‘I’m going broke trying to keep us afloat’

Hi Meredith,

My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over three years; we're both in our mid-20s. We're in love, we're pretty much best friends, and we both see this relationship moving toward marriage. But there is a thorn.

Months ago, we moved into a one-bedroom apartment (we'd been living together before, but with roommates). The apartment is expensive and has put a financial strain on both of us. I have a better job than my partner so I pay more than half of the rent. But I also pay all the bills and for most of our meals. My boyfriend pays for things when he can afford it, but that's a small fraction. I have started to work overtime and even considered getting a second job to make ends meet, but I don't see him making the same effort. He seems content to be taken care of.

We fight about this topic every few weeks, and sometimes he says he'll make more of an effort to help (though nothing significant has come from those promises). But sometimes he tries to make me the bad guy for being volatile and causing fights. I can't help but get upset when I'm going broke trying to keep us afloat and he's taking days off and playing video games with his friends.

I want to stay with him. I want him to help more with expenses but I don't know if he will ever step up to the plate. I don't want our relationship to end because of finances. I'm not sure where to go from here.

– Working


It sounds like this apartment was unaffordable from the start. For that reason, you might want to consider undoing the decision to move.

Is it possible to break the lease and find a place that works for your budget? Maybe that means moving to a more remote area, having less space, or finding roommates again, but that's the lifestyle you can pay for right now. It's also the one that'll make you and you boyfriend more relaxed as a couple.

As you plan your next steps, you do need to have a talk with your boyfriend about why he wanted to move, his hopes for the future, and how he likes to spend money. If his priorities are different than yours – if it was you who wanted to move, and he would have been happy staying with roommates and video games – you should think about whether you're with the right partner.

Please know that money is the thing that kills a lot of relationships. Ask your boyfriend what he wants life to look like in five years and how he expects the two of you to get there. Think about whether you can live with his answer.

– Meredith

Readers? Is this a reason to break up?