the world from me for being so awesome.

KMMK

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 05:52:17 AM »
On the one hand, I see the point about giving him a chance to pay off the debt, by discussing finances more thoroughly. You could also plan to keep your money separate indefinitely.

But my pessimist and old cranky lady side says it's not worth the trouble. Between finances and the pot, which I agree won't change, there are some fairly significant issues. At least significant if you weren't doing the LD thing.

I also don't believe in changing people. When I met my now husband we were both 30 and I was way too old and lazy to want to do any "re-training" (sorry, men). I married him because there were NO red flags, and definitely for his financial skills, although we keep and manage our money separately since we're lone wolf control freaks. Finances are very important to me, so we had to be compatible in that way.

Use it up, wear it out...

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 07:37:41 AM »
I also don't believe in changing people.
+1

I agree with Kestra - you need to give this a good hard think, as it sounds like there are some basic incompatibilities that romantic feelings won't fix. To throw some fuel on the fire, here's a NYTimes write-up of a 2009 study showing how the frequency of fights about money is correlated with divorce rates:
http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/07/money-fights-predict-divorce-rates/

Quote
When I met my now husband we were both 30 and I was way too old and lazy to want to do any "re-training" (sorry, men).

Can't speak for other mustachian men, but I for one enjoy not being the object of someone else's improvement project.

savingtofreedom

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 08:02:16 AM »
Tapemouse,

Welcome to the forum and great work on your savings to date.  I think you are at a point in this relationship that it will just become more and more combative and painful to continue down the current path.  You are young and may want to really consider a break and see what other partners have to offer. I would hate for you to try to make this work and then 10 years down the road realize you made a mistake. 

You may find someone else that is a better long term match than the boyfriend or if not you may be able to get this man to realize the errors of his ways (sometimes people need the threat of losing something to wakeup) 

I have seen this type of situation in other friends/family.  They think their SO will change and they never do and it breaks the relationship apart. 

Good luck to you, and from the description of this guy - it sounds like you deserve better.

DoubleDown

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 08:20:23 AM »
This is easy: he is not right for you, for your future -- not as he is now.

Under no circumstances should you expect he will "change" in any way if you two married/moved in together. Expect that he will not. And the problems you cited (financial differences, drug use) will guarantee you will divorce or break up. And the drug use would open you up to legal liability as well. If the police discover drugs in the house, you are as much on the hook as he is. And forget any kind of security clearance or job requiring any kind of background investigation (teacher, coach, government work, etc.), should that matter to you.

ONLY if he changes these things independently, on his own, and has proven that he has matured BEFORE you go any further, should you even consider a future together.

TapeMouse

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2012, 09:48:16 AM »
I think the two of you should sit down and decide independently where you want to be 5, 10, 20 years and then discuss. 

Agreed.  We do seem to agree on most big things, and he does love the idea of being financially independent, so he can do entrepreneurial type software stuff.  A problem with the 5, 10, 20 year thing is that I don't even know where I want to be!  There are some differences that are starting to emerge, though.  I would love to be car free (with a zip car subscription and a bike or three), and he doesn't like bike riding (I think it's because he hasn't ridden one suited for his tall frame.  He's wanting to give biking a chance again, but we haven't had an opportunity).  I don't really find the idea of living in California appealing; it's his dream living location.  Those are sort of the two biggest; most things we agree on.

He doesn't sound that far gone to me, just maybe like he doesn't understand personal finance. Teach him and give him a chance to apply it before you cut him off.

That's what I'm hoping :)

The debate of "nature vs nurture" will never end - but IMO, who you are is largely based on your genes.

I must have some damn fine genes, then!  I've got one sibling, a sister, and if anything she's more frugal than I am.  It's actually something we bond over, because (not to sound emo), most of the world just doesn't understand.  I can't stand her because she's annoying as heck, but we love each other anyway :)

WARNING: He will NOT be giving it up when you move in together. He will hide it. He will continue to smoke it. He knows you don't like him using it now, yet he continues to smoke it.

This is something I'm not worried about, for a couple of reasons.  We have talked (... and talked, and talked, and talked) about our differing opinions towards weed.  Strangely, he didn't start smoking until he was... 25?  26?  And then it became a daily habit.  It's now how he socializes with his friends, and since I don't want to come between him and the small, close knit group of friends I'm sort of tolerating his use now.  The plan is for him to move up here.  Once that happens, he won't have a supplier any more, and he'll be able to make new friendships that don't center around drugs.  I think the cultural/geographical change will make quitting easy, especially since knows that the stakes are high.  And if he does start to smoke again in secret... well, that makes my decision making easy, at least.  We are both very committed to being open, honest, and communicative, so I'm not too worried about him smoking in secret.

From the few words you typed, it's not clear to me if you were completely clear on the issue of his debt, or if you merely 'talked' about what you have and what he has, and left it at that....if you have already told him (without 'dropping hints' but clear-as-day) that you cannot accept his debt levels and supporting his roommate's charity case, yet he still didn't bother to even start anything over the past 6 months, then be forewarned that he will not appreciably be any different 1, 5, 10, 20 years from now.

To be honest, I didn't go into a ton of specifics about my situation.  And I didn't ask for a ton of specifics about his, just general guesses.  I think we should sit down again and talk straight numbers.  On the one hand I feel like it's invasive (after all, it's not like I'm his wife), but on the other hand it's important.  The other day he finally talked to his roommate, and is claiming that the roommate will be able to start paying him back soon... we'll see how that goes.


