Is His Boyfriend Selfish?
Q: I'm 36, unemployed, and waiting to be reinstated as a federal employee. For the next two to three months I'll be living on an extremely limited budget. I began dating this man shortly after I left work. We have only one problem that really hurts: Every time a situation comes up that involves money, I'm reminded that he doesn't want to be a "sugar daddy" and pay my part. We've talked about why he says such things and he claims that it's baggage from a relationship in which he was used a lot. I feel there's more to it than that. I'm definitely more of a giver than he is. This man is a workaholic and makes pretty good money but seems to be a bit selfish but there is no doubt that he loves me. Recently he asked me to fly to Orlando with him for a few days. When I told him that I wanted to go but couldn't afford it, I was again reminded "I don't want to be a sugar daddy." If he knows that I'll be receiving a nice sum of money shortly after the trip yet doesn't offer to take me and have me pay him back later, is he being selfish or am I? Please help me understand what's going on. -- Patrick
Dr. Susan: Your man seems to be using the failure of a previous relationship to keep your own relationship from developing naturally. You're a giving person who's only temporarily asking for a bit of help from someone who loves you. That hardly makes him your sugar daddy. By his harping on that term, he's being insensitive to your feelings. My first impulse is to say that he is, indeed, somewhat selfish. On the other hand, have the two of talked about how your different ideas about money affect each of you? I wouldn't necessarily expect him to offer to lend you money (though that would be nice!), but if you asked him for a limited loan for this special trip, I can't see why he'd turn you down. Having "baggage" isn't something one just accepts. One works on dumping useless baggage, either by means of therapy or perhaps by taking it on as a joint project for the two of you. Something to consider: he has very firm boundaries around money (and giving), while yours are more flexible. Does this difference show up in other areas of your lives? Some major compromises may be in your future.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.