I’m supporting his family now

Dear Meredith,

I am a mid-40s single mother. I run my own business, so like many who are self-employed, my salary is inconsistent. I have been divorced for 10 years.

Two years ago, I met my boyfriend. He was extremely successful, and we were both thrilled to find out we had so much in common.

About a year ago, he lost his job and decided to open his own business. It did not work out, and between maintaining his very high child support payments to his ex, he ended up financially ruined.

At this point, I have to decide if I want to stay with him, which would consist of me supporting him, his kids, and his ex-wife (I have been that for a while). I feel like I've had enough. Help!

– Supportive

How serious was the relationship when your boyfriend lost his job? Were you involved in the planning of the new business? What was your role in his life at the time?

Based on the information you gave us, I can't tell whether you should be working to save something great, or whether the two of you became serious because he needed you during a difficult time. Please think about where you were in the relationship before the money was gone.

Also talk to him about what happens next. You can't sustain this support forever, so what does he plan to do? If he's overwhelmed and needs guidance, you can suggest that he see a career counselor and financial advisor. It's a good time to get help from professionals.

As for the future of your relationship, it sounds like you're asking for permission to bail, which makes sense based on your letter. You're a self-employed single parent, and you mention nothing about loving this man.

That said, if you do adore him – and you simply forgot to write that paragraph – please talk to him about how this might get better. This difficult time could be very temporary.

– Meredith

Readers? What should the LW consider before leaving?