Dear Miss Emily:

My boyfriend and I have been together 4 years, this December. We have been living together about 3 years in the same apartment. Like a lot of people, recently, we are in a financial slump. Right now he is not working, and his mother is giving him money on a monthly basis so he can pay his bills, but that is hurting his mother, financially, because her husband (my boyfriend's stepfather) is dying of cancer. This is happening because he needs to get out of college so he can get a real job, and we can start our life together (he only has 2 full time semesters left before he graduates). I had a full time job working for my father, before he passed away in May 2007. I received a small amount of money from his life insurance policy and I have been using it to put myself into full time college, online. I have always paid more bills than he, because I had more money, but I have been reliant on his income to keep the household up and running (we need each other). The new idea came up to move 2 hours north, after Christmas (end of the semester), and live with his mother to save money so he wouldn't have to work.  He could finish college quicker and his mother would not have the financial burden. I have not lived with any sort of parental figure in 5 years. I have been on my own since I was 18, and that is the way I like it. But money is running short, we aren’t getting any younger, and we will struggle for another 2 years or so if he has to continue part time college and work. The idea seems golden. However, he now doesn’t have a job since he’s full time for the moment, and his mother can only give him enough to pay his half of the bills and groceries. This leaves me with the burden of buying out our lease (which is up in April 2009), and the expense of moving to his mother’s (all the furniture in the apartment is mine). It’s a lot of money and, finally, when I added it all up, staying in our apartment for the duration of the lease, I am, personally, hardly saving a dime. He will also be done with school within a month or two of our lease ending. But now he has his heart set on moving in with his depressed mother and he’s a competitive swimmer and he wants to join the swim team the college near his mother offers. I’ve tried explaining to him the money situation, but he always turns it around saying all I care about it money, and he doesn’t know how we will stay together when I’m so money obsessed. Further more, he has claimed he is moving in with her, and I can come or we can have a long distance relationship.  But I can’t pay all the bills of the apartment on my own and I have no where else to go. I want him to split the expenses of this move with me, but he just laughs and says he doesn’t have the money. HELP! It’s not fair that I should have to pay to move him in with his mother.
Can’t Make Him See Reason

--------------------------Miss Emily’s advice-------------------

Dear Can’t:

I don’t think you have to worry about not getting any younger, because you are still quite young, it’s just that you have this financial burden and it makes you feel older than your years. You raise some red flags.  You have doubts that you can live with his mother but, not so much, I think, that it’s a parental figure issue, it’s that you feel helpless if you agree to a plan you do not back, and having it cost you in the bargain.  For someone who has been in control of their life, in terms of decision making and financial responsibility, now you feel a loss of control. Ask your landlord if he/she can seek someone to take over your lease (it's a full three months before you would vacate), freeing you from a significant financial obligation. If this is possible, it will allow you to make a decision on your emotional commitment  to your boyfriend and nothing more. If this is not possible, can you find a roommate until your lease is over? There is one other option.  You adjust your full-time, on-line college plans and opt for a lighter load, making it possible for you to cover your boyfriend’s financial input (while he’s missing in action) through gainful employment.  I know you want to accelerate your college career (so does he) but at what price?  I think your boyfriend sees this as a tremendous opportunity, while being a support system to his mother at a time she needs him. I am sure he feels guilty taking her money for his share of costs, but if that were the only problem, he could make plans to reimburse her once he has a full-time job. I know you want a magic wand to be waved over your head to make this all go away, because you see your position as being between a rock and a hard place. That said, if the real issue is that your boyfriend is not understanding your position, and he is placing the blame at your feet by saying you care only about money, I’d take a second look at this relationship.  It looks like an easy out for him, but you have legitimate concerns.  Being stuck at his mother's, against your will, is counterproductive and not conducive to good health.  Your money is important to you, and it should be!  Don't give in to his wishes before you have examined the consequences.