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Ask Dave

Where Is The Relationship Going?

Carlos has two kids who are not his biologically, but he financially provides for them. His girlfriend says the kids are not his responsibility. Dave points out Carlos' real problem here.

QUESTION: Carlos in Alabama moved in with his girlfriend recently, and he has a 7-year-old daughter. He has two other kids that are not his biologically, but he financially provides for them. His new girlfriend says the girls are not his responsibility and they are thus having trouble making a budget. Dave plays it straight about what Carlos’ real problem is here.

ANSWER: It’s difficult to do a budget when you’re shacking up versus being married because you basically have a roommate. You still have two separate lives. You’re not married, so the budgeting process in that’s very difficult. You’re trying to play house, and yet you’re not married. This is just one of many problems you’re going to run into with that because you can’t really plan your future with someone in that situation, right? The only thing you can take care of is present needs. Future needs are very difficult to assess, and you making a philosophical decision to invest in these kids who aren’t yours because you are attached to them—you care about them—she has not got that attachment at all, and if you’re going to continue to do that and you were to be married, that’s something you guys need to have an understanding about before you’re married.

I don’t know that your girlfriend is not for the relationship. She’s not for you supporting kids who aren’t yours. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t like you. If that’s a deal breaker for you, then yeah, you don’t have a relationship and there’s not even any point in being shacked up at that point, because it’s not going anywhere. You’re not heading toward a permanent relationship if you know that—if we’ve got a deal breaker on the table. I guess that’s something you guys have to talk through.

I can see her not wanting to put her money toward something she doesn’t agree with. Being in these kids’ lives is different than supporting them financially. I think the thing you guys have got to decide is where this relationship is going. Then you’ve got to decide if her unwillingness to support children that aren’t hers or aren’t yours is a deal breaker for you. Again, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for you to be present in their lives as a male figure but not feel financially obligated to feed them. That’s perfectly reasonable too. But if you do want to financially support them, that doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you’re unwise. You just need to have the money to do that. And this girlfriend you’re talking about is not going to go along with that plan. She’s pretty much telling you that. You’ve got to make your decisions on that basis.