I was reading along thinking it wasn't that big a deal until you got to the weed smoking point. If he's 25 and still smoking, walk away unless you want to be stuck with someone who is going to be apathetic towards everything in their life.

27, actually :/ But, as noted above, he was late to the smoking game.  He is very aware that if he doesn't quit when we live together, I will end the relationship.

You are obviously a very ambitious and focused woman. Don't let someone who's not on the same path as you bring you down.

When it comes to career stuff, he's actually a far better worker than I am; we're in the same field, so it's not just that he's able to fool me by saying fancy sounding bullshit like, "today my boss complimented me for implementing HTML5 in the parameter field of ASP, for faster asynchronous AJAX!"

But it is something I'm still a bit worried about. 

I'm speaking from personal experience...

Wow, thanks for sharing.  If things end up not working out, here's hoping I get as lucky in my future relationships as you :)  I definitely know that, if I end up in a different relationship, it will not be with someone who uses drugs.  I didn't quite realize the extent of my feelings about it until I became involved with someone who is.

1.  shared values
2.  common background
3.  no addiction issues
4.  shared goals
5.  sense of fun when together
6.  positive reinforcement and support for each other

We certainly don't have number 2, and number 3 is an issue at the moment.  He certainly is very supportive; for example, back when I was still in college, there was a class I had failed, and was retaking.  It was going to be just as challenging the second time around, so my boyfriend taught himself the material, and tutored me for hours every week (did I mention I love how smart he is?).  I ended up getting one of the highest grades in the notoriously difficult class.  When I spent a couple months unemployed this summer he tutored me again, this time for technical interview questions.  I partially credit my current job to that.

How long until it is no longer a long-distance thing?  If it is a while still or if you are giving up your life and going there, I would really try to look at your relationship clearly and try to make the best decision you can.  Going with your gut is a good idea...

That's the tough part.  Originally, we were planning on moving in together this upcoming July.  So about 9 months.  Unfortunately, mostly because of the deteriorating health of his now-bedridden mother (he helps out his father with her care multiple times a week), we are now less sure on when would be a good time for him to move.  Additionally, he wants to gain a few more responsibilities at work so he can get a better job when he moves out here; he's currently extremely technically competent, but a big missing section from his resume is leadership, and team work.  The company he's working for has hinted at hiring a subordinate for him, and if that can happen, it would really help his job search when he moves.

Although I'm understanding about the lengthened time frame, I of course wish it was shorter so that we could get around to living together again (we spent three months together once, while I was on a complicated 3 month break from school.  It was great, but not really "real life" since I was just doing some light studying, living off of savings, relaxing, and being a bit of a 50's housewife) to determine compatibility.  If we end up waiting a year to live together, and then spend a year testing things out I'll be 26.  Which isn't that old... but still.  Annoying to start from the drawing board again.

1. make sure what he says and what he does match up. Some people are great of creating an illusion of who they are, but don't actually  act consistently with this image when you stop and analyse it.. 

2. make sure how he treats you is at least as good as and preferably better than others.  Some people are "great people" to their friends but much harder (or abusive) to their partners.

Yeah, I'm a bit worried about the whole saying vs doing thing.  It's something that I've decided to start paying attention to.

As for how he treats me, he treats me very well.  We're disgustingly adorable together; at the airport we're always able to get a gate pass (basically, it's a pass that allows a non-flying person to go past security), and we once got free cake at a restaurant because we were so cute together.  Because of our alternative bedroom activities we are both very aware of power dynamics, and I'm not worried about accidentally being gaslit into an abusive relationship.

I have wondered what I would do if I were in love with someone that I couldn't live without, but just didn't have their act together (and might never)*.  My conclusion was perpetual dating-only with separate homes and separate finances.  No way would I sign a legal contract with social and financial consequences (marriage) with someone whose habitual irresponsibility could drag me down too. 

Ugh, I could never do that.  I would just end the relationship, rather than have separate lives.  I think that life works out best when you have two people strongly bound together, working towards shared goals, and completely sharing their lives.  My boyfriend agrees; "partnership" and "being a team" are very important to him. 

And the problems you cited (financial differences, drug use) will guarantee you will divorce or break up. And the drug use would open you up to legal liability as well. If the police discover drugs in the house, you are as much on the hook as he is. And forget any kind of security clearance or job requiring any kind of background investigation (teacher, coach, government work, etc.), should that matter to you.

Yeah, definitely some of the reasons I'm so against drugs.  He knows that under no circumstances are drugs to enter the place I live.  As for jobs, he works in software, and they are notoriously lax on drug testing.  Unlike his roommate; one of the reasons he's underemployed is because he got fired from a school he was working at, because someone snitched that he smoked weed.  Brilliant of him, right?

I suppose one of the things that troubles me most is that my best friend and current roommate thinks that if we get married, we would get divorced in two years.  It's possibly because her perception is biased; hasn't really had an opportunity to see us together much, and when I have relationship problems she's the one I talk to.

