Let's suppose you have a boyfriend. And let's suppose you're also out of a job and broke.
Should he help you out?
That's the question I just received:
Subject line: Urgent
I love your mails and have been applying them in my relationship.
I want to ask if it's okay to ask my boyfriend for money? Presently I don't have any source of income.
The short answer is: don't ask him this. Just do your darnedest to pound the pavement and get a job!
If you're in a relationship, a man knows if you're out of work or not. So he knows already if you might be in need.
The thing that goes through a woman's mind, no matter how independent she is, is this:
"If he loves me, he will want to help me out during this time."
But the problem is, many men - understandably and rightly - do not want to feel "put on the spot" to help out their girlfriend like this.
She's a girlfriend and NOT a wife. And that's where things are different between girlfriend and wife!
Bottom line: just because we have a guy in our lives, we should not ever expect him to help us out, and should not be upset with him if he doesn't.
That may be easier said than done if he has the means...
But no man wants to feel like a meal ticket.
And there ARE women who use men like meal tickets.
Once upon a time, a "fiance" of mine was going to get me a new car, but part of the reason may have been due to his impending divorce - a way to dispose of his loot and help me at the same time.
But deep down, I knew we were not meant to be, so I said no. I would not have felt good about taking this from a person I knew I was not going to stay with for good.
I never regretted that decision.
But that's just one kind of example. What if you ARE deeply in love and you know you want to be with this person for good?
That's where this question gets convoluted.
Women may feel that a man proves his love with his wallet.
Men may feel a woman proves her love by not expecting him to open the wallet.
What do you think?
Should a man make the offer to show his good faith, hoping that you'll show your equally good character by refusing his offer?
Do you want him to make the offer in good faith, showing his good character, even though you won't take him up on it?
Wouldn't you feel squeamish even ASKING a man for financial help?? Yes!
But is he a mind reader? Are you going to do the even WORSE thing and "Hint Around" for help?? If I were a man, and a woman did that, I think I'd take off for good!
This IS a VERY serious and controversial subject.
It's full of layers that go quite deep.
And I've been receiving responses that are very insightful and thoughtful.
Does his response to your plight really define him as either giving or stingy?
That's what some women are telling me.
Others are saying that THEY were the ones who helped HIM out when he was down and out.
This goes to the heart of how we perceive getting monetary help from someone we're romantically involved with yet not married to.
Here are some of the emails I've received on this subject:
I've been going through some tough times financially, trying to get my work life stabilized. At times, and even as I write this, I've been quite broke. I NEVER ask a guy for money. If we've been dating a bit, I'm honest that I'm struggling, and will even mention a specific need that I might be struggling with. I've dated guys who cared that I've been struggling, and those who did not care at all.
I pay very close attention to how they respond. If a guy tries to help me, I know he's a keeper. To me, it means he's compassionate and generous.
Compassion and generosity are requirements for me. They are how I function. I give generously to the man in my life if I have the means and he has the need.
I once bought a man I had been with for a year a new MacBook Pro when he returned to college on his GI Bill. Did I need to? No. Did he ask me to? No. But it wasn't about any of that. It was because I wanted to make him happy. We dated for 2.5 years, and even throughout that time, I knew I wasn't going to marry him. That didn't change how I gave to him, or how he gave to me. We loved each other fully, even though we knew we weren't lifetime mates.
What is it about? Goodness of heart. A man that is cheap financially betrays much more than stinginess in money areas. He reveals how I can expect to be loved in all parts of the relationship. If he has stipulations and hoops I have to jump through, he will have those everywhere, and love me only conditionally. I want unconditional love, with a man who is fully present and able to share all of himself. There's no reason to expect his behavior would change after the wedding. He is on his best behavior before.
"Rachel" (not her real name)
I am not officially divorced yet but have run into this. I am a single mom of 2 daughters.
Money doesn't go far in Alaska. But I am determined to make it on my own.
Guys have offered money, trips, gifts... It's hard to say no! I wonder if I will regret not taking them up on their offers.
