Dear Neil: A couple of months ago you wrote about a retired woman who was financially supporting a man who could not support himself, but she described him as a great guy who was loving and kind. I am in a similar situation, but I feel financially taken advantaged of by the man I’m involved with. The kindness he is showing me actually feels like he is going through the motions so I will continue to support him.
If I were without work, lost my retirement, in debt to the IRS, barely holding onto my business, and was being housed, fed and mostly financed by a man, I would be doing everything I could to change my financial situation so that I could contribute more equally, and I would also help with household responsibilities and care of the home. I would think twice before I turned on the jacuzzi, opened an expensive bottle of wine or invited family over, expecting the dinner to be prepared and paid for by the man I am living with. Kindness and love go only so far. There also needs to be mutual respect.
Fed Up in California
Dear Fed Up: You don’t feel respected by the man you’re living with because you feel you’re being used—and it sounds like you don’t respect him either, because you think he is in the relationship way more to receive than to give. You need a serious talk with this man about what your needs and desires are, and about what you are wanting to see changed. It would also be appropriate to tell him that you are hurt, angry and disappointed in how he is handling his financial affairs, and that you feel he is acting entitled to perks that do not belong to him.
Although you are obviously complicit in the arrangement the two of you have, you sound resentful, and resentment poisons love. Have this conversation with him right away, or your resentment will ruin the relationship anyway.
Dear Neil: Having made poor choices in two relationships, I’ve learned the hard way about people who act entitled. One was a functioning alcoholic (who has since joined AA), and the other was an extremely demanding woman. I went above and beyond being supportive, but in both cases the more I gave the less I was appreciated. Eventually I had to wake up and smell the coffee. Childhood trauma may explain a lot of their abusive behaviors, but if you can’t take responsibility for your own actions, you become a bottomless void. I have learned that you have to respect yourself first, and placing yourself in an abusive relationship is no way to respect yourself.
Learned the Hard Way in Scotland
Dear Learned: Although we are all in a relationship to get our needs met, some people are far more likely to be givers, and some are clearly more likely to be takers. Givers tend to be people pleasers, and takers tend to act entitled. Takers seek out givers, which makes sense if you think about it. So if you’re primarily a giver, be on the lookout for signs that someone is acting entitled or expecting to be catered to. We all broadcast to others who we are. You just have to get adept at learning how to read the signs.