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Rich boyfriend doesn’t like to share

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I am a divorced mother of an amazing 18-month old son. My ex-husband is completely out of the picture.

I recently relocated to an extremely small town, where I am working full-time to support my son without any assistance from anyone. My family lives in another country. I made the decision to move to this small town because I believed it would be best for my son, even though I have had to give up on ever meeting a professional, available man in such a small community. (Secretly, I want nothing more than to meet someone kind and make a stable family and have another baby.)

Much to my surprise, I met a wonderful man. He is age-appropriate, amazingly attractive, smart,and funny — and kind to my son. He almost seemed too good to be true, until three months into the relationship, when I realized that his overly thrifty behavior was affecting his ability to lead/enjoy a normal life.

He refuses to grocery shop and instead takes free food from the company cafeteria where he works; he refuses to run the air conditioner at a normal/ comfortable level (and we live in the South) , keeps ancient, rusty cars and converts them so they can run on used cooking oil, and refuses to do laundry at home for fear of running up the elecricity bill. When I tease him about these “quirks,” he actually tries to justify his behavior as helping the environment!!

I think my boyfriend does realize that his issues are beginning to interfere with his enjoyment in life and ability to share his life with others (he says he wants to have a family) — and as much as I’m tempted, I’m a little scared that this behavior is an indication of something deeper and/or that he will resent me and my son for requiring food and air conditioning!

I can’t understand having so much money but not living comfortably — it makes no sense at all and makes me feel like he thinks I’m unworthy of basic necessities, and I’m also astonished that he’ll happily go flying (expensive AND hard on the environment) — while I feel guilty for expecting dinner! Please advise!

P.S. He did say he would seek help, but I know therapy can take years and I’m not sure I want to wait! I need to act fast if I want another kid. Thank you!

Rich boyfriend doesn’t like to share

Answered by on -

A.

There is certainly nothing wrong with being thrifty — until, as you said, it intrudes on a person’s ability to enjoy life and be close to others. Something about not having enough money frightens this man so much that he has lost control of his need to control his finances. He needs some help to deal with his fear and to put him back in charge of making choices instead of being driven by a compulsive need to be frugal.

The most important reason to be hopeful is that your boyfriend has said he would get some help. That means that he at least intellectually understands that there is something wrong. Therapy doesn’t have to take years, especially if someone is motivated.

I suggest that the two of you look for an experienced cognitive-behavioral therapist. Ideally, you should be involved in the treatment so that you can be a support and so you can help the therapist understand what your boyfriend’s behavior looks like. Often a patient’s experience on the inside is very different from what others observe. If you love and enjoy this man, it is at least worth 3 – 6 months of trying therapy to see if the situation improves.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Rich boyfriend doesn’t like to share

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Rich boyfriend doesn’t like to share. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/07/16/rich-boyfriend-doesnt-like-to-share/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.