-------------------------

Thank you everybody for the advice so far, both for the optimistic comments, and the pessimistic ones.  I look forward to more opinions/personal experiences, if anybody else has more to share.  So far I'm thinking that when we see each other next we will have a good discussion about personal finance, and then we'll see where it goes from there.  If things improve, hurrah.  If it looks like he can't do something like make lifestyle changes that allow him to pay off half his debt in the next six months... well, that's pretty indicative of things to come, and there will be some tough choices to make.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 10:01:26 AM by TapeMouse »

totoro

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2012, 09:59:00 AM »
Well, you seem to have it sorted as to how you are going to go.  I hope it all works well for you.

Not everyone is the same, but I would say that the best relationship I have been in (current) feels easy - despite having to deal with significant external challenges.  There are no red flags and no arguments.  I'm not concerned about his spending habits.  Sounds boring, but it isn't.  Shared sense of humour is key for us.

You are investing your life's goals and purpose with another.  Make sure there is a sense of deep comfort and rightness in that.

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2012, 10:56:45 AM »
I don't see any red flags myself, with the exception of the smoking, that's a deal breaker for me.

My husband had huge amounts of debt when we met and married, $100K was in collections.  Just because he's not great with money doesn't mean he won't be a great husband.  Now that I take care of most of the finances the debt is decreasing and nothing is in collections.  Each of us does what we each do best, marriage is a partnership where each partner contributes, but probably not the same things.

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #18 on: October 18, 2012, 11:22:32 AM »
I've been in a similar situation only my ex was extremely financially challened ($85K in student loan and credit card debt, dropped out of school a semester shy of graduating, poor work ethic, unable to see more than five minutes into the future, nasty weed habit). I've learned to not to try to change people. If someone WANTS to get better and wants me to help guide them, fine. But if it's something that I want and that they don't then it's probably going to be a waste of time.

I wouldn't waste too much of my life on this. Well, I DID but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone else. I gave 5 years of my 20's (22-27) to my ex. Those are prime years!!! At 27, I found myself starting over again in the relationship department. The ex really dragged me down for a long time so it was quite liberating to have him gone. It's been almost a year and a half now and I've socked away $2K in savings and upped my 401K contributions since I got rid of him. I've also met someone else who is similarly minded (I remember him telling me he doesn't have cable on our first date!) and life is great.

I know things are not exactly the same with you and your SO as it was with me and my ex, but if you make it extremely clear what your expectations/desires/requirements are and what you are NOT willing to compromise on then he'll probably answer this question for you through his actions (or possibly lackthereof). Just don't wait five damn years like I did! :P

AJ

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #19 on: October 18, 2012, 11:28:58 AM »
I was in a relationship eerily similar to yours at one time. It was absolutely love at first sight, which I didn't even believe in until I met him. We were nearly inseparable, and even lived together near the end. He smoked weed (which I actually have no problem with specifically) and was not particularly ambitious, but he seemed to want to grow up and get his life together. He stopped smoking (which I didn't ask for, but he knew would please me) and enrolled in college. It all seemed great, and he was a very nice guy. He seemed to genuinely be on board with getting shit together and creating a life and a future for us.

I later came to find out that he, in fact, had not stopped smoking but had only told me that to make me happy. He had dropped out of his classes after a week without telling me. He would leave and just drive around during the time he was supposedly in class to keep up the appearance. The last straw for me was when he didn't return my calls for a week. I later found out that he went camping with his friends without telling me, and he didn't return my calls even though he got the messages. We had been together two years at that point. I broke it off, met and married my husband a year later, and harbored guilt for a long time over the boyfriend I still loved but left behind for a better man.

I no longer feel that guilt. I ran into the boyfriend at a party 10 years after the breakup. We went out to the bars a few times and caught up on what had happened in the wake of our breakup and the ensuing decade. I dodged a major bullet there. He still smokes weed, works for minimum wage at Walmart, and has no real plans for the future. He met a nice girl and got married several years ago, but continued to desire a double life (one where he is this upright family man, and one where he gets high and lazes around with his buddies all day). He hatched a scheme to make a bunch of money selling cocaine, to which he later became addicted (something he swore he would never try). He lied to his wife about where he was when he was doing/selling drugs, but she discovered it eventually. She divorced him.

That would have been me if I had stayed. I can't express how glad I am that I left when I did. I met a wonderful man, married him quickly (gotta lock that down!), and we have been desperately in love for the last 9 years. I will always love that boyfriend, we shared a very special and close bond. I will forever want the best for him in his life and wish him happiness. But that doesn't mean that it would have been wise to join my life with his.

Your life is, of course, your own. But please, please, please consider that you can't change people. Find someone that you love and can life with as they are now, not as you would prefer they be. If you have to make ultimatums (e.g. quick smoking or I'll leave), that is a huge, shiny, blinking, throbbing red flag.

prosaic

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #20 on: October 18, 2012, 11:34:42 AM »


Not everyone is the same, but I would say that the best relationship I have been in (current) feels easy - despite having to deal with significant external challenges.  There are no red flags and no arguments.

+1

$_gone_amok

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #21 on: October 18, 2012, 11:39:45 AM »
I think the two of you should sit down and decide independently where you want to be 5, 10, 20 years and then discuss. 

and he does love the idea of being financially independent, so he can do entrepreneurial type software stuff. 

