General Question

alliearc's avatar

How can I motivate my girlfriend to get a job?

Asked by alliearc (21points) July 10th, 2010

My girlfirend has been out of work for about 8 months. I know she has fallen into a depression. For the first 3 months I thought she might take this time to reflect on life, make some changes and do something with her art. She hasn’t really done anything. Anytime I bring up the subject she becomes angry. When I come over to her apartment the place is a wreck and the only thing she has done all day is hang out at home or with friends. She wont take any kind of medicine for depression (and thats fine) however, the situation is starting to become a little unattractive.She is so awesome and she’s weathering away. I can’t get through to her and I don’t know what else I can do.

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41 Answers

frdelrosario's avatar

If she’s that depressed, you can’t move her, she’ll have to move herself. And you can’t make her want to move, she’ll have to decide she wants to move.

And If she doesn’t want to move, you might have to move.

MissCupid's avatar

I was going to suggest a certain Offspring song then noticed that this is in the General Section so I apologise for my first thoughts.
I don’t think she needs medication – if she’s got the passion to get angry then there’s still something there. I’m not a doctor obviously though.
I would say to start getting her to do things that she enjoys – hobbies etc with you and try to inspire her to get involved with something similar but paid. Even if it starts with volunteering. Maybe even try to get her friends involved.
Or short of that – take her on holiday or go on a road trip and try to use a change of scenery to shake her out of it.

marinelife's avatar

Rather than chivvying her, you might have to tell her the truth you revealed here. That you are finding her long. long wallow somewhat unattractive.

Say just that. Don’t give her ideas or push her (she will only set up against you). Just distance yourself from her a little bit after you tell her.

Then see how she responds.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

How invested are you? Enough to help her re build a current resume, enough to help her search out prospects to hit up even if they’re not advertising? How about helping her out financially if she needs wardrobe updating to interview with or a week’s start up clothes?

So many things go through a person’s mind when they’re out of work that sometimes the panic and disappoint become circular. Lots of people will say if she can’t help herself then leave her be but if you really care and want to be with her for a long haul the this might be a first in a series of hurdles you as a couple will tackle together. Good luck.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

If you are truly concerned about her and her well-being encourage her to get into treatment with a clinical psychologist, If your concern is mostly for how her depression is a drag for you then before you abandon her, give her the advice I suggested.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The best medication for a person out of work is another job and to feel productive again along with being able to pay some bills down.

janbb's avatar

All you can do is tell her how her behavior makes you feel. The rest is up to her.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
DarlingRhadamanthus's avatar

From someone who has been in a situation like that….and doesn’t take drugs of any kind…the best thing would be to take her to see a counselor. She needs to talk to someone about what is going on. I applaud her for not drugging herself. Now, she just needs to talk to someone and formulate a plan.

Also, and this is sooooo important. A messy house is a symptom of deep depression. It’s a Catch-22….you feel awful, you don’t pick up, you don’t pick up, you get more depressed, you get more depressed, you don’t do anything and so on.

The mess in her house…..also is depressing her…which makes no sense…but if you can remember…when you are depressed you just don’t want to do anything….then you can understand what is going on.

So….my advice? HELP CLEAN. Surprise her….get her out of the house and hire a Merry Maid service (or something) to come in and clean the house….! Or if that won’t work, get some friends or her friends….people she trusts to come in and say, “Okay…we are here to help you get organized again!” Or get her out and get friends to come in and help while you entertain her and get her out of the house. She needs some help!

Once her space is cleared up….she may be able to think straight…but when you are living in a mess….you just can’t. Start with helping her clean her apartment/house. Then, get her some counselling. If she is also having money issues, then those have to be dealt with, too. So don’t condemn her…it’s a horrible space to be in…and you sound like a nice guy…so help her….she needs it.

Don’t tell her…“I think you look awful and I don’t like the way you are…it’s depressing me to see you like that…why don’t you just GET UP AND DO SOMETHING!” That is NOT going to work, trust me…..she needs to be helped step by step….and cleaning the place is the best gift for her…she will have the psychic/spiritual place to begin to THINK creatively both about her new job and her new art.

