Evaluating a prospective life partner - need advice

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Post by buzz »

I'm 21, about to graduate with my bachelors and at a crossroads in my life - considering graduate school, entering the workforce, moving out of state etc. My future is wide open. Zero student loans or debt of any kind, what little assets I have are in cash (about 12k) and an old beater car that is almost at the end of it's life. After reading and pondering for a couple years, I am of the ERE mindset.
Girlfriend of 4 years has a student loan about equal to what I have in the bank. She wants kids, I don't. She supports herself, but only barely. She lives paycheck to paycheck and often comes to me for (small) loans (for example, she currently owes me about $130) She will pay this when she gets paid, and about two weeks later ask for more. The money isn't a big deal to me (When I lend money, I do so with the mindset that I won't get it back) but her attitude with money does concern me. We are not engaged and so we haven't had any serious "us and money" talks, but she does often jokingly refer to me as frugal and responsible with money, and herself as the more irresponsible. She does things like get a dog on a whim, and often takes 300+ mile trips with barely enough money in the bank to cover gas on the way home, while I make sure to have cash on my person to cover any emergencies that come up.
I like the girl, maybe even love. Her personality type clashes with mine (they do say opposites attract) As an INTJ obsessed with efficiency (to the point where I plan out my errand runs so that I go out once to do everything I need to accomplish for the week) the way she does things just gets to me. Once I enter the work force, I want to aggressively save money for either rental property or a franchise business that will give me a side income. My family is pressuring me to pop the question, I'm guessing because this is the season in life that people usually do get engaged and married. I'm not sure if it's right. You can't change a person, but at the same time, I don't know if I will ever find someone in line with all of my goals.
This is the only place I can go with these thoughts - thanks for reading, and I'd appreciate any input on the subject.

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Post by sshawnn »

that is a tough spot man........ Im afraid that if you are asking the questions, you already know the answers.

George the original one
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Post by George the original one »

You need to have the serious discussions before popping the question. Popping the question and then discussing is asking for trouble.
If you were married, how would you handle the money between you?
What will the compromise on kids be?

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Post by mikenotspam »

Think of how much you've changed over the past couple years. Especially at 21, you and her will change enormously in a couple years, and certainly over a larger time horizon, too. She may "convert" to ERE, or at least understand your drive for it and partially adapt.
$12k in student loans is nothing, by the way for a 21 year old. Minimum payment on what's likely a low interest rate, not too bad, honestly.
I don't think it's anywhere near doomed, especially if you really are in love right now. And sure, there are other fish in the sea, but I would guess it much easier to communicate with one of four years than to start from scratch (how many non-materialistic ERE girls would one expect to find out at a bar at age 21?).
I say find some way of communicating your ideas with her without sounding preachy. You know her and her personality type, find the best way to get it across without seeming crazy :-)

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Post by riparian »

Kids and money would be a deal breaker for me. You are young, there are a lot of people out there and someday you will meet someone who shares most of your goals.

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Post by Mo »

IMO 21 is relatively early to get married. People who pressure you to get married or have kids... I never understand that. Don't ask someone to marry you because someone outside of the relationship pressures you. Kindly explain that getting married because someone else wants you to sounds like a good way to end up divorced.
Talking seriously with your current gf about money, and how important it is in your relationship decisions, may be quite revealing to you. I am a slob, when it comes to keeping my house clean. I never liked that about myself, and I wanted it to be clean, but I didn't seem to be able to keep it clean and organized. My wife is excellent at this, so we make a good pair. Similarly your gf may want to be better with money, but may not really know how to be. To me, it seems like it's worth finding out before breaking things off.

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Post by buzz »

> Kids and money would be a deal breaker for me.
These are my thoughts from time to time, and I don't have anyone I can talk to about this (they always say something along the lines of "But you've been together so long, I'm surprised you're not living with her already blah blah blah")
It's a long time relative to others, but we are also young. She's a good girlfriend. I just don't know how good of a wife she would be. And I hadn't actually considered that until recently, but I do want to give her a chance.
> I say find some way of communicating your ideas with her without sounding preachy.
Take her to dinner and tell her to prepare for a serious talk? She'll probably think proposal! I can talk to her, but I have no idea how to start on this particular subject. Any thoughts?

