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How To Help Boyfriend

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OK, not sure how to write this down, but here goes hope it makes sense I am totally confused and not sure what to do…

Brief overview;

I am 29 have an okish but not terribly well paid job and at the start of the year had just managed to clear debt from helping out a friend (who then left with no intention of ever paying me back) and putting myself through college and finally had some savings. I am now back in more debt than ever before (£3000) but starting to clear it again and away to start a new job where while the money is the same I will receive training and opertunities.

My boyfriend is 38 and after 10 months of being unemployed has recently got a very low paying job. He is up to his eyeballs in debt (£50,000) and is doing absolutly nothing about trying to get it cleared.

I started going out with my boyfriend in January and a month later his mum died in her sleep. This was very unexpected and he took it very hard as although he had a flat of his own his mum did everything for him from buying food and drink to providing expensive gifts. Although we had only recently got together he wanted me to really be there for him, as my dad had passed away 4 years earlier and my way of grieving was to get on with things and try and do things that I thought would make him proud while pretending I was fine and needed no support! I now know that because I felt I needed no support that is why it took me a long time to get over it, of course everyone needs it and because he wanted me to be there for him I did what I thought was best. As at the time he was unemployed I bought him food and clothes took him out or away at weekends basically paid for everything. At the time my boyfriend was really appreciative saying he would pay me back as he was going to get a great job (he had already done courses that made me believe this was the case) plus he was going to get a impressive inheritance.

It is now 8 months later and my boyfriend is working which is great but he does not earn much and is forever borrowing money from friends which he pays back week by week (I have stopped loaning him money as 1. I have none! and 2. I dont get paid back!) The inheritance is still being fought over my himslef and his brother who have not spoken for 16 years, his brother also had refused contact with his mother for 8 years. My boyfriend is very stressed over money as he does not believe that his brother should get more than him (i am in agreement with that as that is what the will states) but I am frustrated as he is acting as though this inheritance will sort him for life. It will of course help him a lot but he has to learn to live on what he earns and not rely on this money so much, what if he was to receive nothing!
I have tried to help to get organised to clear his debt as the sooner he starts dealing with this the better, but his attitude is that because he doesnt earn enough for his wages to be arrested then he doesnt have to bother. I have even told him about companies that consolodate all debts wiping some of it out and organising affordable monthly payments but he doesnt want to know. I am aware that I cant help him if he doesnt want to help himself but worried where this could lead.
I understand he has been brought up very differently from myself, i only got anything if I worked for it and would never dream of asking anyone to borrow money, but he was brought up given everything and never having to think/worry about where anything came from. As he is not only going through the loss of his mum and the fight with his brother, he is having to adapt to a whole new way of life where he is going to have to take responsibility for himself and I dont want him to realise this too late!

We have been arguing a lot recently and I dont want to lose him, I know he is going through a hard time and I want to help, but I am struggling to find the right way to help without letting myself be a doormat as we only argue if I disagree with him. Please give me some advice!

How To Help Boyfriend

Answered by on -


This is an issue of compatibility. Think about whether or not you want to be in this relationship long-term. Could you tolerate this type of relationship for one year, two years, 30 years? There are two possible outcomes: one is that this relationship may have to end or you will have to change your partner. If you want to remain in the relationship, then your boyfriend will have to agree to go to therapy. If you suggest counseling and he is not interested, then you may have to end the relationship.

It seems as though you value the relationship more than he does. This gives him leverage. It may keep you in the unfortunate position of having to tolerate his irresponsibility and his continued use of you as a “doormat.”

Based on your letter, you are currently in a relationship with someone who is irresponsible. You have had to give your boyfriend money that he does not repay. Even with the possible inheritance, it does not seem as if his irresponsibility is going to change. In fact, it may make it worse. You hold yourself to a higher standard than you do your partner. You shouldn’t. As you wrote, you work for what you need and would never ask to borrow money (and if you did, you’d presumably pay it back immediately). This makes you responsible. Herein lies the incompatibility.

Please click on the find help tab at the top of this page to locate a therapist. Even if your boyfriend decides not to attend counseling, you may find individual sessions beneficial. A therapist could objectively analyze your relationship. He or she could also help you determine whether or not it should continue or end. I wish you well. Please take care.

How To Help Boyfriend

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). How To Help Boyfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 26, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.