Dear Queer Abby,
I’m in a long-term relationship and I moved to a different state to be with this person. I’m unhappy mostly due to finances and my partner is set in her ways and stubborn. I have made efforts towards becoming more financially stable for both our sakes and she has not. I’ve been dealing with this for almost two years.
This has caused me great amounts of anxiety, depression, and an overwhelming amount of fight or flight panic attacks that I’ve mostly kept to myself. I looked into medical help (therapy and medication) and I feel like overthinking the fact that I need that kind of help only makes it worse. I feel like I need to leave and end what was a good six-year relationship.
I don’t have friends here. I don’t have a support system. I don’t have enough time to pick up on old hobbies because I’m always working. I can’t afford some of my old hobbies (working on cars, making birdhouses, drawing, etc).
Going back home seems like a good idea but I can’t seem to convince myself to do it. I‘m not the type to break someone’s heart in a selfish manner.
Depressed in Denver
First of all, thanks for writing to me. Secondly, I call bullshit on your world-view.
If you can’t afford to draw, I don’t know what you’re doing.
Drawing is THE cheapest possible hobby that exists on planet Earth. It’s literally free. You can do it at your desk, you can do it on a lunch break, you can do it stuck in traffic.
This confirms to me that the call is coming from inside the house, which is great news because the house (your own self) is the only thing you can control in this situation.
Moving to a new place for romance and not cultivating a world outside of your partnership puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on that relationship to be all things. Your relationship needs the space to be a source of joy and nourishment from two balanced people coming together voluntarily. It shouldn’t feel like being lashed to an anchor.
I am a firm believer that if we do not fill up our own tanks, there is nothing to give back. If you are drawing from a dry well, there will certainly come a point where you begin to resent the person you’re giving to. And that’s not a gift. That’s not doing a favor for yourself or for your partner.
You don’t need to make yourself helpful in order to be loved.
So, friend, if you want to stay in this place, and you want to salvage this relationship, I need you to take very, very good care of yourself. This means making your own friends, cultivating your own hobbies, seeing your own therapist, and making some boundaries.
I want you to cultivate the ability to be a fully satisfied human wherever you go, no matter what your partner is up to. If your partner is under-functioning financially in a way that you did not consent to in this relationship, tell them what you need. Make a hard line in the sand and stick to it. Don’t make it an idle threat, just do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
You both have choices in this situation. If they are unwilling to financially contribute in a meaningful way for their share of living, and you do not feel joyful about providing for them in this way, it’s okay for you to extricate yourself. Some people enjoy financially providing, some people do not. Neither is wrong, they’re just two different types of people.
Some people have a higher calling that doesn’t bring them financial prosperity, and that’s fine, but if you choose that kind of person to partner with, because you love their devotion to art or social justice, you can’t sweat them to be something different.
Some people are bad with money, and that doesn’t make them a bad person, it just makes them someone you shouldn’t merge your finances with.
What I’m saying is, it’s okay for you to move out and take a step back if your partner doesn’t show up in the way you need them to. It’s okay for you to move home if that’s what you need to feel happy. It is beyond ridiculous for you to stay in this as a desperately unhappy person just because you don’t want to “break someone’s heart.”
Selling yourself out for someone else’s comfort is a life half-lived. I think your happiness and comfort are worthwhile, so whether you find it here or somewhere else, please do. You only have this one life. It’s up to you to create the beat change.