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Post by Freedom_2018 »

You are barely out of school.
Might even go to grad school (some loans possibly?)
No job yet. 12K in the bank and a gf who has an attitude towards money like a 6 yr old. Already wants kids and you don't.
Family pressuring you to pop the marriage question because it is the 'season' to get engaged/married!
The the only 'season' that I see here is "intelligent young man getting shafted for life" season.
Relationships have a way of morphing from 'being with someone you can't live without' to 'being with someone you can live with'.
You are already thinking about things the right way, so congrats on that but you probably deserve a partner who is going to be aligned with your longer term interests...so give them a chance to stand on their own feet and show you what they are made of.
No need to rush into anything. Yes, your future is wide open now and you have time on your side as an asset. Please don't make that into a liability. What is that saying...Marry in haste..repent at leisure.

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Post by chenda »

Hi Buzz
Think there are two issues here, personal and financial. As for personal, I really think you need to slow down. Your not sure you love this girl...your parents are pressuring you(why?)...your only 21...this is not the time to consider marriage imho. As others have said, your both likely to change your personalities a lot over the next few years, which may or may not mean your likely to stay together.
As for the financial issues, there is no simple solution but I think you should try and stick to your ERE goals as far as possible. If your with a partner who does not share them (either this one or another) you may be able to work out a compromise, or maybe you'd both be happier in the long run with someone else.
I dont think your should really be worrying about this too much at 21 though (most people get married much later by the way). Just take things slowly and see how they pan out.

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Post by Dragline »

"My family is pressuring me to pop the question, I'm guessing because this is the season in life that people usually do get engaged and married."
Well now, that's exactly the wrong reason. And you are barely of marriageable age. Average age to get married in U.S. is up around 27 these days.
"I'm not sure if it's right."
I think you are sure its NOT right. If one of you wants kids and the other not, its DEFINITELY NOT right.
"You can't change a person, but at the same time, I don't know if I will ever find someone in line with all of my goals."
Such people do not exist. And your goals will change, so you are no good either. Just kidding there. But you will find people that are a lot closer to your wavelength for sure. On the kids issue is nothing else.
And -- you'll have to trust me on this one -- its a lot easier to meet women who want to be with you when you get to be closer to thirty and have a little pocket change, as long as you keep yourself in decent shape.
BTW, never loan money to a girlfriend. Either you give it to her or you don't. But its a gift, not a loan, and you both should know that and be able to say it out loud.
I was once 21 and very much in love with someone I thought I wanted to marry. She dumped me, which turned out to be one of the best things to happen. I had other relationships, figured out who I was and what was good for me. Met the right person at 26 and married her at 29. We have three lovely kids and are happy. The old girlfriend? She has been married twice and divorced twice with one kid from each marriage. She lives near the poverty line in the place where we grew up. She did contact me a few years ago and apologize for dumping me, though.
Don't mortgage your future on an unhealthy and unsatisfying relationship. When its right, you will know it.

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Post by S »

When I was 21, I had a boyfriend I'd been dating 4 years. He was a good guy in a lot of ways (including financial responsibility). Had he asked me then, we would have gotten married. However, we broke up 3 years later. Personalities are still developing in your early twenties and we weren't a good match any more. I do have some friends who started dating in high school and got married 9 years later who seem quite happy, so it might work out. I would just give it more time for you both to figure out who you are individually first.
I did marry the right guy a few years later. He wants a kid or two which I'm not enthusiastic about. Supposedly being a parent isn't that bad if you don't get wrapped up in being a "supermom". We're mostly on the same page financially, though he thinks things like take "300+ mile trips with barely enough money in the bank" would be a fun adventure while I'm much more cautious. The good thing is we balance each other out. I make sure we can afford his random adventures and he makes sure I do things other than sit home playing with spreadsheets. If she's able to support herself without getting in debt then I'd say there's potential you guys could work it out fine. However, at 21 she probably hasn't had to support herself fully yet.
Definitely give it more time, but I wouldn't count her out.

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Post by DutchGirl »

21 is waaaaay too young to get married. It is also very young to have kids. So don't give in to outside pressure and see where life will take you. The no kids/yes please kids difference could break the two of you up in the end, there is no possible compromise there. So keep talking to each other about this, and if neither of you has changed their mind at say age 28, it would be time to reconsider the relationship. It can be very painful to break up for that reason, but if the person who wants kids wants them really really badly, they will often choose to break up and look for a partner that wants them, too.

