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New financial arrangement with the SO

September 13th, 2006 at 08:07 am

Recently, I've had my first major spat with my SO of nearly two years.

We've lived in cities 30 miles apart since mid-June. While this probably seems like No Big Deal, neither of us has a car (I don't even have my license and he has "issues" with cars), the public transportation sucks, and as a result, our relationship has essentially become long-distance.

I wanted to fix this by buying a car and moving in with him (since he's neither capable nor willing to move in with me). Initial estimates placed the cost at $5K for the car and at least $400/mo maintenance; after more research, I was able to get the price down to $2.5K for the car and less than $300/mo maintenance--by only driving car to a bus that would take me to/from work every day.

The snafu came when it became clear that he expected me to 1) pay for the car itself, 2) pay for the monthly car maintenance, and 3) split his rent and utilities with him 50/50. This would put me over my current monthly expenditure by $200, and does not include the tripling of my commute time.

I was looking at buying a car in an attempt to bridge our long-distance relationship for the sake of both of us. And he wanted everything to come out of my pocket (because he "didn't want me to do anything that I would not have done without him"), and then enjoy the 50% rent and utilities reduction that comes with having a roommate.

I never explicitly asked him to contribute, but I was greatly peeved that it didn't even cross his mind to, you know, offer *something*. After all, I'm on a shoestring budget, and he makes $20K/year more than me. Why should I be making all the sacrifices while he does not lift a finger?

Finally, I suggested that maybe we should roll the car maintenance cost into the total household expense, and split *that* 50/50. That would only put me $50 above my current monthly expenditure, and still save *him* over $600/mo. And I'll still save and pay for the car myself, and deal with the commute.

Apparently, suggesting that we "split household costs" hit a major nerve, and he completely flipped out. It was unacceptable, too much commitment, why did I have to do this when he was perfectly happy with the long-distance arrangement. When I pointed out that a relationship should be a partnership/two-way street, he replied that he doesn't see anyone except himself in his future.

I'm sorry, but WTF? I couldn't take it anymore. I broke it off. And it wasn't even really about the money. How the hell was I supposed to react after being told that splitting household costs was unacceptable because he didn't see me as part of his life? Smile, nod, and go along with it? I wasn't looking for a free ride or an engagement ring, just... MORE THAN WHAT HE WAS GIVING, that was for sure!

And then a few days later, he gets his act together, and totally regrets what he said before.

It took me a while to get over what happened, but we are trying to work things out again, and this time, his offer was very different.

1. He'll float me an interest-free loan for the entire cost of the car when/if I buy it next summer. This removes the car fund from my budget, and takes a lot of pressure off of me for the upcoming year.

2. I will be repaying him for the car in lieu of paying rent until the car is completely paid off. Yes, he's giving me free rent up to the cost of the car, in exchange for my buying it and putting us back together.

3. My monthly expenses will NOT increase. Since I'm paying just shy of $600/mo for rent and utilities now, that's the maximum I have to contribute. This eliminates any financial risks I might be taking by moving in with him.

4. He doesn't even care if his own monthly costs do not decrease. He's not interested in using me to save money. I think he's even willing to pay extra to have me around.

5. He wants us to put down in writing the explicit terms of our cohabitation. It will guarantee that even if our relationship goes south, I won't be hit with any extra costs until I can move out.

I am so stunned by this 180 degree turnaround. It's not like I'll ever hold him to #4, since it essentially implies that I can get away with just paying for the increase in utilities that I'll be invariably causing, plus the car purchase and maintenance.

I haven't decided what I'll do yet, but I'm bouncing around some ideas. I might accept free rent for half of the price of the car. I might also go with the "pay equal shares" approach, where we contribute equal percentages of our salary towards joint household expenses. That will end with me paying 40% of the bills, and him paying 60%. That comes out to be around $500/mo for me, and $760 for him. I save $100/mo, and he saves $200.

I'll post a more explicit budget when it's not 4am.

I think this *might* work.

14 Responses to “New financial arrangement with the SO”

  1. Ima saver Says:

    I am so glad he did a complete turn around.

  2. kashi Says:

    Wow, he doesn't see anyone else in his future but him? He doesn't want to move or help you move even though he makes a ton more than you? Yikes. I hope he was sincere in his change of heart. You sound like a strong, smart woman!

