You Need Help: Your Girlfriend is Permanently Unemployed, Maybe

Welcome to You Need Help! Where you seek advice and we try our very best to give it.

This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.

For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today we help you deal with your potentially deadbeat girlfriend!

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this girl is really excited about getting a job

Question:

My girlfriend hasn’t had a job for the duration of our 2 year relationship and I’m becoming resentful of the fact that I’m basically expected to pay for everything (and I mean EVERYTHING). Sometimes she becomes depressed about not having a job or money and spends a couple of weeks looking (but I don’t know how hard, or if she edits her cover letters etc.). Then the motivation dies and it’s back to the usual routine. She has some very lazy qualities. That, and my resentment, are really affecting our relationship. Help?

Answer:

When you’re faring far better financially than your girlfriend, helping her should make you feel better about yourself, not worse. Generosity and altruism can be really rewarding, given the right person-in-need.

So — and it seems like you know this — the problem here isn’t really money so much as it is that you’re concerned she’s not the right-person-in-need. I imagine if she was slaving away at a poorly-paying profession or really really hustling to get a job and was unable to, that you’d feel compassion and love for her fruitless labor which would inspire you to want to help. Perhaps it was like that in the beginning, but it isn’t anymore.

The money thing is the easiest symptom of that problem to use to enter an argument with, ’cause you can pretend like it’s not about feelings or critique of her personality and you have no choice but to care about feeling that your money isn’t well-spent, because that’s an Official Problem.

BUT I think if you’ve gone this long without talking in depth about her employment situation, then you need to start out by (at least pretending like you are) giving her the benefit of the doubt and asking her like it comes from a place of caring for her well-being — not your own self-interest or even the health of your relationship — how her job search is going, what she’s looking at applying to next, if there’s anything you can do to help. Hear her out. Jumping right in with the full weight of your disappointment in her and complaining about finances will just make her mega-defensive.

What does she do all day? Does she at least take care of the home-stuff — cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, fixing the shower, waiting for the cable guy, etc? If so, it’s possible she feels that’s a reasonable exchange of support and might be surprised to hear you see it differently. When you agree to support somebody financially, it’s tricky to use that against them later without any warning. People generally assume you are okay with something until they hear otherwise.

Being unemployed or underemployed for a long time can be really depressing and self-defeating. More than 40 percent of unemployed people have been jobless for more than six months. “A body at rest stays at rest” and the longer somebody is out of the job market, often the harder it is for them to be seen as viable job candidates, apparently.

If she’s got no hopes on the horizon, suggest she seek out some volunteer opportunities in her field as a way to keep her busy/social and make connections. (idealist.org is a good place to start) If she’s not even interested in doing that, then that’s a good sign that she’s going to sit on the couch until you remove the couch from underneath her, and that’s when you dig into the meat of the problem which is that you wish she was a more ambitious person and that you’re concerned her temporary personality actually has turned out to be her entire personality.

I think passion and ambition are really sexy qualities in a person. Give her a chance to prove herself, if she wants it — maybe she just needs to feel like you care whether or not she has a job — but if it’s more of the same then it’s probably best for both of you to move on. You shouldn’t be the only one investing in your future together, and if you are, you should be the only one earning returns on that investment, so to speak, and at some point it’s time to cut your losses. You know? I’d be curious to see what the audience thinks about this question so, take it away girls!

-Riese

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Riese is the 32-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1734 articles for us.

56 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    I am currently in this situation, with a twist, my partner has health issues. Yes, it is a challenge, coupled with the added stress of medical appointments and prescriptions.
    Having friends to talk to and opening up that communication with your partner in a non-threatening way, is the best plan of action. When you feel your frustration boiling over, give yourself time and space. Make sure you open that challenging dialogue coming from a place of love. If it’s clear you’re being taken advantage of once you’ve done everything you can do to understand, then you can leave her with a clear conscience.

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        yeah actually i was basically primary caretaker for a friend who was mentally ill and on medicaid, food stamps and welfare, and seriously it was a full-time job, like he constantly had to go to appointments and meetings all day, which in nyc takes a lot of time, like it was a job. not having a job was a job.

