Dear Carolyn: My boyfriend of one year has been married three times. He has three teenage children who live with him part time. He is dependent on his parents for assisting in the support of his children. His income – $100,000 – his ex-wife’s income and his parents’ retirement income all go toward supporting his children and their extracurricular activities.
He has dropped hints that “these times are rough” and openly admits his children are costly. He also has hinted that his ex-wife used to pay half of the household expenses. He says we would both benefit if I moved in.
Shall I be concerned about his motives? Is he looking for a relationship or more financial support? I am in love and want a future with him. My children are grown and on their own. – Sleepless in Sacramento
Well, you’re concerned enough to write to me, listing several solid reasons to be concerned, so, let’s say yes, you shall be concerned about his motives.
But here’s what concerns me: You have added up his history, his habits, his finances and his hints, and you’ve concluded (with a soupcon of contempt for those marriages and extracurriculars?) that your moving in would benefit him, at your expense. Yes?
And so why don’t you feel confident enough in your judgment, and fierce enough in your selfhood, to say this to him?
Or, even better: “You seem to have all the commitments you can manage right now. Why don’t we talk about this again when your kids are on their own?”
Or, best: “I love you and look forward to a future with you, but I’m not ready to make that big a commitment yet.”
You clearly don’t trust him entirely, so choose actions that reflect this. Otherwise, any future you have with him won’t resemble one that you want.