  3. fern Says:

    Please don't take offense at what i'm about to say, but i hope you'll appreciate honest feedback, as i've been in a very similar situation (see my blog).

    i would still question his commitment to your relationship. Are you sure you want to proceed with a living arrangement under these circumstances? Even with the changed point of view, i would not entirely dismiss the initial negative things he said about it. You are the one taking all the risks by uprooting yourself from where you live now...exactly what i was willing to do myself for the man i've now broken up with. Be careful. Your'e focusing a lot on the various financial options but what about the solidity of the relationship itself?

  4. amberfocus Says:

    Ima saver: You know, I told him to talk to his friends and carefully consider the situation before giving me a reaction, but of course he doesn't listen, and he honestly could not have played it worst. And then when everything sinks like a hot potato, he goes and talks to his friends, does some contemplating, and changes his mind. AFTER all the real emotional damage has already been done.

    MEN. ARGH!

    kashi: He has "issues" with many things--stuff that makes perfect sense to him, but none whatsoever to normal, sane people (like you and me). Or he simply thinks too hard and overwhelmes himself with doubt, which completely paralyzes his rationality with fear.

    He has no aims or goals, including relationship ones. So he doesn't "see"himself in a long-term relationship. He just... doesn't think about these things. He has no active desire/drive to seek one.This isn't to say that he doesn't enjoy our relationship. He does. But he just survives, coasts. He's happy if I'm around, but he also doesn't care if we stay long-distance indefinitely, while I'd get very frustrated if we do not craft a viable exit plan.

    There are legitimate reasons why he doesn't want to move. He's occasionally asked to pull some extreme hours at work, and he needs to be available close by. He also thinks that cars are moving metal boxes of death, and will never buy one. So driving will be 100% on me. He also has the inertia of a continental land mass. Nothing short of earthquakes or volcanoes will convince him to move.

    He doesn't want to help me move because he needs me to make all of my decisions without him being a factor, because he doesn't (didn't?) believe in "partnerships". He doesn't want me to do anything that I wouldn't have done without him. He doesn't want to be the reason why I do anything. So in his view, he *can't* help me with the car, since it's *my* decision to get one. He's NOT involved. If I get it and regret it, it's all on me, I'm not allowed to blame him for influencing me. That's his rationale.

    I don't really care what his salary is compared to mine, since I'll never let myself rely on him financially anyway (or vice versa). He'll treat me (usually to food and occasionally to movies and gifts), but that's about it. Our finances are not going to mix. And I'm actually fine with this. I don't necessarily see the benefits of financial co-dependence. Plus, I'm too much of a detail-oriented control freak when it comes to finances.

    Now those are his old views, and he gave me a very bad knee-jerk reaction based on those feelings. But he has seen the immensely hurtful results of his views, and I think his *attempt* to change is sincere. Whether he succeeds or not is still unknown. I wasn't going to get a car anymore after what went down, even if I decided to reinstate the relationship. But now that he's trying to make the situation such that there is nothing for me to lose.

    fern: I totally appreciate honest feedback. What went down between us has completely destroyed my father's trust in him, so you're certainly not the only one. And I don't know if this comes across in my blog, but I'm notorious for thinking with my head and not with my heart.

    I don't trust his commitment, either. But we may not be at that point in our relationship where we're completely committed, for sure. I think our agreement is that we'll try it out, and see where it goes. He didn't even want to try before--he was fine with coasting long-distance indefinitely, and he didn't even fight me when I told him I would break up with him, stating that failure in our relationship was not a risk that he wanted to take by continuing to carry on.

    Um, that's f*cked up logic if ever I heard it.

    But now, he sees now how grossly unfair he was being before. He was actually oblivious to the effects of what he was doing, since he was still thoroughly entrenched in his own twisted logic. And I've forced some pretty big concessions from him, concessions that he hasn't granted to anyone else. I may be wrong, but I think it means something.

    I've just moved here, and I've still got a one-year lease to wait out. There's no rush, currently, to carry out this living arrangement. My litmus test will be whether I can convince my father to trust him again. So far, though, no luck.

    ~mimi

  5. fern Says:

    OK, mimi, this is tough love, but my 4 questions are below:

    1. Why should you have to force concessions from him to get him to agree to live with you?
    2. Why should you need to convince your father to trust him?
    3. Why would you be so willing to align your future with such an apathetic, lukewarm, ambivalent man?
    4. Are you prepared for the hassles and heartache if it doesn't work out with this guy? Meaning, you will have given up your own place and you'll be forced to find another place, probably on short notice. You're keeping your job, right? Would you still go thru with this if you knew for sure this wasn't going to work out?