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    Is your girlfriend pursuing high education? If no it seems unreasonable that she’s been unemployed for two solid years. I know there are circumstances that can prevent someone from working for that long, but there is no justification in the question. So I’m going to assume that she’s at a point where her failed attempts at finding work (which probably seem solid to her) have caused a depression that makes her not want to try. If you’re great at being supportive and helping people through shit like that go for it.

    However, if you have already tried for two years to help her get it together it’s time she had a hard lesson in independence. I would have a difficult time staying with someone so unmotivated. How can you possibly create a life TOGETHER?

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      Not knowing where the poster is from I would say that it’s not necessarily unreasonable that some one’s been unemployed for two years. I’ve been pretty much unemployed for almost a year. I know people in this area who have been unemployed for over a year, a few people who have been unemployed for over two.

      There are some places where there really aren’t any jobs at all.

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        Chrissie riot,

        I appreciate your point of view, but I think I agree with Stella. I’m only 21 and still in college, so I’ve yet to earn a degree. However, when I’m home in the big city of Dallas for the summer and here in a small college town during the year, I’m always able to find some kind of work. Sometimes it’s mundane (like being a hostess at a restaurant), but I’m currently an admissions tele-counselor for the college (and it’s not work-study, it’s a real job). So I think that if someone has a degree or is in a line of work where an advanced degree isn’t needed, there is work out there. Will it always pay 6 figures? Obviously not, but 20K a year is a hell of a lot better than nothing. And if someone things they’re above that, I think they should check their attitude at the door and earn something while continuing to look for a better position.

        • Thumb up 1

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          I am disabled and I have a BA and am working on an MA. The stuff I apply for (like being a barista) I am consistently told I am overqualified for. My field is such that I need a PhD to really work where I want to. At the very least I have to have that MA completed, which is still a year or so away. I have to be somewhat choosy with jobs because certain situations are bad for my health. I have been under/unemployed for about four years. So yes, it is entirely possible for someone to be unemployed for that long. And when you’ve been applying and applying forever and just getting silence it can WRECK your self esteem, which obviously doesn’t help when it comes to putting yourself out there.

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          But I would say underemployed would be different from being completely unemployed for two years. I had an absolutely marvelous job at McDonalds for three years (first work experience) and while it certainly wouldn’t be my first choice, or even my fourth or fifth, at least it was something. I think its less that she doesn’t bring home the big bucks and more that she doesn’t work – at all. Of course if she keeps up the house, that’s totally different. I would be perfectly happy to take care of someone that either worked – even just a little – or helped me take care of my home. But I’m somewhat ignorant about the state of the economy in the rest of the country – are there places where you can’t even get fast food jobs?

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          Yes. Yes there are.

          I was unemployed for about two and a half years, right out of college, before my current job. I worked with recruiters and temp agencies (who also couldn’t find me a job), volunteered and interned constantly, and applied applied applied every day. At a certain point, I also stopped discussing the job apps I was working on or was waiting to hear back from with my friends and girlfriend.

          I guess what I’m saying is, lack of employment doesn’t mean laziness. Tangentially, if someone doesn’t talk about their efforts and you think you’re witnessing a lack of action, don’t be so sure. As someone upthread mentioned, joblessness can be a fast way to utterly destroyed self-esteem. Talking about the process and checking in to somehow prove to everyone that you are on top of your job search can be exhausting. If someone is financially supporting you, then it’s fair to work out an agreement where you let them know the efforts you are making now and again, even if it’s just “Yeah, got another three rejection letters today, but my volunteer job let me do X Y and Z!” It’s tricky, though, because autonomy, in my experience, becomes such a prized thing when your job is supplicating potential employers

          I realize that this is diverging from your actual point, so what I mean to reiterate is this: Yes, there are places where you can’t get a job in fast food.

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          Yeah… McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Taco Bell have all told me I am ‘overqualified’ to work a drive through window, even though I speak fluent English and am totally desperate for work. The people they did hire were high schoolers and folks who couldn’t speak clear English. :<

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          with all due respect, sadie, you are being way too harsh about something you have yet to have life experiences for to understand (if i am correct to understand you are 21 and in college).

          It’s not about ’20K is better than nothing.’ (Sidenote/Perspective: I make less than that and I have a 4yr degree and I work full-time) There’s unemployment benefits to consider, health insurance and a million other things that I don’t even fully comprehend when looking to take a job after being fired/terminated.

          So please, a little empathy will go a long way.

