Hi Carolyn: Going into the pandemic, my boyfriend and I were in very different financial positions — food industry versus high-paid professional — which was always a bit touchy but we mostly worked it out. Now my job hasn’t changed but he has spent time out of work, and he had little cushion. He’s asked me for loans throughout, and I’ve given him money without any expectation of ever getting repaid. (I can afford it.)

But I’m finding myself resentful as I feel as if he’s not bringing the non-monetary equivalent to the relationship, and it makes me worry I’m being taken advantage of and am too stupid to notice. But we’re also living in weird times, and maybe the reasons we aren’t seeing each other as much as I would like are real and justified.

I am having a difficult time articulating all this, though, because when I hear the words in my head it sounds like I’m arguing that I’ve paid up and he now owes me. I don’t want this to poison our relationship, but I also worry that if I can have these thoughts about someone I purportedly love, maybe I think too little of him to be with him?

I know this isn’t really a question, but I would appreciate any advice on how to sort this out.

— Am I the Sugar Mama?

Am I the Sugar Mama?: You worry he’s “not bringing the non-monetary equivalent to the relationship,” and that’s actually a common concern that’s both pandemic-independent and employment-neutral. And money-neutral.

That’s because fair contributions to a relationship are all non-monetary. Think about it: Does your making all the money, as you have at times over the past couple of years, get you off the hook for being kind, loving, thoughtful, attentive, considerate, interested, aware? No. So it’s really about being present, and sharing a life, and not pushing burdens onto someone under the guise of romantic partnership.

If one person leaves all the work to the other person to go off and play, then that’s not being present or thoughtful.

If one person makes huge amounts of money and uses that as justification to assign all menial chores to the other person, then that’s not being present or thoughtful.

If one person shares expenses diligently but saves the best of their time and attention for people or pursuits or purposes outside the relationship, then that’s not being present or thoughtful.

The currency is caring.

If you have the sense your boyfriend doesn’t care about you the way you want from a partner, then the “loans” are indeed costing you money but it’s not about the money at all. It’s about the emotional partnership, and it’s the only issue, and it’s time to take it on.

Re: Boyfriend: Sugar Mama needs to determine who her boyfriend is — there is always more to the story and the relationship. This is a blip in time.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: You mean a bllllliiiiiiiiip. But otherwise, yes.