“He paid for all of our first class travel”: I gave it all up for my boyfriend, 76, then he dumped me. Am I entitled to something?
I am a 72 year old widow. Three years ago, I met a 76 year old man. We developed a relationship, and after six months of dating, I moved in with him. He wanted to travel, and we did. He paid for all of our first class travel and our very expensive cruises, safaris and tours. I paid mainly for hotels and incidentals. We talked about this arrangement, and I was very clear that I did not have the funds to travel as he had planned. He said money was no problem.
I also told him before I moved in that by quitting my job and abandoning my house, I would be excluded from the real estate market where I lived. He told me that I could stay with him as long as I wanted and that he would inform his executor of this arrangement. I spent the money to decorate his houses and provide him with a loving environment.
“He said I could stay with him as long as I wanted and he would let his executor know about this arrangement.”
This year, on returning from a safari in Africa, he told me that we were finished without any explanation or discussion. He owns homes in California and Texas, and we were in Texas at the time. He said I could stay in the California house for four months until he returned. When I met him, I had a part-time job and my own home. I gave up both to create a life with him.
The cost of living is very high where I live. I couldn’t afford my own place out of my retirement income and had to find another job. It’s not easy at 72. Anyway, I have found a job and a place to live, but I wonder what I am owed. I had given up my whole life for him and it cost me a lot of money to pack my bags, move out and find another place. Am I entitled to something? He assured me that I would have a house as long as I lived.
Still single at 72
Dear bachelor still at 72 years old,
You’ve measured the risks you’re taking with the rewards, and you’ve decided to go for it. It was a bet, and he didn’t pay. People change their minds.
Humans are disappointing: we don’t always keep our word and we don’t always know what we want. Sometimes we mean what we say in the moment, or make promises without thinking. A promise without a contract like marriage or some other type of legal arrangement, however, is difficult to enforce. You entered this relationship with both eyes open. He promised you the world, and you willingly gave up yours in return. You’ve tasted a lifestyle beyond your wildest dreams: first-class travel, safaris, cruises (although they’ve fallen out of favor lately), and residency in multiple homes.
With that, here’s a complete list of everything life owes us:
The Argentist: My wife and I live with my dying mother. My brothers and I will inherit his house. Should I ask him to sell it and move in with me?
You are not the first. In Marvin v. Marvin (1976), Michelle Marvin sued actor Lee Marvin for breach of contract. She had changed her name to Marvin and they lived together for several years. She alleged that Lee Marvin promised to support her for the rest of her life. He went to the California Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. The courts have ruled against her. There was no marriage contract. California is a communal property state: even if you get married, you usually get what you brought into the marriage. You have built sandcastles in the sky. They collapse, especially in court.
I understand that you can be hurt and disappointed, and feel cheated. But he didn’t break a contract. He just changed his mind and, for better or for worse, he has the right to do so.
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