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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

307

Scrub?

Hi Hairpin,
I am desperately in love with someone TLC might call a "scrub." He's kind and sweet and smart and charming, but he also doesn't have a bank account or health insurance or a "real" job, and my parents think he's not good enough for me. I know he is good enough for me because he makes me so happy, but I do feel very anxious about this. I love him, but I'm nervous about what our lives would be like if we ended up together. I am a teacher, so I don't make tons of money either, but I sometimes worry that he is completely impoverished. It makes me feel so shallow to worry about money, but I know that money problems cause divorce and tons of other unhappy life problems. It would just be nice to know that you could be with someone you loved AND also take a vacation once a year and go out sometimes and all those other bougie things. My friends say that it's great that we love each other so much, but sometimes that isn't enough, and they know it hurts but I have to move on. What do you think? Is love enough, or is it more important to take into account practical concerns? Is there any way to talk to him about this without sounding like a shallow jerk?

Wrong about TLC, wrong for America. A scrub, or a "buster," is guy who mistakenly thinks he is fly. Being seated on one's broke ass is a necessary but not sufficient condition of a scrub — to be a true scrub, one must also ALWAYS be talking about what one wants. A scrub, eo ipso, cannot get any love from you. He cannot approach you, you do not want his number, to meet him, or any of his time. One's man not only can but presumably has approached. Numbers and time are shared. So we're good, right?

Ohhhhhh I see what the confusion was about, you were thinking of the B-Side, right? A Nice Guy Who Doesn't Have A Lot of Money And Maybe Isn't So Ambitious About Making Money Either? I was at this '90s dance thing in Gowanus last week and they put that on and me and my girls went craaaaayyyyy with extra vocal fry. My favorite part is when Left-Eye (May She Jam In Peace) breaks it DOWN and is like "it's not shallow/to worry about the role of money in a long term partnership but/the vicissitudes of life being what they are, shouldn't that really be a question/of shared attitudes, not discreet goals for income/and of course communication about changes in those attitudes and expectations." I don't know why they didn't release it as a single, really, the chorus is really a sparkling example of Marxist '90s R&B, where they're all "It's not like money is just a thing that there's some big pile of, and if you do the right things you can get at that pile, not even if you're a banker, and being happy with yourself and your partnerships probably requires reflecting on what abundance can look like for you and if there are surprises in that answer." AND THEN, that guy from Tony Toni Tone comes in and is like, "is he really a slacker, like doesn't care about anything, or does he just engage the world in ways that are not remunerative right now, and does it make a difference to you?" So rad.

Whatever, girl, get that busboy some Obamacare, pay for your own vacation, and wait for fighting about sex to break you up, I mean, that's REALLY what always does it.

Previously: He Is Gross

A Lady is one of several rotating ladies. Do you have any questions for A Lady?



307 Comments / Post A Comment

mayonegg

I might as well have written this letter, and I was hoping for a less flip response!

Quinn A@twitter

@mayonegg I think this part of the response: "is he really a slacker, like doesn't care about anything, or does he just engage the world in ways that are not remunerative right now, and does it make a difference to you?" was probably pretty useful! Personally, the former would be a dealbreaker to me but the latter would not.

SuperGogo

@mayonegg I don't see it as flip--it's actually pretty thoughtful. And creatively (awesomely) delivered too. Well done, A Lady!

mayonegg

@SuperGogo I mean, there are some good nuggets of advice in there, but I would've preferred it to expand on those ideas and be a little more thoughtful, I guess? It's funny, but I suppose the situation is not particularly funny to me at this point in time, since my friends are probably all sick of me bending their Internet ears GChatting about it.

Quinn A@twitter

@mayonegg I think this is a tough question for a stranger to answer, because really, it comes down to "how much does money matter to you personally and how much do you personally love this dude", y'know?

I don't know if asking yourself any of these questions will help, but:

1. Does this person have a goal? Does this person have a plan for achieving this goal? Will I be upset if the answer is no?

2. Can this person meet his or her own basic needs, or would I have to support them financially? Can I afford to support them financially? How would I feel about supporting them financially?

3. Do I want a partner to improve my financial outlook, or do I want a partner to improve the overall quality of my life? Does my partner improve the overall quality of my life even if they don't add much financially? Do they do housework? Take care of me when I'm sick? Cheer me up/support me when I'm sad?

4. If I found a partner who was slightly less kind; funny; charming; smart; etc, but better off financially, would I feel like I traded up or down?

Ugh, I don't know. Maybe none of that was helpful at all!

Linette

@Quinn A@twitter

It seems like this girl is just getting a bit of an earworm from her friends, who may have different priorities. This sounds less like "I am getting worried about this" and more like "I am worried that maybe I should be worried about this because other people are worried about it on my behalf."

Money is real. It is important. But plenty of people - many of them on this very 'Pin - used to make no money, and now make average money, or used to make little money, and now make good money, or used to make great money, and now make no money. It is in flux. It can change. That he is broke now does not mean he is automatically a throwaway, by any stretch.

Go ahead and sit down with this dude and talk about your financial future together, though. What kind of life do you want? What kind of life does he want? What kind of career do you respectively see yourselves in? Etc. That's far more informative on the whole "can we make this work together?" question than asking "is this man as he is now good enough to be with me forever?"

Because dude, we all change. He will change, assuredly. Maybe not in the ways you need him to. But thinking he is going to be exactly this way all his life and that you need to judge his worth based on his existence at this moment is absurd. Find out what kind of person he will be over time! He probably has a decent idea.

Though if he intends to be broke and bank account-less forever, that may indeed be a sign you need to get out. Not because he's broke, but because when your life priorities don't match up on any level, the relationship is pretty well fucked from the get-go.

mayonegg

@Quinn A@twitter Totally agree--but I think that's the nature of advice-giving! Helpful questions, for real. Here are brief answers:

1. Sort of, but not really; no; yes.
2. For right now, yes, but in the future, maybe; no; not great
3. Quality of life, for sure, but to me, financial stability is an important part of "quality of life"; 100% to everything else
4. Who knows? Not me!

It's something that I'm not feeling pressured to figure out *right now*, but it's also one of those things where if he's unemployed for another year (or two or three), I might find myself wishing I had given it more thought earlier.

EM87

@mayonegg I think there's a difference between people who are passionate about something and work hard at it but are broke, because that's the nature of their field (whether that's teaching or training seals or poetry or whatever) and people who "don't have a real job" in the sense that they are slackers. Hardworking people who are broke are one thing; slackers with no work ethic will suck the life out of you.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@Linette It does sound like this is bothering her friends/her parents more than it's actually bothering her.

...on the other hand, while I know this isn't true of all friends, I'm pretty sure my friends wouldn't get to the "it'll hurt, but you need to move on" point unless they'd heard me complain/worry about the boy's lack of money a LOT. It seems possible that her friends are introducing the anxiety, and it seems possible that they're reflecting it back to her.

Hellcat

@mayonegg I'm with you a little bit on this too, right down to your list. Not at deal-breaker level, for sure, but the worries do creep in...making me wonder if it's the worries, not the money, that will cause some unrest later.

lucy snowe

@Linette I think your response was a really great expansion on ideas A Lady put out there in allusions and lyrically concise ways-- like a discussion of the meaning of a poem that is quite a bit longer than the original work.

phlox lombardi

@ponymalta Yes! Exactly.

LydiaBennett

@mayonegg But also ask yourself as a follow up to the "can I support him financially, do I want to, how would that make me feel" question, "how does it make HIM feel?" Because I once was fine with and capable of supporting a partner but it made him nasty. Like he couldn't handle that I was taking care of the finances and housework and everything else and he got really really mean. I finally broke up with him, bought him out of the lease and all of the furniture and sent him to go be mean to someone else.

