I have been dating this guy for a bit over two months. He’s 55, divorced for a while, with two older kids (23 and 26). Things have been fantastic—he’s warm-hearted, a great communicator, attentive, romantic, hard-working, funny, makes me feel loved and safe, has close male friendships and a great relationship with his kids. We have spent a lot of time together and has always been great. I just couldn’t be happier.
Two weeks ago he received a letter that will throw his life upside down. For the past five years, he’s lived in a beautiful house, in an amazing property, for reduced rent in exchange for taking care of the property. His friend of 50 years is a millionaire and the owner of the property; my boyfriend has a small share in the investment. When he went into this arrangement with his childhood friend, the idea was to do this from 50-60, and then retire and maybe buy the house or continue to live there for reduced rent.
Unfortunately, the friend decided to throw him out of the job and the house, with no warning and for no reason. When you look at the termination letter it makes no sense; it sounds like an impulsive tantrum. But the whim of this guy will now throw my boyfriend’s future into the unknown. At 55, he needs to find a job quickly and a new place to live. He has some savings but we live in the most expensive area of California, where rents are absurdly high.
I hate to be selfish and wonder what will happen to us, but here I am…He’s reassured time and again that his love for me and his belief in us is solid, and I believe him. But in the back of my mind I wonder what this crisis will do to us. He needs some time alone to figure things out, which I understand. I know him well, and I believe we have a future together. I just don’t know how to support him in this and come out strong on the other side. I told him to consider moving in with us (me and my teenage kids) if the housing and job situation don’t pan out, but we both think this would be a last resort. The relationship is too new for that, and he wants his independence for now.
My question is—how do I handle this? How do I best support him? What’s the sweet spot between being really concerned about him and being positive about the future? How do I stop myself from wondering whether this is too big and we won’t survive it? I do love him to pieces and would do anything to help him.
This is HIS problem and if you think you’re scared, believe me, he’s even MORE scared.
First of all, Patricia, I’m sorry for you and I’m sorry for your boyfriend. When they say “life isn’t fair,” we all technically understand how true it is, but instances like this make it crystal clear. But the measure of a man is not how he handles himself when life is smooth sailing; it’s how he bounces back from crisis.
Your situation is awful and shocking because it involves a house AND a job, but getting downsized in middle age is something that affects millions of people.
In fact, a Love U Masters private coaching client who was in a 20+ year abusive relationship came to me earlier this year to break her bad man habit. Within two months, she had the most wonderful boyfriend of her life and sounded as happy as you did above. Three months into their relationship, her boyfriend – he’s 59, she’s 56 – got fired from his job. She, too, was worried about their future. She, too, wanted to know how to handle it. Her biggest fear – because her ex-husband was a slacker – was that she’d suddenly become her older boyfriend’s permanent caretaker.
I’ll tell you exactly what I told her:
“This is HIS problem and if you think you’re scared, believe me, he’s even MORE scared. And, just like being a parent to a child who is fearful, the best thing you can do is provide reassurance that everything is going to be okay. He’s already feeling vulnerable and thinking all the same thoughts that you are – except he’s really beating up on himself. Which is why it’s incumbent upon you to trust that he knows what’s at stake and give him the freedom to tackle this enormous problem by himself. The right kind of man picks himself up and makes it his #1 priority to find work and a better living situation – even if both of them are temporary. The wrong guy lets this unfortunate setback defeat him and takes a passive approach to getting his life back on track.”
My client’s boyfriend immediately took to the job hunt and my client was nothing but supportive. Never hectoring him. Never reminding him what he had to do. Never making the situation about HER fear when his is far more important. He got a job within a month.
Your guy has been thrown for a loop but it’s a good sign that he didn’t immediately want you to save him. Give him a wide berth and be extra loving and generous while he’s down. After all, there are few things that can deflate a man’s self-esteem more than being unemployed and homeless. I predict you will be rewarded for your positivity and patience – and so will he. Good luck.