        • Thumb up 1

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          I think both of you are correct. Colleges tend to inflate reality when they talk about after school wages, but dedication and hard work goes a long way. However, it is unfair to reject her opinion based on age. The only way to survive the job search is to have a good attitude about it.

          I empathize greatly with the unemployed and under payed, and I’m also 21. I’ve worked full time, I’ve been fired (for blowing the whistle on sexual harassment), and I’ve struggled to find consistent work. To say that my (or anyone’s) age dictates their experience in shitty or unjust employment is off.

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          You’d be amazed how many doors close when you get your B.A.

          I assume that what you’re talking about is temporary work. The company that hires a student doesn’t have to spend a huge amount on them or their benefits, because they’re happily aware that they won’t be sticking around post-graduation. Students are usually much, much cheaper labor. (NB: Some companies do offer to take people on after graduation, and that’s great! But it’s not true across the board.)

          As Tiger Gray pointed out, over qualification is a very real thing. Someone with an undergraduate or graduate degree is often perceived as a risk: What if they leave for something better? We’ll have to train someone again soon and that’s costly and a hassle.

          Please don’t make sweeping generalizations about people being unemployed because they won’t take anything less than “6 figures.” It’s insulting.

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          Sadie,

          Sometimes it’s easier said than done to get a crappy 20K job. I was overqualified for everything I applied for at first out of undergrad (B.S. in Biochem, they wanted an associate’s as a lab tech for most things). I couldn’t get anywhere without a master’s (preferably a PhD, really) or an associate’s in lieu of a bachelor’s.

          You know where I ended up for a year? Target. An honors student with a very respectable GPA and undergraduate research experience. And I really don’t think Target wanted me that much… Then I went to grad school and my stipend is twice as much as I made at Target–so that crappy job may not be a 20K job, it may be a 12K job.

          Anyway, point being, most people will not hire you if you’re overqualified because they think you’ll be unhappy. And a lot of the time, they’re right.

        • Thumb up 2

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          I so appreciate everyone’s perspective. Yes, I am sure over-qualification effects thousands of those who are under- or unemployed these days. And I would have great sympathy if my girlfriend lost her current job, and would continue to have sympathy and provide support for her for a long time. However, the original poster said her gf had been fully unemployed for two years and (in the poster’s words) was lazy. This is why I was less sympathetic. I would absolutely understand temporary unemployment and the depression or mood swings that could accompany the situation and job rejection. But the laziness is what caused me to suggest taking any job that presents itself – and I wasn’t implying all unemployed people are holding out for a 6 figure income; I would never suggest that. I was just suggesting she should just jump back on the work bandwagon and at least feel some accomplishment if she felt depressed from doing nothing all the time.

          I’m sorry I came off as cold or uncaring! I hope my explanations cleared up my intentions.
          My girlfriend would agree with you all that I could work on my communication skills :/

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          I’ve been unemployed since I graduated. I apply for every job each week I am remotely qualified for and many I’m not just in case. I also do volunteer work to build up my CV. I am terrified that I am never going to find a job. I am not lazy. This is not my fault and it will continue not to be even if it runs to two years. There isn’t some magic time period that suddenly magically produces a job except in the chronically lazy, its actually harder to get employed the longer you are out of work. She didn’t provide a justification because she probably didn’t think she needed to, there being a recession and all.

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          I live in a small town. I have lived here since February. Since I moved here there has been ONE job opening that didn’t require either farming experience (which I have none) or a CNA license (which I don’t have). I applied for and got that job, as a waitress, but then the restaurant lost business because the economy in this town is so terrible and I lost that job. The one job opening since I moved here.

          This isn’t about being overqualified or about being too good for any jobs, it’s about for every job opening in this whole entire country there are four people looking for work and those jobs/job seekers aren’t evenly distributed. Yes, sure there may be a McDonald’s somewhere hiring but there isn’t one hiring near me. The fact is that right now there aren’t enough jobs to go around and so it isn’t shocking when some one is unemployed long term.

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          I think I came across a little ranty and too personal infoy and not explainy enough. Sorry if it did.

          Basically what I’m saying is that without knowing that the poster lives in a city where there are jobs we can’t assume that the girlfriend is turning her nose up at anything.

