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My boyfriend is comfortable financially while I struggle. It causes tension.

What can be done to create more balance in this long-term relationship?

Love Letters

Q. My long-term (eight years) boyfriend and I are in very different financial situations. When I met him, he had sold a successful business and could retire in his 40s. I was in my 30s, working two jobs and raising two teenagers. My children’s father has passed away, so working hard has been the only option for me. My children have since moved out for college. During the pandemic, I decided to return to college to complete my degree while working two jobs. My boyfriend does some stock trading and lives comfortably from his investments. I am very proud of his accomplishments — however, there is an extreme imbalance in lifestyle and finance between us.

I realize that it was my decision to return to school. I made this choice to better myself and create future opportunities. In the meantime, I simply cannot afford to eat out and go out for drinks as often as he would like. He usually pays and I get the tip, but that creates a feeling of him being taken advantage of — or he will say “your shout,” meaning my turn to pay. I honestly feel resentment that he does not use any of his free time to help lighten my load (i.e., water plants, do laundry, make important calls, fix things around the house, etc.). When I bring it up, he says that he has already worked hard and deserves to spend his days the way that he chooses.


I am actually a really fun-loving person but can’t help but feel like Cinderella doing the work, watching him go to the party and have all the fun. Is this a normal dynamic? Do you have any advice to create more balance in this relationship?

— Overworked and Underpaid

A. Are you partners or two people going on dates? Because you don’t seem to be sharing your lives.


I get no sense you’re thinking about how you can have a comfortable future together. Even in the present, he’s not making it easy for you to join him for fun activities. The wealth gap makes your downtime with him more stressful.

My advice is to ask him if he likes this system — that what’s yours is yours, and his is his . . . forever. If that’s the case, you should accept that and make decisions accordingly. Think about your shared values (and whether you have any) because my guess is that if you retired in your 40s, fell in love, and knew you could help your significant other, you would. Am I right about that? At the very least, you’d water someone’s plants.

You’re not asking him to pay for your kids’ experiences. You’re not requesting fancy vacations or presents all over the place. You want to feel like he’s happy to be generous with you — especially when you’re doing things he likes. After eight years, you don’t want to feel like you’re struggling to keep up.

You’re asking how to create more balance, but he has to want that. It’s possible you’re too different to make this work.

— Meredith


This might be an acceptable dynamic if you guys were newly dating. But an eight-year relationship should have more ease than this when it comes to money and chores. LUPELOVE


Are you with him because it’s a habit? Sounds like you can lessen your stress load by dumping him. NANOSECO

It’s time to cut your losses. Someone who’s not even willing to help water the freakin’ plants isn’t worth any more of your time. JONRUNSGRAFTON

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