Bullish Life: Should You Slow Down Your Career for a Guy?

When Should You Sacrifice Income for a Man?

I think I’ve worked this out:

1) If he has cancer and you are taking care of him.
2) If he makes serious and largely irrevocable changes in his life for the purpose of enticing you to build a future together.
3) If you don’t need the money and he’s such a ridiculous amount of fun that it’s worth it for your own pleasure, regardless of what happens in the future.

I think that covers it. You can substitute other serious illnesses for “cancer,” but things like “ADHD” or “being sad about my art history degree” really don’t count.

Let’s Make a Cheesy Slogan About How “Compromise” Has “Promise” In It

Okay, so your boyfriend wants you to take a pay cut to spend time with him. How, exactly, is he willing to change his lifestyle to spend time with you?

For instance, what’s up with his “erratic sleep schedule”? Is that because he is an emergency room physician, or because he sometimes watches Anchorman for the fifty-sixth time, beginning at 1:30am? Does he not know how alarm clocks work? Does he have terrible insomnia? Is he a trucker? A brilliant artist who only works when inspiration strikes him? Does he just “need to be free, man”?

Also, say you take some time off for the next couple of months, and it costs you $500. Has he ever spent $500 on you? Or sacrificed an equivalent amount of income? (Default laziness doesn’t count.)

Is he willing to get up and go to bed at different or more regular hours in order to compromise?

Could he meet you for lunch breaks somewhere?

Could he come along to see the horses? (I don’t know how horses work.)

Men and Women Often “Negotiate” Differently (Guess Who Loses!)

In my experience with men, when they ask for something, they are not asking for what they think is fair; they are asking for what they want. Thinking about what you want is your responsibility.

That’s not a criticism of men. Just an often-played-out pattern. You’re thinking, “Oh, this thing he wants must be what is best for our relationship,” and he’s thinking, “I’m being honest about what I want. If she agrees, she must want the same thing.”

Men do not, in general, think it is their job to think about what is really going on with you when you agree to do what they want.

(Obviously, not everyone conforms to these gender stereotypes. Thankfully.)

Some Men Just Want You to Service Them

Some men just want to be serviced. That’s all that’s going on — it’s not more complicated than that. These men want company and sex and possibly cooking and someone to watch movies on the couch with and all kinds of normal human things, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s all that’s going on — they want those things and want you to give them. Period.

Just because someone genuinely enjoys your company doesn’t mean he isn’t using you. Just because someone likes both your personality (well, most of it) and your body doesn’t mean he loves you. People can be just as selfish about fulfilling their needs for companionship as they can be about fulfilling their needs for sex. If he is enjoying your company to the detriment of your own goals — that is, he is getting what he wants now, at the expense of your future happiness — then you are being used.

If what you really want is to write a novel, and your boyfriend knows this, and yet every time you sit down to write, he says, “Let’s go out to dinner,” or “Game of Thrones is on,” that is not love. That is some controlling, selfish behavior cloaked in plausible deniability (“All I want to do is spend time with my girlfriend.”)

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    • Sabrina

      Oh my gosh, thank you for this! Even though the question was asked by a 23 year old, I am printing this out and giving it to my mother! This needs to be addressed, and now :)

    • G

      “Could he come along to see the horses? (I don’t know how horses work.)” = perfection.

    • b3v

      ugh. I needed to read this, right there today. The part about not charging enough…In my industry (mystery!!) there’s a LOT of contract work and I can make a nice supplement to my office job. Helps with the student loans, so great! Thing is, I have a middle man, someone who manages the contracts, so I get paid quite a bit less.
      But I so, sooooooo hate dealing with clients myself. I actually avoided contracting before finding a middle man.
      But then I’m basically losing money, doing contracts at a cheap cheap price.
      ugh. I’m basically talking to myself here, and realizing I should man up and…shudder…deal with clients. :(

      • Somnilee

        Heya, I don’t know what your business is, but Jen put a brilliant thing before about the fact that if you’ve got to do one scary thing (contact a client), you might as well do that thing a whole bunch of times. It’s not ten times as scary to contact ten clients as it is to contact one, and by increasing the number of people you’re asking, you’re increasing your chances of success.

        I’m currently trying to do the same thing with finding an apartment, I know it can be very hard to pick up the phone! Best of luck.

      • b3v

        Very true Somnilee! now, good luck to you with the apt! :)

    • Eagle Eye

      “being sad about my art history degree’” – *hangs head in shame”…lol