Ask TSJ: How Long Should I Put Up With My Unemployed Girlfriend?

winehouseLife is hard. It seems like every new day brings a new question that, try as you might, you’re just unable to find an answer for. The Smoking Jacket understands this, and we’re here to help.

Each week, media sensation Tracy Pendergast and TSJ’s managing editor, Adam Tod Brown, set aside some time in their busy schedules to answer your questions in a feature we’ve cleverly named “Ask TSJ.”

This week’s question comes from Eric, a reader in Nevada…

After a year of dating my girlfriend, she lost her job. We live together, and I told her I would help her out until she got back on her feet, but now it’s been seven months and still no job! Should I continue to support her? Or am I being used?

tracyTracy Pendergast: Eric, first of all you seem like a great guy. I know there are a lot of people dealing with unemployment right now and it is anything but pleasant. I know it’s hard to put a time limit on how long you’ll deal with someone being unemployed, but as the person who is supporting your girlfriend, you do have the right to set some ground rules.

First of all, she needs to be actively looking for a job. She must be proactive every single day, moping around the house is not an option, especially not on your dime. It’s important that your girlfriend knows she’s not on a paid vacation. Encourage her to stay on a schedule and wake up at a decent time. It’s also important that she leaves the house! Finding her at night in the same spot you left her in the morning is going to cause resentment.

Until she’s working again, I would keep expensive dinners and dates to a minimum. She needs to learn that you’re not an endless supply of money. This is also a great way to determine if you’re being used.

One more thing! With all this free time on her hands, has she taken the time to help you around the house? Maybe cook you dinner after your hard day at work? If she hasn’t, then she needs to. If you’re going to take on the traditional role as a provider, ask her to pull her weight around the house. Have her make you a damn sandwich! You deserve it!

Any relationship has its ups and downs, and you are proving that you’re a man she can rely on and trust. Hold her to these rules and if she plays along, my guess is you’re not being used.

adamAdam Tod Brown: Well, how nice is this? It’s normally lazy, shiftless boyfriends that end up being the subject of a question like this. Kudos to your lady for shattering barriers.

Anyway, the line between being supportive and being used is one that’s pretty easy to cross. One the one hand, the fact that the two of you had already been together for a year at the time she became a useless drain on society could be a good sign. If she was in it to take advantage, you probably would have had some suspicions that was the case a long time ago.

Unless, of course, you’re a dumbass. Are you a dumbass, Eric? Of course you’re not, that’s why you have to look out for yourself here. Ultimately, you want to show your support to an extent, but watch for signs of trouble. If she’s pounding the pavement (or Internet, these days) looking for a gig, there shouldn’t be much cause for concern. At least not until her crippling poverty begins to infringe on your high living lifestyle.  But it sounds like we aren’t at that point yet, so that’s good.

For now, just make sure that she’s being productive while she’s out of work. Like Tracy said, tell that chick to make you a goddamn sandwich from time to time. If you’re paying the bills and buying the food, she can at least put that food into the form of a tasty meal for you when you get home.

Also, thank God Tracy brought that up first. I’d hate to get in bad with our female readers by saying something that makes people perceive me as sexist. On that note, maybe this would be a good time to ask your girlfriend to hit the gym. You know, just in case the comfort of having a steady relationship has taken a toll on the ol’ midsection.

We’re still cool after that advice too, right ladies?

Adam Tod Brown is the managing editor of The Smoking Jacket. He would like to be your friend on Facebook and on Twitter @realadambrown.

Tracy Pendergast is a writer, model, singer, television personality and professional magician’s assistant. We might be lying about one of those facts. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter to find out which one.

Got a question for Adam and Tracy? Click here and fire away. If we use it…your life will immediately improve for the better.