AdviceHelp Me Rhonda

Help Me, Rhonda

Trying to Call It Quits

How do you break up with someone, a “serious” someone, i.e., live together, joint bank accounts, etc.? Please don’t publish the below details, for fear of recognition. That would be the worst ever, finding out you’re getting dumped via the advice column. [Potentially identifying details redacted] How Did I Get Here?

Without giving away the details behind your reason for wanting to break up, I’ll say that you seem to be asking two different but related questions. Your unspoken question seems to be whether you really do need to break up, when there’s just this one (admittedly large) problem, and the rest of the relationship is great. And then there’s the question of how to handle the logistics.

It sounds like your bf adds a lot to your life, and it sounds like you want to be with him. But I agree, the situation you’ve described is a deal-breaker. He’s made a major change to his lifestyle since you began dating, and he’s entitled to do that, but it absolutely changes your life as well. It’s particularly problematic that you’ve told him it’s a deal-breaker, and he hasn’t responded.

From what you’ve described, it sounds like he is trying to compensate in some ways for the change that’s occurred, and that’s a great sign. I think it’s worth your while to gently investigate why he’s so content to let this problem ride. Can you try to initiate some truly non-confrontational conversations about why he hasn’t made the change you’ve asked him about and what his plan is? It may be that he’s taking steps to remedy the problem but isn’t getting results. Or it may be that he’s happy with the current situation.

Ask him in your nicest, most genuinely interested, non-accusatory tone. Then, count backwards in your head from 10. And go really slowly, like, “Ten Mississippi, nine Mississippi…” You have to let the silence go on long enough for him to start talking. If he’s honest about what’s going on with him, you’ll have better information about whether the relationship is going to work.

If he won’t talk to you, or it becomes evident the relationship won’t work, then we’re on to the logistics of breaking up. First, you need to prepare to untangle your finances. Open a checking account in your name only. (It’s my dream that you already have one.) 

Then, decide if you are willing to leave your current living situation. It’s easier to leave than to kick someone out. If you’re able to move out, line up your next stop. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but you need to know where you’re going to go.

Once those two things are in place, tell him that The Issue (and his apparent unwillingness to deal with it) has become a deal-breaker—as you told him it would be. If you’re leaving, tell him that. If he needs to be the one to leave, ask him when he thinks he can be out by. It needs to be a reasonable amount of time—not this minute, but not eight weeks from now, either. And once you set the date, it’s immutable. This cannot drag on for months and months. 

Then tell him you need to separate your finances. Ask him what he thinks is a fair division of the money in your joint account. If he doesn’t have any ideas, divide it equally. Do it that day. After that point, what he earns is his and what you earn is yours. 

Don’t let the issue of salvaging the relationship come up during the logistics discussion. You’ve already had those conversations. If he wants to repair the relationship, he can try to do that after you’ve separated. The current situation needs to change.

Cash Strapped

After college, I moved like 600 miles away from school. A lot of my friends also left our college town, but most of them, except for one other friend and me, live in the same region. Basically, they all live within driving distance of each other, and I’m a plane ride away. 

A year ago, one of my closest college friends got married, and I flew out for her shower and her wedding. It was probably a dumb thing to do, but I hadn’t seen her in a while, and I just wanted to. Well, now another friend is getting married, and I just got her shower invitation. There’s no way I can go to her wedding and her shower. I’m afraid she kind of expects me to, but I’m still paying off my credit card bill from the last trips. The other day she texted me, saying, “Can’t wait to see you in October!” (That’s when the shower is.) Is there any way out of this? Or do I just have to go to both and deal with the money part later?

Frequent Flyer


There’s definitely a way out of this, and that’s to RSVP “No.” You can decline both the shower and the wedding invitations if that’s what you need to do. The shower is the easier thing to turn down. Send her an email saying that you wish you could attend but that you’re just not able to. You don’t have to explain more than that, but if that makes you uncomfortable, you can mention the money or say you have another commitment. Now, you may be thinking, “But Rhonda, I don’t have another commitment, so that would be a lie.” I’m about to tell you to get a second job to pay off your credit card bill, so you’ll probably be working that weekend. 

The wedding is harder to say no to, but you can decline that too if that’s what’s best for you. Your time and money are limited resources. There are infinitely many things you could spend them on, so you have to be the one to direct where they go. Spend your money purposefully. After this wedding, there’s going to be another one, so you need to start being discerning about which ones you attend. 

The litmus test I apply for any kind of travel is “Am I 100 percent excited about this trip?” That means I can’t be dreading trying to cram the trip into a weekend, or worried about how I’m going to pay for the rental car or disappointed about missing something here in Athens. If I’m 100 percent excited, I go. And that does happen, but you can’t get to 100 percent excitement unless you turn down the things that sap your time, energy and money.