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          Good for you. I’m so fucking happy for you. Its good to know that my failure to get any of the minimum wage jobs I apply to in the dozens each week in my capital city home is just laziness on my part. Its not as if people don’t tell me that all the time. Or my numerous friends in the same position. I’d say I’m sorry for how this comes off but I’m really not, you can’t have escaped hearing this exact story numerous times in the recession and you’re still repeating the myths about how we could get crappy jobs if we would take a cut to our pride when that is what we’re trying to do and it isn’t working.

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        “I know there are circumstances that can prevent someone from working for that long, but there is no justification in the question.”

        I didn’t deny that there are no justifiable reasons for being unemployed, but the question does not include any legitimate reason.

        This was the only reason in the question: “Then the motivation dies and it’s back to the usual routine. She has some very lazy qualities.”

  3. Thumb up 1

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    When I first read the title of this You Need Help, I thought OH MY GOD, MY GIRLFRIEND WROTE IN ABOUT ME! But then I realized that I have only been unemployed two months, not two years, and I felt slightly better.

    So I have been unemployed and underemployed for a while now, and I finally got a job last week. (Woohoo!) However, I am still not earning enough to contribute half of the living expenses to my girlfriend situation. This puts me in a very frustrating position. One, because I don’t like feeling like I am not “earning my keep” so to speak, and two, because I feel like my girlfriend will eventually resent me. So I know what it can be like for your girlfriend, being completely unemployed and having to rely on someone else for everything.

    Some things to consider: Is your girlfriend depressed? Does she have any sort of mental illness? These things can really hinder one’s motivation. Plus, if she doesn’t have any health insurance and you are her only source of income, she might never tell you that she needs to go see a therapist, because she can’t afford it. This can be huge.

    Also, if she is not depressed, does she have some self-esteem issues? This can also contribute to her lack of desire to go job-searching and be repeatedly rejected by potential employers.

    Finally, has she ever had a job? What were the circumstances that led to her leaving the last job she had? Is there a bigger story? I guess what I am saying is that it seems like there has to be some sort of underlying issue here. If she has a history of being a permanent grifter, moving from one relationship to the next for financial support, (even if that is just from her parent’s house into a girlfriend’s house) then she is unlikely to change, and you have to make a decision about how you want to live for the foreseeable future. Either deciding you can live with her the way she is, or kicking her to the curb and wishing her the best.

    One of the ways you could approach this is to say: “Look, I care about you. You do not seem happy/fulfilled/passionate about your life right now. I know you would feel better if you had some income, even from a small part time job.”

    She clearly needs something to push her in the right direction, whether it is a breakup, an ultimatum, therapy, more schooling, volunteering, or a shitty part time job to get her out of the house. But I can’t imagine that she is happy sitting at home doing nothing all day. And if she is, she is not worth your time.

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    Eesh. This is roughly similar to my situation right now, except that it’s complicated by the fact that I have an income through well-invested savings (and so am able to contribute income while self-employed at my startup craft business) but my partner does not and is unemployed (for six months now, the second long stretch of unemployment) and resents that “[I] don’t have to work, but [they] do” (complete with full denial of resentment or responsibility to bring in an income of their own). I can’t even ask any more without being treated like I’m attacking. I don’t know what to do. :(

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      I wouldn’t know how to miraculously change your partner’s attitude towards your finances, but that sounds painful. You shouldn’t be made to feel bad for your ability to create a good financial set-up for yourself. Being self-employed is really admirable, and it blows my mind that she’s not supportive of you. If you can’t reason with your do you really want to have all that envy targeted at you in your relationship?

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        I have tried so hard to reason with my partner, but empathy / objective understanding is not their strong suit. I’m realizing now that there is SO MUCH anger and resentment pent up (full denial, and [self]righteous fury that I would even suggest such a thing)…. It has led to verbally abusive situations several times already. We’ve been together a long, long time. But I don’t think we can get past this. I don’t think they can get past their resentment / entitlement / denial of responsibility enough for us to get past it.

        I think it’s time for me to be on my own. I fucking hate it.

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          You go, girl!

          If the situation has already turned abusive then there is really no turning back. Whether or not she gets over her jealousy, can you get over viewing her as the person she was during this time?

          I’m 100% always supportive of ditching a relationship when someone crosses a line into abusive (verbally or physically) territory. Good luck, and I wish you the best. I know it can be hard having to leave.