But I know I don't owe anyone anything. That is worth quite a bit. I have a sense of personal accomplishment. I have shown my girls how strong a single mom can be. How strong they can be.
When I find the right one, I will take him up on his offers, and hope he takes me up on mine. Strong women unite! :)
"Karen" (not her real name)
I was wondering if it's the other way around, if he is the one having rough time to pay the bills and she has enough money to help him. Should she help him out?
Got this male friend who feels very frustrated because his girlfriend will not help him out, even though she inherited few millions of dollars from her aunt. What is right?
Thanks in advance for your comments. Really enjoy your advice.
"Jula" (not her real name)
I believe all you've said is true. A good man who loves you would be happy to support you in your times of need, it would be one way of showing his love. And he would be less offended if you asked him for money, especially if he wasn't quite sure whether or not he should jump in and offer his help. We all know that sometimes men need to be told what you need from them.
On the other hand, a selfish man who doesn't really care about you will be offended if you pointed out to him the obvious: that you're broke and in need of financial assistance. I mean, that's what friends are for, much less a boyfriend. Unless all you are to him is a f--k buddy, then you shouldn't expect any help from him unless he offers it himself.
These are the kinds of men who use the excuse that you are not a wife so why should they take care of you. However he is intimate with you like a wife and he professes to love you like a wife.
Yes, men don't like to be asked for money. But the one who loves you will be happy you asked and eager to help out - just like you would for the man you love. Nevertheless, my advice would be to not ask a man for money unless you're sure that he is not offering to help out of ignorance of your situation, and not out of selfishness and lack of empathy. If the latter is the case, then you should reassess your expectations from him and the relationship.
"Lisa" (not her real name)
It was not too long ago that I was unemployed, so it felt I should give my two cents.
I was living and working in NYC, had met a great guy, and unfortunately 2 months into our relationship (dating) my company had a layoff.
Being quite caring and concerned he told me that he didn't not want to be nosey about my financials, but asked if I had money saved and would be okay to pay my bills etc.
This was his way of offering and although I was just getting by and needed to tap into my savings, there was no way I could see myself accepting money from him, even as a loan, so early on.
In my opinion the seriousness of the relationship does play a bit of a part. If you are in a relationship with a guy in which you are living together and have been sharing money together for a while, then I could see it being understandable, but at that point he might be covering the rent, groceries etc on his own.
All in all, if a guy felt like it was part of his responsibility to take care of you in that manner because he is " the man" in your life and really wanted to come to your rescue, then he would bring it up and offer in some way.
"Natalie" (not her real name)
In a love relationship, the only men who won't be generous with money are those who have emotional issues; those who are secure will gladly give.
And the only women who won't accept a man's gift, financial or otherwise, are those who have low self esteem...
They have trouble receiving and feeling worthy. A real man knows that his happiness comes from his ability to make his woman happy!
What I think: if I am obviously in a desperate financial situation (no job, exhausted my savings and maxed my credit cards) and the man in my life did not offer help then I would know I only had a date and not a boyfriend.
If I had to ask for help when I obviously needed it, i.e. my lights were shut off, I would know that this man was not a keeper.
If I married this type of man he would be unlikely to help with children or if I had the flu.
Great article, Mimi. but I have a question: What if your boyfriend stays at your apartment night after night, eating the delicious meals I cook, drinks all the cokes and bottled water in the fridge, and uses up a lot of toilet paper, shampoo, etc.
Shouldn't I expect a little help from him to buy more of these things? Groceries aren't cheap! Also, I work 3 jobs just to make ends meet, whereas he only has a part-time job a few hours in the evenings at a bar. He doesn't seem to have any motivation to better himself.
"Tessa" (not her real name)
From Mimi: Tessa, you are too nice. I think you should forget the boyfriend, but I would like to come over for the delicious meals, and then I will go home. Deal? :)
From relationship expert Carlos Cavallo: 3 steps to keep him from taking you for granted
What if it's the other way around .... The guy expects the girlfriend (not wife) to help with money and give her the cold shoulder when she doesn't want to help, forgetting she had even helped him a huge sum before but has not returned her any at all...