I'm sorry but you don't become financially independent before you start a software business. Your BF is young and has all the time in the world outside of work, if he wanted to start something he would have done it a long time ago if not now.

sideways8

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #22 on: October 18, 2012, 11:57:53 AM »
Wow, AJ! That was very eloquent. That's how I feel in some ways (although replace "guilt" with "bitterness" because the weekend he ignored me was the weekend he spend with another woman!!). My ex got my puppy love/ love at first sight/ dumb love that will never happen again. I was angry about that for a while but not anymore. I'm so happy with my current boyfriend... sometimes I can't even believe that this is my life because it feels so different (and GOOD). Heck, he even sent me flowers at work today just 'cause! I love him as-is... he even asked me if there was anything I would change about him and without hesitation I said "HELL NO!" It feels great to be able to say that.

I'm glad you dodged that bullet, AJ. Phew! It certainly makes one feel more grateful for a good, compatible partner.


Nords

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2012, 12:15:27 PM »
Thank you everybody for the advice so far, both for the optimistic comments, and the pessimistic ones.  I look forward to more opinions/personal experiences, if anybody else has more to share.  So far I'm thinking that when we see each other next we will have a good discussion about personal finance, and then we'll see where it goes from there.  If things improve, hurrah.  If it looks like he can't do something like make lifestyle changes that allow him to pay off half his debt in the next six months... well, that's pretty indicative of things to come, and there will be some tough choices to make.
I'm old enough to have seen lots of my high school/college friends go through their adult lives for over three decades.  While I'd like to encourage you in your persistence and tell you that everything will work out fine, here's my advice: 

You need a new boyfriend.

Your posts have a theme of him doing things not because he aspires to self-improvement, but rather because he claims that he wants to do what you tell him you want him to do.  That's not an adult relationship.  That's not self-actualization.  There's no internal motivation.  That's him appointing himself a new parent, someone to be admired and whose authority can be subverted through childish deception.  That's grudging compliance with an undercurrent of "If I do what my girlfriend says then we can have sex, and maybe she'll pay for dinner too".  Do you really want to spend the rest of your life riding herd on an adolescent who evades personal responsibility and lets you be in charge of his standards?

You can still form a lifelong relationship on that basis.  Many of my friends have done so.  Based on their lives, I doubt that it would be much of a relationship.  Most of them have reached a similar conclusion through breaking up with long-term relationships, including divorce.

But, hey, this is just my hypothesis.  Here's a way to test it out:  Tell him that you'd be happy to get together again when he figures out what he wants to do with his life.  Tell him that you think he can be debt-free within six months and pot-free tomorrow.  You understand that it's hard, and he might need your education & support.  Tell him you're willing to coach him over the phone (or e-mail or Skype or IRC) and that you'll be willing to get together again in person when he shows commitment and progress.  It'd be nice to see him define the standards for "commitment" and "progress", but you might have to help him out there for a few months too.

Within a few months you'll find out how important you really are to him.  Or at least where you rank relative to indebtedness and marijuana.

I'm not suggesting that you need to "see other people".  While you two are working on him solving his problems, you could take some time for yourself to just live life on your own terms.  I don't think you even need to seek another boyfriend... just live your life the way you already are.  Once your (real) friends realize that you're frugal and self-directed and on the road to financial independence, I think you'll be a guy magnet.  I mean that in a good way.

Your boyfriend reminds me a bit of me, albeit half a lifetime ago.  My girlfriend and I maintained a long-distance relationship for over four years.  The difference was that I improved my behavior because I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, not "just" because she wanted me to improve my behavior.  I stumbled around for a while as I figured it out, but I must have made enough progress to persuade her that I was on the right road.  We've been married for over 26 years now, and so far so good...

freelancerNfulltimer

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2012, 12:53:07 PM »
I don't see any red flags myself, with the exception of the smoking, that's a deal breaker for me.

My husband had huge amounts of debt when we met and married, $100K was in collections.  Just because he's not great with money doesn't mean he won't be a great husband.  Now that I take care of most of the finances the debt is decreasing and nothing is in collections.  Each of us does what we each do best, marriage is a partnership where each partner contributes, but probably not the same things.

The exception to the rule shouldn't be used to encourage someone else to follow in your path. I would never recommend that just because my husband was able to overcome $100k in debt with my help (realyl with me taking over complete control of the finances) that someone else shouldn't consider an inability to manage finances as anything but a red flag. 9 times out of 10 that is going to be a huge problem for any relationship.

When coupled with pot it is one big, waving, don't ignore me, red flag.

I'm so glad (devoid of any sarcasm) that your relationship worked out. But $100k in debt that is sent to collection would send me running in the opposite direction unless there were some serious qualifying circumstances.

rjack

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2012, 01:09:52 PM »
How long until it is no longer a long-distance thing?  If it is a while still or if you are giving up your life and going there, I would really try to look at your relationship clearly and try to make the best decision you can.  Going with your gut is a good idea...

That's the tough part.  Originally, we were planning on moving in together this upcoming July.  So about 9 months.  Unfortunately, mostly because of the deteriorating health of his now-bedridden mother (he helps out his father with her care multiple times a week), we are now less sure on when would be a good time for him to move.

How long will he have to take care of his ill mother? Could it be years?
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 01:55:50 PM by rjack »

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2012, 01:35:02 PM »
I've done this a couple of times.  I had savings, he had debt, mismatched financial goals, not wanting to be overbearing, making excuses and allowances because hey, he has to manage his own life, right?