    If you don't trust his commitment, then why in the world would you want to move in with him? I just don't get it. Everything you say above screams this won't work, from your own lips. What i learned the hard way is, you can't force a round peg into a square hole. Meaning, despite all your good intentions, you can't expect to get what you want from a reltaionship by doing all the work for both of you. If his heart is not in it 100% i'd walk away and look elsewhere. You deserve better.

  6. LuxLiving Says:

    Alright Fern...those were the exact same thoughts I was having reading the post.

    Walk away Mimi. You deserve MUCH better. Sorry, but I agree with Dad!!

  7. princessperky Says:

    ditto what fern said...I hear so often complaints, money and otherwise from people who 'tried to make it work'..don't waste effort...not saying skip the fun, I am all for fun, but don't go looking to move in (meaning commitment).

    later on you will find someone for fun, and commitment, you can't rush that part. can't force it, can't make one guy be it just cause you like him.

  8. amberfocus Says:

    Heh, you know, you guys are listing the exact reasons why I walked away the first time. I gritted my teeth, threw my feelings for him out the window, threw *his* feelings for *me* out the window, and ended it, because I knew I had to. I was face-to-face with the undeniable conclusion that with his attitudes (at the time), it WASN'T going to work. Even if it *could* work, he'd just sabotage it.

    I'm even tempted to paste some rather colorful quotes from one of my angry e-mails to illustrate my point, but I was cursing like a sailor, and I think this site is supposed to be family-friendly. Smile
    Anyway. Maybe it's become too cliched to be believable, but I do think he's changed. I think the recent experience has given him a wake-up call. He refuses to admit it, but he's lonely and frightened. His unwillingness to commit is borne from fear, not from lack of love. And I do know that this is true, because I don't take bullshit from lovers--never have, and never will.

    And I knew that he was feeding me bullshit. There was a point where I seriously laid into him, mercilessly, trying to get him to see how STUPID he was being, since even if I pissed him off, *I* had nothing left to lose at that point. But never for a moment did I expect him to learn his lesson in time to save our relationship, but maybe it'll save his next one, if the next one ever happens.

    Except I think he did learn his lesson. Witness the new cohabitation terms I expounded upon above.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, YES, I know what he was like before is unacceptable. And I *didn't* accept it. I broke it off. But he realized that he was just in denial (he didn't have a problem with me moving in under slightly different circumstances previously), manufacturing contrary arguments out of fear, and that he f*cked up and make a huge mistake on his part, and he has matured emotionally from the experience.

    Maybe my final judgment is wrong, but I do think he deserves a second chance. Yes, it could still fail down the line, but that's a chance we always have to take. Even marriages can, and do, fail. I don't place my relationships above reality.

    I'll think about everything again, and talk to him about this when I see him this weekend. And thank you--I truly appreciate your support and input.

    best,
    ~mimi

  9. LuckyRobin Says:

    I think that if in both your heart AND your head agree that he deserves one more chance, then give it to him. One. Not two. If you see even the littlest return of this behavior, run for the hills. This is how the cycle of abuse can start. Nasty things said, later apologized for. Eventually becomes nasty things said, not apologized for and you blamed for his saying them. Make sure this is not turning into that type of relationship. You'd be surprised at what can happen to the strongest of women, young or older. Make him earn your trust back. And he may never earn your dad's trust back. This is how fathers are.

    And make sure his wanting to mend the relationship isn't just because he doesn't want to make the effort or put the work into finding a new one. Don't let him make you convenient. I have every confidence you can sort this mess out to your advantage.

  10. MsSuperSaver Says:

    This sounds like a Dr Phil moment...anyway here's my 2 cents. Men (and women too) dont often change for the better once you are into a long term relationship. They are generally on their best behaviour when they are trying to woo you then slack off once they get you. In this case you are still in the wooing phase and if this is an example of his best behaviour--hello--NEXT!

  11. Great to be Debt Free Says:

    My two cents: Is this arrangement becoming more of a convenience factor than a relationship factor? What I mean is, do you really expect/want this relationship to work? Do you feel cherished by him? Do you feel secure with him? Do you feel loved by him? Do you feel happywhen you're with him and when you think about him?

    The main reason I pose these questions is that once you move in with him, it will be harder to move out. There will be the startup costs for yet another apartment with security deposits and the like. You'll have to figure out what is yours, his and what to do with the items accrued while you were both living together. You may have a car you don't really need with all the associated costs of maintenance and insurance.

