Q: I’m dating a divorced man with a little boy. He has a minimum wage job, and much of his money goes to child support, so I pay most of the time when we go out. He says he could do better if he only had the right woman behind him. I believe the right woman is me. Should I tell him that?

A: Probably not. It sounds like this man isn’t willing to take responsibility for his own choices and money management. While we all need support in our lives, we each need to have the strength to make our life what we want it to be.

Why do you think you’re the right woman for him? Is it because you are a caretaker? Do you think you can fix him? Too many women get into a relationship because they think things will change after the wedding ceremony. It seldom happens.

If you don’t like significant things about the man you’re dating right now, and if he isn’t pulling his own weight, it’s time to take a good hard look at the relationship and at yourself. A man who loves a woman will put his best foot forward during dating. You’re paying for the dates now. Who will pay for the wedding? Or for everyday expenses? Will you be footing the bill so he can pay child support? If so, you’re building resentment into the relationship from the very beginning.

Take a look at your own self-esteem. Are you willing to do anything to get a man? Do you consider yourself worthy enough for a man to love you and support you—at least equally contribute to the relationship? In order to make a relationship truly work, you need to love yourself first.

If you still believe this relationship can work, it’s time to have a sit down with this man and get clear on what you expect in the relationship. Stipulate that you need to see changes before the relationship goes to the next level. It will hurt if he says you don’t understand and walks away, but the hurt will be far less than living with a man who doesn’t step up to his responsibilities.

Casey Dawes, author of California ThymeCalifornia HomecomingCalifornia Wine, and California Sunset

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