Maybe this flies in the face of all of the work women have done towards equality, but if you take the breadwinner role away from your man, beware the consequences. They don't take it well.

graffin

@mayonegg I used to be the guy who didn't make a lot of money when I got married. My wife gave me a chance and supported me as I corrected the situation by going back to school.
If you are thinking long term, you have to ask if they guy can be a good partner in your life in achieving your goals? With they be an asset in raising children and providing for them?
If that is what you want, and that is not what they are...dump him.

mayonegg

@graffin You all are just the greatest, seriously.

wharrgarbl

@LydiaBennett I'd kind of view it as a pretty good litmus test, though. Like, the dude losing his fucking mind and turning emotionally abusive because he's not bringing home the bacon? Probably not a good dude. Probably the sort of dude you don't want to find yourself, say, financially dependent on if you lose your own job or if you want to stay home for baby's first year or if you get sick or hit by a car or whatever. Probably not the sort of dude you'd want to get super-dependent on having rational, constructive responses to any of life's common adversities, really.

beatrix

soo creative ...@l

yoyoy

I like this graph, b/c you can tell the women are all like WHATEVER and the men are like I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. It's funny to me.Now he calls us all the time and stays up at night worrying if we'll find nice men to marry us and have good jobs.crystal x asli

agade

@Quinn A@twitter asdf Thanks for the auspicious writeup.I love this blog, it always makes me laugh

crystal x asli

hallelujah

This

my head

Heat Signature

@hallelujah Yes. Yes, indeed. It is late in my work day and trying to wrap my brain around this response is challenging.

Rubyinthedust

@Heat Signature yep. with you.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

"A Nice Guy Who Doesn't Have A Lot of Money And Maybe Isn't So Ambitious About Making Money Either"

me?

melis

Super unsettling to see Josh post something with capital letters, even if it was a direct quote.

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

@melis if i cant support someone/myself financially i can at least capitalize my letters

melis

I'M NOT READY FOR THIS MUCH CHANGE

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

@melis im turning 24 in 2 months i have to get my act together sometime

stuffisthings

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood At least you can still capitalize the interest on your student loans, amirite?

stuffisthings

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood Also holy fuck I'm turning 29 on Friday. ENJOY YOUR MID TWENTIES JOSH FUCK CAPITAL LETTERS.

Faintly Macabre

@Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood You don't have capital, but you have capitals!

par_parenthese

@stuffisthings 29 was so so badass for me; enjoy it.

OMG I am weeping like an old skeletal crypt-keeper-esque baby over here because y'all are so younnnnnnggggggg

rayray

@stuffisthings Hey almost birthday twin, I turn 25 on Thursday :)

Bittersweet

@par_parenthese 29 was a tough year for me career-wise, but still better than 30, when I had a totally irrational freak-out/life meltdown about Being So Freaking Old.

(I know, these babieeesssss, right?)

tactfactory

@stuffisthings i liked 29 a lot! 28/29 was right about when people started treating me more like a person and less like a pair of boobs. it was pretty great, really.

Scandyhoovian

@stuffisthings I've been 29 for half a month and so far it's pretty rad. I do keep going "oh god the next one is 30" though which... I feel that having 50 weeks of 29 ahead of me yet means I am being a bit premature.

Downtown_Crabby

@Scandyhoovian .. tweennnnny nine! I'm turning 29 soon and I can't wait to be taken more seriously in my industry and have even considered getting a reporter's bob haircut to speed it up.

Oliver St. John Mollusc

@tactfactory Still waiting for that one! I think the age sweet spot I want to hit and then stay at forever is getting treated like a fully actualized human being instead of just a collection of lady bits, BUT still getting called "hon" by diner waitresses. The day I don't get called "hon" anymore will be a sad sad day.

aarij

It seems possible that her friends are introducing the anxiety, and it seems possible that they're reflecting it back to her. consult-soft

iceberg

ahhh I enjoyed this response. it communicates basically everythign but is also entertaining.

LW, does he not have those things (money, bank account, health insurance) right now and have plans to have them in the future? Or does he not have any plans to have any of those things? Like does he not even plan/expect someday to make a basic standard of living type income? and if that bothers YOU then he's not the one for you - he wouldn't be for me because stable income is very important to me, I couldn't, like, live in a teepee and do seasonal fruitpicking or something, but some people can.

iceberg

@iceberg I don't make a shit-ton of money and neither does Mr Iceberg, but together we make enough to keep a roof over our heads - and I thought that I'd rather that than marry a wealthy man who's never home and always stressed or whatever.

fabel

@iceberg I loved this response too.

melis

"Babe, you know capitalism and I aren't simpatico."

fabel

But, err, yeah. LW. I think this is workable, but maybe TALK to him? It's not a shallow concern at all. Just see if his response is, "I hope to someday be in a more stable position" or if he goes, "What are you talking about?"

Also, add me to the people who are also in this position, kind of. Except reversed. As in, I'm the scrub & maybe my boyfriend wrote this & flipped the sexes to confuse me.

Judith Slutler

@iceberg Yeah, sometimes people just don't mesh that well on these types of issues. I mean, one weekend my boyfriend and I both happened to be broke as a joke, and whereas I was like "whatevs time to eat white toast and butter for breakfast I guess" he was viscerally annoyed that he couldn't just go spend money on whatever and had to carefully help count what we could spend. It was weird! I was like "but what if we turn out to just have a broke phase in life, will you be mad all the time?" I don't know

antipretty

@melis you could say their relationship is dot-comPlicated.

melis

@antipretty YOU COULD SAY THAT YOU COULD OH MY GOD YOU COULD

[sic]

@iceberg I think that what we've learned from the last edition of Ask A Lady is that there are only two things a man really needs:
- sheets
- towels (note the plural).

Does he have those, LW?

melis

"She's Type A, and he's...not her type. That's how things get...Dot Complicated. Starring Penn Badgley, Mo'Nique, Jenna von Oy, Andre 3000, Michael Shannon, and Michelle Rodriguez. Spring 2014."

melis

A HUMAN WOMAN WROTE AN ACTUAL BOOK CALLED "DOT COMPLICATED" WHY AREN'T WE TALKING ABOUT THIS EVERY DAY

antipretty

@melis I RT'd like 80% of your tweets about this. I swear I'm not stalking you though.

Ophelia

@melis JENNA VON OY

parallel-lines

@melis Thank god Jenna Von Oy is finally getting work again. This will be good for her IMDB.

Jinxie

@melis Well MAYBE somebody could write a post about it and publish it on the Hairpin then we'd have an entire comment section devoted to talking about it. HINT HINT.

Bittersweet

@melis Does Michelle Rodriguez play the outwardly tough but secretly tender-hearted best friend, or Mark Zuckerberg?

chrysopoeia

Whoever this A Lady is needs to be my new best friend.

Nicole Cliffe

YES. I am really into this A Lady.

chrysopoeia

@Nicole Cliffe She had me by "the chorus is really a sparkling example of Marxist '90s R&B."

par_parenthese

@chrysopoeia Can we be joint best friends? Because shiiiiiit this A Lady made me laff and go "aw" at the same time.

sceps yarx

@chrysopoeia this A Lady is the reason why I started reading the 'pin on the regular. I highly recommend combing the archives for the last couple of years and looking for her other columns!

ennaenirehtac

@chrysopoeia This A Lady has got to be Mary H.K. Choi, right? I feel like I'd recognize her steez anywhere.

Judith Slutler

wanna write an r'n'b song entitled "get that busboy some obamacare"

fondue with cheddar

RUUUUUUNNNNNNN

I married and divorced a scrub. It might get better but probably won't!

hallelujah

@fondue with cheddar Me too but he shaped up once we got married? Granted we had a kid too. Haha worst advice ever "wait til you have a baby he might clean up his act" DON'T DO THAT, LW.

fondue with cheddar

@hallelujah Lucky for you. Getting married or having a baby might make a scrub clean up their act, but it's dangerous to expect it (especially in the latter case).

hallelujah

@fondue with cheddar Yes, worst idea. Has to have like a <5% success rate. DON'T TAKE THOSE ODDS, LW.

Tuna Surprise

@fondue with cheddar
I married and divorced a scrub, and all I got was the chance to pay off his $10,000 tax bill he had for the last year we were married.
Current status: he's still a scrub.

fondue with cheddar

@Tuna Surprise Yikes! I'm so sorry you got stuck with that. Fortunately my divorce was neutral financially, but my boyfriend is under a mountain of debt from his. But it's a small price to pay for getting awful people out of our lives, I suppose.

