His Lips Unzipped: “Why won’t he get a job?”

By Martin Brown

My regular boyfriend has been on a job search for the past 8 weeks and money is getting tight. I have a good job and I’d like to help out by lending him some money but I’m afraid he’ll freak out. Any ideas how I can help a guy who could really use the help without offending his male ego?
—Worried in Williamsburg, Virginia

That’s a great question. And in truth, there is no easy answer.

As you probably know, your guy’s ego can get bruised pretty quickly in the best of times. When he’s feeling like a loser, he is at his most vulnerable.

This issue can put your relationship in peril. Why? Because money problems can easily turn into relationship wreckers.

If you don’t want to see that happen, get proactive. Here are 5 steps that can get you where you want to be:

1. When you’re doing stuff together, ease off the spending.
First, avoid evenings and events that you know are going to be expensive. There’s that nice Italian grotto where each entrée is $22.50, and then there’s that great pizza place that you both like, and the whole evening costs the same as that one entrée.

2. It’s okay for you to buy stuff—but don’t do it under his nose.
Here’s a simple example. Don’t get to the movies on a Saturday night and pluck down $20 for two tickets. Sure you have every right to do that, but if you don’t want him sitting through a two hour comedy burning up inside because “you had to buy the tickets, and remind me what a loser I am” then neither of you is going to enjoy the show. Instead buy the tickets in advance on Fandango, and tell him that you got a special deal at the office so you picked up the tickets in advance.

3. Do things that cost nothing.
Plan a picnic. Go for a jog. Play Frisbee. Go hear a free lecture. There are about a hundred and one cheap or free things you can do. Avoid high price outings and he can save some cash while saving some cash as well.

4. Talk honestly about his job search and be open to discussing various career options.
At whatever stage your relationship stands, if you’re thinking that one day you may want to be a committed couple, during difficult times is when the rubber meets the road. No couple, at least none that I am aware of goes from one happy life chapter to another. There are plenty of bumps and bruises, not to mention occasional disasters, along the way. Let him know that this set back in his life is a bad patch, not the end of days. Be a positive force in lifting him up, over, and through this period. Get creative together about what his options are and be a sounding board for his ideas. This is the furnace out of which truly bonded couples are forged.

Be there for him, but be sure he has the room he needs to breath.
Men tie together their self-worth and their net worth, and that can be a volatile and dispiriting combination. He’s going to get frustrated, just as you would going through the highs and lows of a job search. Knowing what he is going through, you have to stay aware that at times he is going to seem a bit irrational. So step back and give him the room to right himself.  Knowing that you are his rock at this time will help to keep him on course. When a man hears “believe in yourself as I believe in you,” it’s like putting an extra gallon of fuel in a tank that’s gone try.

It won’t be easy. The sweet results, however, from succeeding together will be worth all the effort you make. Yes, it is a delicate balance but one that you can achieve with love and patience.