March 17, 2015
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Dear Head Pro,
I have been in a long distance relationship for over a year. Recently I quit my job and moved out-of-state to join my boyfriend. We chose his city because logistically it made sense. I was very unhappy at my current job and he has been at his job for many years and is happy there. Moreover, I was in an undesirable city and he was in a better one. We spoke a bit about finances before the move, agreeing that he would pay for the move and agreeing to pay rent and utilities until I got a job. Things like my car note, health insurance, and car insurance would be paid from my savings. Also, I would make the minimum payment of credit card and student loan debt until I got a new job.
It's now been two months since I made the move and I am very stressed about the financial situation I've placed myself in. I am watching my saving go down and my debt go up (I pay for all my personal items, and sometimes household items with my credit card). Moreover, I am an attorney, a career that requires licensure in each state. Because I moved out of state, I have to take another licensure exam which is both time consuming and expensive; The exam cost about a thousand dollars and will require 2-3 months of studying. Studying for the exam is a "full-time job" and I will have little time or energy to work even part-time during this process. After the exam I will have to wait months for the results. It will likely take at least 7 months to get an attorney position; perhaps longer given the state of the legal market.
I am beginning to think it is unfair for me to pay all my bills from my savings indefinitely. After all, the sacrifices I am making; essentially putting my career in the slow line by taking another licensure exam and leaving my old job, are "for the relationship." Further, my boyfriend makes around $90,000 a year and could afford it to pay for my expenses and his.
Am I wrong to feel this way? He is already paying for so much, but I also feel it is unfair to be in a position where I am going into the red every month, especially when I am contributing to the relationship in other ways by cooking and cleaning. This is a relationship I am confident is heading towards marriage, so it seems to me that we should be thinking of our finances as "ours" and not "his and hers."
I'm unsure how how to approach the subject given he is already paying for so much. I already feel uncomfortable being in a situation where I am financially reliant on another person, but I am more uncomfortable losing money every month. Further, while I am confident in our commitment to each other, if the relationship fails I recognize I will be kind of screwed. While my boyfriend has not pressured me "to find a job" or been anything but supportive with my job hunt and career development, this concern is beginning to affect my self-confidence and I am begin to question whether the relationship "is worth it."
Advice on the how to navigate this matter is welcomed.
Ok, look. While I appreciate that you wanted to get out of a shitty city (and an even shittier LDR), where exactly am I supposed to find sympathy for you here? Unless having to take a different bar exam was a completely foreign concept to you, I have to think you knew the approximate timeline going in and budgeted accordingly. And now you’re unhappy that… things are going the way you planned, I guess?
One thing that strikes me as odd is that you quit your job without seeking other employment first. Like, I understand the licensing thing, but it’s not unheard of for Big Law firms to employ young attorneys in a limited capacity until they get their paperwork straight. Have you looked into this? Hell, cities across the country are about to be inundated with summer associates, so I would assume there’s room for you in there somewhere.
I suppose you need to have a sit-down conversation with your boyfriend about how you’re feeling, though I don’t know where that will lead you. He’s already paying for your rent and not pressuring you to do otherwise, so saying “I now feel like I shouldn’t have to pay for anything because you can afford it” isn’t going to go over real well. Finances can be tough on any relationship, but at this point it sounds like all of the hardship is in your head. One thing to think about is maybe working out some defined rules for what expenses you’re responsible for so as to not feel so blindsided by them.
Ultimately, if you don’t like seeing your savings drain and your credit card bills mount, you need to change your lifestyle. I refuse to believe that studying for the bar, something you’ve already done once successfully, is a “full time job” such that you can’t find the time to sling some suds a couple of nights per week for extra cash. If you’re above that kind of work (which would be ironic because you’re already a lawyer), I don’t know what to tell you. If your car’s too expensive, sell the fucker. If your student loan payments are too high, look into income-based forbearance (yes, that exists).
A big life change like you’ve just made is hard no matter how you slice it, and I know as well as anyone that losing your income can make you feel worthless. But, assuming you engaged in any kind of financial planning to determine you could get through this, only minor adjustments are needed to survive until you can get a job.