Jaya

Love sometimes isn't enough, but also sometimes it is! That's not helpful. It sort of depends on what kind of guy this is, and what kind of gal you are. Is he the sort who is content to not make a ton, or perhaps is working on something that just hasn't paid out? Like, is he an awesome barista and loves it and that's not a "real" job enough for your parents? Or is he the type to sit on his ass all day and never do anything? Are you the type who is ultimately ok being the breadwinner, or would you like this to be more of an equal partnership?

I have no answers, but hopefully some questions help?

Emby

I'm, like, a reformed scrub? I had some financial peccadilloes in my past and some of it sort of haunts me to this day (some, not a lot, of credit card debt and a recovering-but-still-ailing credit score), but I'm gainfully employed, pay my bills, have started a small amount of savings, etc. My biggest fear is that my uber-financially-responsible girlfriend will ultimately get frustrated with my sub-par credit and kick me to the curb when we go in together to buy a house or something like that. I know that probably won't happen, but still. Fears.

smidge

@Emby I married your girlfriend? Figuratively. I never ever thought about retirement plans and have loads of student loan debt, but a super sweet dude with a retirement plan and investments and lots of financial savvy wed me anyway.

@Emby But do you think you're fly, and are you also known as a 'buster?'

frigwiggin

@Emby We can tell you're a reformed scrub because you used the word "peccadilloes."

leonstj

@Emby - I feel like just understanding that you have bad credit and why & giving a shit about getting it slowly fixed over time means you're in non-scrub category?

please please let this be true....

Mira

@leon s I'd argue that there is a lot of room (scrub space?) between "bad credit" and "does not have a bank account."

@leon s I think it might be kind of true-ish? I mean, I can see fucking up in your early 20s. That kind of happens, and if you are of a certain age (read: graduated from college around 2008-2010), your early 20s coincided with a crappy CRAPPY economic climate, and that gets a pass.

But ... I would not be able to deal with "cannot get an apartment because of bad credit" if I were to try to move in with someone. I would not be able to deal with paying for two people's living expenses because the other person just couldn't get their shit together. I would not be willing to budget for two people because the other person couldn't hack it. No. I am not doing more work than my fair share.

Money matters. Not in a "oooh I want to be a kept woman!" way, not in a crappy gold digging way. I do not have to work twice as hard as I already do to support someone while being incredibly inconvenienced because they couldn't get their shit together. More work for me? Crazy inconvenience for me? I have to worry about finances and logistics and living situations and stability for two adult humans because someone else can't get their shit together? Fuck no. Get your shit together and contribute.

I have been in the situation of dating someone who doesn't have their shit together like this. It breeds resentment for a lot of people, myself included.

/rant

MilesofMountains

@S. Elizabeth Yes. I can not thumbs-up this enough. Is he capable of being a partner (which is not "can he pay 50% of everything right now?") or is he your responsibility?

rosaline

@Emby I am dating a version of you, and I am very conservative financially. Like you, his financial pecadilloes happened a while ago and he has since done a great job of recovering his credit score, putting money in savings, paying down his debt, and being very gainfully employed, as well as gaining more financial awareness. My thoughts on the whole matter are that how he has handled it are much more telling and important to me than that it happened in the first place. I bet your girlfriend feels the same way!

mannequinhands

@Emby It will be ok! I am you! My girlfriend and I bought a house together and her credit is much much better than mine and it all worked out!

We split bills based on income because she makes more than me and that allows me to have a savings account which is more important to her than splitting 50/50. I love how invested she is in helping me get my financial self together, although I had to take the first steps myself.

becky@twitter

LW never said that her alleged scrub doesn't have ambition. he could have ambition but just not able to find a job in his field.

if he really makes you happy, have a conversation about goals and whether or not he sees himself filling out paperwork at the free clinic and then think about his answers.

also, people who tell you definites about a relationship in which they aren't in, are assholes. you need better friends.

makingtrouble

@becky@twitter a lot of answers to things are "you need better friends" but as an adult it's not that easy and hey, nobodys perfect. easy on the friend hate that's not what this is about.

becky@twitter

@makingtrouble the letter sounds like it's rife with insecurities (not that we don't all have them). despite that TLC tells her the definition of a scrub, she's still not sure what one is or if her boyfriend is one.

then she says she's thinking of taking her friends' advice, which is collectively "it's great that we love each other so much, but sometimes that isn't enough, and they know it hurts but I have to move on."

that sounds like jerky advice to me. what decent person wouldn't tell you to talk things over with the man you're "desperately in love with" before breaking up with them?

no one knows what happens in a relationship except the two people actually in it. if you haven't yet had a real conversation about goals/the future/where is this going, then would you break up with someone because of what your friend thinks? what real friend would tell you that you should break up with someone without involving the person you are breaking up with in the conversation? a shitty friend, that's who.

so, i'm sorry, but not sorry. i think hating on her friends is justified.

wee_ramekin

@becky@twitter I'd hold off on the friend-hating, personally. Unless her friends are complete DICKS (which, okay, they might be!), I doubt their advice is unsolicited. I would imagine that this issue has come up between the LW and her friends often, and that they have a lot of specifics that we don't have (i.e. what this guy actually does for a job, whether or not the LW is covering more of his expenses than she should, how this dude treats her, etc). For all we know, the inclusion of "it's great that you love each other so much" might actually be really *friendly* and compassionate of them to add -- if, for example, this dude is treating her poorly and she's paying for most of his expenses, I might be hard-pressed to add even that if this LW came to me for advice.

If it were just one friend giving this advice, I could more easily write it off as that one specific person being a jerk, but if all her friends are saying it? That, to me, is actually a pretty big red flag.

MissMushkila

I understand not having health care or a "real" job in this economy/America Today - but how does he not have a bank account? Do we mean not have any money in his bank account?

The first two seem like fairly normal young people troubles today, what with the endless internships and crappy benefits of many entry level fields. Not having a bank account to me is crazy. What does he do, bury his money in tin cans? Even if you don't have much money! How do you cash your checks?!?

iceberg

@MissMushkila IMPORTANT FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: Does he think fire-stick twirling or hacky sack are legitimate life skills?

becky@twitter

@iceberg has he been to burning man?

hallelujah

@MissMushkila He could be in debt so the banking industrial complex won't let him open an account until he pays it off. That's my dude's situation (luckily I rule and let him use mine).

ALSO YOUR NAME, my favorite phrase in Arabic to say! The double entendre work you're doing is blowing my mind.

martinipie

@MissMushkila Yeah that puzzled me too! Maybe he just doesn't have a SAVINGS account, or maybe he gets paid entirely under the table in cash (hence the unreal job)? Not entirely uncommon even nowadays

pajamaralls

@MissMushkila I'm approaching being one of those people who can't have back accounts, especially checking accounts. Like, I've been through so many - though I maintain a couple weren't me and were the result of some shady transaction processing (looking at you, Bank of America.)

But yeah - Wal-Mart Money Cards were my bank for a like a solid year. No overdraft fees. It worked.

Onymous

@MissMushkila Pretty much anywhere will cash checks these days Wal-Mart will do it for like 50 cents or something like that. Hell like half the people I work with cash their checks at the gas station across the road so they can buy lunch.

bessmarvin

@MissMushkila my ex-boyfriend also did not have a bank account, and he cashed all of his checks at a liquor store in Detroit! I thought it was edgy and seedy in a fun way at the time.

Mira

Tough one! Money is super important to me (I mean, not in the sense of "I want to buy all the things!" but in the "I need to feel at least somewhat financially secure or I'm anxious all the time" way) (I am not financially secure) so this situation would be non-workable for me as a lifelong investment sort of deal. He doesn't have a bank account? Really? Even with like $10 in it?

Two questions, LW: How long have you been together? ("Desperately in love" sounds like "Not long.") i.e., is this a long-term lack of ambition/drive/motivation/earning power or a short-term lack of a "real" job? Lots of people don't have "real" jobs (or any jobs) these days.