Good luck…keep us posted!

alliearc's avatar

I wont give up on her. I love her. However, it’s taking it’s toll on the relationship. I work and I am in school.I do clean her apartment and almost to the point of being a maid. I try to get her out of the house but she doesn’t want to do anything. I don’t mean to come off pissed but I am a little. A bit of jealousy sets in when I hear her tell me that she laid out in the sun all day and I was stuck indoors busting ass. I just want her to do something other than collect unemployment. She’s better than this.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Is she depressed or is she just taking advantage of the situation? . “she laid out in the sun all day… collect unemployment’’
Be careful. If you decide to take this relationship further (marriage) she might become used to having you do the heavy lifting. Will that be acceptable to you?
Let her know how you feel about it, now.

SmashTheState's avatar

Why is it any of your business? She’s supporting herself with unemployment benefits – which SHE paid for – and has her own place, which she’s entitled to keep as messy as she likes. Did she ask you to become her maid? If you’re jealous because she has lots of free time, feel free to quit your job, drop out, and join her on the patio for some tanning time.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
plethora's avatar

Observe and learn. This is the real her. She has a job…which is, getting a job. She doesnt want to do it and you cannot make her do it..not that you should. Just watch how she handles life in this situation and believe that what you see is what/who she really is. Then decide if what you see is what you want.

sharpstick's avatar

Do her friends have jobs? If she is spending a lot of time with other, non-motivated people they may be reenforcing her attitude and want to see her like them so they feel better about themselves.

Did she like the job she had or is she glad to be rid of it?

But the bottom line is, you can’t fix her if she doesn’t want to be fixed. I had to learn that the hard way.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

You cannot care for her situation more than she cares for it herself. The fact that she’s okay with the situation she’s in, okay with having you act as maid service for her, okay with being taken care of. If she’s been out of work for 8 months, how is she paying the rent? Unemployment must of run out a long time ago. Are her parents paying her bills to help her out?

I have to agree with @sharpstick. You can’t fix her if she doesn’t want to be fixed. No matter how ’“great” she seems, you have a fundamental difference here. Your feeling about the situation are valid; it’s not something you want to see yourself attached to.

alliearc's avatar

It’s my business when I have to deal with the mood swings and when I come over the only thing she talks about is how unhappy she is. How the only thing good in her life is me. It’s also my business when she wants me to move in with her. Unemployment shouldn’t support your social life.It is there to help you until you get back on your feet, not give people who have become lazy a free ride. It sucks to see what she has become. She went from a active person to a couch potato.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Are her parents helping her pay her bills?

There is a point where supportive turns into enabling. Tell her that you miss the old girl, and wonder when she’s coming back because the new girl is a drag, and not one whose company you enjoy.

alliearc's avatar

No. It’s all from the state. Sometimes me. but not really.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Then stop doing for her. Everything that gets done for her thwarts self-sufficiency.

jerv's avatar

I was a certifiable nightmare after eight months of unemployment and only got worse for the next five. About the only thing that kept me motivated was my loving and loyal wife.

Marva's avatar

@alliearc I have said this before in another question: Sometimes people need to get all the way down, to climb back up again. You cannot help her. How do you know it is true that you can’t help her? everything you did so far didn’t help…
She needs to hit rock bottom, when she does, she will know what to do. people have enourmous strength when they decide to use it.

In the meanwhile, you can either be with her, as she is, or not. If you feel you want to be with her, there must be a place for both of you in the relationship:
She, must be able to talk about whatever she wants, Incl. how much her life is a mess and such, and be however she wants, even if it’s messy.
And you, to tell her what you think of her state, to go out without her if you want to go out, and definitlly not to move in with her if you don’t want to.