You may need to consider cutting your losses before he moves out to where you live.  At minimum, insist that he gets his own place.  Maybe I'm too cynical, but pretty quickly you'll end up paying for all of the practical things--groceries, rent, utilities--while he spends his own money on things that matter to him that you would never dream of buying.  Like weed.  It'll seem not that unfair, because, after all, you'd have your expenses anyway, maybe he'll pay down some of that debt since you're theoretically saving money by living together...but he probably won't.  And you might even end up staying with him out of guilt, because, after all, he moved to be with you and if you broke up with him, he'd have nowhere else to go.

Life's too short for that crap, and the longer you stay, the harder it is to leave.  You could break up or see other people for awhile, and if things are meant to be, you might end up getting back together in the end?

gdborton

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2012, 01:42:14 PM »
Quote
He is very aware that if he doesn't quit when we live together, I will end the relationship.

I'm really surprised no one is talking about this.  This is a very dangerous way of thinking.  It is very unlikely that he will quit smoking, and waiting until he moves in with you and your finances are in his hands is the wrong time to break it off.  This is of course assuming that he'll be on the lease and responsible for paying at least a portion of the utilities.  Even if you are able to cover the cost of living without him, would you be able to boot him morally and legally?

AJ

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #28 on: October 18, 2012, 01:46:48 PM »
Or, if you feel guilty for leaving, like you think he deserves a chance to change, consider that maybe there is another woman out there that will love and accept him just the way he is. There is bound to be a weed-smoking lady with less ambition than yourself out there that might let him be himself, and maybe even consider him a catch rather than a liability.

totoro

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #29 on: October 18, 2012, 02:04:58 PM »
AJ, I think you hit on something.

If someone has to change what they do and like to do to make the relationship work, even if their habits are "bad habits" most people would think are better changed, save yourself some angst and stress and go find someone you think is just great the way they are.  You don't have to accept behaviours that you really don't agree with into your life.  They may work for someone else just fine.  There will be someone else out there for you who will match you.

Now, if you were married and had kids, I'd say pull out all the stops and try to make it work. 

Relationships are high risk: more breakdown than succeed long-term really.  Why not start with the strongest possible chances of success if you are going in with the idea of kids and family or longterm partnership?  Rationalizing and working on it from day one is not a strong start.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #30 on: October 18, 2012, 03:16:28 PM »
I don't see any red flags myself, with the exception of the smoking, that's a deal breaker for me.

My husband had huge amounts of debt when we met and married, $100K was in collections.  Just because he's not great with money doesn't mean he won't be a great husband.  Now that I take care of most of the finances the debt is decreasing and nothing is in collections.  Each of us does what we each do best, marriage is a partnership where each partner contributes, but probably not the same things.

My DH and I are similar.  He didn't have anyone teach him about money when he was growing up, so I taught him.  He didn't have that much debt when we got together (just a maxed-out $1000 credit card, and a student loan).  The credit card was paid off within a few months of us moving in together, and the student loans were in interest-free status while he was back in school.  The payments start again next month.

I don't measure his value to me in dollars and cents, because he means so much more to me than that.  I handle the finances in our relationship (negotiating mortgages, liaising with the financial advisor, making all the bill payments) and it works for us.  We discuss big things (like our leveraged investments, and vehicle purchases) but he's onboard with our plans, and I look after the details, because I really enjoy doing that.

caligulala

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #31 on: October 18, 2012, 03:20:21 PM »
Whoa. Everyone is being really hard on your boyfriend. I guess I don't see any HUGE red flags. He's got a decent job, he wants to stay where he is at to help his sick mother, he smokes pot recreationally and he's got an average amount of credit card debt. And he's still pretty young as far as it goes. It sounds to me like he's got a care taking personality, perhaps to his detriment sometimes. But that can be a good complement to someone who is ambitious and more hard charging. Who knows? He might be happy to let you be in charge of the finances and day to day "rules". You need to talk about it without tiptoeing around the subject.

My advice, as someone who had her share of shitty boyfriends, is to make it really clear to yourself and to him what you want and how you want your life together to feel. Whoever said it should feel easy was correct. I just spent the weekend with my best friend and her husband who, on paper, should be having a fabulous marriage with their similar interests, similar attitudes, and similar goals. But temperamentally they are total opposites and couldn't be more miserable. So don't sell the friendship aspect of your relationship short.

Best of luck and it will work out. Or it won't, but that's ok! You'll be fine either way.

totoro

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #32 on: October 18, 2012, 03:37:02 PM »
Well, when you put the question out there you are going to get responses from different perspectives.

I'm not being blunt (insensitive?) because I have bad intentions.  It is from the perspective of hoping to help someone avoid potential hardship.  Whatever the OP decides to do is fine with me.  If she were my family member or friend I would say the same things (much less directly) and then, if she chose to keep going I would support her if it worked or it didn't.

Thing is that we are all vulnerable in primary relationships.  Getting close to someone means losing perspective most of the time.  Wanting to make it work is pretty universal, who wants to feel loss?  My view is that early loss is better if it prevents a harder fall later.  Getting enough objectivity to make hard decisions when you feel both attachment to someone romantically and a sense that all is not 100% is... not common.   Rationalization of negatives and adjustment of goals.... very common.

Perhaps if we knew we could have 100% and truly believed it things would be clearer.  So, my message is pretty simple: you can have what you really want.  You need to know what you really want first and then don't compromise until you find someone who shares it.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #33 on: October 18, 2012, 03:41:03 PM »
Well, when you put the question out there you are going to get responses from different perspectives.