Question 2: Do you think being in love with someone and worrying about practicalities are mutually exclusive? I would call love a necessary, but not sufficient, component of a successful long-term relationship.

P.S. I dated this guy in college. He had many wonderful qualities but I seriously paid for every single date for almost two years. (I had three jobs in college, whyyyyyy) I vote for Call Your Boyfriend, It's Time You Had The Talk.

Mira

@Mira Oh, also, I would just say that sometimes you're with someone who is wonderful for you in every way but one, but that one thing becomes The Thing, and before you know it you're ten years older, crying during your planning period over trip alerts from Kayak or nurturing a giant prickly ball of resentment in the pit of your stomach about why can't a presumably functioning adult help contribute to a down payment, GOD.

Or maybe you aren't like that! But before you have a talk with him, you need to have a Real Talk with yourself about what's important to you, and you really need to be honest about it. It's okay to want and/or need a certain level of stability and some trappings of a middle-class adult life, like bank accounts. It's also okay not to! But if you are not down for what sounds like a pretty bohemian life, then that is a non-negotiable sort of issue, really.

Put another way: would you want to sign a binding legal contract with this person? If not, why?

aphrabean

@Mira I would also like to point to some folks I know who have been doing this for like 30 years. He's a very nice, sweet man who isn't focused on material goods, and she is now in her sixties, working post-retirement to support him.

aphrabean

@aphrabean IT IS A BUMMER.

Mira

@aphrabean Oh my God that's one of my actual life/relationship nightmares.

aphrabean

@Mira I mean, I would rather be single forever than be in that set-up!

pityslice

My partner has Mount Doom levels of student debt and I am a piddling graduate student. We don't go to fancy restaurants or on holidays, but those things don't really make me happy the way he does. And I'd rather build something together and move forward... I mean, lots of people don't even have happy relationships, let alone disposable income.

theharpoon

QUICK, ROBIN, TO THE SOURCE MATERIAL!

RNL
RNL

My mom says: it's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor man. But actually, it's not, I spend lots of time with rich men and I don't love any of them, at all.

It sounds like a case of the values. Does he see himself having a compatible life with the kind of life you see yourself having? This kind of thing cuts all sorts of ways - my boyfriend is probably like "do I see myself as the emotional care-taker of someone who works 60-80 hours a week forever?"

The only way you know is to talk to talk about it, which you have to do. Not like "you have no money why?" but like " What kind of life do you see yourself living in the future? Do you see yourself buying a house/having kids/etc? How do you see yourself getting there?"

@RNL "It sounds like a case of the values" = the best line ever.

uemmak

@RNL are you my sister? Is your mom my mom? (mine was joking... I think)

PS good advice!

smidge

Yes yes yes to talking about it. Also, depending on your personalities, being the solo breadwinner could breed a lot of resentment in the long run.

Ophelia

@smidge I'll take Blue Valentine for 400, Alex.

@smidge Yes, seriously. I am not okay with being the solo breadwinner. I am okay with making more than the person I am with (someone has to make more, unless you have the same salary?), but NO to the "I am going to be the only person bringing money in here" situation. Been there, done that, will not do it again.

And I used to be one of those "money doesn't matttteerrrr only looovvveeee does" people and now, no, eff that. I do not want to resent anyone.

Slapfight

@S. Elizabeth I'm with you. Financial parasites are the worst. But it seems like this dude has some form of income at least.

@Slapfight Thank goodness for that. My real question in this situation is "does he have his shit together?"

Story #2

There is a great Marxist Dance Revival scene right now. Mostly in the Bronx. But give those fucking Brooklynites like five fucking seconds...

stuffisthings

@Story #2 My dancing style is based on The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon -- first as tragedy, then as farce.

alliepants

This answer is art. I feel like it should be in MoMa.

janejanejane

Is love enough? It depends on how much living in poverty stresses you out. I used to think I could live on love but living chronically on the edge of a fiscal cliff has demonstrated otherwise. It isn't shallow to check on whether you and your guy have the same values and attitudes about money, comfort and security. If he really doesn't care about money, as opposed to being confused as to how to earn it, this will likely become an ongoing source of stress in your relationship. What kind of future do you want? What kind of future does he want? Do they match?

hedgehogerie

Not digging this response (or lack of?) but the comments here have a lot of great insight. I used to think love is all we need but after becoming An Adult (aka graduating college) and having many friends in your exact same situation I've realized money is important. And by money I really mean the things that will yield money: ambition, practical knowledge, common sense, and so forth.

Frankly, not having a bank account is setting off alarm bells. How is he supposed to deposit his checks? Is he going to ask you to do this (DO. NOT. DO. THIS.)? Does he have loans of any kind, if so I assume on his parent's accounts? He must not have any credit cards, right? Think about it: depending on where you live (I'm in CA Bay Area) you might not be able to rent a place together due to credit checks (he will have no credit). He has no experience with organizing a savings or checking account. He (I assume due to lack of account) has never had to organize money or pay bills of any kind, or set up cable/phone/power service. This will probably cause some awkward/terrible power struggles if you wind up handling his money and/or being able to make the call for anything that costs money (putting your name on power bills, deciding if you can go to your mutual friend's bday dinner if your bf can't pay, etc).

What happens when he injures himself with no insurance? Because you are together, he's going to, even the tiniest most microscopic part of him, expect you help out. Even if this means driving him to and from a doctor, paying for some drinks & dinner (and another, and another) while he's low on cash and paying off his hospital bills.

I'm not trying to be judgey in this long-winded statement, but this is the situation a dear friend was in EXACTLY, doing the exact same things that I mentioned above (incl hospital visits, rent, checks, etc.). You will find someone who makes you feel fantastically wonderful who has a bank account and health insurance. I promise you.

@hedgehogerie Yup, this. What you said. LW, listen to hodgehogerie, she speaks the truth.

Mira

@hedgehogerie Cannot co-sign enough.

Linette

There's always the fun role-reversal bit.

My guy is six years younger than me, and so OF COURSE does not have his shit together as much as I do (when I was his age, I frequently had full-fledged panic attacks every time the rent was due) but does indeed want to grown up and be financially solvent, but doesn't know how to go about it (again, this is exactly how I was six years ago, and I have a pretty good career path set for me now).

I don't mind being the breadwinner for a while, because I know he will figure his shit out as I figured my shit out, but it DOES make me nervous for the squiffy in-between area where he has his shit, like, half-figured out, and I'm ready to buy a house.

theotherginger

@Linette did not see you on FOT so I couldn't say it there, but wanted to let you know many good vibes your way. sounds like you have your shit together about money too!

Linette

@theotherginger You are SO kind to think of me. By the time all the screaming was over on Friday, I was exhausted and went to sleep, so the open thread was pretty well done. I'll show up and give all the details this Friday, though. I appreciate the well wishes! I'm okay! I'm alive!

parallel-lines

Happy don't pay the rent.

Jinxie

@parallel-lines WORD. {high five}
This was a bone of contention between an ex boy and me - he didn't understand why it was so important for me to have my shit more or less together, financially-speaking. My thinking was/is, if something terrible happens and I lose my job or have to take an extended leave from work or my idiot neighbor burns down the building or whatever, I want to have enough money in the bank to keep me from a) being homeless or b) asking my parents to bail me out. Ex, however, had this weird idea of poverty equaling true freedom. Like, if something happens and you lose your job and your apartment, then you can just feck right off and do whatever, man! Which is a fine thing to believe when you're young and stupid, but he was in his mid-30's when we dated. We were together for 3 years and I was looking to sort of settle down and build a nice life with a partner, but he wanted nothing to do with responsibility or planning ahead and was perfectly content to own one towel and sleep on an old, dirty, USED mattress. (Also, he was fucking filthy.)

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@Jinxie Just hearing about your ex boy's approach to money is giving me heart palpitations of fear.

Jinxie

@Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails Me TOO and I'm nearly 3 years out of that relationship. Luckily I've grown/matured enough to know that it's not shallow of me to want to be able to support myself.