How can she get to keep him AND still get back the money? or walk away AND get back the money? Or will this be another tragic "lose both" case?
Your reply will help to bring healing to a confused mind and broken heart ..... Thank you.
From Mimi: This man did not forget that you have already given him money that he has not repaid...
If he's giving you the cold shoulder because you're saying no to giving more money, then he's someone to say ADIOS to.
It's unlikely he will ever pay you back, but it's better to cut your losses now and get him out of your life, and forget both him and the money you lost.
It will get better. The sooner you can get away from this situation, the sooner you can start anew.
Thank you for bringing up this topic as it is a situation I'm presently facing. I do not believe a woman should ask a man for financial help as it puts her in the needy box and gives away her power.
However, if a man offers, I think it's ok to accept if it means that the assistance will help her get on her feet quicker and build a life for herself. I'm curious to hear what others think.
The man that I'm dating offered to help in any way that he can until I can find a job. I thanked him but never asked for anything. I recently approached him, explained my situation and asked if he can make an introduction to anyone that may be able to help with my job search.
He hasn't done anything yet. I'm wondering if I should have said anything at all. Curious to hear your thoughts.
"Michelle" (not her real name)
As for the financial thing, it is just as hard (or harder) when you earn more than your man, as I do.
When my husband and I were planning our wedding and looking for a house, I knew that I wanted a more expensive home than he was comfortable with financially. Tricky stuff...I know I deserve to reap the rewards of my hard work but I also need to respect my man and preserve his dignity. So....I put together a large down payment and didn't want him to have to dig himself into a hole to match that.
But - he NEEDED to feel equal. So, he put down what he could and we split the mortgage payments, then I handle all of the utility expenses through my business (I told him it was a business expense and would help lower my taxes).
When we do renovations I buy the materials and he does the labour. That has made him feel that he is contributing equally, without having to do so financially.
It's taken some time, and a lot of expressed apprecation for his hard work. He finally says he feels balanced but that it is was real ego blow to not be the provider.
I make sure that my man always feels like a man, even though I am the breadwinner. I let him know I need him and make him feel that way.
All the best,
Kat (not her real name)
If you're in a relationship with a man and are undergoing some kind of trouble (financial or otherwise) of which he's aware, you shouldn't even have to ask him for help.
If he knows about the trouble, and he's a good man and loves his girlfriend and is able to help, he's going to offer the help, unsolicited.
Begging a man to help out financially is like begging him to marry you - it's only going to backfire by pushing him away.
But, I'm with you, Mimi - I'm not sure I could accept financial help from a man who wasn't my husband or fiance, especially someone with whom my future was unsure.
Personally, I don't think she should ask him for funds because at girlfriend status he is not obligated to help her.
However, I think it would not be very nice of him to watch her not eat and not at least offer her some SMALL assistance.
But for big things like getting the rent/mortgage paid or taking care of the car note, she needs to either keep trying to find a job or seek government aid; to expect those kinds of favors of him are a bit much and oversteps bounds that will end up ruining the relationship.
Cara (not her real name)
So... What's The Answer Here?
More important, what are the QUESTIONS??
If he loves you, then he will help out?
If he doesn't want to help out, then this means he doesn't love you? Maybe it means that he has felt "used" in the past.
While in ideal circumstances, if a man is in love, and doesn't have undue baggage on this issue, then he will want to help you out....
But some of us have been burned by "users."
These "users" are adept at making us feel that they need our help *without* coming right out and asking for it.
Some of these users go a step further and get help from literally everyone because they're such great manipulators that they know how to elicit sympathy AND rescuing from others.
Where I have a problem here is when a woman EXPECTS that a man SHOULD be jumping for joy to help her out financially and thinks that something may be wrong with him if he isn't....
It's the expectation that I have a problem with.
I think we should hear from the MEN on this one.
