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Love Sick

By Mink Stole | Posted 11/27/2002

I've been dating a wonderful man, and we've discussed living together. He's disabled, is on very limited partial disability, and has been living with his mother since becoming ill two years ago. I love him, and we have a wonderful, respectful relationship. But if he moves in with me, I will have to bear our entire financial load, as well as the maintenance of our household, because he's chemically sensitive and often ill. I'm just so hung up on money! I want to be with him all the time, but I don't see how I can take on another person. I have student loans and car loans. I'm making ends meet by working three jobs, six days a week, but I'm not getting out of debt and, since he's been staying with me for the last few weeks, I've exhausted my savings just feeding the two of us. Some days I feel more like a parent than a partner. He feels bad about the situation but can't change it. Another problem is that he doesn't drive, so if he moves back to his mother's, it'll be back and forth, back and forth for me just to see him. Right now my options are looking like 1) accept maintaining him permanently or 2) leave him at his mother's and don't consider living together or marriage. I'm being asked to either accept giving my all or giving it all up. I feel guilty for complaining, because I do love him, but I'm just not seeing a way for us to be together. Must I give up love for money?

Stressed and Distressed

Dear SAD:
Stop feeling guilty right now. Money is vital, and if you weren't worried about it you'd be a damned fool. I know how easily we can delude ourselves that love can conquer all, but the truth is, when the money goes, the love goes with it--and what's left behind is ugly. You're already starting to burn out, sweetie pie, and no wonder: You're not only slaving away most of your waking hours to meet basic expenses, but also playing cook, maid, and nurse. It isn't easy to keep love alive when you're too tired to smile and the one you're exhausting yourself for has been watching Match Game reruns all day. Now I'll admit I may be judging your man unfairly, but it sounds like this guy is pretty complacent about whatever his illness is and isn't doing a whole hell of a lot to be productive in spite of it. What does he do while he's waiting for you to get home from working three jobs? If he is, in fact, helpless, then he might be able to get more disability. Or maybe his mom could kick in a little. If he's willing to let you support him, he shouldn't balk at looking for money elsewhere.

Give yourself a break. Send him back to his mother and tell him he has to stay there until he can figure out some way to help out. It may feel like you're punishing him for being disabled, but you're not; it's not fair to either of you to let him slide into total dependency. Make him work at the relationship a little. Otherwise, you'll be at each other's throats quicker than you can say Supplemental Security Income.

In regards to your most recent online column (Think Mink, Nov. 20) there was a letter from "Older Woman." She complained that she often saw her young beau hunk only on weekdays, never on weekends. Besides his obvious prolonged adolescence, her letter screamed out to me that this man is the typical married man stepping out on someone else. As the woman says, this guy is only available on selected weeknights, only sometimes staying over, and is always gone and unavailable on weekends. If I didn't know better, I would say it reads like a clichéd soap opera plot. Do you think this is a possibility?

Been There Before

Dear BTB:
Well, if it hadn't been for the fact that she said she'd met his parents, I would say absolutely. But even the most indulgent mamas and papas rarely condone that kind of in-your-face infidelity.

But you make a good point and it's worth repeating. After all, a cliché only becomes a cliché by being true damn often. Ladies (and gentlemen): Beware the unavailable. At the beginning of a relationship it makes perfect sense to meet only on weeknights--there's no ambiguity or awkwardness about possibly spending more time together than originally arranged because you both have to work the next day. After you've been seeing each other for a while, though, and especially if you're sleeping together, it's different. A guy who can never make time for you on a Saturday night or a Sunday afternoon is very likely spending that time with someone who has a more legitimate claim.

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