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          Hard isn’t even the word.. I’m fucking scared. I don’t want to abandon everything I’ve worked towards for 10 years. I don’t want to divvy up the animals and cause them to lose the house we bought together. I don’t want to see how many friendships I lose in the fallout. I don’t want to start over.

          But I don’t think I have any choice any more.

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    You’re all a hell of a lot nicer than I am. I’ve been in this situation and im still with the person. Only difference is that after two years of actually TALKING about it and her saying she would do better and all that, I finally told her it was sink ir swim. I gave her a few months to get it together or get out, so she got it together. Now she has a part time job and is looking for something better while also signing up for school.

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      I gotta say, I’m not nearly as nice as a lot of the people here either. While there’s no shame in not being able to find a job in this economy, I wouldn’t have a lot of patience for someone who isn’t even looking or trying to better themself through education or volunteer work.
      If you don’t have a job, don’t expect your girlfriend to pay for everything. There are plenty of ways to spend time together without spending money. And at least you can make up for it by offering to do the dishes after dinner together or to bring back the movie she rented for your date-night so that she doesn’t have to.

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    It’s a rough economy, and it’s understandable to be out of work for so long, but it’s also difficult to be the partner of someone who isn’t even trying. This sounds exactly like my ex-wife, who didn’t even have any passion or drive to do anything. She could also be a gold digger, like my ex was, who someone convinced me to pay off all her bills and student loan debt (because it was “OUR” debt, right, since we were married?) before leaving me for someone with even more money. DTMFA.

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    I used to be in a relationship where I paid for everything. Just like you, I got to a point where I was getting frustrated with having to be the spender. The first thing I would say is that Riese is right about everything, the thing for one to do in that situation is to talk to your significant other and let them know how you feel and start doing free stuff like taking walks at the park, go bike riding, play cards, kiss more. Just things that doesn’t involve any money. If she doesn’t agree with you ad expects you to keep providing and paying for everything then run don’t walk. There are people out there who gets into relationships with people that always do everything for them. If you stop paying for stuff you’ll get to see who she really is. You’ll know why she is with you.

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    I’ve been with my ladyfriend for 3 years, and more than half of that was spent with her jobless. She got fired from a couple jobs, one of which she really loved. These things led to some serious depression moments, no motivation to find another job, the weight gain, the feeling really awful about living thing, pretty much the whole shebang.

    What did I do? Well, the first time it happened I was pretty supportive and I think I did alright with all of it. The second time around, I was a total pushy dick. Guess what actually helped my girlfriend? Yeah, that’s right, not the dick.

    But for real, I know it’s not easy being the one who covers everything and hearing what sounds like empty promises of “I’ll pay you back” with the unspoken “when I get another job”. It blows, and it really puts a strain on things. But if you think she’s worth it, you’ll figure it out. Try to do something spontaneously really nice for her, like some fancy chocolate or flowers or even cooking a nicer than average dinner, and see if you can help nudge her spirits in a more positive direction. This takes a long time, I know, but like I said, if you think she’s worth it, then there’s really no argument.

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    I feel for you and admire you, gal. If sheer laziness is indeed what you’re dealing with, I don’t think I could put up with two years of it.

    Just like every other aspect of a relationship, both sides need to contribute their fair share of the finances. Her share doesn’t have to be 50% (especially if her career is a passion), but she does need to contribute! Maybe the money she makes from a part time job goes into y’alls vacation fund. Something…anything!

    You need to tell her how you’re feeling. I agree with Nik up there. ^^^ I think you’ve been understanding/footing the bill long enough.

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    Unemployment is a gross vicious circle. Once you are out of work, you realise how much people talk about their jobs. Seriously, it’s 90% of what people talk about.

    Going out to dinner or general socialising – The opening line is always: “where are you working”, “what do you do?” or insensitive “friends” and family ask “got a job yet”, knowing full well you have not. :(

    I made the decision to stop socialising, as it was so depressing (which is actually a big mistake).. and the next thing you know, going to the supermarket once a week starts to feel like a big deal. A BIG DAY OUT :-)

    My point is, her girlfriend might have developed some anxiety, a bit of agoraphobia and she might simply be at the point of needing her hand held, to get out and do the things she needs to get done. She might be an adult, but adults lose their confidence.

    If they are to go forward together, then they should sit down and make a plan. Point out that what she is doing isn’t working – and seek new employment advisers. Or, she should go to school.