    I was also told years ago that if it is a relationship and not just roommates, then both should leave their respective apartments to move into a new place together. That way "you" arent' living at HIS place and He isn't living in your place, but you are living in YOURS (meaning the 2 of you -- your). Otherwise, you'll never be "home."

    Okay, that's probably more than 2 cents. Wink

  12. amberfocus Says:

    LuckyRobin: My head and my heart do agree. He may be apathetic, lukewarm, and ambivalent like fern said, but he's hardly abusive. He has never blamed me for anything. He just has certain quirks and hangups. Part of it comes from bad relationships in the past, part of it is due to his childhood, and part of it is because he's just like that.

    But he also has so many *good* qualities that "normal" people don't have. I know that doesn't come across here, because I didn't make an effort to convey it. And the negative aspects sound worse than they actually are.

    MsSuperSaver: Haha, you make a good point. Smile It's not only true for relationships, but for friendships, as well. I think that after two years, the wooing and infatuation stage is over for us. And he hasn't changed much, and where he did change, it was for the better.

    Great to be Debt Free: Well, part of it is convenience, for sure. I've lived with him before, and I know we get along better than me and my current roommate do. And if it's cost-efficient, then all the better.

    I'm very practical, see. I don't really believe in gestures for the sake of gestures. His current apartment is quite nice--gas stove, garbage disposal, balcony. Why move for the sake of moving, and deal with all the hassle? Especially when his rent is cheap, and he's within walking distance of work?

    I know I didn't focus on his good qualities and how I feel about him, but yes, I do feel cherished, secure, loved, and happy, and of course I want this relationship to work. And I know he feels the same way. He's just afraid of commitment, or always assumes in the back of his mind that something could fail, which leads him to make less-than-ideal decisions.

    Furthermore, I'm relatively certain that I'll be losing my current roommate in a year. I'd rather live with him than some stranger.

    As for the car... I can always sell it. I'm not too worried about that. Nor am I worried about splitting possessions. Honestly... I don't own much, nor do I want/need to. And I'm not too attached to the stuff I do have, anyway. (Case in point, half of my stuff is still at his house. And I don't care.) And I'm pretty sure that even if we break up, it won't be on bad terms. I have yet to have a relationship break up on bad terms. I have pretty high standards for these things, I guess. Smile
    ~mimi

  13. Broken Arrow Says:

    For what it's worth, I don't like this one bit either.

    I have a friend who is very similar to you. Similar in that she's a strong-willed woman and is willing to do just about anything to make a relationship work. Unfortunately, all that energy and devotion has been wasted on people who were ultimately wrong for her.

    I tried to warn her several times. And despite the appreciation for looking out for her, she forged ahead anyways. I think that was some of the unhappiest times I've ever seen her. And of course, they ended up falling apart eventually, with the other guys begging her to take him back.

    Finally, she ended up with a guy that was actually a good match for her. After 8 years of being together, they've finally decided to tie the knot this October! (Actually, from what I understand, it was more like, "Marry me, you stupid man, or else!" Big Grin I'm kidding. He actually wants to, and she didn't arm-twist him... too much.) Now she's going through one of her happiest moments in life, and I too am happy for her.

    Like the questions others have raised, the bottom line is, "Is this the right man for you?" To be perfectly honest? No. Not until he grows up some more and learns to appreciate you.

  14. amberfocus Says:

    Okay, I just reread my post, and I need to set the record straight.

    It seems like my writing style has clearly bitten me in the ass. I tend to write in a blunt and hard-hitting cadence that sacrifices some nuance and sensitivity in exchange for dramatic effect.

    Usually, the balance works out well, but I think I came on way too strongly this time, because I generally aim for amusement and mild entertainment, not outrage. It didn't help that I was in fulll Gripe-Mode. And I just kept digging myself in deeper and deeper through my responses to various comments.

    I've shown this post to a good friend of mine, who knows both me and my SO. Because he knows us personally, was aware of the ongoing situation at the time that it was occurring, and is familiar with my writing style, he did not react similarly. He actually still thinks we're a good match, now that our problems have been resolved.

    Yes, it wasn't a pleasant situation, but ultimately, it stemmed from a bad misunderstanding, and one that has been fixed, hopefully.

    I sincerely believe that I have good relationships. Despite what I sound like online (and I've been told I sound very intimidating), I am actually very mild and introverted in real life, so I only have a few really close friends, as opposed to a large social network. But I choose my friends very carefully.

