Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: Money issues split us up and now I miss him so much
Monday 10 November 2008
I brought up my daughter and supported both of us single-handed, but two years I ago I met a wonderful man. He moved in and we agreed on everything – except money. He's self-employed and gave me money when he had it, but I asked for a regular contribution each week. He agreed, but never bought me treats, and I paid for all wine, holidays, etc. He the asked me for a loan of £2,000, which he showed no sign of returning. Because of this, we've separated. He promises he'll pay me back, but am I a fool in thinking he will? I miss him so much.
Yours sincerely, Jo
There are some men – and no doubt, some women but I've never met them – who seem to have a completely blind spot about money. It's as if they appear to understand about a lot of things – love, affection, kindness, jokes – but when it comes to money there's a blank. It's as if a money-gene is missing. It's as if they don't actually connect the fact that money is a representation of something that has been worked for, something that has actually been given. They see it, it seems to me, as if money is just something in the ether – if you're lucky to grab some as it floats by, fine. And, ergo, if you've got more of it than them, then you should share it. It should, they think, be available to all, just like air or water.
You, on the other hand, having worked so hard all your life and managed to bring up a child as well, single-handed, know exactly the value of money. You are probably someone who, while you might be generous enough to give a friend a pound coin to park their car, for instance, and not expect to receive it back, will never be able to forget that it was given. You, like most people, have an invisible cash register in your mind – although I'm sure you, like most people, are at pains to keep it hidden from view.
Now you could take your boyfriend back, and argue to yourself: this man is like a cracked Ming vase. He's tip-top and invaluable in every respect except for this one flaw – the crack, or the money-flaw.
But then comes the terrible crunch. If you take him back you will never know whether he is interested in you because he loves you or because he knows you're an easy touch. And that is when you will start to question all the things that you do love about him – his humour, kindness, perceptiveness and so on. And I'm afraid (and I know this from experience with more than one man) that then you will never be able to trust that what this man appears to give you is real. Behind every apparently spontaneous gesture will be this bitter question: "Is there a hidden agenda? Is he really kind and sweet or is that all part of the charm to disguise what is really a way of enabling him to get a free lunch?" Or, in your case, supper, breakfast, tea, and bed at the same time.
It is terribly painful, I know, but I'm afraid it would be best to keep this man simply as a friend – and don't give him any money. You will soon find out whether he is interested in you as a cash-cow or a person. If he constantly says he loves you, and puts himself out to mow your lawn, fix shelves and so on for nothing, then you might think again. But if, as I suspect, you get nothing out of him except entertainment and affection and no real, tangible input, then you will know that, however sweet and charming he may be, he is not someone to cultivate for the long haul.
I'm afraid you may well find that pretty soon he meets another delightful, generous, self-sufficient woman who will take him in. But don't worry. It won't last.
He won't change
You are being naive if you think you are going to get your money back. Your ex obviously doesn't love you because if he did he wouldn't have put you in a situation where you had to lend him money. Even if he does repay you, do you really want to go out with someone like that? If you do get back together just remember that a leopard never changes its spots. Don't expect him to be a renewed man who will shower you with gifts and spoil you rotten.
Money isn't everything
What did he need the £2,000 for? To help his business and pay off debts? If he has money worries then he is not going to feel inclined to spend it on treats or luxury items like holidays. I do think you are judging the relationship on merely on the financial aspects. In many strong relationships one partner often earns more and contributes more financially than the other – but in a loving relationship this isn't really important. What matters is that you both love each other and work together as team, combining your assets for the benefit of both. Forget the money aspect and what he paid for – just ask yourself honestly what type of man he is.
Stop mothering him
Your problem is so very familiar to me! This "wonderful man" recognised you as a nurturer, and needed you to look after him, to take care of all his practical needs. If you were his banker, it would be very easy for him to agree with you about everything else! He does not see your relationship as any form of a partnership. He is the greedy second child that you could not afford. He'll never make a proper financial contribution to the family or give you the presents and holidays you so richly deserve. Dry your eyes, move on – an independent woman will always be loved. All this could almost be my own story: been there, done that – and he never bought me the T-shirt, not even in the sales.
Try splitting the bills
Oh dear. How many relationships have foundered over money? It's an awkward subject to discuss, but you both need to find a workable solution to these financial issues before you can move forward as a couple. You don't say why your man friend borrowed £2,000 from you. Was he having difficulty obtaining credit elsewhere for work purposes? Or was it for a frivolous reason, in which case you might question his sincerity, and your own decision to lend him the money in the first place?
You do say that he is a "wonderful man" which indicates that, despite the money issue, you enjoy being with him and that he enriches your life. As a short-term solution, why not go halves for all the essentials of living together and do without the treats and holidays?
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