Personally, I would have to be in very dire straits before I would even ASK.
Second, if I asked for financial help, it would be clearly understood that this is a LOAN...
...unless we were engaged to be married, I suppose!
A man needs to know a woman well enough before he is put on the spot to help her out.
How does he know what kind of person she is yet? It takes time.
And why is a man's financial help the proof of his character or his love?
Doesn't this view show us why men get tired of functioning mainly as cash registers - and having to work like slaves at jobs they may hate in order to do this?
That's not love, that's prison time!
I agree that men who are cheap are often NOT going to make great lovers or partners.
But try being REALLY broke a few times, and you may come to appreciate the ways of the FRUGAL MEN!!
You may wish you'd had a FRUGAL, "CHEAP" MAN meting out the money grudgingly instead of your spendthrift self. (I'm speaking purely from personal experience since my own money managing skills have been pretty dreadful in the past.)
Those so-called CHEAPSKATES are not up to their ears in debt. They actually have a good credit score!! They are actually prepared for future problems so they don't get into a being-broke bind!!
Let's look at the DEEPER meanings of why we want to know that a man CARES ENOUGH to offer financial help:
I believe it's because this is the NUMBER ONE SIGN that he really loves us and is trustworthy.
I'm not saying that this is right - but if he DOES offer gladly to help, many a woman will breathe a sigh of relief that she's finally found a man who she can believe in.
She may also believe that he really loves her.
But in this, there still seems to be an element of: "I can't take care of myself and I need a guy to be depended on to do this for me. I'm scared of this world; it's hard to make it on my own, and a woman is supposed to be able to lean on a man when the chips are down."
I do think that's something that lurks in the hearts of many, many women (probably most women).
It may not be "right" but it's something that we all (men and women) should be AWARE of...
It goes back to the days when men DID financially support women - and a woman's job was to take care of the home and the children.
That's still how things are in many families.... and when you have growing children, you probably DO WANT to be at home as much as you possibly can - if not ALL the time!!
So yes... looking for a man who is interested in the same thing IS important.
We've only scratched the surface of the financial help question.
Done at the wrong time and in the wrong way.... it can mess up your relationship.
It can make one person feel obligated. It can make another person feel guilty. It can lead to resentment if things don't go well between you.
So What's the "Bottom Line"?
Don't expect financial help from someone you're dating.
Don't provide financial help to someone you don't know extremely well.
If this happens while you're only dating and not engaged or married, it's going to lead to the idea that you're using that person because you equate relationships with financial help.
Giving a gift freely with no obligations or expectations - is great - if it TRULY is given in a way that there is no chance for any resentment later, no matter what happens between you.
Relationships do not go hand-in-hand with financial help. Relationships are about enjoying someone's company - not what they can provide for you.
Perhaps a woman has to ask herself - would I still be with this person if he was not able to provide any financial assistance to me ever??
If you have to ask that question, then you have to ask yourself if you want a relationship or you really want help SURVIVING in this TOUGH world. (Read on...)
Depending on someone else for help financially is the opposite of safety. Taking care of your own needs is true safety.
Live Simply So You Don't Get In Money Trouble
One reason we even have this problem is when we're caving to the ideas of getting expensive homes and buying expensive cars - when we can get by with a lot LESS if we really discover how to do that.
These days people are getting extremely creative with their spending so that they don't feel the GRIP of money woes.
They want to get out of debt and be able to enjoy life more.
They're building Tiny Houses. They're living on the road. They're refusing to spend more than they earn.
It can be done. I had to learn this the hard way but now I see the true freedom of having LESS, and I no longer want to spend money and energy on more stuff and more complications in my life.
When we solve our own money problems, then we don't even need this to become an issue in our relationships.
And if you HAVE A LOT OF MONEY?
Don't tell people.
Otherwise they will think that you have an endless stream of money that YOU don't need and THEY DO.
Feel free to send in your thoughts on this topic by replying to one of my daily emails! I may not be able to add it to this page but it will definitely get read by me (especially if it's not terribly long!).