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    This will sound harsh.

    I have been where you are right now. Far too many times. Because I let my partner rely on me, using me as a crutch and therefore lessening their own personal need (literally, ‘need’ because you are feeding them, housing them, and clothing them) to be self-sufficient. You may love each other very much, but she’s using you. She may not *want* to be using you, but she is.

    Our sex life died. I resented her and therefore most certainly didn’t want to fuck her.

    She was a really sensitive about all the asking of questions that trouble everyone who is unemployed. She was embarrassed. But she didn’t feel motivated to do anything about it because the only thing that seemed to matter in her life was our relationship. That put a lot of pressure on me, because I had a job, friends, creative activities, and plans that involved some scrilla (travel). “We didn’t have to go out and hang out with other people” (who would be curious about her life), she would say, “when we could just hang out together.”

    It wasn’t working. I grew very frustrated. The relationship ended.

    A few months later, I saw her, happy, employed and prosperous. It was sexy. I thought she was back on her feet. We got back together.

    Within two weeks of getting back together, she quit her job. I took her back under my wing.

    The same thing happened again.

    We broke up. She then, immediately after our break-up, found a job.

    Do you see a trend?

    We got back together when I was moving to a new city. She then quit her job to follow me to this new city, where she was hoping I would again, take care of her.

    I had to put my foot down.

    Sometimes, in a long-term relationship you develop a certain dynamic or groove that’s hard to get out of. Your partner may not know how to be with you without being dependent upon you. It’s the fault of both parties involved.

    If you’re happy taking care of her, then this dynamic is fine. But you’re obviously not if you’re writing in for advice.

    She needs to be on her own to figure her own shit out. You cannot keep supporting her.

    Break up.

    And, if you think she’s got her shit together a month after you break up, take five more months before you try to give things a shot again. At least.

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    Loved this article – really sensitively handled. There’s so much complexity to the issues of unemployment – particularly in this recession.

    My other half has oscillated between employment (but severely underpaid), and unemployment. I’ve been employed during that time – and paid pretty nicely. It’s harder on her, than on me. Definitely. I can’t imagine how it must be for ones ego to have to depend on another person financially, especially when you work your butt off every day just as much as that person.

    I’d imagine if my other half didn’t work so hard, AND do so much of the housework, I’d be feeling like I was a bit of a chump. But as it is, I see the money that comes into the house as totally ‘ours’, not ‘mine’ – because she deserves that cash as much as I do.

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      To make things slightly clearer – my other half is working as a post-doctoral tutor in a university – hence the periods of employment/unemployment. This also explains why someone could be unpaid but also be still working hard!

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    I have my M.S. from a top 3 institution, and I’m working at Starbucks.

    It’s for like 20 hrs a week while I’m looking for something in my field, or until I can start my PhD (waiting for those acceptance letters *fingers crossed*).

    It kind of sucks working there, but it DOES get me out of the house, interacting, meeting new people, and even though it does feel “below me” it’s better than sitting at home, and I appreciate the extra $500 a month. If she can find a part-time job where she gets to hang out with people her age that would probably make her (and you) feel better.

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    Relationships like these just floor me, I guess because it would never occur to me that I could feel comfortable in a relationship where I didn’t contribute very close to half of the living expenses. Someone staying home to take care of children/dependents is certainly an equal contribution, but just “keeping house” doesn’t seem like enough to me.

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    I’m surprised no one brought this up yet, but being in an ldr brings up some of these same issues. I’m in a bi-continental marriage and my partner does not have a job. So she visits me for a couple months at a time. She also has bpd which makes it very difficult for her to have a job and she can’t get the help she needs at this time. And while she visits me it would not be legal for her to seek work.

    ANYWAYS, I pay for most every thing while she’s here and I pay for her plane tickets. And I really don’t mind. I know she feels guilty, and her actions speak louder than anything she could tell me, as in: not pressuring me to go out all the time, spending carefully and consciously, finding small ways to make and save money, support me as I look for more work. Basically she’s just very conscious of the fact that I am supporting her and she is very gracious for it. She has motivation and we both know this is not a permanent situation.