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Post by chenda »

"But you've been together so long, I'm surprised you're not living with her already blah blah blah")

Are you seriously saying your not living together, yet your considering marriage ??
Sorry if your getting a bit of a backlash on here but you really really need to slow down! Its sounds like your otherwise brilliantly set up at 21 though, wish I had found ERE then :)

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Post by jennypenny »

I guess I'd have 3 comments.

--Tell everyone else thanks for the advice, now I'll make my own decisions. Never let anyone pressure you about anything. Learn that lesson now.

--I don't think your age matters like everyone else seems to think. (full disclosure, I met my husband when we were teens and we're 45 now and very happy) Sometimes you meet the right person young.

--It sounds like you haven't even talked seriously yet about things. Maybe she'd be happy to let you handle the money. Maybe she'd compromise on kids (only one?). You won't know until you talk. If you can't get through those conversations then THAT'S your biggest issue. If you can't communicate it will never work.
@chenda--Not everyone lives together before they get married. Some of us don't do anything together before marriage. I don't care if people do or they don't, I just think people should do what they're comfortable with. There's no one size fits all set of rules for marriage.

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Post by Dragline »

This might be something you want to consider in evaluating a potential partner:
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-bi ... e_carousel

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Post by m741 »

I guess this is pessimistic but the post set off alarm bells to me. As sshawnn says - if you hve to ask...
First off, you're too young to have to decide this. Take a few years to think it out - particularly as you both start working both you and your relationship will change.
You don't seem at all financially compatible. Maybe you can start trying to convert her... bit by bit. Especially out of school it's time for everyone to start thinking about finance. If you make absolutely no progress and she is very resistant, I think that's a bad sign. She would be the same if you were married and it would cause constant stress.
Also you say that you're not sure if you love her after 4 years, and you have very different personalities. Not sure what to make of it.

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Post by ffj »

I think you need to keep in mind that you, your girlfriend, and your life circumstances are going to change over the years. My wife and I have been together 22 years and each of us have had to bend and compromise over this time, as well as adapt to what life had thrown at us. And yes we have different personalities, and thank God for that, just as men and women compliment each other, so do different personalities and outlooks. Some of your issues really aren't that big of a deal. Even the money issue may be a sign of immaturity, not a personality disorder. Allow for the fact that nothing in life is static and people do change according to their circumstances.
The only red flag I see is the issue of children. This is something that has to resolved before marriage, without a doubt. People do change their minds on this issue too, but you guys have to come to an understanding on this. To get married before this is settled would be foolish at best, disasterous at worst.
I also would echo that 21 is a bit young to be worrying about this. I dated my wife for five years before marriage and during this time we had some tremendous fights about some huge issues, but in the end it worked out and if it hadn't we could have each walked away without problems. And once we were married we clearly knew where each other stood before a particular issue arose.
Good luck and give yourself some breathing room. You don't have to plan the rest of your life at 21.

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Post by billc »

I don't know if this is helpful or not. I am glad I dated my wife for 4 years before I proposed and I'm glad we lived together for a year for 18 months before we got married. We each grew up a lot and learned a lot about each other.
I think I'd say there's a lot of value in waiting whether you thought you were perfect for each other or not.
Good luck.

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Post by dragoncar »

You don't know if you love a girl after 4 years = you need to date more.
Also, she wants kids you don't. If you really don't want them (as opposed to being indifferent) this is a deal breaker.
I think the above commenters probably said the same, so this is my +1.

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Post by ExpatERE »

"The the only 'season' that I see here is "intelligent young man getting shafted for life" season" Freedom_2018
Quote of the year in my book!!
Congrats on having your shit together at such a young age. Seriously that is awesome. I admire those on here who are young and have this frame of mind.
Proceed cautiously. Have the talk with your gf, but know that people don't change. Yes, your circumstance will change, as well as goals etc. But the fundamentals of a person don't change, even if they some times claim to. I was like your gf all my life. Why did I change? Because my life went to shit three years ago and I realized I was getting old and needed to get a clue. That was the only reason I changed and can't tell you how costly, both financially and emotionally, that has been. Have the talk with her, have several talks but be very careful on what you're willing to compromise on and how much you expect someone to change for you. When you look for a spouse ask this one question, "Can I accept this person with their flaws?" Everyone of us has flaws, the trick is not picking someone without flaws, but one whose flaws you can live with.
Final note. Even if you think that saying goodbye is the best thing to do for both of your futures, don't think for a moment this will not be painful as hell in the short term. The bonds that develop after four years don't disolve easily.
I wish you the best in whatever route you choose.

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