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Advice

I’m having a hard time finding a job and my boyfriend is getting stressed out about our finances. What should I do? (UGL_UIUC/Flickr))

Dear Steve,

I’m moving in with my boyfriend shortly and I’m currently unemployed. I’ve been going on interviews and applying to jobs daily. I have a master’s degree and didn’t think it would take this long to find a job! My boyfriend tries to be understanding but just like anyone he gets stressed out about finances. How do we avoid ruining our relationship when so often the conversation revolves around finances (that I do not currently have). And how do I assure him that I’m not just sitting on my butt?

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Signed,
Cash Poor

Dear CP,

To answer your second question first: Actions speak louder than words. If you’re truly “going on interviews and applying to jobs daily” I can’t see why you’d have to assure your fella that you’re not just sitting on your butt.

But unemployment is one of those conditions that gets stigmatized, even by our loved ones. It’s especially bad when the economy is struggling. The gainfully employed are basically so afraid of losing their jobs that they tend to demonize — or at least discredit — the unemployed. The way to reassure yourself that you’re not going to lose your job, in other words, is to convince yourself that the unemployed got that way not because of outsourcing or downsizing or corporate malfeasance, but because the workers in question were lazy, incompetent, and/or stupid. For additional details, see “The Grapes of Wrath” or the Reagan era. That’s a bit of a rant (you’re welcome!) but it may apply in this situation.

In the end, it’s not the money that matters, CP, but the respect you guys have for one another, and for yourselves.

My hunch is that your guy is not a Reaganite, or a rapacious oligarchic landowner. He’s just amped up because you’re moving in. Who can blame him? It’s a big commitment. It may also be that money is a legitimate practical concern. As in: With only one income, paying the bills is going to be tough. Or that he, like millions of Americans, locates his anxieties in money issues.

But more likely his anxiety has to do with making sure both of you guys pull your weight financially as you initiate this new level of commitment. And while that may seem stingy or cold-hearted, it’s probably in your best interest ultimately. Because really: Who wants to feel financially dependent on the person they’re sleeping with?

Okay, I admit it. I do. But as regular readers of this column know by now I am a big slut best avoided for sample purposes.

But okay: What should you do? My advice is to make sure you’re applying for every job that seems appealing to you, as well as some that may be less compelling but will help bring in some dough. Please note: I am not suggesting you take a job you hate. But I am suggesting that you’re probably not going to find the job of your dreams, or even a job that fully tests your skills, immediately. And this means you’re going to have to endure what most of the world’s workers already do: A job that feels like … a job.

My hunch is that your guy is not a Reaganite, or a rapacious oligarchic landowner. He’s just amped up because you’re moving in. Who can blame him? It’s a big commitment.

A quick story along these lines: When I was 22, I moved to El Paso, Texas to take a job as a reporter. I was thrilled. A year later, my girlfriend moved from New York City to El Paso to live with me. This was a bad decision on many levels. But we were in love, or whatever disease of the mind calls itself love when you’re that age.

Somewhat unshockingly, there were not a lot of great jobs available for my lady in the greater El Paso metropolitan area; she had studied philosophy in college. But I’ve always admired the gumption she showed in the year we lived together. She worked freelance gigs for a pittance. She got jerked around a lot. She did the best she could with limited options. That’s what mattered to me.

In the end, it’s not the money that matters, CP, but the respect you guys have for one another, and for yourselves.

Sending you major good wishes and lucrative vibrations.

Steve ♥

Okay folks, now it’s your turn. Did I get it right, or muck it up? Let me know in the comments section. And please do send your own question along, the more detailed the better. Even if I don’t have a helpful response, chances are someone in the comments section will. Send your dilemmas via email.

Tags: Advice, Relationships

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