Slapfight

I get the feeling LW is on the young side. Guuuurl, if you're under 25 I wouldn't worry about it too much. I waited tables for most of my early 20's, eventually got jealous of my friends with more stable jobs and weekends off and got it together. (Not that I'm saying foodservice isn't a good job. It just wasn't for me.) That could happen to him or not. Is he able to support himself? That's a good sign. I think you should tell him of your concerns. They are reasonable and not shallow! And if he flips out tell him you think he'd better call Tyrone. But he can't use your phone.

Valley Girl

@Slapfight YESSSS I feel like Call Tyrone is the much more relevant empowerment jam here.

red pen

THIS IS THE BEST RESPONSE EVER! AHAHAHAHA

antipretty

My advice: keep your finances locked down. Sounds like you're pretty early in the relationship, yes? I know the temptation to be like "but I LUUUUUV him that's why I'm going to buy him presents and pay his bills" but GIRL, you need to resist that siren song.

There's a pretty big red flag around him not having a bank account. I can understand not having health insurance (but being Canadian your whole system is weird to me) and not everybody has a "real" job, so those aren't concerns to me. What is concerning is the idea of someone not having a place to put the money that they do have. How does he pay his bills? How does he cash cheques? How does he pay rent?

I would say that no, love is not enough. You need to have a solid foundation about finances and shared attitudes towards it. I'm not saying "have no fun, ever, and date only rich dudes" but...have fun with your busboy but don't pick up the tab for things unless you specifically ask him to do those things with you. If you can't afford it, don't suggest doing things. You might have some incredibly awkward moments where neither of you pulls out your wallet, but it'll tell you a lot about him.

And I've seen enough episodes of Judge Judy to know that you do NOT lend him money, or co-sign on a loan, or make a significant financial investment with him. Unless you're prepared to not see that money again.

laurel

@antipretty "keep your finances locked down." Word.

LW, enjoy your lovely if insolvent boyfriend, but don't live with him and don't support him financially. Sure, buy dinner more often if you like but do not set precedents where you cover his cost of living. It will never end.

Catina Wig

@antipretty i love how "no insurance" is a dealbreaker somehow. that shit is prohibitivley expensive and frankly if i get in an accident they'll take me to the hosp anyways. (says a broke bitch living paycheck to paycheck)

emmycantbemeeko

@Catina Wig

Yeah but after they take you to the hospital, the hospital will present you with a giant bill that will never, ever, ever go away except by being paid or settled in a way that ruins your credit and probably requires small payments forever.. And if you happen to develop something chronic but not emergent, the hospital will not treat it. So... That's a legitimate concern for a partner seeking stability. That a car wreck or finding out you have a chronic illness could permanently derail your lives financially, and that you could be sick with few or no options for care.

I'm not saying this to be cruel, I hate that our system is this way and I wish it were not structured this way, but I work in an ER in a neighborhood with very low rates of insured patients and I see the tragic life-fallout from lack of insurance every day. it breaks my heart and I would not sign up for a partnership with an uninsured person no matter how awesome or even rich they were, because you need fuck-you money to be disaster proof without insurance. Even a six-figure salary without insurance wouldn't make it not a deal breaker for me- that kind of money could be gone in days with certain hospitalizations. I'd give up every luxury before my health insurance and I'd expect the same from a partner so for me, yeah, deal breaker.

I wish we lived in a single-payer system whe everybody had coverage but until we do, uninsured partners are higher-risk. Lots of people won't care about that, but it is not so dissimilar from not wanting to depend on a partner without a bank account or a stable job or living situation. Health insurance is. a trapping of stable middle-class existence for a reason- more so than even your credit score or your bank balance, it can knock down your quality of life faster than anything.

Catina Wig

@emmycantbemeeko ok well full disclosure i "have insurance" but not really. i have a fucking $5,000.00 dedeuctible piece of crap policy that my work so kindly pays for where it costs me like $100 to even get in for a checkup. so i don't use it.

i know i'm pretty much fucked forever if i ever get very ill or in an accident, because i am fully aware that as a poor person i'm not worth fixing. the goal is to (eventually) have at least 5k in savings so i can USE my stupid insurance if needed. but i'd be happy to get at least one month's rent ahead of my expenses, soooo.... i guess i should be thankful my husband loves me for my self and not my money and vice versa.

emmycantbemeeko

@Catina Wig
Depressing but that still puts you light-years ahead of the totally uninsured. A $5k hospital bill would suck but it is within the realm of the pay-off able, and if you had a health problem that absolutely needed treatment you could get it, hospitals and/or doctors would see you. If you needed inpatient psych treatment or non-emergent surgery, those things would be available to you. The uninsured either get stuck with bills most people have no hope of paying down in their lifetimes, or actually refused care.

Also, check your plan's details (make sure you have this year's info, not whatever you got when you started your job). Under the ACA (aka "Obamacare") most plans are now required to provide things like well-woman care visits, BC, and Pap smears without a copay or deductible. So you might be able to get more preventative care than you realize!

Also check whether your copays count towards your deductible-in some plans they do, and every $100 copay on a checkup is then not only an investment in your future health, decreasing the likelihood of catastrophic illness later, but is also ticking down your deductible so that when you do need major care, the bill isn't as overwhelming. That and on almost every plan, visits to a PCP lower-copay than visits to an urgent care or ER, so by having one established and seeing them occasionally, you can save a lot in the long run.

sceps yarx

@emmycantbemeeko I have a good friend with prohibitive, life-altering hospital bills. He got married to a woman who loved him very much and he loved her very much. They are now divorced. The debt/credit wasn't the main problem, but it sure didn't help any.

Pseudo Pseudonym

@emmycantbemeeko Thank you for your great comments on healthcare. Having had a severe (and chronic) illness be diagnosed during a sudden hospitalization, I am very grateful for insurance and the ACA in particular. I have good reason to wonder if I would be alive today if I had been uninsured. I know decent insurance is a privilege in America but you'd (truly) have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

leonstj

I was going to comment that "maybe your definition of 'no bank account' is 'not what you think based on your background a sufficient bank account is'". It's something I've seen friends of mine do (in both gender-directions - harshing on people for their fiscal situation is now gender-blind in my circle of friends!). Cuz sometimes, what seems like "Not doing well financially" to one person is actually not to shabby.

But then I re-read and you're a teacher. So, yeah, he might actually be a scrub. But are you young? Like, 25 or under? Cuz if you're young, he might just need a little time to grow up.

Also, does "no real job" mean he's a freelancer who works from home? If so....uhm, just talk to other people who date freelancers who work from home. Living w/ someone who has that lifestyle - even if they get good at it and make a good salary - can be weird & complicated in unexpected ways.

@leon s "He might need a little time to grow up." This is true. But she is also not obligated to stay with him and hope and pray that he grows up. I would definitely not bank on "but he'll grow up!" He might! He might not.

par_parenthese

@leon s Mm, word to all this.

Mila

@S. Elizabeth See, to me what matters is that you are on the same page about money, and that you are setting goals together. In a real sense, not in a "someday I am going to be an astronaut" sort of way.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@leon s I was wondering the same thing as your first paragraph -- I was getting flashes of the lady who wrote in saying her fiance would in NO WAY be able to HELP support a family EVER, but he was actually paying half her mortgage.

makingtrouble

i feel like this might be a good question to submit to the billfold as well? it's not strict "what would you do" but i dunno it has the financial slant and mike dang tends to give really solid advice.

eiffeldesigns

I loved this response. And this A Lady. I mean, it was the original letter writer who brought up the TLC, man. You can't not respond with an homage to 90s hip hop of sort.

Anyway- as many of the other ladies have already opined- it's all about whether he really is an unambitious loser scrub, or just someone who is content not making all the big bucks. Like, is he passionate about something? I dated a line cook for awhile, and he made no monies whatsoever, but that didn't bother me, because he clearly loved what he did and had goals and shit. But ultimately it didn't work out because while I enjoyed his company and whatnot, what we wanted to spend on money was so drastically different. He'd never take a vacation. I need a vacation. Things like that.

