Dealing with a Deadbeat Boyfriend

You do your deadbeat boyfriend’s laundry and remind him to get his mother a birthday present. You always pick up the check at dinner. He moves into your apartment, but doesn’t help with the rent because this deadbeat boyfriend is temporarily out of a job. But the new job never materializes, and pretty soon, you’re cooking, cleaning and taking care of the bills. Yes indeed, your boyfriend is a deadbeat, and although you love him more than anything, you’re getting tired of dealing with all the burdens while he sleeps late, drinks beer and plays video games.

Is it time to kick the love of your life to the curb? Maybe, or maybe not. But it is time to take a hard look at your relationship with this deadbeat and make some tough decisions.

First, don’t give up on him without at least trying to determine why he is a deadbeat boyfriend. Is he dealing with a lot of stress? Does he lose his job because of an unfair boss who was impossible? Perhaps he’s having problems with his parents or siblings. Maybe his self-esteem has taken a beating, and you don’t even know about it. It could be he’s not really a deadbeat; he might be a boyfriend with problems.

If he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want to admit he’s suffering, you may have to do a little detective work to get to the root of the problem. But if you really care about your boyfriend, and he is truly suffering, it’s worth your while to find out what’s going on and gently encourage him to get professional help. He may flatly deny any problems, so don’t try to play therapist, and don’t start arguing about his refusal to see what’s going on. Instead, try to slowly draw him out and make yourself available to listen. If he really is suffering from depression, an anti-depressant and a few therapy sessions can make all the difference for him, and ultimately for your relationship.

There’s also the possibility he’s a great boyfriend who just happens to be a passive boyfriend. In that case, you will have to accept this reality and take on the social secretary role in the relationship. If you don’t, he may turn into a permanent deadbeat. Tell him how much you enjoy the two of you doing things together. Plan activities, and tell him how important it is for you to have a fair share of his time. Create a calendar detailing cooking and cleaning assignments. Start circling the help wanted ads, and make a budget that divides the financial responsibilities. He just may need a little push.

Unfortunately, there’s also the kind of boyfriend who truly is a deadbeat. When you’re in this kind of relationship, the reality is the more you over-function, the more he will under-function. With this boyfriend, you can take care of the responsibilities until the cows come home, but he will never show much appreciation and will certainly never feel guilty about it. It’s time for a confrontation with this particular deadbeat.

Since you’ve already tried the nice approach, it’s now time to push him out of his comfort zone. Give him clear, specific goals with deadlines. Let him know if he wants a mother more than a girlfriend, he needs to go back home. He needs to make a full-time job of looking for a full-time job, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking something temporary while he continues the job hunt. If he refuses to change and simply wants to remain a deadbeat boyfriend, it’s probably time to cut the cord and move on with your life.

In the meantime, get yourself busy. Go to parties, volunteer for a cause, join the singles group at a big church. Find a life for yourself, and soon you’ll be out of the rut. You can miss your boyfriend, and accept the fact it will hurt for a while. But remember, it’s only a while. You can’t love someone more than you love yourself. New possibilities are just around the corner.


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