Can’t buy me love

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Should I give my girlfriend money? I have been dating this woman for 4 months; she doesn’t have a job and has 2 kids. She is always late paying here bills she is on food stamps but will not look for a job. She uses excuses like she wants to be home with her children. When the bill collectors start calling she gets depressed and goes to bed with headaches. She will tell me about being behind in paying, but has never asked for money. What she does say is: “My tire is bad and I need a new one but you have never offered to fix the one I have are’nt you concerned about my safety? Or, they turned my cable off, or my water off, or they are coming to get my car if I don’t make a payment.

It’s not I don’t care to help but should I? I do love her but I don’t want to be her crutch in life. What should I do?

A: “Your financial decline will not elevate the impoverished.” – Esther & Jerry Hicks

This quote by the people who brought you the law of attraction, tells the whole tale. Money is emotional currency, and the handling of finances and money management are not separate from other manifestations of who we are. The emotional poverty connected to your girlfriend’s choices and situation is part of who she is. Not a good or a bad thing, but just who and how she is right now. Your frustration with the situation comes through in your question. It is a healthy thing for you to be asking yourself what to do.

Her saying that you are not concerned with her plight sounds like a (conscious or unconscious) manipulation. Whenever someone accuses you of not caring about the things they are responsible for, it is a good bet they are in denial about where the accountability lies. Some manipulation is likely going on.

But the real issue, as you have noted, is on your side of the equation. The tug to assist her and your hesitation is a healthy sign. Your desire to help comes from the underlying premise that if you help the person with their issue then they will be more available for you in the relationship. Looks good in theory; doesn’t work in reality.

She won’t fix the issue if you are there to bail her out. You are at the beginning of the relationship and the rules for the future are being established. Creating a dependency on you for financial support isn’t advisable. It is how resentments are born. Every time you give money it will remind her she isn’t taking care of herself financially. When her behavior doesn’t change you will resent having given.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t help directly. Empowering her to cope with her own issues is an even more dynamic way to help, as well as to evolve the relationship. Perhaps help her locate loans, payment plans and income opportunities she might not be aware of or have thought of. Not helping at one level doesn’t mean withdrawing support. It simply means finding the best way of giving her what will work, while not generating resentment on your part.

Almost always there will be a twinge of guilt for not rushing in to rescue. But managing the guilt is easier and preferable to managing the resentment. A healthy relationship is mutually reciprocal with a balance of giving and receiving.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 Apr 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Can’t buy me love. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/04/19/cant-buy-me-love/

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