Ever since I was a little girl, my mother always told me that I could depend on no one but myself in this world. Of course, she was a recently divorced, newly single mother of two kids after spending the last 18 years of her life as a happily married housewife. But, as I grew up and started experiencing life, I started to realize that maybe there was some truth to her mantra after all.
I got my first job at 14 and worked during the summer until I was 16 and could legally work after school and on weekends. I signed up for the co-op program at school that allowed me to leave an hour early and earn educational credit for the work I was performing after school. After I turned 18, I enrolled in college and through some creative financing arrangements (a combination of student loan programs, grants and good old sweat equity) I was able to obtain my Bachelor’s degree debt free and land a pretty decent job as an entry level call center agent at the ripe old age of 23.
Now, I said all of this because I wanted to bring you to a certain point, so if you’ve come this far, maybe you’ll be willing to read on a little farther. I never once depended on anyone to help me get what I wanted. During this time I also managed a rent payment, utilities, groceries, a car payment and a few other incidentals along the way. But, I also had a few boyfriends who seemed to think that my generosity was something to be taken advantage of. Here’s what I mean.
Money & Relationships: People Who Take Advantage of Generosity
It’s just natural to want to give things to people that you care about, right? I mean, buying things and surprising the ones we love with something that they may otherwise deny themselves is something I take a lot of enjoyment in. I like making the people around me feel good.
So what happens when the recipient of your generosity and gifts begins to believe that he (or she) is entitled to certain benefits that come along from being around you?
Case in point, my brother in law. Never in my life have I seen someone so willing to establish relationships based on the generosity factor. Yes, you read that right, ladies…relationships. Plural. This guy hasn’t been in a monogamous relationship since he was weaned. This guy is so immoral that he actually started a relationship with and took advantage of a girl he’d gone to high school with whose parents had passed away, leaving her a modest inheritance. Do you know how he found out about it? He scans the obituaries every day! Of course, the second the money and gifts stopped flowing, he was long gone, off to greener pastures. I simply couldn’t believe that anyone would stoop that low to keep from having to go find a job and support themselves, but boy was I wrong.
And then there is the flip side. Why is it that certain people feel the need to buy affection, love or friendship? Why do people like me, who work hard, play harder, and are socially adept, feel the need to shower the people around them with money and gifts only to feel as though we’ve been taken advantage of? The truth is, I have no idea. Maybe it’s because we have a deep seated insecurity about ourselves, or maybe it’s because we can’t stand the thought of being rejected on any level. But, what’s even more apparent are the words of my mother from so long ago. The only people we can truly depend on in life is ourselves, but it’s not just about financial independence. No one else can make you happy, if you’re not happy with yourself. And certainly, no one else is going to work three jobs just so you can sit on the couch eating bon bons and watching Judge Judy. It’s high time we started taking a little personal responsibility for the way we act, whether we are takers or givers. For those of you reading this that are givers, stop enabling others to take advantage of you. Give, but not more extravagantly than you can afford. If you’re a taker, it’s time to re-evaluate your position in life and take the bull by the horns.
Contributing Writer: Alexis A.