    For the question: If your girlfriend is not obviously grateful and acknowledges that you support her, then it sounds like she using you for the wrong reasons. If she has lazy qualities, those most likely won’t change, even if she has a job. So really you need to decide if she’s worth it, if you think she really will change for the better. If you decide yes, she’s worth it, engage her. Try to find activities outside the home she will enjoy. Maybe try therapy. Remind her of things she used to like to do. If she really doesn’t want to try, maybe it’s time to cut the cord.

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    I’m single. Have been for a long time. I’m also underemployed. I was unemployed for awhile. I’ve put off dating for now because I recognize it’s not fair to date someone when I’m worrying about spending five dollars. Dating costs money.

    Also? As I watched the interviews keep going to others, the temp jobs dwindle to almost nothing, and found myself more and more frustrated, broke and depressed, I decided to start my own company in my passion. I still have a *lot* to learn, but I’ve found excellent mentors, apprenticed myself out to someone for nearly a year, and I’ve surrounded myself with good people who recognize my talents and help me along in any way they can.

    I work pretty much 16-18 hours a day, both at my side job at a restaurant and for my clients. I’ve had dreams of my clients and their needs. And I am still super broke. That, in and of itself, is depressing. BUT knowing I have some control over my future, that I’m not wholly at the whim of a boss (although each client is a boss in their own way), I feel better about myself. Not going to lie, when I actually make enough to not only pay my bills but to go out and to date, I’ll feel better. But it’s hard. This economy? It sucks horribly. It’s our generation’s Great Depression.

    So, encourage her passions, encourage her talents. Perhaps she’ll strike upon her own entrepreneurial venture. And hey, it doesn’t have to be anything amazing. Maybe she’s an excellent ironer and she offers people in your neighborhood to iron their shirts for a small fee. I know of several unemployed people who’ve started personal concierge services and are building a company that way.

    There’s always someone with a need they can’t fulfill themselves, and the good thing about NOT being part of a corporation is you can take the small scraps that companies would ignore. A penny may not be much, but add up a few of em and you can buy some nifty stuff. So, her work doesn’t necessarily have to be in a corporate environment. And having some sort of way to make money and to have some control over her future might help her rebuild her self esteem.

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    Wow. I’m not sure how to feel about all this.

    I would caution anyone to jump on the descriptor of “lazy” and attribute that to everything. We’re getting this second-hand at best. One person’s “lazy” is another person’s “I’ve hit my limit”.

    I have been unemployed for over three years running, ever since I graduated. The longest job I’ve had was a 6-week contract. I do get the occasional freelance job or gig or stuff of that nature, but it’s irregular and unpredictable. I have had some awesomely fun jobs, but they were short-term; one of my favourites required me to be a student, and I haven’t been one for years now.

    Complicating the matter is that I am on a bridging visa, and the Australian government is being SUPER SLOW on approving my permanent residency. Technically I can work any job, but people are reluctant to hire folks on a bridging visa because they’ve never heard of it. In the meantime I can’t get Centrelink (social security), job assistance, government-funded vocational training, scholarships, grants, anything that touches Government money. Things that my underemployed peers can at least rely on. (Yet I pay taxes – and guess where that money goes?) I also have an ethnic name, and there’s been studies that show that ethnic names are less likely to be hired or interviewed than those with more Anglo names – even with the EXACT SAME RESUME. (http://news.anu.edu.au/?p=1317) I’ve thought about changing my name many times, but that would require changing 2 countries’ worth of paperwork.

    I try. I really do fucking try. I have work experience to rival my peers. I’ve gone around the world, been involved with various scales of projects internationally, built a name for myself. I am an avid volunteer. I have a BA. I’ve changed my resume 5 times and try all sorts of cover letters and applications. I’ve done the conventional *and* the unconventional. Yet none of this apparently matters, not one whit. The most common comment I get? “We loved your resume!…but we’ve decided to hire someone else.”

    I’ve been rejected from *interviews* from a job that I was such a shoo-in for that the previous holder (who was leaving for a trip) recommended I apply, given the excuse of “not having the right degree” – only to see a friend of mine *without* the “Right degree” get the job (and then not do it because she was away so often). I’ve been rejected for a job because I was told that I had to choose between being a producer and a performer: the person that got hired was also a producer & performer and didn’t have to choose. I’ve had temp agencies call me up to tell me “sorry, we can’t help you” – and that’s when they had the courtesy to call. I can’t reapply for a job at Woolworth’s, not even as a cashier chick, because they rejected an application from me from *2007* and won’t let me update the info or reapply. I’ve applied to be a stripper, house cleaner, babysitter, cashier, waitress, admin assistant, receptionist, tea lady, all sorts of random jobs. Not one bite. (Never mind the jobs that are actually *in* my industry.) I can’t even get hired at places I’ve *worked before*.

