Dilemmas: My much younger boyfriend needs cash to buy a flat... should I help?
I'm in my late 40s and I've met, on the internet, a lovely man of 30 who appears to be in love with me.
I am certainly in love with him! We've been going out for six months. He has a good job but his parents have both died leaving him nothing, and I know he's desperate to buy a flat. He's always talking about how insecure he feels. I feel tempted to give him the money to put down on a flat. He's never asked for it, I should add. What do you think?
Yours sincerely, Francis
What Virginia says:
One of the commonest faults that we have is that we think we have the power to second-guess people. That's why, apparently, when faced with a row of toilet cubicles, we usually choose the one next to the nearest, thinking that that is the one that must be the one least used.
This behaviour, Francis, is just like yours, thinking that because this young man hasn't actually asked you for money, he must be genuine. You think you're second-guessing him. But I suspect that it's he who's second-guessing you. He knows that if he just moans about his living conditions for long enough, he doesn't have to mention money, because you will, at some point, consider giving him some. And then he'll be able to exclaim with delight, saying: "Oh, I never thought of that! How kind!" when all the time he's been plotting to get you to offer him money right from the start.
I hate to say it, but this man sounds like a con-artist. And a really good con-artist will never ask for money -- he'll always just set the scene so that there's very little you can do except offer it.
It's clear you're not only flattered to find this man's in love with you, but also slightly amazed that someone so young should fall for someone of your age.
If I were you, I'd keep your wallet firmly shut. If he ever does ask for money, you'll be certain he's a con-artist. If, after another year in which he still appears to be just as devoted as he is now, and during which you haven't given him a penny, you still feel you love and trust him, then by all means offer him perhaps the loan of a down payment on a flat and see how he takes it.
But wait. And wait a long time. You may think that the money you're thinking of giving him is worth it for the pleasure he gives you. But in the long run, you may well find yourself giving him far more than you wanted to, and, if you're still falling for his charm, eventually becoming responsible for his vast debts as well.
The readers say:
Watch out . . . he'll run a mile
Francis, if you want to lose that 30-year-old, go ahead and give him the money. Rather, let him go on renting until the two of you discover whether what you have is permanent. If it is, you can make the payment, and he can pay the mortgage. What you don't want is to be a mother figure, buying sonny something to make him happy. Good luck.
Charles, by email
Keep your eyes open
Are you mad? Please don't give your money to this man. I'm sure you really do love each other, but how well can you know anyone after six months? I don't just say this because you are older than him, as I feel the age gap is irrelevant in this situation.
You mention that he has a good job, so clearly he isn't a bum wanting to sponge from you, but I would seriously question his morals and motives if he expects a large amount of money from you.
Give the relationship another six months, then consider moving in together. Perhaps you could buy somewhere together. Whatever you decide, just ensure that you protect your assets. The fact that you are considering giving him money shows that your heart is wide open. Just be sure that your eyes are, too.
Shereen, by email
Don't be an old fool
Forgive me, Frances, but this hardly qualifies as a dilemma. He has a good job. He has not asked you for any money. If he truly loves you, he will not ask you -- he will know that to do so will risk your relationship.
If he asks you, then frankly he is in it only for the money and, hard as it is, you must act accordingly. Of course, things would be different if you were putting money into a home for both of you to share together.
Try to imagine the situation reversed -- a 30-year-old woman and a man in his late forties. Were he to part with his money and things were then to go wrong, many would be quick to say: "There's no fool like an old fool."
Peter, Dublin 6