If you choose to be with her, don’t do anything you don’t want to do, like being a maid for her, and then be grumpy about it. Or, do it if you like, and enjoy it. You mentioned yourself that part of your disapprovement is being jealous she was laying in the sun all day long and trusting unemployment. (Why won’t she, it is definitly supporting her untill she gets back on her feet without evev judging what she does with her time)

Acceptance is the root of a relationship, if you can’t accept her in this state, it is understandable, but if you choose to be with her, chosse to be with her, and this is her @ this time

eyeDani's avatar

It depends how old are you? I think maybe you could break up or you could try to let her know how fun being at work is (even if it isn’t) and maybe she will return to work. I’m sorry if I wasn’t helpful.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

She needs professional help to get the depression and herself under control. Find someone qualified who will work with her. Do it now!

plethora's avatar

@alliearc Have you noticed there is not much sympathy on this thread for your depressed gf? Follow @Dr_Lawrence ‘s advice and then get the Hell out of her life until she does something for herself. You are enabling her.

zophu's avatar

Does she have a therapist? Find a good one, a clinical psychologist or someone with a relevant degree. You can afford it. The human mind can be knocked out of shape by the simplest of things. (Like absolutist irrational beliefs.) It doesn’t always take much to get it unstuck and going, but if you don’t address the problems, they just drain life away overtime.

Don’t let things get fucking dramatic, whatever you do. If she’s hurting you by not having a job, help her so she can help herself get and keep a job.

judochop's avatar

Wow all of you must either have health insurance, rich SO’s or a ton of money in the bank. @plethora said it right, not lot of sympathy on this thread at all.
@zophu affording a doctor while on unemployment is not affordable at all, even on a sliding scale.
Does she even want to see a doctor, does she recognize that she is depressed? Instead of trying all of the “advice” that lacks bedside manners try just being honest with her and have the guts yourself to talk to her the way you are willing to talk with stangers about her.
Depression can be counter balanced through exercise, which can lead to better motivation which could lead to a more effective way to job search, which by the way (side note) finding a job in today’s world economy is not like it was 10 years ago.
Is it possible that she is not depressed but tired from the reality of her situation? Everyone is so quick to label everything now a days and want to cure it through medicine or doctors. Help her get her ass up for a jog or a stretch or a game, make her laugh a little… Go as far and as long as you can, if you get to the end of your rope and you find it not working or you find yourself tired of trying to fix everything then leave or have some type of intervention but don’t be cold hearted and throw her to the wolves, that is not going to help anyone’s depression, including your own.

zophu's avatar

@judochop I believe competent psychotherapy can cost less than you think. You can’t scrounge up 50–100 bucks for a session every week or so for the health of someone you care about? Every 2 weeks? Almost everyone has someone they can turn to for such reasonable financial support, even shunning family and friends. Sometimes people just need to feel that there is reliable support for them. They get stuck in a mental corner. Don’t encourage it with your “can’t afford it” speech. It’s not a kidney transplant that’s needed here.

jerv's avatar

@zophu The numbers you mention are barely within the reach of my wife and I, and unlike 47% of Americans, we actually earned enough last year that we had to pay income tax even though I was collecting unemployment for 11 months in 2009.

I was only a hairs breadth away from flagging your answer as offensive since I am honestly and deeply offended by it and am trying very hard to avoid typing my real feelings here as it would be a personal attack about one notch below what I would give to a serial child molester.

Let us just leave it at “you are so wrong I don’t even know where to begin”.

zophu's avatar

@jerv Wait, what? How did I offend you so much? I can see how I might have been disrespectful, maybe. . . Let me reread this.

jerv's avatar

@zophu I have a hair-trigger when it comes to people saying “Oh, it’s only $xx!”
I have never had a life of privilege and excess. My mother used to starve herself so I could eat. I have been ridiculed even today because I cant’ afford a decent car.

