Feeling Trapped

Thursday , 20, February 2014 Comments Off

Dear Susan:

I’m a 20-something male who has been living with my girlfriend for about a year.  When we met I was living with my parents and she had her own apartment.  Since I was spending all my time over at her place, we decided I should just move in.  We were both working, but about a month after I moved in, she quit her job and hasn’t worked since.

I suppose I wouldn’t mind paying all the bills if I could come home to a clean house and a nice dinner, but that isn’t happening.  If I want anything cooked, I have to do it myself.  Likewise with the cleaning and laundry.  My girlfriend says she’s looking for work, but all I see is her playing video games, talking on the phone with her friends and watching TV.  But if I mention any of that, she cries and says I hate her.

To top it all off, she is hinting hard that we should be getting married.  I know I’m not ready for that.  In fact, I’d like to end the relationship but I know she wouldn’t be able to support herself if I leave.  What should I do?

Feeling Trapped

Dear Trapped:

I hear about this a lot, whether it’s the man or the woman who is carrying the whole load.  Either way it’s a scam and none of your possible escape routes will be easy.  Let’s take a look at them.

First, you could just tell her it’s over and leave.  As an adult, she is supposed to be able to take care of her own needs.  You know she CAN because she was doing it before you came along.  She’s already gotten a free ride for nearly a year, so she can’t really expect anything more.  But she will because she thinks you’re in LOVE.

Second, you could give her a deadline to find a job and/or a roommate and then make good on it.  But if you stay in the apartment with her, you’re in for a lot of pressure.  She’ll probably double down on trying to land you as a husband.  Conversely, how do you feel about her dating while you’re still paying all the bills?  Awkward!

Third, you could offer to pay for another month or two, but move out immediately.  This is probably the kindest thing you could do, but you’ll have to really keep your distance.  Some people in this position think that because they’re still paying, they should still be playing.  Do that and you’ll never get free!

In all three scenarios the key is to be very clear that the relationship is OVER and stick to it.  Otherwise you’re looking at months and months of emotional turmoil.  Face the fact that you jumped in too soon and resolve to never do it again.