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TherapistMaryAnn, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
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My boyfriend and I have been in a relationship for almost 11

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My boyfriend and I have been in a relationship for almost 11 years. We started dating in high school. I have been employed pretty much since my senior year of high school. He held a few jobs in college, the longest one he held for over a year. We both majored in psychology and are working on obtaining our masters degrees. His family was a bit dysfunctional. His mom and dad separated when he was younger. His mom had a drinking and drug problem and his dad was an enabler and both told him that he didnt have to work whenever he would get a job. He graduated with his bachelors degree in December and moved in with me shortly after because I needed help paying rent and his moms substance abuse was becoming more problimatic in creating a hostile home environment.

He pays half the rent and we split groceries. I pay for the cable and electric. He gets all A's in school, and for awhile he was looking for a job. After six interviews in the span of a month with no offer, he stopped. Now he goes to bed hours after I leave for work and wakes up shortly before I get home. He plays video games and surfs the web all night. I remind him to look for work, and have even sent him links to jobs that he may qualify for. Sometimes he applies and sometimes he does not. We talked about him volunteering to gain some experience because a huge deterrant from getting hired has been because he does not have any experience. I see it as a foot in the door and he sees it as getting in the way of getting a paid job. When he goes shopping he buys work clothes and shoes and his closet is full of new work attire but no where to wear them and little effort into finding something.

I love him, I really do. He is my best friend and we have a lot of fun and good times. But when I think about his unemployment I begin to feel resentful. When I talk to him, he often becomes defensive and asks me why it matters as long as he pays for half the bills and accuses me of being jealous because he does not have to work and stays home all day. He asks for reasons why he should work or volunteer and suddenly I cant think of any reason other than he needs to get out of the apartment and grow up and do adult things. I want to get married and have a life and we talk about it every so often but you can't have a serious discussion because I dont want him to feel like I pressured him into doing things he didnt want to do. I'm afraid to set ultimatums because I know I cant follow through with "get a job in three months or you need to go home."
Hello, I'd like to help you with your problem.

It sounds like your boyfriend has taken to the idea that his parents gave him that he does not have to work. When the jobs he did apply for did not work out, he may have felt that as long as he can pay his share of the bills, there is no need to work. He could have also felt that the employment rejections were confirming any self esteem issues he may have left over from his dysfunctional childhood/family.

The conflict here seems to be your boyfriend's belief that he does not need to work for whatever reason and your work ethic. It sounds like your boyfriend is motivated when he wants to be (he is able to go to school and complete his degree(s)) so he can accomplish what he wishes to do which most likely eliminates depression or another mental health problem as an issue.

In order to meet somewhere in the middle, it would help for your boyfriend to consider taking this time to see a counselor on his own. He needs to be sure that his past issues are not interfering with his ability to work. While he may not need to work now, he may have to sometime in his life and having work experience as well as being motivated enough to find a job is vital.

You may also want to encourage him to follow the path of finding out why he doesn't want to work rather than encouraging him to get a job. He seems to have something that is blocking him from finding employment or even volunteering, so addressing what the issue is first will help him eventually feel more motivated to find employment.

Also, he needs to find a way to contribute somehow to the home besides just paying his share of the bills. You might want to suggest he do more chores around the home or more of the errands that are needed until he finds employment. It may also help him not stay at home so much and get into a rut, making it even harder for him to be motivated to find a job.

I hope this has helped you,
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