So. yeah. Complicated question with so many variables. I'm not sure anyone could have answered this question perfectly.

Elsajeni

@Kirs Yes, that's the big question for me -- is there something that he DOES put effort and passion into, and it's just that that is not a thing that he does for money (or, not a thing that you make much money for doing)? Like your line cook, or my old roommate who was a musical theater actor -- that dude was broke 100% of the time, but at least he had interesting things going on in his life and plans for his future beyond "continue working this shitty minimum-wage job for eternity". Musical Theater Boyfriend still isn't for everybody -- he still needs someone who's okay with being the breadwinner long-term, and who's willing to live without some of the expensive/material things they might want -- but at least he isn't Slacker Manchild Boyfriend.

Briony Fields

I was going to type out this whole thoughtful response and then I put fingers to keyboard and what came out was "GIRL, RUN." So I'm going to stick with that.

Briony Fields

@Briony Fields To elaborate here, being poor generally sucks. Maybe some people are cool with it, but mostly it's awful. Love will not overcome the unhappiness of money troubles. I was in a situation once where I had a badly paid job so I could stay in a country where my boyfriend lived, and I hated my life. It was NOT worth it to be stressing about every last penny. And it's not like I wanted to be dripping in diamonds and furs, but you want to be able to go out for dinner once in a while, maybe spend a long weekend at a hotel in another city? Y'know? You already seem to know that you want these things and they are important to you. This guy is "completely impoverished" which may be for any number of reasons, but without any background info it just scream "SLACKER MAN CHILD!" to me. You don't want that. Trust me.

steponitvelma

If you're worried about your future long-term, like "can I marry this dude?" then I think you should ask yourself whether you'd trust him with your money. Like, I'm totally okay with the idea of marrying someone who doesn't make much and being the breadwinner, but I wouldn't want to do that with a fella who is so irresponsible that I couldn't trust him with my money.

And of course all the other questions everyone else mentioned. Like, is he into stuff? Does he not make money because his interests aren't the kind that make a lot of money? I personally would love to end up with a guy who writes, or makes art, or whatever but doesn't bring home the bacon.

Roxanne Rholes

Has this person not EVER had a bank account, or did he have one and close it, as some kind of political statement?

Because my biggest worry here is that if his parents/other influential adults never saw to it that he opened a bank account, who knows what else they didn't teach him...

Jinxie

@Roxanne Rholes I've dated not one, but TWO, dudes who didn't have bank accounts. Dude One didn't have one because he was a drug dealer and dealt almost entirely in cash anyway (I learned this after dating him a couple of weeks and then KEPT ON DATING HIM for some reason.); Dude Two didn't have one because he had royally screwed up his financials/credit a few years earlier and was essentially not allowed to open a checking account on his own for a period of time. So there are other legitimate (Uh, depending on how you define "legitimate", I guess?) reasons one might not have a bank account.

Mila

Okay, I married a humanities graduate student. Doesn't get anymore no money than that. And his last year in grad school, with no jobs on the horizon, I had this same panic (though in the "too late to do anything about it" phase, since I already signed on the dotted line). I had been supporting us in a job I wasn't wild about, and the thought that I was never going to be able to leave it because I would always need to support us left my hyperventilating. And there was a lot of awful tension between us. And I remember thinking "Why? Why didn't I just marry some rich doctor? Life would have been so much easier."

And then I snapped out of it. Because some rich doctor would not have been Mr. Mila, the love of my fucking life. Like, sure, me and the rich doctor could roll around in our money together, but we would have all kinds of other problems, like he is the kind of person who cares about making a lot of money. I mean, isn't that what drew me to Mr. Mila in the first place, that he DOESN'T care about that stuff, that he walked away from going into business with his rich dad because he doesn't want that life? That he would rather be a broke ass academic? And that the source of the awful tension wasn't really my fear that we would never have any money, but that for the first time in all our years together, we weren't talking about our problems and making plans together? Being the perfect team that me and rich doctor would never be.

So we talked. And then suddenly everything was better (though we were still really broke).

Oh, end of story - a month after graduation, he got a job offer, now he is a tenured professor in a job he loves, the end. And we are still broke, because even tenured professors get paid squat. But he is still the love of my fucking life.

Mila

@Mila I feel the need to clarify (lest this sound too la la la romantic) that it wasn't just that we were in love. It was that team part too - that we had shared values and a shared vision of our future and were equally committed toward achieving it. That part I skimmed over - "and then we talked" - that was weeks of long, emotional conversations (it was really hard for Mr. Mila to acknowledge that maybe things wouldn't work out the way we hoped and there was a whole grieving process), making of new plans, etc. If you aren't on the same page about money and aren't able to have serious conversations about how you will achieve a situation in which you will both be happy, that I don't think love is remotely enough.

par_parenthese

@Mila THANK YOU. I have several friends in similar situations who, uh, definitely do not regret marrying the poor, not-super-ambitious person they would walk out in traffic for/have babies with/love until they're old and senile, but it sounds so much better in the first person.

I mean seriously one of my best friends recently said, almost word for word, "I would rather be poor with him than rich with anyone else; hell I'd rather be on welfare with him than only slightly less poor with anyone else."

MilesofMountains

Hey...are you dating my ex boyfriend? Dump him, he's not even that good in bed.

In serious, though, about half of my female friends have been in a similar situation and it sucks and it's hard. I think the story behind his broke and joblessness is important, though. Is it mostly because of circumstances outside of his control (actually out of his control, not "wanted to move to Germany, figured he'd work while he was there, but after he got there it turns out visas are hard to get so he just spent a few months there living on credit cards")? If it's because monetary things aren't important to him, does he have a plan for how that's going to work on a day-to-day basis or is he winging it? Does that plan actually sound viable?

I've come to the conclusion that I don't need money so much as needed a partner who I can rely on. If he doesn't have money right now, that's fine, but he better be the one who's noticing the chair leg is getting wobbly and doing something about it, or taking your car in when it needs to be. If he's depending on you outside of the money, he's not a partner, you've just adopted an adult child. Shit happens in life, and you should run all your interpersonal relationships with an eye to that. Imagine you find out tomorrow that you're really sick and need to stop working for a while. What would happen? Would he step up, figure out how to get money, take on helping you with medical visits and medications? Or would your first thought be "well, I guess I could stay with my mom, but then how will he cope?" A partner needs to take some of the burden off when shit hits the fan, not be another thing you'll have to try and manage.

adorable-eggplant

@MilesofMountains Wait a minute? Were you dating my friend's ex? The omg whut visa thing rings too many bells. If there were also some questionable choices about working odd jobs that may have included fencing, then ding ding ding the answer is yes.

Seriously, those dudes are the worst.

Reliability over dollars makes good sense though, since hard times happen to everybody. Maybe send him over to the billfold for some tips on how to be mad frugal and start a little nest egg. That site is golden.

Angry Panda

Who are these people who're brave enough to tell their friends to dump their partners? I've never been in a situation where I thought a friendship could survive that, and there have been many boyfriends/girlfriends of friends I've disliked, for reasons far worse than being broke.

This is my new username

@Angry Panda Oh when I was young I totally did that to a friend or two. It took... awhile before I realized that just resulted in my friends being mad at me and still staying with their terrible boyfriends. They really were terrible, but I have learned that telling someone to dump their significant other does not generally help those situations.

Hellcat

@Angry Panda I've got a couple. They mean well but I think they think that a good hearty "you're too good for him" is what I'm looking for when I am just getting some shit out there (and sometimes may even want the opposite response) or want helpful advice. I mean, I hope they'd know that if he did something clearly dumpworthy, I'd have made that decision on my own.

RoyRogersMcFreely

It seems like, in this context, being "good enough" is irrelevant. Unless he's treating you badly in some way, there's no way to quantify someone's character attributes in that way. What you need to take into account is lifestyle compatibility and the things that you want and expect from your significant other. There's nothing wrong with being more or less ambitious or money-oriented, necessarily, but it can definitely cause problems when one half of the couple wants one kind of lifestyle and the other person wants a drastically different lifestyle.