    Funny thing is, there are plenty of people that want my skills! They just can’t pay me. They can only afford to have me as a volunteer.

    It’s gotten to the point that job applications *trigger me*. I will open up a job description page and freeze. It takes me ages to be able to muster up the energy to write an application. It’s depressing and difficult when you’re trying to sell yourself knowing, *just knowing*, they will reject you and not even bother to tell you why.

    I’m going to Sydney in a couple of weeks to interview at a dungeon as a trainee domme. Only now does a fellow dom friend tell me “oh, they’re busy hiring because everyone’s leaving because there is no work”. Thanks, dude. But it’s an *interview*; something I have not received in a long time.

    OP: you know how you’re starting to resent your girlfriend because she doesn’t look like she’s taking this seriously? Guess what: if she’s anything like me, she probably resents you too. I saw myself getting really upset when my partner (or someone else) gets a job in a snap. I am super embarrassed to have to rely on my parents (and occasionally my partner) to be able to live. I am near-suicidal almost every day because I feel like there will never be a space for me, no one will ever want me enough to pay me for my time & trouble, I might as well not exist anymore because I am taking up space and time and making people resentful.

    And yet whenever I write about this at all, whenever I contemplate just finding a sugar mama, whenever I get fed up and frustrated and desperate because my bank account is under $5 and I fucking NEED MONEY – “well-meaning” people tell me: Take any job! Go do retail! Go do sex work! Why are you not working hard enough? Why are you not thinking positively?!

    DAMNIT AS IF I AM NOT TRYING. FUCK THIS SHIT.

    Your girlfriend’s laziness could be anger, depression, sadness, suicidality. If your girlfriend just feels it’s not going to work out anyway she’s probably given up. Calling her lazy is just going to make her resent you more. I know it’s annoying and frustrating, and guess what? we hate it probably more than you do.

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    You can’t judge her. If you come from a place of judgement all will be naught. See if she’s willing to start her own freelance business or volunteer. Does she get gov assistance to help with household expenses? You have to sort out your feelings about the situation. Then only if you approach this with loving kindness and tact will she be able to consult with you and you all create a plan. It’s hard when you’re unemployed because there’s a large unweildy goal-find a good job. And this is uaually ill defined. Also, what’s it worth to you? If she was the stay at home half of your unit so you didn’t have to do anything at home is it worth it to you to “pay” for this service to her? If so then acknowledge that’s what you’re doing and be happy. But you have to start by being honest with yourself. And remember, the only person you can control is you. And I know most people don’t understand my point of view of this but I say, “Sometimes I can love you better from a distance”.

    Also don’t complicate things by attaching your romantic feels to the situation. If she were not your girlfriend but your sister how would you feel? Your mother? Childhood friend? Be honest? Are you still in this relationship because of the sex? You got to be real. Only you know. Sorting out your motivations for being in the relationship will help you understand what you want/need to do. Also, ultimately what is the kind of relationship you want to be in? Long term but not till death, for the moment, until better comes? Be honest. Don’t tell me tell you. Then think about what qualities in a person you want, and ask yourself if they fit those qualifications and were in this situation A) how would you see this handled ideally-what’s keeping that from happening? B) Would you tolerate this if the personality were of such that you would seek for the type of relationship you would want to have and they were doing this? C) If you think the type of personality you want would result in a different outcome, how, why and are you sure it’s not being expressed by your partner in some other way?

    Also, have you done everything you truly can to help? Is she getting alternate income? Can she use the internet to her advantage? Can she create something of value with her free time where she isn’t working that can be used to get income for the household? Does she offer useful resources to you? Anything?

    Then ask yourself, does you want to pay what it cost to continue to be in this relationship? From the way you asked the question I would probe if you’ve been honest with yourself or do you already want to do something and want confirmation to justify what you really want to do? Have you already made up your mind?

    Regardless you should do something. Anything. But it needs to be different. If you keep doing the same you’ll have the same and as it is now makes you unhappy.

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