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?
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!
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