Q: I’m in love with a wonderful man and we have been together for over a year. We started living together a few months ago and my six-year-old son also lives with us. It wasn’t until we started living together that I found out how bad his financial situation is. On payday, he is left with nothing because he has to service debit orders. This means I have to pay for everything, including food, his cosmetics, rent and electricity.

The worst part is that I even have to send maintenance money to his baby mama to avoid drama. I love this man, but he is just terrible with money. It doesn’t help that he is uneducated so he probably won’t be able to find a better job soon. Is love enough to live with a broke man? I know he will never afford lobola for me, let alone a wedding. - WORRIED PARTNER

A: No woman wants to date or marry a broke guy. It’s unfortunate when you think about how women always say, “There aren’t enough good men out there”. The truth is, there are. But they don’t all come making big bucks. Some are blue collar, others have bad credit records. But the flip side is some of those very men are supportive of their women, creative and ambitious. With the right woman, who knows where such a man will be in the future.

ANALYSING THE SITUATION

But before dismissing or going along with your broke boyfriend, maybe you should try analysing the situation first since it might save you from regrets a few years down the line.

Being broke isn’t a crime

This is especially so now that job creation and the economic situation of our country is so slow. Staying broke, however, is problematic. Simply put, despite the slow economic growth, no one should embrace being broke as a way of life. There are many creative options to maximise personal income that people, even those that have never been to school, have out there.

The issue is not that your man is broke and uneducated, but whether or not he plans to stay that way. A broke man is one that is both helpless, and refuses to get help in order to improve his income capacity. Being broke is not a matter of having a negative bank balance.

It is when you have an income, no matter how little, but have no intelligence to maximise its usage in a responsible manner that takes care of tomorrow. Virtually every woman we know can stand a man who earns far less than her, but is open and responsible about how he spends his income.

Can you commit your life to a broke man?

The other important issue is whether or not, as a woman, you’re willing to put up with the situation, and for how long? Living with, and taking care of, a man who is traditionally supposed to provide for you but isn’t, means you have to suffer emotionally and financially. Paying for everything while you have a man who is unable to prioritise his income, is quite draining.

You’ll eventually lose all the respect you have for him, not because he’s broke per se, but because he’s irresponsible with the little he has. Servicing his debts with his entire income is not being responsible, but misguided and insensitive to all his other responsibilities.

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This will affect your willingness to be intimate with him. Furthermore, how long will you want to avoid baby mama drama by maintaining his child? And by taking such a responsibility, what are you teaching him about being responsible for his own child?

How much respect do you think his child will have for him when he grows up one day and finds out that you were the one paying for the maintenance, not him?

Can you handle the extra cost in your finances? 

No matter how much love you have for him, you have to do something about the reality you know about him – that he’s such a liability that won’t even afford to pay lobola for you. How sustainable do you think your arrangement is? The fact of the matter is that, no matter how much “in love” you are with him, you’re not married to him.

Yet you’re living like you are. You are a single mother. How much do you think the monthly amount you yoke yourself with by maintaining him could accomplish if you redirected it to your own dreams and goals?

Are you sure you want to be a part of his instability? 

The question is, how long will you hold up the strong front before you crumble in the face of this financial chaos? Does he want help with prioritising his income? Is he open about his finances and plans? Is he stuck in that financial rut or does he have practical plans to better his situation? Do you see a future between you guys? How well is he treating you? Only once you have answered these questions can you find a way forward.