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Parallax - Advice            August 21, 2000



   Boyfriend lives with parents and has no job

Dear Conversely, Ask us a Question!

About four months ago, I began seeing this guy that I really like. I have a good job and a place of my own. He is very smart, but had a setback and is living with his parents and doesn't work. He is a couple years younger than I. We really like each other and have a ball. I like many of the things about him, but I would like him much more if he would get his life in order. Should I tell him to call me in a couple months when he gets it together or should I stay with him even though I feel like he is a bit of a loser?

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Her view:

Dear Hedger,

Are you kidding? Of course you should stay with him. You should help him out if you like him. Provide a little support - it sounds like he could use it right now. Instead of thinking about what you get out of the relationship, why don't you think about it as follows: Here is a guy I like a lot and have a ball with. He is in a little bit of trouble and needs some help. How can I be helpful?

You make it sound as though he is a borderline criminal. And by the way, running into a little bit of job instability does not make him a loser. Being a jerk or a bad person makes him a loser. I think you'll be pleased with the results as well as with yourself if you help him out. Give him whatever support he needs. If you like him a lot - tell him that - it will make him feel good about himself and cared for. This in turn will help him get his act together as he'll feel valuable and wanted.

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His view:

Dear Hedger,

Any suggestion that you'll take him when he's on his feet but not when he's down will be taken badly - at best. Don't tell him 'call me in a couple of months when you get it together,' unless you are very confident that he's raving mad about you and will do anything you ask. Or, unless you really don't care about whether or not you get back together - if you are bluffing and he calls you on it, you'll lose any future leverage with him.

It's perfectly understandable to want him to get his life in gear, but the ultimatum is bound to backfire. If he is already working to put things back in order, stay with him. At least until you can figure out if he will succeed or not. If he just can't do it, then leave him - but don't do it conditionally, don't look like you're hedging.

Of course, it is also possible that he thinks his life is in perfect order, thank you very much. After all, living rent-free and without the hassle of work doesn't sound so bad...

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