A good friend recently came to me with a dilemma — “My boyfriend doesn’t have a job, should I leave him?”
It’s a tricky one for sure and isn’t as simple as a yes or no answer, especially when emotions are involved.
You may be feeling stuck or frustrated, not knowing what to do if the guy you’re dating is unemployed right now.
If you’re wondering whether to stand by him or break up with him, here are 10 important things to consider before making your decision.
10 things to consider when your boyfriend doesn’t have a job
1) Why doesn’t he have a job?
It might sound like an obvious question to ask, but answering this is going to significantly impact your next move.
Many of us find ourselves between jobs or out of work at some time or another in life. In a constantly changing economy, people can be unexpectedly laid off.
But let’s face it, there is a big difference between whether your boyfriend recently lost his job or is struggling to find work and whether your boyfriend simply doesn’t want to work or seems to make very little effort to find employment.
You may choose to have more patience for the former explanations, but if it’s the latter, you’re quite rightly going to be far less understanding about it all.
2) How long has this been going on for?
The next thing to think about is how long your guy has been unemployed for.
If it’s a more recent development he will need some time to find work again. It can take on average around 9 weeks to find a new job, and that of course depends on a lot of other factors too.
But if this has been going on for many months, or maybe even years, you might feel like enough is enough.
If he was out of work when you met him and that’s still the case now or he has a pattern of losing jobs — it’s a sign that he may be stuck in bad habits that won’t necessarily change in the future.
3) How does he feel about not having a job?
How he feels about his unemployed status will be one of the biggest indicators of what is going on. This reflects his deeper qualities, rather than just the surface circumstances right now.
Perhaps he feels upbeat, positive, and confident about finding work again — which reveals to you his determination and intent.
Your man may also be feeling pretty down on himself for not having a job which will signal that it is important to him.
Being out of work for many guys can feel emasculating. He might think that he isn’t living up to expected masculine norms.
Men often feel a huge pressure to be providers, which has even been linked to higher suicide rates.
One report found that men still feel more pressure to be breadwinners (42% of men compared to 29% of women) and 29% worry that if they lost their job their partner would see them as less of a man.
On the other hand, if your guy couldn’t care less that he’s out of work, can’t be bothered to make the effort to find a job, or enjoys doing absolutely nothing all day — then your boyfriend might be unemployed and lazy.
4) Does he rely on you too much?
Whether it is financially or emotionally, it’s important to think about the toll that your boyfriend’s job status takes on you.
When you are in a long-term relationship, you expect to lean on one another during difficult times.
Life and relationships are full of ups and downs and none of us would want a partner who abandons us at the first sign of difficulties.
But at the same time, healthy boundaries are important too and you need to know when to draw a line so that you are not being taken advantage of.
If he is expecting you to pay for him, that might be putting you under extra pressure which you need to consider.
5) How can you support and encourage him?
It’s totally normal to be wondering “how do you deal with an unemployed boyfriend?” as it can be difficult to know what to do for the best.
If you care about this guy, it’s likely that one reaction you will have is to want to help him in whatever way you can.
Even though it’s up to him to find work for himself, there are still reasonable ways that you can support him through this:
- Offer to sit down with him and try and come up with a strategy for what happens next. After all, two heads can be better than one when it comes to making a plan.
- If you believe in him, let him know. At a time when his confidence may be feeling a little knocked, knowing that you have faith in him could make all the difference.
- Once you have openly discussed the situation, continue to be encouraging and avoid nagging him about his progress. You’re his partner, not his mom. If you are tempted to nag, ask yourself if you are taking on responsibility which ultimately lies with your boyfriend, not you?
6) What is he doing if he’s not working?
A good indicator of how seriously he is taking being out of work is what he is filling his time with.
He may tell you that he feels bad about not having a job, but at the same time, his actions suggest otherwise.
For example, rather than actively looking for work, your boyfriend does nothing all day or hangs out with friends.
Maybe rather than investing his time to improve his skills and better his chances, you come home from a long day at the office to find him playing computer games.
7) Does he have goals or ambitions?
If you are an ambitious person and you know that you want your boyfriend to share this drive in life, then his bigger goals will likely factor into things.
Ambitious people have certain habits that involve more than just talk — they are focused, put themselves out there, and make an effort to go after what they want.
Do you feel as though your boyfriend is actively working towards a life he loves? Regardless of how things are right now, does he have plans or things he wants to achieve?
If it feels like he has been drifting for some time now, you may be left wondering when he is finally going to get his life together.
8) How does it affect your relationship?
Does it feel like your boyfriend not having a job is negatively impacting your relationship?
If it is, it’s important, to be honest about that with yourself and him. In the long run, an unbalanced power dynamic can begin to negatively impact your relationship.
In a series of experiments, it was found that men can start to feel threatened when their partner is seemingly doing better than them. Meanwhile, another study suggested that men who depend on a woman can even be more likely to cheat.
In an article for Elite Daily, Professional matchmaker Alessandra Conti says that a woman’s desire for a successful man is also often about wanting to feel safe and secure:
“I have learned if a man has yet to find a satisfying career, he has trouble even beginning thinking about a serious relationship. Casual sex, yes. A Tinder meet-up? Sure. But a meaningful, long-term relationship? Maybe in a few years.”
9) Can you talk to him about it?
No matter what problems you face in a relationship, communication is so important. So much so that when it breaks down completely, the relationship is often close to follow.
You always have a chance at saving a relationship whilst you can talk things through, really listen to what the other person is saying, and find solutions together.
Summary: should I break up with my boyfriend if he doesn’t have a job?
Your boyfriend not having a job doesn’t necessarily mean you should break up with him, as it’s not as black and white as that.
But if after going through this list of questions there are some serious alarm bells ringing from your answers, then, yes, it could be time to consider ending things.
- Why doesn’t he have a job?
- How long has this been going on for?
- How does he feel about not having a job?
- Does he rely on you too much?
- Can you support and encourage him?
- Is he being a hero or a victim in his own life?
- What is he doing if he’s not working?
- Does he have goals or ambitions?
- How does it affect your relationship?
- Can you talk to him about it?
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