K and I met through a mutual friend, she spoke eloquently, was always very complimentary and I believed that we shared similar ideals. We ended up sharing a flat together and split the cost of rent to save money. We also decided to buy groceries together and again split costs. But K always forgot her wallet home and I always paid at the cashier. It generally took about two –three weeks, with constant nagging, for K to give me my money back.
Then the rent started being late. She’d always be sorry, and always told me on the day that the rent was due that she had an emergency and would pay me back. To ensure that the landlord did not kick us out, I’d pay the rent and wait for K to return the money to me.
Eventually I was using my credit card to cover all the additional costs. It was financially stressful and resulted in many arguments. At that point I was working full time and attended university at nights. Additionally I had two hours of commute and was extremely tired most nights. Almost every night when I came home there would be dirty dishes in the sink, and the stove would be filthy. Some times every single cup or plate would be used. So before I could eat anything, I would have to do the dishes. Every time we spoke about issues such as the late rent and the food bill, she’d promise to change or would start sobbing about how rough her life was and how few opportunities she has had.
K worked within the neighbourhood, and walked to and from work every day so she had a lot of spare time. She was not very educated and I would constantly nag her to enroll in a class which she did. She was gaining a little weight so I involved her in my work out routine. There was a point where I actually created a timetable for K, which included a time to wake up, a time to do chores, work out, to have a shower, to do homework. She quit the class about a month into it, and gained about thirty pounds.
After a few months I could not afford some of my previous luxuries. In the meanwhile, K kept her nail appointments and she regularly indulged in new clothing and shoes. I thought she was being selfish, exploitative and just downright rude. While I was experiencing a severe decline, she was on the up and up. My world had become a series of stressed out events – school, financial stress, and exhaustion. I was exhausted from constantly cleaning up after K, attending my classes and working full time. The talks turned into major fights. I was embroiled with emotions of bitterness, resentment and anger, and I felt that I was being taken advantage of.
K and I eventually parted ways, she repaid all the cash that she owed me, over a period of time. The entire situation was intensely stressful and left a bitter taste in my mouth.
Although it may be said that I did not deserve to be treated that way, the question of ‘how did I get into that situation to begin with?’ should be asked.
Let’s have a look at what I did wrong.
I moved into a flat-share without doing due research and without having a proper contract drawn up. If you are going into a situation of shared expenses with someone, find out if they can afford it. It’s reasonable to enquire about earnings and expenses in such a situation. I had forgotten that trust is earned and took for-granted that everyone has different value systems.
I did not exercise the right to say no. Every time I was in a situation where she asked for money I should have said no I cannot afford it. After that first experience of arriving at the cashier and and K did not have any funds: I should have asked her, prior to leaving the house, if she had cash to pay for her food, or make her put her grocery items back, or simply do my food shopping on my own.
By not taking those steps, I enabled her to take advantage and I supported her dependency syndrome.
Amazingly I have been the rescuer of damsels in distress for a very long time; helping A with homework, cooking for N, drafting contracts for X, lending money, buying nice gifts – always doing something for someone else, while my own needs were sacrificed. The relationship dynamics have regularly been parent-child. I would moan about each of these situations to the few independent female friends that I had.
On one of my whining sessions, I was asked “Why are you attracted to these sorts of friendships?” It was like a Eureka moment. I was regularly in the same situation – repeating a cycle. The light switched on, and I asked myself why are so many of my females friends needy, clingy, always broke and incapable. Instead of doing their homework for them because they insisted that it was too hard, why did I not say no? Why did I lend them money? Why did I wash their dishes? Conclusion – I needed to be needed. My inner self lacked something – be it ego, self-esteem or security. I needed appreciation, I needed to fix someone, I needed to be needed – to be somebody’s hero.
Ultimately this led to self-analysis and establishing better relationship patterns, ones which did not result in me sacrificing myself.
Everybody has patterns in their relationships be it friendships or sibling relationships or even romantic relationships. If you find that you are continuously in similar situations, for example always dating a guy who cheats, or you’re regularly creating friendships with individuals who only call when they want some thing, may be you need to ask yourself, what are you attracting and why? And possibly examine each situation objectively and figure out what you need to learn.