I'm not being blunt (insensitive?) because I have bad intentions.  It is from the perspective of hoping to help someone avoid potential hardship.  Whatever the OP decides to do is fine with me.  If she were my family member or friend I would say the same things (much less directly) and then, if she chose to keep going I would support her if it worked or it didn't.

Thing is that we are all vulnerable in primary relationships.  Getting close to someone means losing perspective most of the time.  Wanting to make it work is pretty universal, who wants to feel loss?  My view is that early loss is better if it prevents a harder fall later.  Getting enough objectivity to make hard decisions when you feel both attachment to someone romantically and a sense that all is not 100% is... not common.   Rationalization of negatives and adjustment of goals.... very common.

Perhaps if we knew we could have 100% and truly believed it things would be clearer.  So, my message is pretty simple: you can have what you really want.  You need to know what you really want first and then don't compromise until you find someone who shares it.

I completely agree with everything you said here.  Primary relationships are complex, and it's hard to get an unbiased outside view sometimes.

Good luck to the OP, in whatever you decide to do.  I hope it all works out for the best.

somethingsomething

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #34 on: October 18, 2012, 03:53:20 PM »
my 2 cents:

cent 1: i do drugs regularly as do most of my friends, and we are all very successful ambitious people who make well above average salaries. we also like altering our brain chemistry. i dont think the conclusion many people are trying to draw between drug use and being unambitious is really particularly accurate.

cent 2: long distance relationships are pretty shitty, IMO. i've been in one before and it was a mistake. i honestly feel like unless you live within walking/public transportation/city limits distance of some one, it's hard to really know them.

take it for what it's worth... ~2 cents or so.

totoro

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #35 on: October 18, 2012, 04:07:51 PM »
my 2 cents:

cent 1: i do drugs regularly as do most of my friends, and we are all very successful ambitious people who make well above average salaries. we also like altering our brain chemistry. i dont think the conclusion many people are trying to draw between drug use and being unambitious is really particularly accurate.

cent 2: long distance relationships are pretty shitty, IMO. i've been in one before and it was a mistake. i honestly feel like unless you live within walking/public transportation/city limits distance of some one, it's hard to really know them.

take it for what it's worth... ~2 cents or so.

cent 1 point is countered by the fact that this is not acceptable to the OP. 

in regards to the relationship between drug use and success... not sure. i would say in my experience with those who do use, there is a positive correlation between drug use/dependency and anxiety.  chemical dependence might be partly genetic, but there is likely emotional self-soothing going on too in many cases.  as far as people just liking to change their brain chemistry, that seems like it possibly could be used to rationalize dependency - although maybe not in your case. 

i think that it doesn't really matter if you are happy and responsible with it - although it is illegal and has the downside of consequences for getting caught.  if in a relationship it only matters if you have different opinions on it.


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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #36 on: October 18, 2012, 04:43:49 PM »
I don't see any red flags myself, with the exception of the smoking, that's a deal breaker for me.

My husband had huge amounts of debt when we met and married, $100K was in collections.  Just because he's not great with money doesn't mean he won't be a great husband.  Now that I take care of most of the finances the debt is decreasing and nothing is in collections.  Each of us does what we each do best, marriage is a partnership where each partner contributes, but probably not the same things.

The exception to the rule shouldn't be used to encourage someone else to follow in your path. I would never recommend that just because my husband was able to overcome $100k in debt with my help (realyl with me taking over complete control of the finances) that someone else shouldn't consider an inability to manage finances as anything but a red flag. 9 times out of 10 that is going to be a huge problem for any relationship.

When coupled with pot it is one big, waving, don't ignore me, red flag.

I'm so glad (devoid of any sarcasm) that your relationship worked out. But $100k in debt that is sent to collection would send me running in the opposite direction unless there were some serious qualifying circumstances.
Well just because he got himself in a spot is no reason to disqualify him.  In fact he already thought he had taken care of the collections problem, but it turned out there were actually 2 problem loans, one of which (the $100K one) wasn't showing on ANY credit reports.

Some of his good qualities:  he moved in with his grandmother to take care of her and pay bills so she didn't lose her (paid off) house to a tax sale, he had years ago learned that credit cards were dangerous for him and so had none, his car was several years old and reasonable, etc.

My point being that not everyone gets the enjoyment that I do taking care of the financial details.
I don't see any red flags myself, with the exception of the smoking, that's a deal breaker for me.

My husband had huge amounts of debt when we met and married, $100K was in collections.  Just because he's not great with money doesn't mean he won't be a great husband.  Now that I take care of most of the finances the debt is decreasing and nothing is in collections.  Each of us does what we each do best, marriage is a partnership where each partner contributes, but probably not the same things.

My DH and I are similar.  He didn't have anyone teach him about money when he was growing up, so I taught him.  He didn't have that much debt when we got together (just a maxed-out $1000 credit card, and a student loan).  The credit card was paid off within a few months of us moving in together, and the student loans were in interest-free status while he was back in school.  The payments start again next month.