    My SO is a bit of an oddball. But it's positively charming 90% of the time, and I do mean that. Let me give an example.

    One of the words that I would use to describe my SO is "apathetic", in the sense of "indifferent". However, it doesn't mean what you might think it means. For one thing, it certainly does not mean that he sits on the couch in front of the TV and does nothing all day.

    What are some of the ways that his "apathy" manifests itself?

    He doesn't give a damn about superficial appearances. It doesn't make a difference to him whether I dress up, do my hair, or wear makeup (and I do none of those, for the record). Furthermore, he doesn't care about my height, my race, my figure, my boobs, or whether or not I shave (sorry if this is TMI). He cares about *me*, as I naturally am, however I choose to present myself.

    Contrast this to the fact that I've been told, BY MY ROOMMATE, NO LESS, that I look *good* at 80 lbs. (yes, 80 lbs!) because anyone who doesn't look like a stick-thin fashion magazine model is FAT. He tells me that I should watch what I eat and not gain weight and ruin my perfect figure. He also says that girls should modify their bodies according to the tastes of their boyfriends.

    Now *there's* a true chauvinist, if ever I've seen one. It makes me feel ill, so I try not to think about it too much. Thank goodness I don't actually have an eating disorder, or I'll probably be so triggered that I'll end up dead within the year.

    Another thing that my SO is "apathetic" about is long-distance relationships. As in, they don't bother him. Why? Because his attention does not wander. I've known many a couple who broke up because of five months of study abroad, simply because they couldn't go that long without nookie. Um, okay.

    I know I complained about his lack of interest in putting us back together, but in the end, I appreciate the fact that I have the freedom to choose where I want to be without it having ramifications on my relationship. He didn't want to put any pressure on me to be somewhere FOR HIM. While I'm still not thrilled by the prospect of LDRs, but his respect for me living my own life is extremely valuable to me. It also shows that he values me enough to want to keep our relationship around.

    What else is he apathetic about? Oh, how about money and consumerism? He'll never feel compelled to "keep up with the Joneses", or tie his ego to the acquisition of the latest hot gadget. In fact, he's a prodigious saver. Granted, he just sits on the money and doesn't do anything *useful* with it, but hey--it's better than having $0 in savings and living paycheck to paycheck.

    Another thing he's apathetic about is his diet. I'm vegetarian, and he's actually not. A lot of people are extremely judgmental about vegetarian food--as in, they would be offended by it ("Where the hell is my meat?!"), and refuse to eat it. Him? He buys and cooks vegetarian at home, and is always stocked up on tofu. He'll simply eat meat when I'm not around.

    Why is this important? Imagine coming home to a fridge/pantry where there is nothing you can eat. Imagine having to cook two meals, or always having to cook your own meal, because you cannot share your food. Trust me, I've been through this before, and it is not insignificant. Diet is actually a pretty big relationship issue with me, not because I'm one of those rabid activists (I'm not; I honestly don't care what you eat so long as it's not endangered), but because of the major day-to-day impact of being incompatible on this issue.

    I could go on, but I think I've made my point. He may be "apathetic", but I'll take "apathetic" over "stubbornly opinionated" any day.

    I want to work on this relationship, not because it's "not working", but because it's *realistic* that relationships require effort. Don't put in effort, and it will almost certainly fail. This isn't some Hollywood story with a fairytale ending. I don't believe in fated soulmates. I believe you craft your own fate and make the best out of what you've got. Yes, there are times when you must cut your losses and go, and I will not hesitate to do so if/when the time comes, but it's not that time, yet.

    My SO is a very smart person (I don't remember what the exact number, but his IQ is depressingly high), but like most gifted people, he's slightly "broken". But I'm not exactly "normal," either (erm, see my retirement spreadsheet; that is NOT the sign of a normal person). Is there room for improvement in our relationship? Definitely. Is there promise in it? Definitely. Will it work out? No one can know for sure. But I know how I feel, and I know how he feels, and I know that neither of us feels lightly.

    And honestly? I'll take him over my chauvinistic roommate any day, relationship or no relationship. We are, first and foremost, excellent friends. Nothing will change that--I can (almost) guarantee it.

    Thanks for reading, everyone. And for understanding. I apologize for not being able to respond to everyone's comments in as much depth as I'd like. Feel free to e-mail me off-blog (amberfocus at gmail) if you want to chat more. I'm a PAW--a prodigious accumulator of WORDS. Wink
    best,
    ~mimi

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