The main reason I didn’t flag your answer was simply that I was fairly certain that you did not actually mean to offend.

judochop's avatar

Yes, $50 to $100 two times a month is a ton of money while on unemployment. Know how I know? I’m on unemployment post a $75,000 a year job now making the Max on unemployment which in my state is $515 a week. I have a house and a child. Every penny counts towards something, every single penny. I’ve also spent the money in the past to visit a doctor weekly at $125 an hour. I know social workers can be cheaper but you don’t sound like you’ve ever had to live on unemployment.

zophu's avatar

@jerv I’m sorry. It was supposed to be encouraging. I just think people (sometimes) get unnecessarily stuck on money when it comes to getting help.

zophu's avatar

I still suggest asking friends or family members for loans (or just debt-free funding,) even if they have denied you in the past.

jerv's avatar

@zophu When you have to choose between medical care and food, you kind of have to get stuck on money. Does getting help for depression really help once malnutrition sets in? Or how about exposure when you live someplace with horrible weather and no available shelters to take you in after you get evicted for not paying the rent?

And not all of us have friends/family that are well-off enough to help out. Personally, the only people I know who are make a big point of saying, “We’re rich, you’re not, so suck it!” even to their own daughter, so that’s not an option for me, and I think it safe to say that I am not alone in that regard.

I’ve had it somewhat rough (still do, really), and I know too many people who were/are far less fortunate than I am.

zophu's avatar

@jerv I didn’t mean to disrespect the adversity of having very little to live on. I know that if I were in need, I could get modestly employed family and friends that I don’t even know anymore to help me out. How could one have the money to spare, and not abide to a request from a family member or friend as humble as help in receiving competent psychological help?

It can be done. Or, it should at least be tried to be done. Even as someone who has never had too much trouble with money, I can say that the intense stress associated with it can cause hesitancy and lack of drive when it comes to a steep but necessary price. In this case, something that might be necessary for getting out of the hole.

Besides, I was talking to the boyfriend of this woman, who seems to have a job, else I’d think he’d mention he was unemployed as well.

jerv's avatar

@zophu There are some real bastards out there, and I happen to be related to a few. And let us not forget that some people even nowadays see the need for psychological (or financial) help as a sign of weakness that indicates that one is unfit to survive and therefore should die off; Survival of the Fittest.

As I said, I got by during my 13 months of joblessness with the help of my wife. While she isn’t a professional, she does know enough about psychology and has her own experiences with depression to be of more help than a mere shoulder to cry on or a cheerleader, so in that respect, I was/am lucky.

Personally, I think that it’s ridiculous that such help is out of reach for millions of Americans, especially those who need it most in these trying times, but healthcare reform is a whole separate issue than can be (and has been) discussed elsewhere.

FWIW, even with insurance (which she wont have since she is unemployed and they are not married so he can’t use his (if he has any)) the co-pays alone, even at someplace with a sliding scale, are usually pretty steep, and most insurance plans I’ve seen limit the number of visits to 20/year which isn’t enough to do much unless you are able to pay completely out of pocket after you hit that limit.
I only went every other week for other issues even when we were both employed. (We also learned how many ways you can do beans and rice without going even more nuts from the blandness and monotony.) I never would’ve been able to do even that without two steady paychecks and health insurance.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

It is an outrage how the USA protects insurance companies but not people in dire need of health care.

Andreas's avatar

@jerv Your experience somewhat mirrors mine on the wife front.

@Dr_Lawrence Very correct. I watch what happens in the USA with great interest. But then corporations need lots of government help to overpay their heads and bosses the zillions they’re paid while the… I’d better stop here. That’s another thread! ;-)

@alliearc I feel for you. Without knowing the exact, heart-wrenching details that can only come from personal knowledge of you both (it can’t really be supplied in one of these sites, regrettably!) I can only recommend you read and consider all these answers then make a decision. You’re in a tough spot. All the best to you and your girlfriend.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@alliearc If you live in or near a town where there is a University that offers training in social work, Clinical or Behavioural Psychology or Counselling, you might just find a clinic that is connected with the training program that will offer treatment at little or no cost, based on your limited financial means.

I worked at such a clinic for three years as part of my training.

If there isn’t, you should know that I provide therapeutic support to people here on fluther who really need help at no charge. See my profile for how your girlfriend can contact me and sign up for my help.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m convinced that motivating other people is in fact more or less impossible. Self motivation is the only effective source of motivation.

What you can do, however, is trying to find out the reasons of her demotivation. What are the real obstacles? What can be done about them? How can you support her?

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