I don't measure his value to me in dollars and cents, because he means so much more to me than that.  I handle the finances in our relationship (negotiating mortgages, liaising with the financial advisor, making all the bill payments) and it works for us.  We discuss big things (like our leveraged investments, and vehicle purchases) but he's onboard with our plans, and I look after the details, because I really enjoy doing that.
Exactly!  I just love taking care of the finances!  Now that the student loan is under control and we're saving and investing, he's great about wanting to save.  Just the other day he got a raise that came with a promotion - he wanted to put most of it right to his 401-K.  I can live with that sort of thinking!

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #37 on: October 18, 2012, 04:47:39 PM »
I don't mean to be an ass, but how does one 'forget' about a loan that's large enough to reach $100,000??

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #38 on: October 18, 2012, 06:36:50 PM »
I don't mean to be an ass, but how does one 'forget' about a loan that's large enough to reach $100,000??
He didn't forget, the credit bureaus did.  Okay, I do see what you mean, but he'd been paying for years and had no idea really what the balance was.  Not as rare as you'd think really.  When he went to consolidate everything the monster was not being reported to any of the credit bureaus, so he figured he had found all of the loans.  Wouldn't you?

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #39 on: October 18, 2012, 07:07:26 PM »
Nope.  I wouldn't lose track of $100,000 owing.  That's a big debt.  I'm not a financial guru, but I know that would be weighing on me.  I suppose the bright side is that he had some worry-free years before the big reveal.

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #40 on: October 18, 2012, 08:32:37 PM »
To the OP, using weed everyday is not recreational use.  He is well on his way to being a stoner.  If it was a weekend social thing - no problem.
Who visits who when you get together?  Do you really know his circumstances?
Who intiates the phone contact. If it is you, stop calling/texting to see how long before he calls you.
I don't see a future.  If you decide to get together please, please, please get a co-hab agreement or pre-nup to protect what you have acquired - 98% sure you will need it.
Re your comments about him wanting financial independence - everyone wants that.  even unemployed bums think it is a good idea.  The question is - what is he going to do to achieve it - sounds like all talk no action.  Maybe if you get together and you handle all the money and financial decisions and you both get a small allowance to blow as you see fit.
I have been around a long time and seen a lot of relationships, this is not promising.  But only you can decide and make it work or not.

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #41 on: October 18, 2012, 08:51:19 PM »
A few months after I graduated college and started dating my now-husband, he wanted to go on a cruise. I carefully budgeted what I could spend; when we got there, if I said I couldn't afford an excursion or drink, he treated. I knew he made more than my stipend, so I gratefully accepted. It wasn't until months later that I found out he was still paying off the cruise, along with lots of other things, on his high balance credit card.

When we got serious, I said that it was important to me to be on the same page, and that it really wasn't okay to go into debt at the drop of a hat, especially for luxuries. I think he'd never thought deeply about it before. In the time before we married, he paid off the credit card debt, began more aggressively paying off student loans, and saves money for both long and short term goals. I'll always be more of a saver, I think, but he is wonderful about many other things at which I am less good, and his financial habits have been improving steadily since we had that first talk. I'm just in charge of the money.

Some of it is temperament - he sees a commercial and wants to buy the shiny thing, I see a commercial and am furious some marketer is trying to steal my hard-earned dollar. That is hard to change. But he also deeply wants kids and a house soon and knows I want us to be well on the right financial track when we start down those roads, and that's spurring him to greater savings. I don't think you need to immediately chuck someone who isn't right with you financially, if you feel growth is occurring and you are both willing to work toward long-term goals.

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #42 on: October 20, 2012, 08:17:10 PM »
With weed legalization on the ballot in something like 5 states this year, I find the comments on his drug use to be amusing, and honestly, really judgmental (and filled with outdated stereotypes). Especially for the MMM community.

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #43 on: October 20, 2012, 08:45:41 PM »
The OP asked for advice on relationships.  Judgmental is one way to look at it.  The voice of hard experience is another.  I, and many others who have posted, have negative relationship experience with individuals who use weed regularly.  In any event, the OP does not want it in her life and has been clear about it.  This is the issue. 

It is legitimate to seek a partner who has similar lifestyle ideas and goals.  If weed smoking is an issue, it is an issue.  Many things can cause issues - whether legal or not. Shopaholic tendencies, alcoholism, temper issues, mismatched goals.  I would not be with someone who was smoking pot because I've seen some negative fall-out from this and it is not something I choose to be around - doesn't match.

I guess my point is - who the heck cares if it is legal or not.  If it is your lifestyle and how you want to live and someone else doesn't it is going to cause trouble.  By far the bigger issue is relationship breakdown, that causes more financial and emotional fall-out than can be believed. 

Given the risks, why step into greater commitment when you have doubts?

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #44 on: October 20, 2012, 09:08:42 PM »
With weed legalization on the ballot in something like 5 states this year, I find the comments on his drug use to be amusing, and honestly, really judgmental (and filled with outdated stereotypes). Especially for the MMM community.
Tobacco has probably killed at least as many relationships, and it's "legal"...

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #45 on: October 20, 2012, 09:15:55 PM »
I'm just saying people have questioned her BF's ambition and ability to maintain a stable lifestyle because he smokes and has a bit of debt. One poster assumes he's abusing a "controlled substance". Yet, she also mentions he has a good job with a nice income, self-taught programmer, cares for those around him, has at least a slight entrepreneurial spirit, etc.

He sounds to me like an average 27 year old who just doesn't know much about finance. He's probably fine with the idea of monthly payments, just like millions of other people are and doesn't feel an urgency to save.