You just have to consider whether you're okay with being what might amount to a sole breadwinner. If you're okay with picking up the tab for the higher-ticket things (probably including nights out and vacations), then there's not necessarily a problem. If he brings other things to the table that make you happy and you can, as someone mentioned above, rely on him, then perhaps things can work out fine.

Just be sure, whatever you do, that you separate the pragmatism of the relationship from the romance. Protect yourself, and protect your finances. If I were your sister or your friend, I might be concerned about this guy taking advantage of you. As a stranger on the internet, I have no idea whether he is or isn't, but when finances and romance get muddy, it's often a recipe for disaster. Don't co-sign any loans with him, don't consolidate any debt, don't put his name on your bank accounts or credit cards, unless you are fully prepared to be on the hook for the full amount.

wee_ramekin

You guys. You guys. Not to un-harsh everyone's non-mellow here, but in just a few hours....

adorable-eggplant

@wee_ramekin Oh well then I guess I need to:

(this could plausibly be related to the topic at hand, since some people might say that the office of VP is a bit of a buster position, relatively speaking)

lucy snowe

@wee_ramekin YAYYYYYY!!!!! My favorite month! :D

Megasus

He's only a scrub if he's always making you pay for things and/or totally takes advantage of the fact that you will.

frenz.lo

Oh, I want to play! What I am most interested in is his "not real" job. Did you mean he works in an office, but it is some kind of elaborate Truman Show kind of set-up, where the office is actually a sound stage for some reason? Or is what you're getting at is that he works in a restaurant or something? I feel like it's a key distinction, because I think that people who are still sneering at the service industry now are going to have some opportunities for extreme self-reflection in the next few years.

Other points: I have found in my life that friends mainly give me life advice on the order of "Girl, he's a scrub! You need to leave him!" when I've been doing a lot of complaining about something, or am visibly unhappy. Are they really just popping around the corner with this fairly harsh advice, out of nowhere? I posit that they are not. I posit, and I'm sorry if I'm over-positing here, that you have been vocally unhappy about the situation for a while, and that the "Girl, you need to leave him!" is coming from possibly maybe a place of your friends being sick of playing the game where you complain, they agree that your complaints are valid, and then you defend him.
I will say that making excuses for some dude gets very old, and steals your life force.
I will also say that if children-of-your-body are in your plans, or even if children are not emphatically NOT in your plans, you need to imagine a future in which this dude IS the sole breadwinner for at least a month or two, and maybe more because shit happens.

My mean and unfair opinion is that the bank account thing is a dealbreaker. Lack of bank account on his part is going to mean so much g-d HASSLE for you if you stay with this guy, even if he has a million dollars in crumpled $20s buried in his futon.

adorable-eggplant

I didn't have a bank account when I was a waitress, because why bother? But LW, I think your last question is really important: Is there any way to talk to him about this without sounding like a shallow jerk?

I'd say, yes. Talk about it. My brother decided he was going to be my one-man financial literacy team and he bugged me relentlessly about establishing good credit and saving for retirement and things that I thought were way crazy. But it sunk in, and I appreciate that he took the time.

You'll want to be diplomatic, but I think it's a perfectly reasonable question to ask: "Why don't you have a bank account?" Then be ready to really listen. There are plenty of good answers (watch out for evasiveness, though, because there are also plenty of bad answers. I knew someone who decided that paying taxes was a 'scam' and so he had to do everything off books, lest the IRS decide to come collect. I wouldn't want to date that person.) and it really could come down to him not having a sense of what the positives of having an account are. He might not care, but if you do, that's something worth expressing in an LTR.

ETA: Just to clarify, you can absolutely pay taxes if you don't have a bank account, if your employer withholds the proper amount etc.

TenyaLuna

Ugh, I feel like this is kind of me years ago, when I had a boyfriend for yeaaarrrss who would have supposedly have been happy to live out of a van and wasn't into commercialism (also didn't have a bank account! lived with mom and dad not because he didn't have a full-time job but because they liked spending money on fun things instead!) and why do you want me to kill myself with self-hatred in the corporate machine? and so on and on, but you know was also happy to let his girlfriend pay for van repairs and dinners out with friends and vet bills and ya know, everything. Not that I was making tons more, what with being in school full-time, but actually had life together so would work extra over-time on school breaks and did both our taxes every year and make sure that our utility bills were correct.

Then later I dated someone who didn't make much money but could function as an adult with little money, as opposed to someone who, despite insisting otherwise, essentially wanted a substitute parent to manage their life and let them never grow up out of sheer delight in their company.
If your "scrub"-y guy is the former (functional adult with little money), it is still entirely legitimate to feel concerned that you know, you'd kind of like some assurance you'll have a comfortable life with them. But you may feel that the least comfortable life is the one without them, and fancy things aren't really worth it in comparison - so what if you can't go on vacation once a year and never own a new car? Maybe having each other every day is better.
On the other hand, if he is the other specimen, RUN AWAY RUN AWAY RUN AWAY!! The manic pixie dream boy is not long-term dating material.

Fereshteh

I totally understand where LW is coming from -- I'm in a similar situation, my bf is sort of ambitious (plans for the future, house, kids, etc) but he has no concrete plans for achieving them. Sometimes it feels like he's waiting for things to magically fall into his lap! Other than that though, he's a great boyfriend, totally supportive of my goals, always there for me blah blah blah. And I adore him. But I'm torn; the way goes through life, sort of directionless, scares me! I need goals, and specific plans! But this feels like such a shallow thing to break up over. Plus love! And feelings! Gah. Help me?

wee_ramekin

@Fereshteh "... the way he goes through life, sort of directionless, scares me! I need goals, and specific plans! But this feels like such a shallow thing to break up over."

I'm not advising you either way on whether or not to break up with your fella, but what you wrote right there? That? NOT SHALLOW. What you're highlighting there is a fundamentally different approach to life. One of you only feels safe and comfortable when there are goals and specific plans, and one of you feels better without them. That's NOT a small issue, and it doesn't make you "shallow" to worry about that major divergence in your outlooks.

Additionally, you use the word "scare", as in: "his behavior makes me scared/anxious". Even if this were a small issue, if you are genuinely scared and worrying about it all the time (which it sounds like you are), then again, it's not "nothing". If something is causing you stress and anxiety within a relationship, it's something you need to communicate about respectfully. Nothing good can come of you frittering your energy and happiness away while you tie yourself up in knots of anxiety over this (trust me: I speak from experience).

Lastly, I want to add that no one is the "good guy" or the "bad guy" in this scenario. Sometimes people who love each other have different opinions about things; sometimes that's okay for the relationship, and sometimes it isn't.

Decide what you will re: your guy, but please don't try to minimize your feelings by calling them shallow.

themmases

@Fereshteh I dated a guy kind of like this (but maybe worse? Probably worse) and I agree with wee_ramekin: don't minimize your feelings, because if anything as someone who loves him you will tend to minimize the problem. When I was dating my ex, he was an artist in a world that undervalues the arts, and unlucky to boot. Once we broke up (and I even stayed friends with him! It's not like I disliked him), I saw how many of those problems were of his own making due to lack of work ethic, lack of willingness to be creative about how he could fit in the world, and lack of common sense.

At the age I dated him (college), I experienced that kind of divergence of worldviews as exposing something wrong with mine. After seeing the contrast in how I saw this person, I just no longer think that way. And I no longer want to be a "cool" girlfriend, which I think is where so many women worrying about being shallow comes from. It certainly did for me. It's not shallow to not want to be worried and anxious all the time, or to want to be with someone who is interested enough in something to have goals and plans.

Also, even setting aside This Economy, it's (hopefully) a long life and guaranteed you will at some point have Rough Times. It's not shallow to want to know that someone would and could help you through that without causing you extra anxiety about whether he knows what he's doing. After all, you're doing it for him now while he figures out how to get what he wants from his life. It's no more shallow to want someone who'd support you back than it is to want someone who likes you back.

