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The Moneyist: ‘Something snapped inside him’: My contractor boyfriend of 2 years dumped me. He said I was using him to fix up my house.

Dear Quentin,

I have been with my boyfriend for over two years and he recently dumped me, which caught me off guard, blindsided me and left me so confused. We spent every weekend together; he would call me at 8:30 p.m. every night and I would always wake up to a good-morning text. 

When I met him, I was in the middle of a total house renovation. He is a contractor. Weekends consisted of doing projects around my house together. I felt like Chip and Joanna Gaines, exercising and enjoying my home-cooked meals and watching Netflix

Last weekend, he hung some blinds for my daughter. Then I asked him to take a look at my pond, as it was leaking. We worked on the pond for a few hours and, when we were done, he was angry and tired of doing things around my house. He said it wasn’t his house, even though he stays there 12 to 15 times a month. 

“A transactional undercurrent and economic imbalance can lead to the equivalent of dry rot in your foundations.”

There was an economic imbalance in your relationship. That is not a dealbreaker, but it does not seem like something you both addressed in an open fashion. He traveled 45 minutes to spend time at your home because his own residence was not suitable or welcoming due to his daughter’s chilly attitude toward you. He was at fault too: He rarely treated you to dinner out, and you paid for groceries.

A transactional relationship and economic imbalance can lead to the equivalent of dry rot in your foundations. If problems are not dealt with head on, they get worse with time and make your life together less secure, until suddenly everything collapses. Two years is a long time after which to receive such a surprise, but people have been served with divorce papers after 20 years for similar reasons.

This study by researchers at the University of Denver found that 54% of couples cited financial reasons as the cause of a breakup, the fifth most common reason after lack of commitment, infidelity, too much conflict and arguing, and getting married too young. What studies often leave out are couples who never argue, but never solve their problems either. It’s just as deadly.

So what now? Keep your own domestic chores separate from the relationship until or unless you move in together. Chip and Joanna Gaines are equal partners, after all. Those renovations really only benefited you. Watch out for future inequities related to time and money, whether it’s driving a long distance or who buys what. And if your next boyfriend is a dentist, don’t tell him you’ve always wanted veneers.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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Also read:

‘I call his kids spoiled. He gets mad’: My partner and I each have two children. He gives his kids gifts worth $1,000. I say we should cut that to $100. Who’s right?

My boyfriend, 68, has almost no ‘mad money’ for fun activities and trips. He lives with his father, 95, and expects to inherit his house. Is it unreasonable to expect him to get a part-time job?

‘I came into the marriage with a lot more money’: Is it ethical to give cash from my pre-marital investment accounts to my kids — without telling my second wife?

Learn how to shake up your financial routine at the Best New Ideas in Money Festival on Sept. 21 and Sept. 22 in New York. Join Carrie Schwab, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation.

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