If it's a deal breaker for OP, that's fine, but a few people here are basically saying her life will be a diaster if she stays with him. That's a huge assumption to make with the limited information we have.

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #46 on: October 20, 2012, 09:29:11 PM »
Loads of assumptions I agree.  We have limited information.

From the information we have we know:

1. the OP is a diligent saver
2. weed is not okay in the OPs life
3. OP is concerned about the difference in financial goals
4. OP is in a LD relationship

I'm assuming here that you are below 35 and haven't been through a divorce and don't have kids.  Correct me if I'm wrong.

At 27 there are many things I would have been more easygoing about.  I wasn't married, didn't have kids and was still uncertain about ever having kids.  Although, I have to say, being relaxed about debt was never one of them.

Now I'm 40.  I have kids.  I see relationship breakdowns that impact families happen pretty frequently in my age group.  I see things differently.  I see the disastrous financial and emotional fallout of mismatched goals/lifestyles. 

My advice is, this is the time to be "judgmental".  Don't commit unless you are absolutely sure.  Will her life be a disaster if she does?  Maybe not.  What degree of "uneasiness" is acceptable vs. the stakes?  I would want to feel comfortable with all the basic values, goals, dreams and habits.  No-one is perfect, but some people are compatible and some aren't.

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« Reply #47 on: October 20, 2012, 09:38:48 PM »
I get that you love him and you're concerned about him. I don't think that your relationship has a future.

1) He has no idea of how to get on track financially and he doesn't actually like tracking this stuff. He's done it when you've nudged him, but he otherwise just leaves it alone.

2) He treats debt way too casually.

3) His desire to help others will negatively impact your joint bottom line, because he's not keeping track of his money.

4) Let's pretend his weed habit is an alcohol habit. He has to drink alcohol when he hangs out with his friends - that's what they do. That's how they socialize. And alcohol is an everyday thing. But he promises that he's going to go cold turkey when he moves in with you and he knows that you have zero tolerance for alcohol. You are begging for a situation in which he continues to [indulge in an undesirable habit] and lies to you about it. My best friend from high school just divorced her husband because he was an alcoholic. Do you really want to be in that kind of situation?

And
5) This is not under his control, but he has a sick mother who is going to need care for a prolonged period. He will need to be helping his family (which is a good, encouraged behavior) since his mother is sick. You will not live together for a long time. You also don't agree on where you should live. Your living situation is not even remotely settled.

tl;dr Your boyfriend is bad news, so you should drop him like a bad habit.

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #48 on: October 21, 2012, 12:10:30 AM »
I'm just saying people have questioned her BF's ambition and ability to maintain a stable lifestyle because he smokes and has a bit of debt. One poster assumes he's abusing a "controlled substance". Yet, she also mentions he has a good job with a nice income, self-taught programmer, cares for those around him, has at least a slight entrepreneurial spirit, etc.

He sounds to me like an average 27 year old who just doesn't know much about finance. He's probably fine with the idea of monthly payments, just like millions of other people are and doesn't feel an urgency to save.

If it's a deal breaker for OP, that's fine, but a few people here are basically saying her life will be a diaster if she stays with him. That's a huge assumption to make with the limited information we have.

Perhaps the most significant point is that the OP has enough doubts about the relationship to be soliciting advice from an online forum.  I've been where she is right now.  When I was doing this, it was a sign that my rationalization muscles were overworked.  If we couldn't get it together in our cushy lives as healthy, young professionals with no dependents, there was no way we would have lasted through the demands of raising children, future elder care, financial upheaval, potential health issues, and the unexpected curveballs life throws at you.  I don't for a minute regret that the relationship I had doubts about didn't go the distance.  There were sufficient mismatches that joining our lives together would not have created a stable and lasting union.

TapeMouse, I completely understand when you say it would be annoying to start from the drawing board again.  You are currently 24 and unmarried.  I am not being facetious when I say it will be unimaginably harder at 42, divorced, and perhaps with a couple of children in tow, debt from a failed marriage, and some bitter experience in your emotional baggage.  I have friends who are now angry and regretful over the wasted years they chose to stay with an incompatible partner because they "didn't want to have to find someone new".  If the person you're with isn't right for you, the right person is going to be worth the effort to find.

AJ, what a rare gift to have found out that the choice you made earlier in life was the right one.  Most of us live with "what-ifs" and wonder what might have been; you know beyond a doubt that you are fortunate and blessed.  :)

To the other posters, I'm sorry that your wisdom and insight have come at the cost of painful experience (personal or that of your friends/family.)  As the saying goes, life is a harsh teacher because you get the test before the lesson.  I'm glad we can share the lessons so we don't all have to learn them firsthand. 

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Re: Financial differences in a relationship; when are they too much?
« Reply #49 on: October 21, 2012, 11:34:35 AM »
I'm too young to offer any valuable relationship advice, but I know a thing or two about drugs, ex-overachievers and male buddies.

Someone mentionned that there are people who smoke weed recreationally and maintain stellar careers/finances. I have a couple close friends in that category. You said that even though he only started recently, he now smokes daily. Is weed a central theme in his circle of friends and do they seem to have their life together? Do they do things together that do not involve drugs or sitting around? How long has he been paying for his roommate's lifestyle?

I can understand the occasional blunt, say once a week. Every day? Most likely a ticking bomb.

Best of luck to you.