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Hi, I am going to fess up and say that I was the letter writer, although it looks like this comment thread already happened and the party is over! This was such a long time ago...we are broken up now. To answer some of your questions:

1. No, for real, he did not have any kind of bank account! He cashed his checks at a liquor store.
2. His job was selling things on ebay. Not like the lady in the 40-year-old virgin, though. He also sold weed and was in a band, and I guess both of those things made a little money. Do you guys remember when Daria was picturing what her life with Trent would be? Well, he was smarter and kinder and better than Trent, but it does remind me a little of that.

I loved him so much, but I couldn't commit to him completely. He also had substance abuse problems (that he was working through). I was so full of anxiety because I thought if we stayed together I would probably be happy just being with him. But he wasn't a functional adult. His rent was like $300 and he didn't have any other expenses but it still seemed like he was struggling! Did I mention this guy is 31 years old?

shoop

@shoop He identified as an artist and that's why money wasn't very important to him, and he always made me feel like a bougie jerk for being like "...but what are we going to do if we had kids? or when we're old? or when we want to go to Rome?" like I just didn't *get* what it's like to live a bohemian artist lifestyle. I was attracted to that but at some point I guess it wasn't enough? We did talk about it and he promised to change, but nothing ever happened. I still love him and kind of hope we can work it out some day. But I think that is just my crazy first love brain talking! First loves make you insane and kill your heart forever, or so I hear.

Spice&Snails&PuppyDogTails

@shoop LADY. I am sorry for doubting the no-bank-account! You sound like you made the absolute right decision. For you, for now, it isn't right to be together, and it is brave of you to recognize that. Crazy first love brain is really hard (love brain is really hard)-- but it won't kill your heart forever.

It also doesn't make you a bougie jerk to worry about how you're going to pay for diapers!

cinnamonskin

@shoop girl, wanting to leave is enough. Artist musician drug dealer chefs were my specialty for ZOMG like 10 years, and if they are good in bed, it's a fun dalliance, but certainly nothing to take seriously. I'm sure the breakup was hard - they always are - but someday you and your friends will laugh about it.

Killerpants

@shoop Ooooh honey, I'm glad you got out of that. It's fine for him to be an Artiste who Damns the Man blah blah, but he needs to be with a lady who does the same. Or at least a lady who thinks that's one-hundred percent swell and neato and has no concerns about any type of bigger picture there. So it's fine for him to be that guy (at 31 years old, no less! hoo boy), but making you feel bad for not being like him? THE WORST. Ughx100. I'm really sorry about your first love brain - we've all had it and it hurts. But it'll pass. And cinnamonskin is right - someday you and your friends will definitely laugh about it.

angermonkey

@shoop GURL. There's like a forest of red flags here, and good for you for realizing you can totes love a dude who just is not IT for you. Every time I see this (and OH, MAH STARS, have I seen this situation play out) it's never the lack of money that's worrisome, it's what that MEANS. Like... it's not hard to go to the local credit union and open a checking account, dawg, what is the HOLD UP? And yet, so many ladies (and gents, this is not a gender-specific thing, though ladies for some reason get a pass it seems) think this life choice of no bank account or phone or car or job is temporary. It's not always, is what I'm saying, and some people are just the pits at being adults.

angermonkey

@cinnamonskin Do they import those artist musician drug dealer chef free spirit artist guys from some alien world? I mean, the carrying capacity of the planet CANNOT be enough to support the numbers I seem to encounter...

ETA I just realized I used "artist" twice. Whatever! THEY'RE SUPER ARTSY.

wharrgarbl

@angermonkey "though ladies for some reason get a pass it seems"

The culture normalizes the infantilization and passivity of women a lot more than it does the infantilization and passivity of dudes, would be my guess.

angermonkey

@wharrgarbl OH totally. But I'm definitely giving any woman over the age of 18 who doesn't have a bank account the side eye.

wharrgarbl

@angermonkey I think, objectively, it's a pretty gender-neutral thing. Like, you reach a certain point in your life, you should have a phone number/mailing address/bank account/whatever. Some level of access to normal-human-being methods of communication and goods-exchange should be in play.

But culturally, I think we've got a lot of dudes running around with the idea that it's okay for a chick not to have any of that, so long as they find her attractive, and not so many ladies running around with the idea that it's okay for a guy not to have any of that, even if they find him attractive.

TenyaLuna

Oh shoop, I remember sobbing one day that it wasn't that I didn't love him, it was that I wanted things to change and they never did (like durrrrh, why would they? only every single one of my friends told me they never would, he'd never made any permanent changes up until that point why would it start?) he'd get a job and quit in a few months, he'd start classes to work towards his goal and then dropped out when they were hard, he'd start an art project with friends and let it fizzle in a month or so. He'd promise that since he was working 10 hours a week and I was working 50 he'd take care of all the chores, until every dish and utensil in the house was dirty and the car was out of gas and the only food we had was cereal without milk. Although finally after arguing about whether or not he was actually doing anything countless times and trying to work on problems and it going nowhere, the only way I finally got rid of him was to say I didn't love him anymore. And I have a difficult time, even now, being really sure it was love or the security I brought that made him fight the break-up. After all, I was apparently so antithetical to his ideals, why stay with me? And it was true that after ages of that a lot of the love had been worn away it wasn't because I had no feelings for him or loved someone else, it was truly because I was so tired of being the only adult in the relationship and couldn't stand it anymore.

zeytin

@shoop Hey, thanks for clarifying! Just out of curiosity, don't you have to have a bank account to sell things on ebay though? Otherwise, where would the money from sales go?

shoop

@zeytin He sells them for someone else who gets paid with paypal, and then he gets checks with a cut of the money.

shoop

@cinnamonskin Ugh, thanks; it is still hard. That 'type' is hard to get away from because they are usually so charming and fun and romantic!

shoop

@TenyaLuna Ugh, I'm so sorry you went through that. It's good (I mean, not *good*, but you know) to hear about how these situations might actually play out if you do actually live together...it definitely seems to put a strain on the whole love aspect of things. It sounds like you definitely made the right decision; I hope you're doing okay now!

shoop

@angermonkey Thanks :) The breakup was fairly recent so he still kind of feels like "the one" to me, but I am trying to make myself believe that "the one" is not actually a real thing? And there are still people out there who are very kind and intelligent and have the same sense of humor as you who make you feel extremely loved, and they might not have as many problems? I hope that that is true.

shoop

@Killerpants Aw, thanks so much. Sometimes I wish I could be that lady! Thanks for saying it'll get better. I mean, it must, right? Thanks for being so nice!

angermonkey

@shoop Oh, it's totally true. Honestly, it's just as easy to fall in love with competent and sane as childish and bonkers-bananas-crazypants. And there is no "one." I mean, come on, how unfair would THAT math be??

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@angermonkey @shoop You know that's such a good point to make. It's easy to fall in love with the bonkers/incompetent/lazy/mean/and so on people because there are SO damn many of them (possibly, as someone upstream commented, imported from some alien planet to horrify us all), but it is just as easy to fall in love with the really good ones. And they're out there, just a little less prolific.

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uhg I have been reading The Hairpin for years and have never commented before (read: debilitating fear of not being witty enough)but good lord Hairpin! The recent A Lady posts might actually convince me to stop reading altogether! What is with all the condescension?? A Lady was always a place to read well written, witty and well-meaning advice but now it just seems like an outlet for arrogant flippancy that is not just a little smug. Please don't make me leave! I always liked it here!

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@Currer Bell Eh, I feel the awesomeness in the commentariat on these posts more than makes up for anything lacking in the post itself. (Though I must admit I happened to like this particular A Lady.)

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Dudes, I am late to the party, I KNOW. But I dated this guy, and it did not work out because although he DID (and DOES) "engage the world in ways that are not remunerative right now" we also just did not share the same goals in life. So as many commenters have already commented, I have come to frame this issue not as "He has no money is it shallow of me to not dig that?" but rather as "His goals in life are very different from mine, can we make it work?" and the answer is "If you really want to" but usually people don't.
This answer isn't as flip as I think it's coming across, or maybe I just deliver truth with humor as well so it reads normally to me.

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